Tag Archive | Creature from the Black Lagoon

The Gill Man Trio

Universal Studios’ Creature from the Black Lagoon is a classic monster that has terrified and captivated audiences for decades. By far my favorite of the Universal Monsters (and the last of the line), ol’ Gill Man is a lover and a fighter with impeccable taste in women. The creature’s distinct look and terrifying presence has made it one of the most iconic monsters in film history. I strongly urge you to read The Lady from the Black Lagoon, the story of the Creature’s creator, Millicent Patrick. Talk about a woman being overshadowed by a male dominant industry.

There are plenty of CFTBL fans, but surprisingly, many aren’t aware that the classic film has two sequels. Hell, I didn’t know until well into my horror lovin’ adulthood. Over the course of a few years in the 1950s, there were three Creature from the Black Lagoon movies, and each one has its unique charm and appeal. Come grab my claw as we compare the three Creature from the Black Lagoon movies and explain why Universal monster fans need to watch them all.

Before we dive into the movies themselves, let’s take a brief look at the history of the creature. The Creature from the Black Lagoon is the aquatic love child of producer William Alland, who was inspired by the discovery of the coelacanth, a prehistoric fish that was believed to be extinct for millions of years. For folks interested in cryptozoology, the ugly fish’s reappearance is what gives Nessie and Squatch hunters hope.

The first film in the series is the titular Creature from the Black Lagoon, released in 1954 and directed by Jack Arnold (who also helmed flicks like Tarantula and The Incredible Shrinking Man).  The film tells the story of a group of scientists who venture deep into the Amazon to study the unusual findings of a colleague who was previously attacked by a mysterious creature. As they continue their expedition, they realize that the creature is not only real, but it is also dangerous and determined to protect its territory.

The first film is a classic monster movie that set the tone for all future creature features. The creature itself is an impressive feat of practical effects and underwater photography. You’ll find nothing more beautiful and suspenseful that Julia Adams (the most alluring woman in horror movie history) taking a dip with a horn dog and curious prehistoric beast swimming just underneath her, mimicking her moves and daring to touch her toes. Just when you though it was safe to swim in the Amazon! Throw in a killer score, some light hearted comedy thanks to captain Lucas and, well, the mere presence of pipe smoking Whit Bissell and you have all the ingredients for monster gold.

I was fortunate enough to meet both Julia Adams and Ricou Browning (the man behind the mask and suit). Their signed pictures hold a special place on our wall. I also peppered CFTBL references all throughout by novella, They Rise. Give it a read and see if you can spot them all. Good luck!

The Chimaera Fish are coming to get you Barbara!

The second film in the series is Revenge of the Creature, released in 1955. The movie picks up where the first film left off and tells the story of the creature being captured and transported to a research facility in Florida which also doubles as a public aquarium. The creature’s captors soon realize that it is more intelligent than they previously thought, and it quickly escapes, wreaking havoc on the city. And be on the lookout for a young Clint Eastwood playing a scientist in one of his very first roles.

Revenge of the Creature is a fun sequel that adds new dimensions to the creature’s character. The film is full of classic monster movie tropes, such as the monster on the loose in a populated area, but it also has some unique elements, such as the creature being trained to perform tricks at the research facility. The underwater sequences are once again impressive, and the creature’s suit has been improved since the first film. If you enjoyed the first movie, you will love Revenge of the Creature. Oh, if only this level of pandemonium would happen at Sea World. I’d pay good money to be there.

The third and final film in the series is The Creature Walks Among Us, released in 1956. This time around, a group of scientists successfully capture the creature and try to study its biology by performing surgery on it. The operation is a success, but it also causes the creature to become more humanoid, which leads to an identity crisis (not sure what pronoun to use here) and a desire for revenge. The transformation of the creature is downright bat shit nuts. Methinks they did so to get it on land and save some cash on all the underwater shoots. I also think Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy bears a striking resemblance.

The Creature Walks Among Us is an interesting conclusion to the series that takes the creature’s story in a new direction. The movie is more focused on the human characters than the creature, which may disappoint some fans, but it also allows for a deeper exploration of the creature’s motivations and emotions. The underwater sequences are once again impressive, but the film also includes some interesting scenes set on land. The lesson here – don’t fence the Gill Man in! If you try, you do so at your own peril.

So, why should Universal monster fans watch all three Creature from the Black Lagoon movies? Watching the movies allows fans to appreciate the creature’s design and development over time. Secondly, the movies are classic monster movies that set the standard for all monster movies that came after them, ala Humanoids from the Deep or, say, even something trashy like Slithis. The Creature from the Black Lagoon movies are not just important for their impact on the horror genre, but they are also entertaining and fun to watch. Each movie has its unique charm and appeal, from the suspenseful first film to the fun and campy second film, to the thought-provoking and emotional third film. Watching all three movies allows fans to experience the full range of what the series has to offer, as well as bearing witness to the end of one of the greatest monster making eras in movie history. There will never be another Universal cranking out terrifying creatures for decades. And we as a viewing audience will never be as innocent again and easily made aghast. Makes me kind of wistful and sad. But happy as hell I have these movies to watch over and over again.

Inside The International Cryptozoology Museum

Hey, fans of Bigfoot, Mothman, the Jersey Devil, The Dover Demon, Sea Serpents, Chupacabra and all creatures strange and undiscovered, did you know that there’s an International Cryptozoology Museum? I didn’t, and I have been vacationing right outside its doors for years! Located in Portland, Maine, it’s owned and run by world famous cryptozoologist, Loren Coleman. He’s the man who actually coined the terms for many now famous cryptids such as the Montauk Monster and The Dover Demon. You’ve seen him on TV and documentaries like Ancient Aliens, MonsterQuest and Weird Travels. The best part is, when you go to the museum, Loren is there to greet you and talk monsters.

As soon as I found out about it, I had to drag my kids to see it for myself. Located on a small side street off the main drag in downtown Portland, we were greeted by a flag depicting a Coelacanth, a large fish thought to have been extinct for millions of years until one was pulled from the depths in the 1930’s. Loren informed me that the prehistoric fish was the inspiration for my favorite Universal Monster, The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Crypto Flag

Loren quizzed us on what was on the flag and I passed the test!

Inspired by a fish!

Inspired by a fish!

The museum consists of two rooms jam packed with actual artifacts from cryptid investigations as well as recreations. I was immediately drawn to some of the Bigfoot plaster casts and the news stories accompanying them.

Squatch Feet

Squatch Feet

Loren actually owns the largest Bigfoot in the world and he’s happy to take pictures with everyone standing in front of old Squatchy. Being next to a legend in the field by a giant Bigfoot was the highlight of my trip.

Me, Loren and my favorite hairy dude

Me, Loren and my favorite hairy dude

Once we got through the huge Bigfoot displays, there was a host of other mysteries and wonders to explore. Turning a corner into the other room, I came face to face with the legendary Fiji Mermaid, a bizarre, mummified creature that P.T. Barnum used to proclaim was an actual mermaid. It kind of looks like a shriveled up Yoda with boobs. I wonder of Lucas got his inspiration from this.

“Powerful you have become, the dark side I sense in you.”

“Powerful you have become, the dark side I sense in you.”

The second room had a little bit of everything, from a small Chupacabra display…

A little goat sucker under glass

A little goat sucker under glass

To the Dover Demon, an alien-like creature that appeared in a Massachussets town over a 2 day period in 1977.

You can read about the Dover Demon in Loren's book 'Monsters of Massachusetts"

You can read about the Dover Demon in Loren’s book ‘Monsters of Massachusetts”

Turns out, Loren investigated the strange and creepy Mothman and was even friends with John Keel, the man who reported on the infamous cryptid. He was a consultant for the movie, The Mothman Prophecies and starred in a documentary on it. It’s my belief that what went on in that West Virginia town in the 60s is one of the weirdest events of all time. You can check out our Monster Men podcast on the subject here.

You could dedicate a whole museum to the Mothman

You could dedicate a whole museum to the Mothman

Loren told me that he was the man who gave the Montauk Monster its name. He also said it was just a decomposed raccoon. Bummer.

I don't know, this doesn't look like a raccoon to me

I don’t know, this doesn’t look like a raccoon to me

The museum has it all. For a guy like me, I could have stayed there all day, but it was getting late and we had a Duck Boat tour to take and a baseball game to see. So, if you’re ever in the Portland area, I highly suggest you check it out. It must be popular, because it was even mentioned on the Duck Boat tour. There are monsters everywhere….at least I hope.

Universal Monsters Unite!

Pop quiz. What do all these fine gentlemen (and gentlebeasts) have in commom? Frankenstein, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Wolfman, Dracula, The Mummy, Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man, The Phantom of the Opera. Answer : They were all brought to us by Universal Studios, who over a period of 25 years created some of the most enduring icons in horror history.

In our first episode of 2013, Jack and I, your humble Monster Men, finally dedicate a podcast to the monsters that made us who we are today. Who is your favorite Universal monster?

And if y ou haven’t already subscribed to our YouTube Channel, do it today so you’re eligible to win a signed copy of my book, Evil Eternal!

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