The Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954) Universal had been the king of Hollywood Horror for decades, but by the 1950s, classic horror had stepped aside for the atomic age. Dracula and the Mummy are fighting Abbott & Costello instead of each other, but Universal has one more bullet in the chamber and they create the Gil Man, an original monster and an instant classic! A missing link fish-man who breathes on land and underwater. After finding a fossilized claw of the creature, an expedition ventures to the deepest darkest depth of the Amazon jungle to find more bones, but instead finds a living specimen, who traps the boat and kills the crewmen off one at a time, and eventually kidnaps the girl, for what we should assume is for breeding purposes. Richard Carlson plays the scientist/diver hero, and Julia Adams is his squeeze, and the object of the creature’s desire. Her white bathing suit is as iconic as anything in a horror film. Professional swimmer Ricou Browning played the creature during underwater scenes, and reportedly held his breath for four minutes at a time during filming! All time great Sci-Fi director Jack Arnold was at the helm for this classic, which Universal released in 3D. Each of the next two years would see a sequel. Absolute must-see trilogy.
Revenge of the Creature (1955) Though thought dead, a crew captures the gill-man in the Amazon and bring him to Florida, where they put him in a tank at Marineland so tourists can gawk at him. SciFi mainstay John Agar plays the scientist who studies and feeds and teaches the word “stop” to the gil-man, with the help of a pretty, young student (Lori Nelson). He eventually gets loose, grabs the girl and goes on a shoreline killing rampage, as he can’t spend more than 10 minutes out of water. Very early in his career, Clint Eastwood has a small, comedic part as a lab tech with mice in his pockets. Jack Arnold was back to direct, and the 3D was back as well. The film uses the exact same death footage of the creature as it did in the first film, but not to worry because the creature was back again next year in….
The Creature Walks Among Us (1956) Now the gill-man is living in the Florida everglades, where an expedition trying to catch him to perform tests ends up accidentally setting him on fire with gasoline. Having suffered 3rd degree burns, they have him wrapped in bandages, and give him a tracheotomy. Now his lungs develop and his gills stop working. When they unwrap him, his features are more “human-like” though I thought he looked like a hairless ape, and appears a lot larger too. He is gentler now, but responds to violence with violence. He keeps trying to jump back in the water, but can no longer breathe without gills. The rich and crazy doctor who performs the genetic-altering experiments also has a younger wife, and his insane and unfounded jealousy gets in the way of business. Leigh Snowden plays the babe whom the creature develops a crush on, this time around. The 3D was gone for this one and so was director Jack Arnold. John Sherwood, who also did the very good Monolith Monsters for Universal, took the helm and died shortly after.
Now where’s the big budget remake I’ve been hearing about since 1980?