Director: Jack Arnold
Writers: Harry Essex and Arthur Ross
Starring: Richard Carlson, Julia Adams, Richard Denning, Antonio Moreno, Nestor Paiva, Whit Bissell, Ben Chapman, and Ricou Browning
Creature From the Black Lagoon was released in 1954 and marked the last new monster from the Universal Classic Monsters series, which had started 23 years earlier with Bela Lugosi as Dracula. There were sequels to Black Lagoon, but no more monsters were introduced to the long running series.
The film starts with the discovery of a hand in a rock, that belongs to an unknown creature. To try and find more information a group dives into the water and discover the creature himself, who then terrorises them into leaving. The creature also becomes obsessed with the female member of the group, Kay Lawrence who was played by Julie Adams.
I quite liked this film; it was easy watching, and the monster design was pretty good. It’s something that’s inspired many imitations including The Shape of Water, and it’s always interesting to see the original. The monster is quite sympathetic, in the sense that the humans wandered into his habitat and it’s only defending itself. It doesn’t attack first, which is interesting. Frankenstein is similar, in that it’s a misunderstood monster.
There’s a great scene where Kay is swimming, and the camera shows her at the surface of the water and the creature mimicking her just underneath. There’s an almost dance-like quality to it and it’s genuinely mesmerising to watch. For me, that’s the best scene of the film, it’s not an attack or any attempt at horror, but just a fascinating moment that says so much about the Creature without a single word being spoke.
The version I watched had a mini documentary about Universal itself, including the lot that most of their films are shot on, the lake in the middle is where Creature from the Black Lagoon was made. It’s completely man-made, and you can’t tell that when you are watching. The camera trickery is very good to make this feel like a completely remote location.
The old black and white monster films aren’t particularly scary, but they are worth watching for more than just historical reasons. The story is interesting, and the characters are engaging enough.