Creature from the Black Lagoon (Jack Arnold, 1954, USA)

                The last of the great Universal monsters, The Creature from the Black Lagoon arrived at the height of 50s B-movie mania. Made by director Jack Arnold, best known for his horror / sci-fi titles including It Came from Outer Space (1953), Tarantula (1955), and The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), the film holds up as one of the best monster movies from its era. The Gill-Man has become something of a cultural icon, and for good reason. Despite being a man in a rubber suit, he is given an empathetic treatment by the film. The gill effects as well are still quite bizarre.

                The acting in the film is rather standard for the era. Julia Adams of course stands out, and she delivers one of the best performances in the film. The real star of the film, however, is the film’s underwater photography. There is a beautiful and atmospheric quality to the photography that holds up even today. It is easy to see how the underwater stunts were very impressive for the time period, and even today these underwater stunts (performed by Ricou Browning) are still impressive.

                The influence of the film extends far and wide, and it is easy to see how it influenced Guillermo del Toro for example on his 2017 Oscar winner The Shape of Water. In that film, the creature ends up getting the girl, but obviously this would have been a bit too much to accept for audiences in 1954. So instead, the creature meets a very tragic end. There has been much talk of remaking The Creature from the Black Lagoon, although we have yet to see one. In a way The Shape of Water was a spiritual sequel to the film, so it is difficult to imagine a better film coming out as a direct sequel.


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