Creature from the Black Lagoon Screen 7 articles

Creature from the Black Lagoon

1954

Creature from the Black Lagoon Poster
  • Workmanlike rather than virtuoso, but the bluster among the male stick figures amuses and Julia Adams makes an unusually imposing scream queen.

  • A much more antic, exploitative experience than the Frankenstein/Wolfman/Mummy/Dracula pictures it stands alongside, Creature from the Black Lagoon perfectly typifies the transition from older, more European horror styles into bloodthirsty schlock and ever-cheaper thrills.

  • In “Creature” the hand is a webbed, clawlike thing that belongs to the title character — a “missing link” man-fish discovered by a team of scientists in a backwater of the Amazon — and the director (repeatedly) deploys it aggressively. The claw seems to extend beyond the surface of the screen and into the audience’s personal space, violating our ingrained sense of security (it’s only a movie, and as such it will stay on the screen) and causing a palpable shock.

  • It’s not really belittling the film to note that an enormous part of its appeal lies in its cheesiness, particularly the blaring, alarmist score provided by Hans J. Salter’s scoring company, with contributions from Henry Mancini, amongst others. Creature is constantly spiked by blasts of brass and ferociously churning strings that underpin appearances of the Gill Man, unsubtle but certainly contributing to the headlong rush of the film’s pace.

  • Narratively, CREATURE is a great plodding beast, lurching from one plot point to the next with all the dexterity of a half-man/half-fish out of water. But once in the lagoon, the film becomes a feast for the eyes, a series of languorous plays of depth, movement, and cross-species eroticism that is genuinely scary, and deeply disturbing.

  • It's a suspenseful matinee-style adventure that pitches a group of scientists against what could be described as the “Amazonian Bigfoot,” an amphibious humanoid relic that has somehow circumvented evolution. At the risk of being a yawning millennial unmoved by “tame” classic horror, I will proffer that the movie is more unsettling than terrifying—but that the feeling of unease lingers long past the film’s end credits, and for reasons that go beyond Gill-man’s frightful exterior.

  • Oh this was glorious. Worked fine as a proto-Jaws aquatic, mildly hokey monster movie (just get off the damn boat!), but worked much, much better as a very melancholic thesis on evolution and the desperate scrabble for procreation... It's really beautifully shot too, only 79 mins but no fat at all. The underwater choreography is breathtaking, and is a clear precursor to such sub-aquatic barnies as the famous zombie-vs-shark tussle in Zombie Flesh Eaters.

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