Monday, October 22, 2012

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) Review

Creature from the Black Lagoon poster
Director: Jack Arnold
Stars: Richard Carlson, Julie Adams
Genre: Horror

Creature from the Black Lagoon was my favorite film as a kid. No seriously, I was obsessed with this film. I played it over and over again, and this film is one of the main reasons I became so fascinated with horror.

Unfortunately, after a few years of not watching this, when returning to it I wasn't too impressed.

It was Universal's most popular monster movie since the '30s, but quite honestly it's nowhere near as good as the Frankenstein or Dracula films. This feels way more like a cheesy B-movie, whereas the Universal Monster films of the '30s feel like genuinely good films.

I'd say the biggest downfall of Creature from the Black Lagoon is its script. It's just so badly written, and none of the characters are at all interesting. Of course there's the brainless, noncontributing, one-dimensional female character here, who is little more than stunning beautiful. None of the other characters are interesting, believable, memorable, or even likable. Except maybe the ship captain, he was kind of cool.

I had the pleasure of seeing this in 3-D at the cinema, which was quite a treat. There are some really beautiful scenes and camera shots, especially the underwater parts and the parts in the cave. 

The monster, or creature, himself is actually really awesome, which is probably why I loved it so much as a kid. The Gill-man, as I'll refer to him, is a very memorable creature indeed, and one of my favorite Universal Monsters, if not my favorite. The Gill-man costume is actually very believable and realistic. I'm not sure if it was rubber, I'd assume it was, but it was very awesome and convincing looking.

The Gill-man himself doesn't really do anything new. Typical monster actions. The film could serve as a metaphor for rebellious teenagers, as could almost all monster films. Monsters always want to get the girl and to be left alone by everyone else, but they're always unaccepted and hated due to their ugly appearance or differences. Doesn't that sum up teenage angst perfectly? May be another reason why I was so fond of this film as a child.

The gill-man carries Julie Adams in Creature from the Black Lagoon

There's some good pacing to the creature though. We only see glimpses of him, or just his hand, at first, until his face just swims into frame. That was pretty well done. Also, at first, which was kind of weird yet cool, his eyes are completely black. It isn't until later on in the film that we are shown his actual eyes, which made him even creepier.

The plot is actually pretty cool, maybe not delivered to its full potential, but it's still cool. It's about some scientists who discover an old fossil of a weird looking hand. They journey to the black lagoon to try and find the rest of the fossil but they are then trapped and killed off by the Creature.

The gill-man's hand in Creature from the Black Lagoon

It all takes place in a lagoon, so there's no cool Gothic castles or anything, but the setting manages to be creepy in its own respect. The forests surrounding the water are constantly lively with unsettling animal screeches and howls. The underwater scenes are probably the best parts, with the Creature making his way around. I feel like Jaws owes a lot to this film.

Creature from the Black Lagoon underwater shot

So though this is a very nostalgic and dear film to me, I really can't look past the awful script though. It's not even the cheesy type of bad that you can laugh at, it's just bad. Though there are a few parts that will make you giggle unintentionally.

Great monster, decent movie. 

3/5 stars
Pros:
+Great monster
+Some good pacing
+A few memorable scenes
Cons:
-Bad script/writing
-Boring characters
-Feels like a bad B-movie

Purchase Creature from the Black Lagoon on Amazon: Blu-Ray - DVD - Stream
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