Classic film reviews: Creature from the Black Lagoon

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Brenda Fellman

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Creature from the black lagoon

Creature from the Black Lagoon – Plot

Creature from the Black Lagoon is a Monster movie released in 1954. The plot starts with the discovery of a fossil in the Amazon by Dr Carl Maia (Antonio Moreno). After finding the fossil, an expedition is sent to the site of the discovery, the Black Lagoon. The expedition is led by Dr. David Reed (Richard Carlson) and his boss, Dr. Mark Williams (Richard Denning). During the course of their exploration, Reed and Williams come to discover that Dr Maia’s team are all dead.

It turns out that Maia’s team get more than they bargained for. Not only did they find a fossil, they also discover that there is a living a prehistoric creature, a half-man-half reptile humanoid, that doesn’t enjoy visitors being there or and likes being captured even less.

The plot turns when the creature develops a fascination and gets infatuated with Kay Lawrence (Julie Adams), a female scientist and Dr Reed’s girlfriend. The creature takes it upon itself to ‘go to war’ with the scientists and wont let them leave the area around the Black Lagoon. As the story unfolds, the creature kidnaps Lawrence leaving Reed with no option but to follow and rescue her.

As the final stand-off commences, Reed and expedition shoot the creature. Badly injured, the creature retreats into the water. Just before the expedition members ready their aim to kill it, Reed stops them and allows the creature to go back to the depths, to a fate unknown.

Creature from the black lagoon

Behind the scenes – the cast and director

The cast in Creature from the Black Lagoon is amazing! They completely embody the characters to such an extent that I sometimes forget that they are not in mortal peril. I really enjoyed Julia Adams’ portrayal of Kay Lawrence. She turns the character into a smart and feisty woman rather than just being there as a plot device. She not only gives the creature a motivation and ‘love interest’ but also pits Dr Reed against his rival/boss for her attention. All in all, Kay Lawrence could have been an annoying damsel in distress but Julia Adams made her something more. She brought her to life, made her likable and gave her a feeling of reality rather then just being a token female character to drive the story forward. Julia Adams role in the Creature from the Black Lagoon did help define the term scream queen.

The director of Creature of the Black Lagoon, Jake Arnold, did an amazing job bring the world to life. Both the scenery and sound effects created a believable view of the Amazons  even though it was filmed in across California and Florida. The cinematography is also great above and under the water. It all goes towards making the film a more immersive experience. Being a master of his craft, Jake Arnold builds the tension and suspense by only introducing the creature halfway into the film. All shots of the creature prior to this point are fleeting glimpses.

Verdict

On a personal level, I love this film. It easily holds a spot on my list of top 10 films. Without fail, I watch it every year on Halloween. Even though it look dated and is black and white, it is still a great monster movie. I am both apprehensive and excited that Universal Studios is said to be planning to remake the film in the next few years although that has rumor has been in circulation since the 90s. I’m hopeful that they will not try and make this like the horror movies of today with ‘jump scares’, excessive blood and barely any plot. If it were up to me, I would keep the a remake closer to the original story and atmosphere. There is a reason this is a classic film and the last thing I want is to see a remake not do it justice.

Cast

Dr. David Reed – Richard Carlson
Kay Lawrence – Julie Adams
Dr. Mark Williams – Richard Denning
Dr. Carl Maia – Antonio Moreno
Lucas – Nestor Paiva
Dr. Edwin Thompson – Whit Bissell
The Gill Man (in the Water) – Ricou Browning (uncredited)
The Gill Man (On Land) – Ben Chapman (uncredited)

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