Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Halloween Horror - The Creature from the Black Lagoon

Halloween month movie reviews. Here I’ll talk plot, star power/actor potential (should this be better or worse given the cast), what was good, what was bad and would I recommend it.
The first from the beneath the water themed October horror movies is the 1954 release of The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

A geology expedition in the Amazon led by Dr. Carl Maia uncovers some crazy fossil evidence that could link aquatic and land mammals. Of course the fossil found is a wyrd large skeletal hand with webbed fingers. Dr. Carl heads back to the states to tout his find to his buddy Dr. David. You know what comes next……A full group of science nerds, and for some reason, the girlfriend of one of them heads off to the Amazon to find more fossils and possibly the remaining skeleton that belongs to this fossil hand.
"Lets go find us some fish man fossils!"
Now as they search around the shores of the river a heavily scaled humanoid fish-man becomes curious of the party. He beastie is found rummaging around their camp and scares a couple scientists. They panic and attack the fish-man. It retaliates and kills the two of them. The dead scientists are found by Dr. Carl and crew and assume this attack was done by a jungle cat. They continue with their fossil search because why not. I mean these were just lesser assistants and their deaths were just a part of the job. The crew hop a boat and travel down river thinking they will find more fossil evidence in the seclude and mysterious Black Lagoon. A body of water  off the Amazon where nobody has ever returned from!
(insert World of Warcraft Murloc noise here)

Well now they have invaded the personal home of the fish man who attacked the camp. He begins to terrorize the science crew, or maybe he is just defending his home from invaders. Either way the scientists and boat crew have a few skirmishes with the fish man. This leads to more scientist and boat crew deaths and plots to capture and /or kill the fish man. The beast also falls for the girlfriend of Dr. David as fish men are want to do. The cat and mouse game of man vs. beast runs for a while until it grabs Kay, the girlfriend of Dr. David, and takes her to his watery lair. Now Dr. David and Dr. Carl give chase to rescue Kay and stop the monster.
Now lets go kill the living fossil fish man we found!
He is after our women!
This leads to an eventual showdown where Kay is saved by the Dr.’s and the creature is riddled with bullets. The last we see of the beast is it slowly sinking to the depths of the Black Lagoon. Dead…..OR IS IT!?!?!?!
I have no idea if this movie was full of soon to famous or already famous. This is a big pass here since I have no idea who the cast of this film is or was. I can say I didn’t hate any of the characters portrayed so…. Whomever they are/were they did good work for an old school monster movie.

Well first off the creature or officially termed “Gill Man”  is a fantastic looking monster. Especially for the 1950’s. He falls in with the other classic Universal move monsters, but I think he is easily the most complex and coolest looking of that group. It is just so alien and menacing while being able to move fluidly in the water too. A great bit of prosthetic work!

The underwater scenes look great. Especially the bit  where the girlfriend goes for a dip and the Gill Man is just below watching here. I imagine that creeped out the audiences back in the day.
The movie is just so calm and serene for so long and then the Gill Man arrives and throws the movie into an action set piece.

The plot is a simple beast loves beauty but it is not reciprocated. This was common during this era of creature features. It is lame but a charming throwback to simpler times in cinema. Hell, without this movie would we have had The Shape of Water? I mean you can see the outline for that movie in Creature from the Black Lagoon.

The acting is actually pretty good for a 50’s creature feature too.
I expected this as I sat to watch this movie. This isn’t scary. I knew it wouldn’t be scary at all, much like the rest of the Universal monster films. I mean there are some great bits of calm and then a loud three note   al bit tied to the appearance of the monster’s webbed hand. There is the whole what lurks below aspect to try and frighten and titillate as well. I guess 60+ years ago that was enough to get a jump scare out of a crowd. For me though there was nothing spine chilling at all. I mean they play the eerie underwater stuff well, but that doesn’t make it scary. It just makes it a bit of creepy with the whole is there something under me in the water or not?

The run time is only 78 minutes which makes for a very fast and short film.
I could call out the simple plot, but I won’t. I mean this movie is basically a pre-1987 Predator. Both have simple plots, action, a jungle, the whole nature vs. man battle and a fantastic looking creature to fight. I can’t hate on this plot as there are so many other films I enjoy that follow this same outline.
Yes. Yes I do. The short run time, simple plot, environmental (both above and below the water) filming and great looking monster make this a watch. I mean come on people, this is horror movie history here! The Gill Man needs more work in Hollywood. We have had enough vampires, werewolves, mummy and Frankenstein-ish monster films over the decades! We need a few more fish man movies!
Well that is one down and now I’ll skip ahead to the year 1989 to watch the first of two undersea horror movies from that year. Just take my hand and dive deep into the briny deep to review…..Leviathan!

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