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The Creature from the Black Lagoon

USA 1954
produced by
William Alland for Universal
directed by Jack Arnold
starring Richard Carlson, Julie Adams, Richard Denning, Antonio Moreno, Nestor Paiva, Whit Bissell, Bernie Bozier, Henry A.Escalante, Ricou Browning, Ben Chapman, Rodd Redwing, Perry Lopez, Sydney Mason
story by Maurice Zimm, screenplay by Harry Essex, Arthur A.Ross, music by Henry Mancini, Hans J. Salter, Herman Stein, musical direction: Joseph Gershenson, creature designed by Milicent Patrick, underwater sequences directed by James Curtis Havens

Creature from the Black Lagoon

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Deep deep in the jungle of the Amazon, Professor Carl Maia (Antonio Moreno) discovers a fossil of a yet unknown species, most probably a gill man, and mounts an expedition to find out more about the creature, led by divers David (Richard Carlson) - the good guy - and Mark (Richard Denning) - the cynic who wants to make money out of everything -, who are of course rivalling over the affections of Kay (Julie Adams), also a member of the expedition.

When the expedition arrives at its destination, everybody has to find out they have taken a bigger bite than they can chew on: There is a real gillman (played by Ricou Browning in the underwater scenes and by Ben Chapman when he's on land) around, and this real gillman is violent and doesn't refrain from killing - but he is also in love with Kay. At first, our expedition wants to capture the gillman alive, but he not only escapes captivity but also kills a few members of the expedition. and he blocks off the exit of his lagoon (yup, it's the black lagoon) so the expedition - but especially Kay - cannot leave.

Of course everything is not helped by the fact that Mark and David fight over everything, it's only when they realize they are no longer fighting over honour, over Kay or over the creature but for their survival that they start working together - and soon enough, Mark dies a hero's death, a sort of redemption for his cynical attitude.

Ultimately, the creature abducts Kay, and David, always the hero, goes after him. Man and gillman have a showdown in the creature's cave, and man only wins thanks to Professor Maia and Lucas (Nestor Paiva), the ship's captain, who arrive just in time with the necessary firepower to blow the creature to kingdom come ...


On one hand, Creature from the Black Lagoon is an almost iconic film: The creature itself has since become the epitomy of underwater monsters, his swimming scene with Julie Adams has become a classic in its own right and has been quoted many times (e.g. Jaws), but never with the same panache, the film's special effects look great even more than 50 years after the film's premiere, and many plot elements we now consider as trash mainstays nowadays were incedibly fresh in 1953.

On the other hand though, a trashfilm afficionado like me can't help but point out the film's shortcomings: It takes its silly story way too seriously, especially the love triangle-subplot is nothing short of cheesy (but not in a good way), the whole thing seems to be way too polished for its humble story and the dramatic impact of certain scenes is way too exaggerated to go down easily.

All that said, I actually rather liked Creature from the Black Lagoon, but at the same time I failed to see it as a classic it is often advertized as, nor as a fun sci-fi flick of the kind I love and cherish.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD



Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
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