CREATURE
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Kelly Parks
Creature From The Black Lagoon
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SHOULD YOU?
TIP JAR
REVENGE OF THE CREATURE
MOVIE REVIEW
THE CREATURE WALKS AMONG US
MOVIE REVIEW
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON - 1954
USA Release: March 5, 1954
Universal Pictures
Rated: Australia: PG / Finland: K-12 / USA: Unrated

Oh, baby! Look at that hot Lagoon Creature. Ain't she pretty? Those scales are smokin'!

THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON was written by Harry Essex (OCTAMAN), Arthur A. Ross (THE CREATURE WALKS AMONG US, SATAN'S SCHOOL FOR GIRLS) from a story by Maurice Zimm and directed by Jack Arnold (THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN). The story opens (after a bit of pointless, Biblical narration) with the discovery of a strange, humanoid fossilized hand and upper arm sticking out of a rocky outcrop near the Amazon river in the deep, Brazilian rainforest. The hand includes webbing between the fingers, which you wouldn't think would fossilize, but okay.

Nearby a similar but still living hand reaches up out of the river, feels around on the land (as though looking for lost car keys) then withdraws to the green depths.

The discoverer is Dr. Carl Maia (Antonio Moreno). He immediately seeks funding for a complete expedition, knowing that the discovery of the remains of an aquatic humanoid is going to make him famous. He approaches Mark Williams (Richard Denning: THE BLACK SCORPION, CREATURE WITH THE ATOM BRAIN, LADY AT MIDNIGHT), a wealthy man (and scientist) who immediately sees the PR angle his involvement would bring.

The expedition also includes fellow scientist David Reed (Richard Carlson: IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE, THE POWER, THE MAGNETIC MONSTER), Kay Lawrence (Julie Adams: THE KILLER INSIDE ME, PSYCHIC KILLER) who seems to be there solely to provide sexual tension and Dr. Edwin Thompson (Whit Bissell: SOYLENT GREEN, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS [1956], I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN, MONSTER ON THE CAMPUS), one more scientist.

The expedition proceeds up the Amazon aboard the Rita, a chugging, ancient boat run by Captain Lucas (Nestor Paiva: MIGHTY JOE YOUNG [1949], TARANTULA, THE MOLE PEOPLE, REVENGE OF THE CREATURE). Lucas is by far the most likable character, always smiling, even when he holds a knife to Mark's throat (don't worry – he deserved it).

Visit the late BEN CHAPMAN
as
THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON
The Creature wears lipstick!

The voyage on the mysterious river, where they are in constant danger from stock footage of crocodiles, was very reminiscent of the movie ANACONDA. The same mood setting cinematography, anyway.

They arrive back at Dr. Maia's camp and discover that the camp has been torn apart and the two locals Maia left here are dead - slaughtered by something with sharp claws. That only momentarily dampens their spirits before they start the fossil hunt. Several days of searching fails to produce any more bones, so they decide to move upriver to the Black Lagoon. It is here that they meet the gill-man in all his scaly glory.

It's also here that the whole beauty and the beast subplot begins as Kay goes for a swim (to get away from the testosterone cloud that envelops the ship) and unbeknownst to her she engages in a synchronized swim with the creature. He's clearly enamored (since she's the only one he doesn't try and kill) as he swims right beneath her, shyly touching her feet.

Elaine Morgan
THE AQUATIC APE HYPOTHESIS (Retro Classics) 2nd Edition

Would a human male find a female Lagoon creature attractive?
Feo: Heh! ... er ... heh! ... well ...
No.
Feo: Oh, right! Of course not. Ahem...
So why is it remotely imaginable that a male Lagoon Creature would find a scaleless, gill-less human female even a little bit desirable?
Feo: Loneliness?
Because that's a common human fault: we assume that everyone sees the world the same way we do and that our assumptions are somehow universal. Wrong.

Speaking of reason, how about a

!!!SCIENCE MOMENT!!!:
Okay, a water-dwelling humanoid isn't impossible (Read THE AQUATIC APE by Elaine Morgan). I'd be willing to buy that a branch of primates ended up living in the water. The species clearly wasn't very successful, barely managing to avoid extinction, but they survived. Which brings us to the first problem: "they". In other words, there'd have to be a breeding population of these creatures. The movie isn’t entirely clear on this, but they certainly imply that the Creature is unique – the last of his kind.

But the big problem is the whole "gill-man" thing. Reverting from lungs to gills is really, really unlikely. Land mammals have returned to the sea before (dolphins, otters, seals, etc.) but they ALL still have lungs. I guess making him look like a big otter instead of a fish wouldn’t have been as scary.

Regardless, the gill-man keeps trying to win his lady love, eventually taking her to an underwater grotto that may have been Hugh Hefner's inspiration. The ending is predictable but the creature does win your sympathy for his defense of his home and his nonsensical attempts at romance.

I give THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON a three on Feo's Shriek Girl scale.

Shriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2000 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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