This article is about the film. For the eponymous character, see Gill-man. For the pinball machine, see Creature from the Black Lagoon (pinball). For the manga, see Black Lagoon. Creature from the Black Lagoon Theatrical release poster by Reynold Brown Directed by Jack Arnold Produced by William Alland Screenplay by Harry EssexArthur A. Ross Story by Maurice Zimm Starring Richard CarlsonJulia AdamsRichard DenningAntonio Moreno Music by Henry ManciniHans J.
SalterHerman Stein Cinematography William E. Snyder Edited by Ted J. Kent Production company Universal Pictures Distributed by Universal-International Release date February 12, 1954 (premiere) March 5, 1954 (et al., regional openings) Running time 79 minutes Country United States Language English Budget unknown Box office $1,300,000 Creature from the Black Lagoon is a 1954 American black-and-white 3D monster horror film from Universal-International, produced by William Alland, directed by Jack Arnold, that stars Richard Carlson, Julia Adams, Richard Denning, Antonio Moreno and Whit Bissell.
The Creature was played by Ben Chapman on land and by Ricou Browning underwater. The film premiered in Detroit on February 12 and was released on a regional basis, opening on various dates. Creature from the Black Lagoon was filmed in 3D and originally projected by the polarized light method. The audience wore viewers with gray polarizing filters, similar to the viewers most commonly used today. Because the brief 1950s 3D film fad had peaked in mid-1953 and was fading fast in early 1954, many audiences actually saw the film "flat", in 2D.
Typically, the film was shown in 3D in large downtown theaters and flat in smaller neighborhood theaters. In 1975 Creature from the Black Lagoon was re-released to theaters in the inferior red-and-blue-glasses anaglyph 3D format, which was also used for a 1980 home video release on Beta and VHS videocassettes. For marketing reasons, a comedic short TV special was aired prior to the film's release titled Abbott and Costello Meet the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Ben Chapman reprised his role as the Gill-Man for the program. Creature from the Black Lagoon generated two sequels: Revenge of the Creature (1955), which was also filmed and released in 3D in hopes of reviving the format, and The Creature Walks Among Us (1956), filmed in 2D. The creature, also known as the Gill-man, is usually counted among the classic Universal Monsters. Plot Autographed Julie Adams still featuring the Creature menacing Kay.
A geology expedition in the Amazon uncovers fossilized evidence (a skeletal hand with webbed fingers) from the Devonian period that provides a direct link between land and sea animals. Expedition leader Dr. Carl Maia (Antonio Moreno) orders his two assistants to stay in camp while he visits the marine biology institute. Maia reunites with his friend and former student, ichthyologist Dr. David Reed (Richard Carlson).
Dr. Reed works at an aquarium in California, but more recently he has been a guest at Maia's institute in Brazil to study lungfish. Reed persuades his boss, the financially minded Dr. Mark Williams (Richard Denning), to fund a return expedition to the Amazon to look for the remainder of the skeleton. Soon after Dr. Maia leaves camp, a piscine amphibious humanoid, a living member of the same species from which the fossil originated, becomes curious about the expedition's camp.
When its sudden appearance frightens the assistants, they panic and attack, and in response the enraged creature kills them both. The group goes aboard the tramp steamer Rita, captained by crusty Lucas (Nestor Paiva). The expedition consists of David, Carl, Mark, as well as Reed's girlfriend and colleague, Kay Lawrence (Julie Adams), and another scientist, Dr. Edwin Thompson (Whit Bissell). When they arrive at the camp, they discover Maia's assistants have been killed while he was away.
Lucas suggests it was likely done by a jaguar, but the others are unsure. A further excavation of the area where Carl found the fossil turns up nothing. Mark is ready to give up the search, but David suggests that perhaps thousands of years ago the part of the embankment containing the rest of the skeleton fell into the water and was washed downriver, broken up by the current. Carl says the tributary empties into a lagoon.
Lucas calls it the "Black Lagoon", a paradise from which no one has ever returned. The scientists decide to risk it, unaware that the amphibious "Gill-man" that killed Carl's assistants has been watching them. Taking notice of the beautiful Kay, the creature follows the Rita all the way downriver to the Black Lagoon. Once the expedition arrives, David and Mark go diving to collect rock samples from the lagoon floor.
After they return, Kay goes swimming and is stalked underwater by the Gill-man, who then gets briefly caught in one of the ship's drag lines. Although it escapes, the creature leaves a claw behind in the net, revealing its existence. Subsequent encounters with the Gill-man claim the lives of Lucas's crew members, before the creature is captured and locked in a cage aboard the Rita. It escapes during the night, attacking Thompson, who was guarding it.
Kay smashes the creature with a lantern, driving it off, but Thompson is severely injured. Following this incident, David decides they should return to civilization. Mark, obsessed with capturing (or killing) the creature, objects. As the Rita tries to leave, they find the lagoon's entrance blocked by fallen logs, courtesy of the Gill-man. While the others attempt to remove the logs, Mark is mauled to death while trying to capture the creature single-handedly, underwater.
It then abducts Kay and takes her to its cavern lair. David, Lucas and Carl give chase, and Kay is rescued. The creature is riddled with bullets before retreating to the lagoon, where its body sinks into the watery depths. Cast Ricou Browning played the "Gill Man" in the underwater scenes of Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Revenge of the Creature (1955), and The Creature Walks Among Us (1956).
Richard Carlson as Dr. David Reed Julie Adams as Kay Lawrence Richard Denning as Dr. Mark Williams Antonio Moreno as Dr. Carl Maia Nestor Paiva as Captain Lucas Whit Bissell as Dr. Edwin Thompson Bernie Gozier as Zee Henry A. Escalante as Chico Perry Lopez as Tomas Rodd Redwing as Luis Sydney Mason as Dr. Matos Ben Chapman as Gill-man (land) Ricou Browning as Gill-man (underwater) Production Ginger Stanley did underwater stunts in the first two films.
 Producer William Alland was attending a 1941 dinner party during the filming of Citizen Kane (in which he played the reporter Thompson) when Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa told him about the myth of a race of half-fish, half-human creatures in the Amazon River. Alland wrote story notes titled "The Sea Monster" 10 years later. His inspiration was Beauty and the Beast. In December 1952, Maurice Zimm expanded this into a treatment, which Harry Essex and Arthur Ross rewrote as The Black Lagoon.
Following the success of the 3D film House of Wax in 1953, Jack Arnold was hired to direct the film in the same format. The designer of the approved Gill-man was Disney animator Millicent Patrick, though her role was deliberately downplayed by make-up artist Bud Westmore, who for half a century would receive sole credit for the creature's conception. Jack Kevan, who worked on The Wizard of Oz (1939) and made prosthetics for amputees during World War II, created the bodysuit, while Chris Mueller Jr.
sculpted the head. Ben Chapman portrayed the Gill-man for the majority of the scenes shot at Universal City, California. Many of the on-top of the water scenes were filmed at Rice Creek near Palatka, Florida. The costume made it impossible for Chapman to sit for the 14 hours of each day that he wore it, and it overheated easily, so he stayed in the back lot's lake, often requesting to be hosed down.
He also could not see very well while wearing the headpiece, which caused him to scrape Julie Adams' head against the wall when carrying her in the grotto scenes. Ricou Browning played the Gill-Man in the underwater shots, which were filmed by the second unit in Wakulla Springs, Florida. Critical reception Creature from the Black Lagoon received positive reviews from critics upon its release and is now considered a classic.
Leonard Maltin awarded the film three out of a possible four stars, writing, "Archetypal '50s monster movie has been copied so often that some of the edge is gone, but ... is still entertaining, with juicy atmosphere and luminous underwater photography sequences." Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports an approval rating of 84%, based on 32 reviews, with a overall rating average of 6.9/10.
 The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists: 2001: AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills – Nominated 2003: AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains: Gill-man – Nominated Villain Novelization Creature from the Black Lagoon was novelized in 1954 by John Russell Fearn under the pseudonym of "Vargo Statten", then later, in 1977, in mass market paperback under the pseudonym of "Carl Dreadstone".
This was part of a short-lived series of books based on the classic Universal horror films. The 1977 book was introduced by Ramsey Campbell, but was written by Walter Harris. The 1977 novel offers a completely different Gill-man, who in this version of the story is gigantic, almost as big as the Rita herself, weighing in at 30 tons. It is both coldblooded and warmblooded, is a hermaphrodite, and also possesses a long whip-like tail.
The gigantic creature is dubbed "AA", for "Advanced Amphibian", by the expedition team members. After slaying most of the team members, destroying a Sikorsky helicopter, and kidnapping Kay more than once, the creature is killed by the crew of a United States Navy torpedo boat. The 1977 novel also differs greatly with respect to the human characters. Only David Reed and Kay Lawrence remain the same.
Mark Williams is a German named "Bruno Gebhardt" and dies not as a result from drowning, but by the monster falling on him. Lucas is named "Jose Goncalves Fonseca de Souza" and is a mostly sympathetic character, until his suggestion of throwing the wounded and unconscious Reed to the monster makes an enraged Gebhardt/Williams throw "him" to the beast instead. Dr. Thompson and Dr. Maia both die grisly deaths, whereas in the movie they survive; Maia is eaten by the monster, and Thompson is impaled on a long tree branch flung at him by the creature like a spear (in an apparent nod to a deleted scene from Revenge of the Creature wherein the Gill-man killed a guard in this fashion).
Home media In 1980, Universal released Creature from the Black Lagoon on video cassette in an anaglyph 3D version, using the Deep Vision anaglyph 3D release as its source. Subsequent releases on VHS, Beta and DVD were the 2D version. On October 2, 2012, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment released the film on Blu-ray as a 2D / Blu-ray 3D dual format disc as part of the "Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection" box set.
On June 4, 2013, the Creature from the Black Lagoon Blu-ray disc was released as a stand-alone title. Legacy Main article: Cultural impact of Creature from the Black Lagoon . Cancelled remake In 1982, John Landis wanted Jack Arnold to direct a remake of the film, and Nigel Kneale was commissioned to write the screenplay. Kneale completed the script, which involved a pair of creatures, one destructive and the other calm and sensitive, being persecuted by the United States Navy.
 A decision to make the film in 3D led to the remake being canceled by producers at Universal, both for budgetary concerns and to avoid a clash with Jaws 3-D. In 1992, John Carpenter was developing the remake at Universal. He originally hired Bill Phillips to write the script while Rick Baker was hired to create the 3D model of the Creature, but the project never got green-lit. Herschel Weingrod and Timothy Harris wrote a new script, and Universal offered Peter Jackson the director's position in 1995, but he chose to work on King Kong instead.
 In February 1996, Ivan Reitman was planning to direct the remake, but the outing never materialized. With the financial success of The Mummy remake in May 1999, development of the Creature from the Black Lagoon remake was revived. In December 2001, Gary Ross signed on to write and produce the remake with his father, Arthur A. Ross, one of the original's writers. He told The Hollywood Reporter, "The story my father wrote embodies the clash between primitive men and civilized men, and that obviously makes it a fertile area for re-examination.
" In August 2002, Guillermo del Toro, a fan of the original, was attached as director. He had hoped to do a story focused more on the Creature's perspective and letting him have romantic success, which he would later turn into the 2017 film The Shape of Water, but Universal heads rejected this concept.  Because of these creative clashes and his commitments to numerous other projects, Universal was forced to go without del Toro and hired Tedi Sarafian (credited on Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines) to write a script in March 2003.
 In October 2005, Breck Eisner signed on as director. "As a kid, I remember loving Jack Arnold's original version of this film", he explained. "What I really want to do is update an iconic image from the '50s and bring in more of the sci-fi sensibility of Alien or John Carpenter's The Thing (1982)." Ross said in March 2007 the Gill-man's origin would be reinvented, with him being the result of a pharmaceutical corporation polluting the Amazon.
"It's about the rainforest being exploited for profit", he said. However, the production was delayed by the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike; as a result, Eisner made The Crazies (2010) the number one on his priority list instead. His new goal was to finish filming The Crazies and then begin filming Creature from the Black Lagoon in Manaus, Brazil and on the Amazon River in Peru. Eisner was inspired to shoot on location by the film Fitzcarraldo, and the boat set had been built.
Eisner continued to rewrite the script, which was to be a summer blockbuster full of "action and excitement, but [still] scary". Eisner spent six months designing the new incarnation of the Gill-man with Mark McCreery (Jurassic Park, and Davy Jones' designer). The director said the design was "very faithful to the original, but updated" and that the Gill-man would still be sympathetic. In 2009, it was reported that Carl Erik Rinsch might direct a 2010 remake that would be produced by Marc Abraham, Eric Newman and Gary Ross; however, a project featuring this ensemble had been abandoned by 2011.
In March 2012, Universal announced that a remake was in production, and would simply be titled The Black Lagoon rather than Creature from the Black Lagoon, in order to distinguish the two versions. In October 2012, the studio hired Dave Kajganich to write the film. The film was expected to hit theaters by May 2014, but was ultimately cancelled. Reboot Main article: Universal Monsters § Dark Universe Universal Pictures is developing a shared universe of rebooted modern-day versions of their classic Universal Monsters, with various films in different stages of development.
The series begins with The Mummy (2017) and will continue with Bride of Frankenstein (2019). The Creature from the Black Lagoon has a story written by Jeff Pinkner and a script written by Will Beall. In June 2017, Kurtzman revealed that the Gill-man will be from the Amazon. But on November 8, 2017, Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan moved on to other projects, leaving the future of the Dark Universe in doubt.
 See also References Notes Citations ^ a b Furmanek, Bob and Greg Kintz. "An in-depth look at 'Creature from the Black Lagoon'." 3dfilmarchive.com, 2012. Retrieved: November 19, 2013. ^ "Portrait of Ginger Stanley sitting on a diving board - Weeki Wachee Springs, Florida." State Archives of Florida. Retrieved: March 23, 2015. ^ a b Vieira 2003, pp. 141–143. ^ Ferrari 2003, p. 287. ^ Maltin, Leonard.
Leonard Maltin's 2014 Movie Guide. Penguin Press. p. 298. ISBN 9780451418104. ^ "Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes.com. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 22 August 2016. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 20, 2016. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 20, 2016. ^ a b Murray 2005, pp. 154–156.
^ Archerd, Army "Olympics to cross finish line in style." Variety, July 19, 1992. ^ a b Archerd, Army. "Hiller relieved that noms weren't leaked." Variety, February 12, 1996. ^ "Recreating the Eighth Wonder." King Kong (3-disc Deluxe Extended Edition DVD), 2006. ^ Fleming. Michael. "Kornberg reups at U." Variety, May 20, 1999. ^ Linder, Brian. "Back to the Black Lagoon." IGN, December 13, 2001. ^ Linder, Brian.
"Del Toro to Uni's Creature Redo." IGN, August 7, 2002. ^ "Del Toro Talks Black Lagoon Influence On "Shape" - Dark Horizons". darkhorizons.com. Retrieved November 20, 2017. ^ Linder, Brian (March 11, 2003). "T3 Scribe Penning Creature". IGN. Archived from the original on August 18, 2012. ^ Snyder, Gabriel. "U's 'Creature' meets maker." Variety, October 19, 2005. ^ Cieply, Michael. "On screens soon, abused Earth gets its revenge.
" The New York Times, March 12, 2007. ^ Rotten, Ryan. "Exclusive: Eisner on Creature from the Black Lagoon Remake." Shock Till You Drop, May 2, 2008. ^ Fleming, Mike (December 14, 2009). "Creature to Feature Rinsch?". Variety. Archived from the original on August 22, 2010. ^ "'Creature from the Black Lagoon' Taps New Director for Revival." bloody-disgusting.com. Retrieved: March 23, 2015. ^ Kit, Borys.
"'Creature From the Black Lagoon' nabs a writer (Exclusive)." The Hollywood Reporter, October 12, 2012. Retrieved: March 23, 2015. ^ http://www.cinemablend.com/news/1667260/where-the-creature-from-the-black-lagoon-monster-comes-from-in-universals-dark-universe ^ Kit, Borys; Couch, Aaron (November 8, 2017). "Universal's "Monsterverse" in Peril as Top Producers Exit (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter.
Retrieved November 8, 2017. Bibliography Ferrari, Andrea. Il Cinema Dei Mostri. Milan, Italy: Mondadori, 2003. ISBN 88-435-9915-1. Murray, Andy. Into the Unknown: The Fantastic Life of Nigel Kneale. Stockport, Cheshire, UK: Critical Vision, 2005. ISBN 1-900486-50-4. Vieira, Mark A. Hollywood Horror: From Gothic to Cosmic. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2003. ISBN 0-8109-4535-5. Warren, Bill. Keep Watching the Skies: American Science Fiction Films of the Fifties, 21st Century Edition.
Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2009, (First edition 1982). ISBN 0-89950-032-3. External links Wikimedia Commons has media related to Creature from the Black Lagoon. Wikiquote has quotations related to: Creature from the Black Lagoon Creature from the Black Lagoon on IMDb Creature from the Black Lagoon at the TCM Movie Database Creature from the Black Lagoon at AllMovie Creature from the Black Lagoon at Rotten Tomatoes The Reel Gill-man – Official site of Ben Chapman, who played the Gill-man v t e Gill-man Films Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) Revenge of the Creature (1955) The Creature Walks Among Us (1956) Parodies Mad Monster Party? (1967) Mad Mad Mad Monsters (1972) Saturday the 14th (1981) The Monster Squad (1987) Hotel Transylvania (2012) Other Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Musical Creature from the Black Lagoon: Pinball Legacy Monster Bash: Pinball v t e Films directed by Jack Arnold With These Hands (1950) Girls in the Night (1953) It Came from Outer Space (1953) The Glass Web (1953) Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) The Man from Bitter Ridge (1955) Revenge of the Creature (1955) Tarantula (1955) Red Sundown (1956) Outside the Law (1956) The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) The Tattered Dress (1957) Man in the Shadow (1957) The Lady Takes a Flyer (1958) High School Confidential (1958) The Space Children (1958) Monster on the Campus (1958) No Name on the Bullet (1959) The Mouse That Roared (1959) Bachelor in Paradise (1961) A Global Affair (1964) The Lively Set (1964) Hello Down There (1969) Black Eye (1974) Boss Nigger (1975) The Swiss Conspiracy (1976) The Wackiest Wagon Train in the West (1976) Marilyn: The Untold Story (1980) v t e Universal Monsters Films Dracula Dracula (English)/(Spanish) (1931) Dracula's Daughter (1936) Son of Dracula (1943) Remakes Dracula (1979) Dracula Untold (2014) Frankenstein Frankenstein (1931) Bride of Frankenstein (1935; character) Son of Frankenstein (1939) The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) Edgar Allan Poe Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) The Black Cat (1934) The Raven (1935) The Black Cat (1941) The Mystery of Marie Roget (1942) Mummy (Imhotep • Kharis) The Mummy (1932) The Mummy's Hand (1940) The Mummy's Tomb (1942) The Mummy's Ghost The Mummy's Curse (1944) Dark Universe The Mummy (2017) The Mummy The Mummy (1999) Returns (2001) Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) Invisible Man The Invisible Man (1933) Returns The Invisible Woman (1940) Invisible Agent (1942) The Invisible Man's Revenge (1944) Werewolves (The Wolf Man) Werewolf of London (1935) The Wolf Man (1941) She-Wolf of London (1946) The Wolfman (2010 remake) Crossovers Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) House of Frankenstein (1944) House of Dracula (1945) Van Helsing (2004) Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) Killer, Boris Karloff (1949) Invisible Man (1951) Dr.
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953) Mummy (1955) Ape Woman Captive Wild Woman (1943) Jungle Woman (1944) The Jungle Captive (1945) Inner Sanctum Mysteries Calling Dr. Death (1943) Weird Woman Dead Man's Eyes (1944) The Frozen Ghost Strange Confession Pillow of Death (1945) Gill-man Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) Revenge of the Creature (1955) The Creature Walks Among Us (1956) Other films The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) The Cat and the Canary (1927) The Man Who Laughs (1928) The Last Warning The Last Performance (1929) The Cat Creeps La Voluntad del muerto (1930) The Old Dark House (1932) Secret of the Blue Room (1933) The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935) The Invisible Ray (1936) Night Key (1937) The Phantom Creeps (1939) Phantom of the Opera The Phantom of the Opera (1925) Phantom of the Opera (1943) Tower of London (1939) Black Friday (1940) Man Made Monster Horror Island (1941) The Mad Doctor of Market Street The Strange Case of Doctor Rx Night Monster (1942) The Mad Ghoul (1943) The Climax (1944) The Spider Woman Strikes Back Cat Creeps (1946) The Creeper House of Horrors (1946) The Brute Man (1946) The Strange Door (1951) The Black Castle (1952) It Came from Outer Space (1953) Tarantula Cult of the Cobra This Island Earth (1955) Curucu, Beast of the Amazon The Mole People (1956) The Incredible Shrinking Man The Deadly Mantis The Land Unknown The Monolith Monsters (1957) The Thing That Couldn't Die Monster on the Campus (1958) Curse of the Undead (1959) The Leech Woman (1960) Tributes Boo! (1932) Shock Theater (1957) Tales of Frankenstein (1958) The Munsters (1964–66) Mad Monster Party? (1967) Mad Mad Mad Monsters (1972) Young Frankenstein (1974) Monster Squad (1976–77) Love at First Bite (1979) Frankenweenie (1984) The Monster Squad (1987) Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995) House of the Wolf Man (2009) Monster High (2010) Hotel Transylvania (2012) Frankenweenie (2012) Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015) Hotel Transylvania: The Series (2017–present) The Shape of Water (2017) Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (2018) Authority control GND: 7546933-9 Retrieved from "https://en.
wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Creature_from_the_Black_Lagoon&oldid=814786328"See Also: Different Types Of Collagen
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Deals Reviews Releases Top lists Database Community By genre (61904) (49156) (13342) (9665) (6780) (46249) (10360) (3403) (30170) (6296) (7544) (73386) (8096) (2157) (18878) (29122) (1829) (13949) (2591) (9154) (1794) (24538) (1333) (5586) (3664) (14808) (5949) (18204) (2176) (884) (11905) (5161) (24916) (32710) (766) (4449) (7989) (2477) (5333) (51692) (8628) (3971)By studio About Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray Universal Studios | 1954 | 79 min | Rated G | Jun 04, 2013 Creature from the Black Lagoon 3D (1954) Creature from the Black Lagoon 3D Blu-ray delivers great video and superb audio in this overall recommended Blu-ray release In the early 1950s, a scientific expedition into the Amazon recovers a strange fossilized claw that could be a missing link between creatures that swim in the seas and those that walk on land.
Once the fossil is examined, a larger, better-funded expedition is authorized to travel deep into the interior of the Amazon Basin to hopefully find more examples of the long dead creature. But as the expedition pushes deeper into the unexplored reaches of the great waterway, they come to the realization that "something" is watching their every move, stalking them... on the land, and in the water!For more about Creature from the Black Lagoon 3D and the Creature from the Black Lagoon 3D Blu-ray release, see Creature from the Black Lagoon 3D Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on September 28, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.
5 out of 5.Director: Jack ArnoldWriters: Harry Essex, Arthur A. Ross, Maurice Zimm, William AllandStarring: Richard Carlson, Julie Adams, Richard Denning, Antonio Moreno, Nestor Paiva, Whit Bissell» See full cast & crew Creature from the Black Lagoon 3D Blu-ray Review "We didn't come here to fight monsters, we're not equipped for it..." Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, September 28, 2012Take a moment and imagine what modern horror would be without Universal Pictures.
Without founder Carl Laemmle and his vision for the future of cinema, or his son Carl Laemmle Jr., who inherited the keys to the studio kingdom in 1928, when talkies were rapidly displacing silent films and promising groundbreaking new strides in moviemaking and the movie-going experience. Without early horror pioneers like Tod Browning, James Whale, Karl Freund, George Waggner or Jack Arnold. Without iconic creature actors Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Claude Rains, Lon Chaney, Jr.
, Elsa Lanchester or Ben Chapman. Without Dracula, the indispensable 1931 classic that left a more lasting mark on vampire movies and lore than any other vampire film before or after (save Nosferatu). Or Frankenstein, which pushed boundaries, shocked audiences and has been received with overwhelming enthusiasm ever since. The Mummy, bold in its atmosphere and unforgettable in its tragic romance. The Invisible Man, which features some of the most astonishing special effects and perhaps one of the most unnerving depictions of mounting madness of the era.
The Bride of Frankenstein, a complex, wickedly funny, altogether unpredictable sequel that in many regards surpasses its predecessor. The Wolf Man, a once-chilling character drama that examines the frailty of man and the beast within. Phantom of the Opera, though more a twisted love story than a traditional horror picture, a film that nevertheless caused some theaters to stock smelling salts in in the event that a moviegoer fainted upon the removal of the Phantom's mask.
Or Creature from the Black Lagoon, which frightened audiences above the water and below with a scaly monster unlike any they had seen before. Needless to say, modern horror, and really the genre in whole, would be completely different than what we know. Creature from the Black Lagoon certainly wasn't the first Universal horror movie inspired by Beauty and the Beast. Many of the films in the Essentials Collection, in fact, owe a debt of gratitude to the age-old story of a monster tamed, however briefly, by love.
But the early Universal classics have a knack for humanizing their monsters and making it that much more difficult to feel any sort of elation when the Reaper comes to collect, and Creature is no different. Credit where credit's most due: first to the effects masters who created The Gill Man -- and the two men who donned the suit, underwater performer Ricou Browning and on-land actor Ben Chapman -- and second to the cast who sell the terror: Julia Adams as pretty faced damsel-in-distress Kay Lawrence, Richard Carlson as Dr.
David Reed, Antonio Moreno as Dr. Carl Maia, Whit Bissell as Dr. Edwin Thompson, and Nestor Paiva as Lucas (a precursor to Robert Shaw's Quint in Jaws). Creature is notable for more than its leading men, its shrill-shrieking beauty and its amphibious beast, though. Director Jack Arnold is patient and shrewd, the film is paced smartly, and the suspense is worth the price of admission alone. (Count the number of shots and scenes that clearly left an impression on a young Steven Spielberg, and picture Jaws without them.
) And then there's Chris Mueller, Jr. and Jack Kevan's Gill Man suit. It not only remains an impressive relic of '50s creature feature cinema, its grasping webbed fingers, bulging throat and pulsing gills still look so... alive. Even fifty-eight years later, closeups of the insatiable monster are the stuff of childhood dreams and Sleestak nightmares, regardless of how much the passage of time has diluted the movie's scares.
Creature from the Black Lagoon 3D Blu-ray, Video Quality Creature from the Black Lagoon rises out of the mid-50s muck with a less than ideal restoration, a hit-or-miss 1080p/MVC-encoded video transfer and a slightly problematic (but mostly engaging) native 3D experience. First the restoration. Several inherent issues manifest again and again throughout the film: stretches of soupy and/or chunky grain (most of which trace back to the filmmakers pushing in on the negative and literally increasing the size of each speck of grain), terribly soft shots some will mistake for evidence of egregious noise reduction (which isn't the case here at all), and a general unevenness rooted in the unwieldy condition of the source elements.
(Keep in mind, even the most skilled film preservationist can't turn water into wine.) Several more issues, though, aren't inherited from the original film elements: minor ringing, faint and graciously infrequent underwater macroblocking, and slight, almost negligible banding in the bright skies. And then there's the 3D presentation, which comes with hiccups of its own, despite the fact that most of them are easy to overlook.
3D displays and glasses that are prone to ghosting will run into several eyesores, among them POV shots where the Gill Man pushes past jungle underbrush, the backgrounds in dark scenes where the creature stalks Kay at night, and some of the underwater sequences. None of it -- the restoration shortcomings, the transfer/encoding issues or the 3D presentation's woes -- matter all that much. It's when they begin piling up and taking a collective toll.
All that being said, the film still looks quite good; I'd go so far as to say as good as it could considering the various challenges the restoration team appear to have faced. When the sun is up, the cameras are above the water, and the shot is crisp and steady, the transfer follows suit. (Luckily, that's 80% of the movie.) Gray tones are natural, carefully dialed contrast leveling helps the image pop, and blacks are nice and deep.
Detail is terrific too... minus those brief, intermittent instances when the original photography falters. The presentation can be a jarring one every now and then, switching between two distinct modes: scenes that make Creature look as if it's been given the same attention and investment as Dracula and other movies in the Essentials Collection, and scenes that make it look inadequate by comparison.
The cause obviously isn't that black and white (pardon the pun), as that would imply certain shots and sequences were restored while others were not. (Which is something someone, somewhere will inevitably assume.) Universal has made the best of what I presume was a difficult restoration with very few across-the-board solutions. It's still leagues beyond passable in 2D and 3D (and boasts excellent depth and dimensionality), and it isn't a cut-n-dry achievement or failure, no matter which way subjective opinions lean.
This is one that would have definitely benefited from a project-specific restoration featurette a la the one included with Dracula. If nothing else, it would have addressed the presentation's flaws and made it easier to appreciate its finer qualities. Creature from the Black Lagoon 3D Blu-ray, Audio Quality Evaluating Universal's two-channel DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track isn't as challenging, mainly because there's very little to criticize or complain about.
Dialogue is direct, intelligible and accurately represented, voices are clean and clear, and sound effects, canned and stagy as any effects of the era, rarely falter. Henry Mancini, Hans J. Salter and Herman Stein's music score runs into the limitations of its original recording, but the film's orchestral arrangements have a fullness that defies mono bounds, blaring trumpets and furious strings sound great, and the persistent, oft-repeated and never-subtle bum bum bwaaaum! that accompanies each appearance of the Gill Man is as piercing and hair-raising as Julia Adams' blood-curdling screams.
Creature from the Black Lagoon 3D Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation The Creature of the Black Lagoon is a fitting film to end on. The movie and its amphibious beastie holds up all these years later and represents one of the last great creature features of Hollywood's first major horror boom. The Blu-ray edition is a bit all over the place, though. Its DTS-HD Master Audio Mono mix delivers, while its restoration and video transfer are strong but problematic, its 3D experience suffers a bit too (albeit not too much), and its special features are the slimmest in the Universal Classic Monsters: Essentials Collection.
It's still worth owning, don't get me wrong, but I suspect most of you will invest more time elsewhere in the eight-film box set. Creature from the Black Lagoon: Other Editions Blu-ray bundles with Creature from the Black Lagoon 3D (1 bundle) Show more titles »« Show less titlesSimilar titles suggested by members Creature from the Black Lagoon 3D Blu-ray, News and Updates • Classic Monsters Wave 1 Blu-rays - March 26, 2013Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced the individual Blu-ray releases of four classic horror movies originally available as part of the Universal Classic Monsters Essentials Collection box set: The Mummy, The Invisible Man, Phantom of the Opera and .
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