"The boys around here call it 'The Black Lagoon' -a paradise. Only they say nobody has ever come back to prove it."
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) is a classic monster movie and one of the last Universal monster movies to be a huge hit. When a scientist, on a research trip in South America, discovers a piece of a fossil that could be from a missing link between human and sea life he rushes back to gather a research team to analyze and find out more about it. But when he returns to find his guides murdered he discovers that whatever it was may still be out there.
[This review will make reference to the 3D version, which was the way the movie was originally presented. If you haven't seen the 3D version of this film I'd say it's worth at least checking out, it will explain why they shot a bunch of things the way they did. And you can now buy it in the Blu-ray combo movie pack which I linked at the bottom of the post.]
I really enjoyed the characters in Creature from the Black Lagoon. Although simple they all have an interesting level of depth to them and they are all very strong characters. I also liked the hinted love triangle between the three leads, it offered some interesting tension beyond the monster.
For the most part I enjoyed the way 3D was used in this film. Every shot is setup with a distinct foreground, middle, and background, offering a lot of depth to the shot. And the way it is used in underwater shots is absolutely beautiful, it really makes for some beautiful shots unlike many other movies past or present.
Biggest problem with this movie is the stiff dialogue dates it pretty bad. The way they treat Kay the girl on board is pretty sexist and while most of the Universal back lot set is convincing it'll take some suspension of belief to actually think that the Gill-man-made dam of twigs that blocks the ship toward the end would actually hold them back.
And although I said I liked the 3D it is used in the very gimmicky way you would expect for a lot of things. They repeatedly show a close up of the claw/fossil coming out towards you and for some reason every shot of a gun, harpoon or anything else that can be fired needs to be fired right at the camera and right in your face, wouldn't bother me if this happened a couple times but it happens almost every time.
The creature known as the Gill-man still amazingly holds up today. Designed by Disney animator Millicent Patrick, and produced by makeup artist Bud Westmore, the amount of detail on the suit is what I believe really sells it. And the shots with the Gill-man in the film are actually still quite terrifying. It has this level of intrigue as you're not sure how intelligent it really is, as it seems to have a creepy fondness for the leading lady Kay and does a lot of really scary creeping around while the crew isn't expecting it.
But the thing I love most about this film is the really solid story, it still really holds up even today! The story is torn between being pushed forward by the crew and then the Gill-man, which leaves you really not knowing where the film is going to go or how it's going to end right up until you arrive.
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) is a great movie with an amazing blend of Science-Fiction, Horror and adventure. And if you can see it in 3D it's totally worth it to see the film the way it was intended to be viewed. 4/5 stars.
Did you know universal just released 8 of their classic monster movies on blu-ray in one set!? You can support this blog by buying this film (and 7 other classics) through these links: