Classic monster movies were famous for pushing the boundaries of filmmaking. From advancements in make-up, special effects, and cinematography, these films traditionally leave their mark on cinema, and “Creature from the Black Lagoon”is no exception to this.
“Creature from the Black Lagoon” was filmed in black and white to save money, but was still beautifully shot in 3D with a giant underwater camera (very impressive for early 50s). The iconic creature was designed by Millicent Patrick, but credit was given to the head of the make-up department. Credit was stripped from Patrick because of her status as a lower-level designer and as a woman, which makes it important to correct history and give credit to the women who are responsible for Hollywood icons. Read more about it in “The Lady from the Black Lagoon” by Mallory O’Meara.
“Creature” is the perfect 50s sci-fi drive-in monster movie: fairly simple plot, iconic monster, incredibly well made. The story follows a group of scientists who find a fossil in the Amazon, which attracts the attention of the Creature. The classic sequence of murder, kidnapping, and more murder occur in glorious 1950s fashion.
This movie is also well ahead of its time by mentioning stuff like the Big Bang and climate change through environmental themes in the movie. Leading lady Kay Lawrence (Julie Adams,) while beautiful and good at screaming, is more than that. She is an intelligent scientist who contributes to the crew (unlike most movies of this era).
This movie is a relative late comer to the Universal Classic Monster’s collection. It was originally release in 1954, but the fact that it was filmed in black and white instead of color (which was available at the time) creates an atmosphere that makes it feel like earlier movie monsters like Dracula and Frankenstein. This movie spawned an entire trilogy in just three years (1954 – 1956) because of its success and popularity.
The film’s popularity extends to today, being the favorite classic monster of many people, including myself. Without it’s large fanbase, this easily could have become another forgotten 50s monster movie, but the creature lives on.
Filmnetic Grade: A+