Monday, October 29, 2012

Movie Review: Creature From the Black Lagoon

 In 1978, Northern Indiana experienced one of the worst blizzards in its history.  The whole city of Fort Wayne, Indiana, was snowed-in for several days.  The local independent television station, WFFT, had a late-night crew that was just as trapped by the storm at the station as anyone was at home.  Instead of going off the air at midnight, the crew decided to run old horror films that they had in their vault, part of what I understand was the owner Steve Shine's personal collection.  The 24-hour format was a hit, resulting in "Night Owl Theater".  Friday nights were dedicated to old horror films. 

 I was 6 in 1978, and it was thanks to WFFT's late-night film that I became familiar with all the classics in horror.  The Creature From the Black Lagoon was one of the first films I saw.  To this day, I still find the film enjoyable, regardless of the cheesy script and rubber gill-man suit.  It captured my young imagination, and remains one of my favorite classic horror films.

Trust us.  We're scientists!
 In many ways, The Creature From the Black Lagoon was extremely ambitious for its time.  Made in 1954, it featured young Julie Adam's cavorting on a ship with nothing but a mail crew often in nothing but a one-piece swim-suit.  Her character, Kay Lawrence, was a college-educated and independent young scientist.  She was also openly engaged in cultivating the attentions of two men; David her fellow scientist and Mark her boss.  Of course, Kay would entice the interest of the male lead in this story, the Creature himself.

Yeah, baby.  You like it wet.
 The film was also one of the first films to be shot in "3-D", requiring special polarized glasses for the effect.  It also dealt with some controversial ideas, evolution being the most prominent.  The lungfish seems to have been a popular scientific discovery at the time, and is used to support the idea of evolutionary variation resulting in divergent and unfamiliar creatures and lines of development.

 Throughout the film, I kept hearing what I consider echoes of King Kong from 1933.  We have the female love-interest who attracts that attention of the monster.  We have the hero who's sense of discovery is tempered by common-sense and his interest in his female companion.  We have the financier of the expedition who's ambition and fear failure drive him to take incredible risks and endanger the lives of his crew.  Finally, we have the monster who's only real crimes are being a monster and getting turned-on by the first hotty to some his way in a long time.
I'm a gill-man.  Of course it tastes like fish!

 A fun little vintage film, The Creature From the Black Lagoon is one that should not be missed.

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