It starts with a view of the earth, the voiceover narration quoting Genesis 1:1-2 and following up with a description of earth formation, just like the type of philosophical discussion on the earth’s creation debated throughout the 1950s. It continues further down this topic as we see a photographer digging an unearthly claw from the Amazon rainforest. He reports his mysterious find to a marine biologist who might know the answer. No identification is found at this point, leading the two on an expedition with others out in the Black Lagoon, unaware of the horror Mother Nature has led them to.
This cult classic of the horror genre stands the test of time not with its dull human characters, but the creation of its reptilian fish-faced star. He may look unconvincing in his rubber suit, and may swim too much like a human to make you buy into the effect, but his presence still scares you in the most fun of ways, never failing to shock without warning. With each time his claw comes out from beneath, your breath is grasped by the director’s subtle staging of the scare. Even better, your stomach will churn when the creature is seen underwater about to sneak up on his prey. The sequence where he is about to make his move on an unknowing female swimmer is a legendary moment that you can easily tell Spielberg took inspiration from in Jaws.
The creature is crafted in a simple mystery with the perfect amount of screen time that leaves you wondering until the end, “What does the creature want from these humans?”
That being said, I hate to admit that I felt far more sympathy for the creature than I did for the actual people in the film. The gang is essentially composed of the professor, the biologist, the maiden, the co-biologist, the rebel, and the captain with an exaggerated accent. None of them are particularly interesting or memorable, not to mention virtually impossible to tell apart.
It’s a shame too, as when the plot centers upon a bunch of scientists discussing the ecosystem while out in the very environment that tests the greatest of what they know, a compelling character study could have been made by this simple scenario. I believe that with a bit better staging on the actors’ conflict, and tighter writing between their personal relationships, then there would have been a bit more humanity to outshine the rubber man-sized fish.
Although I would admit that a bit of humanity is placed into the plot by the romantic subplot between Richard Carlson and the glamorous Julie Adams. If you look past their shallow performances then you can see a love convincing enough to add greater strength to the creature attacks. Yet at the same time, Julie Adams plays the only female character in the entire film, and she is simply too dull to pass as a believable person on her own.
Speaking of unbelievable people, there is one last shut-off that reveals this movie’s age. There are two silent characters native to the Amazon who accompany the professor as he finds the fossilized claw of the creature. They are the first victims to get killed by the creature later on, passing them off as offensive stereotypes toward anyone who is not white. Ah, don’t you love the pre-Civil Rights era?
You may not be one of those who will see the entertainment value due to its lack of human personality, but that’s not the purpose in Creature from the Black Lagoon’s existence. Director Jack Arnold’s purpose was to make a thrilling monster movie with an unforgettable villain, which he succeeded at.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Monster movies images Creature from the Black Lagoon HD wallpaper and background photos. Digital image. Fanpop. Web. <http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/monster-movies/images/36925880/title/creature-from-black-lagoon-photo>.