Any time any some monster hunts down eggheads, Jack Arnold’s estate should get a royalty check.
The flick he directed, Creature from the Black Lagoon casts as many shadows as its Florida everglade locale. It’s almost inescapable/inestimable how influential this movie is.
Whether it’s drek like Luigi Cozzi’s Contamination, or fan favorite Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, it doesn’t matter. You put researchers on board a vessel investigating something weird, things go haywire, and it all goes back to Creature. Hell, the underwater swimming shots here are totally Jaws and the good ship Rita is the bigger boat.
Creature from the Black Lagoon has simple, effective storytelling that found its way into the above, and hundreds of other films both sci fi and natural horror/animal attack: strange find, experts called in, search party sent out, warning signs ignored, or some variation thereof.
A geologist discovers a strange fossil sticking out of a sandbank along the Amazon.
With very little care for its preservation, he hacks it loose with a pickax and hoofs it over to the lab.
His colleagues don’t know what to make of it, but in the interest of science, champ at the bit to go looking for its origins downriver. They hire a sleazy sea captain to pilot a dilapidated vessel down river, Joseph Conrad-style.
And what do you suppose they find?
Creature was Stephen King’s earliest movie memory. Audiences in the 50s must’ve been wowed by the effects, which were undoubtedly cool for their time.
And it’s a riot to think a silly film like this came out of Citizen Kane, of all things. CK’s producer William Alland was at a dinner party for Kane, and overheard a…guess you could say “fishy” tale about some odd fish/human hybrid. Hence, Creature was born.
Incidentally, if readers would like to hear us talk about that very thing, check out our podcast discussion of Creatures from the Abyss and Island of the Fishmen!
Creature from the Black Lagoon is a joy. Its sequel, Revenge of the Creature, featured Clint “the Squint Eastwood” in his film debut as a lab geek.
***1/2 (out of 5)
[Readers, do check out our podcast discussion of Creature from the Black Lagoon!]
3 thoughts on “Creature from the Black Lagoon”
One of my fav fifties films, and one which gets way too little recognition these days. Jack Arnold had a touch of intelligence that few fifties sci-fi directors had, save perhaps producer Ivan Tors.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Right! Whether it’s Alligator, Alien, Anaconda (or a bunch of movies that don’t start with “a,”) its influence is so great.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Oh, and btw, I recently saw Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar-winning The Shape of Water, and couldn’t help but chuckle at the fact that del Toro had made a loving tribute to the Creature (with more nods to the old films than I could count), and that this probably went right over the heads of about 95 percent of the general audience. 😀