In the last few years I have come to the conclusion that my favorite Universal Classic Monster is the Creature from the Black Lagoon. This should surprise no one who knows me well or has ever been to my home. I hang Francesco Francavilla’s magnificent Mondo Creature poster above my 1990 Bally Creature from the Black Lagoon pinball machine. My office is festooned with Creature stuff: three action figures on my desk along with a 12” statue, a plastic bank on the Blu-ray shelf, a life-size black and white Creature head behind my chair so that he can watch over me and everything I say and do, and the magnificent 18” Sideshow Toys “Swimming Creature” across the room. On the walls proudly hang the Ghoulsville oversized Creature mask and my framed insert poster, signed by Julie Adams, Ben Chapman, and Ricou Browning. My car keys are attached to a Creature keychain.
The plucky group rent a boat, The Rita, from local character Lucas (Nestor Paiva), who has never bathed nor showered. They discover further proof that the Creature may still exist, and decide to poison the lagoon to flush him out. Before they can do this, Kay impetuously dives into the water, swims around lasciviously, and attracts the Creature, who falls instantly in love with her. This can only lead to tears…
I love how often the original movie emphasizes that the Creature was simply minding his own business when some glory-seeking scientists invaded his turf, killed his food supply, polluted his environment, and then denied him the love of his life. Oh, I realize that the film’s narrative posits Richard Denning’s asshole scientist as the wrong choice for Julie Adams’ Kay and Richard Carlson’s cool, hip scientist as the right choice, but did Kay ever consider the Creature as the right choice? Sometimes loves breaks the rules, including the rule about whether or not human lungs will work under water.
• The Creature is the better swimmer.
• The Creature is the only character to literally sweep her off her feet.
• The Creature proved to be the better earner—Ben Chapman toured the fan convention circuit for years before his death, as both Julie Adams and Ricou Browning do to this day. I have seen boatloads of Creature merchandise in my life: masks, coffee mugs, t-shirts, party favors, dolls, statues, posters, candles, knives, and assorted decorations. Yet how much fucking Richard Carlson merch is there? I rest my case.
Kay Lawrence, you passed up your only chance for once and future love. I hope you sleep well.
the Wolf Man (Shakespearian tragic hero/doomed victim of a curse); Frankenstein (created and abandoned), the Phantom of the Opera, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and the Mummy (Just looking for second chances with their best gals); and the Invisible Man (blinded by scientific ambition and drug addiction issues). If someone came to my house uninvited, stole my food, drank all of my Monster energy drink, smoked smelly cigars, and shat on my rug, I would be justifiably miffed.
Because of my early love for both Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster, it has only recently come to my attention that, in the world of fandom, the Creature from the Black Lagoon is, fins down, the most popular Universal monster. It’s no wonder: the movie is a delight—fast-paced, with lots of scares and a terrific monster that’s onscreen a LOT, plus the best 3D of any ’50s horror film. Those are surely some of the reasons why I’ve seen appreciably more merchandise, more tattoos, and more rabid fans. We are a small army of land-dwellers, longing to return to the sea.
Because of a manufacturing error, Universal must replace the set’s Revenge of the Creature Blu-ray disc. The studio originally promised to have this replacement in consumers’ hands by Halloween. Three separate e-mails to Universal Customer Service later, I discover the replacement discs will barely be in our hands by Christmas. Clearly, Universal Studios hates Creature fans, though the e-mail I received from them stresses “[their] goal is to always deliver the best possible product to our consumers.”
Blub blub blub blub
Gurgle gurgle blurp
Blurble blarble blurble
Glug glug… blurp blurp blurp blurp…
You're not kidding about the 3D in "Creature" being the best. I've seen some 3D movies from the 1950's upgraded to current 3D standards ("Inferno," "Kiss Me Kate," "Miss Sadie Thompson," "Second Chance," etc.) and, despite being B&W, "Creature's" 3D transfer (both in theaters and the Blu-ray 3D) tops them all by a fair margin. I've only seen the movie in 3D, so to me it'd be blasphemy to see the film in 2D. :-)ReplyDelete
Great piece! Despite being a fan of the Universal Monsters since I was very, very young, I didn't come to love the Creature till adulthood. I was blown away by how great it is on my first rewatch in decades. Amazing film.ReplyDelete
I always thought of the creature from the black lagoon as the most tactile of the Universal Monsters. I can relate to all of them in a way, which obviously is the point, but the grace of the creature in the water and the awkwardness of it on land hit me hard. It's also the only Universal Monster without a proper name. I mean, it's not like we say "Dracula from the Transylvania".ReplyDelete
I'm now convinced JB and I are related.ReplyDelete