The Creature from the Black Lagoon is another monster built from scratch by Universal. Based on South American legends of Fish Men and some fast and loose interpretation of evolution, the Gill-man created for the movie seems like a strange figure to become so well liked, but since this movie the Creature has spawned sequels, shown up in cartoons and other monster movies, and was even adapted into the Missing Link for the recent Monsters Vs. Aliens.
Originally in 3-D, the movie is filled with amazing underwater sequences and a well designed monster costume (although my son thinks he can see zippers and seams). Much like The Mummy cobbled a vague understanding of Egyptian mysticism to tie it’s story together, The Creature relies on a lot of junk science. The movie even starts with Earth forming and cooling and the beginnings of the oceans. The story then uses the Beauty and the Beast folk tale to build a story about a creature out of time falling in love with a beautiful woman, herself already locked in a love triangle.
The love story/stories mean nothing to him, but he does really like the Gill-man. O wonders why they don’t just leave him alone, and is rooting more for the creature than for the humans. It’s becoming obvious one of the interesting parts of these movies is their ability to build sympathy for monsters. The Creature, and in fact all the Universal creatures have a pathos to them, and inspire a lot of empathy. The theme isn’t “are they the monster, or are we,” but the titular creatures are the most interesting characters by far. O is completely taken with the Gill-man, and doesn’t want anything to happen to him. At one point, when they manage to light him on fire (fairly impressive for a movie made in 1953), he’s more concerned with whether the creature lives than the man he mauled.
Overall, O really liked the movie, almost more than The Mummy. He even wants to watch the sequels at some point. He also thinks this is a movie they should remake (which they’re apparently trying to do), and hopes they make it something kids can see. He even thinks they should make it in black and white, so clearly that’s not keeping him from enjoying these movies.
Next up is The Wolf Man, a personal favorite of mine.