The Universal Monsters franchise has transcended time due to remakes and re-releases of its famed characters and movies. We’ve seen The Mummy, The Wolfman and Dracula reappear in the cinemas frequently to be experienced by each new generation. The Mummy and The invisible Man will be seen again in the coming years as Universal once again reboots its monsters. One monster that seems to have been overlooked in all of this is the Creature from the Black Lagoon a.ka. “the Gill-man.”
The original Creature From the Black Lagoon was released in 1954 as a 3D movie, but only in very large theaters. It starred Julie Adams as Kay Lawrence, Richard Carlson as Dr. David Reed and Ben Chapman as the Creature for land scenes and Ricou Browning as the Creature for underwater scenes. While the days of monsters had passed and 3D films became a short-lived fad, The Creature From the Black Lagoon did spawn two sequels, one of which was 3D in hopes of reviving 3D movies. However, despite many attempts, the movie has yet to be remade.
The first attempted remake of The Creature From the Black Lagoon came in 1982 when John Landis (An American Werewolf in London) wanted Jack Arnold to direct a film that would have two monsters, one calm and one aggressive, being tormented by the U.S. Navy. When it was learned that the film was to be made for 3D, the project was scrapped. In 1992, another attempt was made when John Carpenter (Halloween) was working with Universal on a remake with a script from Herschel Weingrod and Timothy Harris ready to go. Peter Jackson was named to direct the film but he decided to work on the remake of King Kong instead. Ivan Reitman was then named to direct the film but nothing ever became of it.
In 2001 Gary Ross and his father, original Creature writer Arthur A. Ross, tried to remake the movie. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter Gary said, “The story my father wrote embodies the clash between primitive men and civilized men, and that obviously makes it a fertile area for re-examination.” Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy) was supposed to direct but committed to other projects and Tedi Sarafian (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines) was picked to write the script. In 2005, Breck Eisner, son of former Disney chief executive Michael Eisner, was brought on to direct the film. “What I really want to do is update an iconic image from the ’50s and bring in more of the sci-fi sensibility of Alien or John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982). ”
The project was put on hold due to the 2007-08 Writers Guild of America strike, which led Eisner to sign on to direct a remake of The Crazies. However, he did vow to go back to The Creature and finish the project. He and Ross had already made up sets in South America and spent several months re-writing the script including a new origin story and look for the Gill-man. For unknown reasons, the film was never completed.
Two other attempts, one in 2011 which once again saw Gary Ross involved, and another in 2012 never got any further than a script before being cancelled. In 2015, it was reported that Scarlett Johansson has been named to be considered for a lead role in a remake as part of the Universal Monsters franchise reboot. Soon after, it was reported that Jeff Pinker (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) was hired to write the script.
We can only keep our fingers crossed that the Creature From the Black Lagoon finally gets his reboot like the rest of his monster companions. While he may not have been the most famous monster next to Dracula or Frankenstein’s monster, the Creature is still part of the universe nonetheless. He is certainly due to be re-introduced to a new generation of fans and maybe this will finally be his time to shine.
*It has been brought up that at one time The Wolfman‘s Benicio Del Toro was associated with a remake of The Creature From The Black Lagoon but after doing thorough research, it turns out he was confused with Guillermo del Toro who dropped out of Gary Ross’s first attempt to remake the movie.