There’s a lot of love for the Gill-Man and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. The 1954 Universal Monster film is, in many ways, a turning point for creature features and monster movies.
Please excuse me, but I must boldly declare that the 1954 film Creature from the Black Lagoon was the grandfather to many of horror/sci-fi’s most popular movies about how human scientific exploration often opens a portal to total danger and destruction. I know that this may seem to be quite an assertion, but if you stick with me, I’ll show you exactly what I mean.
For those who haven’t seen Creature from the Black Lagoon, it’s a movie about a group of archaeologists who after finding what appears to be a fossilized webbed humanoid hand in the wilds of Brazil, they go off to a nearby lagoon in an attempt to excavate the rest of its remains. Instead of enjoying an ordinary scientific expedition, these scholars find themselves doing battle with an unknown and ancient aquatic humanoid creature that could easily keep pace with them in wits, but for whom the scientists and their boat crew were physically no match in the slightest.
The idea that modern science can open up horrors the world has never seen and has no defense for is such a wonderful horror/sci-fi spring board and Creature from the Black Lagoon, in my opinion, took this fact and brought it to life. In this movie the Creature was just as, if not more, intelligent than those lauded academics and was easily stronger and quicker than his advisories. Creature from the Black Lagoon illustrated the ways in which modern man’s hubris can have him in over his head before he’s even aware that he’s placed himself in danger.
Creature from the Black Lagoon was a pretty scary film in my book. As I watched, it nearly immediately reminded me of a few other, quite popular and more modern horror/sci-fi gems. There is no way that you can watch this film and not be reminded of Jurassic Park or even Alien Vs. Predator. Those are two of my favorite creature film, horror/sci-fi films so I have to mention them.
In the 1993 film Jurassic Park, we have a team of scientists who clone living dinosaurs from blood extracted from ancient mosquitoes that had been caught and preserved in amber. These scientists, completely confident in their ability to confine and control these ancient creatures quickly realize that this is an impossible feat and that some of these creatures aren’t just lumbering beasts, but quite shrewd and impossibly lethal. For more on the Steven Spielberg classic, you may want to check out UMU Rob’s “Sunday’s with…” piece on the film.
And then you have the 2004 film Alien Vs. Predator, where like Creature from the Black Lagoon, we have a team of archaeologists who travel to Antarctica to discover the source of a mysterious energy source in its frozen expanse. Once these scientists begin their expedition they quickly find themselves trapped in between two warring alien species that use humans as convenient hosts to gestate the aliens needed to help facilitate this battle.
Although Creature from the Black Lagoon has gone down in cinematic history as a B-movie legend, I think that Creature from the Black Lagoon, like Jurassic Park and Alien Vs. Predator, is a film where the concepts and ideas of modern science, in its complete naivety and brashness successfully present a creature both thrilling, terrifying, and classic.