(Image via filmfanatic.org)

The favorite film:
The “Amazing! Startling! Shocking!” Creature from the Black Lagoon (dir. Jack Arnold), a near-perfect 1954 sci-fi/horror featuring one of the most famous Universal monsters.

The synopsis:
Dr. Carl Maia is doing some exploration in the Amazon when he discovers a fossilized claw unlike anything he’s seen before. Unable to dig out the rest of the fossil on his own, Carl calls in some fellow researchers including Dr. David Reed and David’s lady-friend Kay Lawrence to help him out. After having no luck finding the rest of the fossilized creature, the team finds out that a live specimen is living in the lagoon by the camp. As the team tries to figure out what exactly the “Gill Man” is and attempt to capture it for study, they’re terrorized by the creature, who seems to have an affinity for killing humans.

The cast:

  • Ricou Browning and Ben Chapman as the Gill Man (in water and on land, respectively)
  • Antonio Moreno as Carl Maia
  • Richard Carlson as David Reed
  • Julie Adams as Kay Lawrence
  • Richard Denning as Mark Williams
  • Whit Bissell as Edwin Thompson

Fun facts:

  • Ricou Browning, who portrays the Gill Man in the underwater scenes, was a professional diver and swimmer.
  • The Gill Man costume was designed without an air tank, meaning that Browning had to hold his breath for nearly five minutes at a time while filming the underwater scenes.
  • The film is based on a real legend of a human-like, water-dwelling creature in South America. The creature’s appearance is based on woodcuts of mythical creatures known as the “Sea Monk” and “Sea Bishop.”
  • Zee’s death was originally meant to include him being thrown toward the camera, to work with 3-D effects. However, the wires required for the stunt kept breaking, so director Jack Arnold changed the scene.
  • Before production even began, the decision was made to leave the ending unclear in terms of whether or not the creature dies, in order to leave the possibility for a sequel open. Two sequels were eventually released: Revenge of the Creature in 1955 and The Creature Walks Among Us in 1956.
(Image via Doctor Macro)

Favorite things:

  • The opening sequence is flawless. Chaotic creation of the Earth!
  • The sounds that the creature makes
  • All of the “super-scary” shots of teh creature’s hand coming out of the water. (They’re not actually scary, but they are awesome.)
  • It’s not just a creature feature: it’s legitimate science, y’all. They’ve got the big words, the khaki pants, the safari hats – all of the elements needed to be taken seriously as scientists.
Ricou Browning in his creature costume (Image via icollector – Click on the image for full size)
  • When the creature swims, he sometimes looks like he’s teaching a remedial water aerobics class.
  • So many pretty underwater shots!
  • “What proof do we have if we never find it again?” – AND THEN THE CREATURE ATTACKS!
  • If you’re a “gill man” creature, what’s your best strategy for getting the girl? By choking a dude and attempting to kidnap the lady, of course.
  • The scene where the creature breaks through the trap and hops up on the deck of the boat like a beast… only to get set on fire a few seconds later
  • Black Lagoon Creatures: They’re not mosquitos!
  • Pollution is A-OK if it means killing the creature. (But let’s not kid ourselves – he isn’t going to die! Death by bug repellant would be too easy!)
  • Going into a cave to save a lady from a deadly creature? Just yell her name a bunch of times. She’ll totally be able to free herself from the grasp of the creature and find you.