An Interview by Jenn Dlugos
Whether you were trick-or-treating, partying in a Playboy
Bunny costume, or toilet-papering your boss’s house, I’m sure I got
your Halloween beat. On October 31, 2002, I got the opportunity to have
a lengthy chat with the last of the Universal Monsters. Ben Chapman,
who is most known for his role as the Gillman in Creature
From the Black Lagoon, proved to be the most charming thing
ever to come out of the water wearing a foam rubber suit. Not to
mention, he gave the readers of Classic Horror a very descriptive,
humorous, and informative look at one of the most beloved of monster
CH: Hello, Ben. Are you ready to do this interview?
BC: I’m ready. I’ve been sitting
here….anticipating…..trying to come up with all kinds of
answers….without having to lie…..
CH: First of all, Happy Halloween!
BC: Thank you, and same to you! Are you going to go
out trick or treating?
CH: Well, it’s a little late for trick or treating
here, but I did have fun this afternoon and will be going out later.
CH: Well, Ben, first I want to get into the history of Creature from the Black Lagoon. I know quite a bit about
the movie, because I’ve been a fan for years and I have caught your
appearances and interviews at the Monsterbash. However, for those of
our readers who are not as well-versed, I just want to clear up any
confusion. Many people have said that two people played the Gillman,
but in fact you were the only one. The other was a stuntman who did all
of the underwater scenes, correct?
BC: Well, he was a double. You say, stuntman. You look
at the water and anything below the surface is the stuntmen, and
anything about the surface is us. There were four doubles, one for
Richard Carlson, Julie Adams, Richard Denning, and myself. Basically,
anything that was filmed under water is not really us, like when Julie
CH: Oh, so when Julie is swimming in the water, it is
not really her?
BC: When she is swimming on top of the water, it’s
her, like the scene where she dives off the boat and you see her
swimming. You can see her face. However, when they cut to underwater
and they are shooting up at her, no, that is a stunt double. Her stunt
double’s name was Ginger Stanley. And, the other two gentleman were
Jack Betz, who did Richard Denning, and Stanley Crew, who did Richard
Carlson. They did all the fight scenes you see underwater, and all the
guys swimming along with the guns and the cameras. That was Jack Betz
and Stanley Crew.
CH: Actually, I have a quick question about the use of
stunt doubles. When we first see the Creature in the first few minutes
of the movie with the hand coming up from the water, is that you?
BC: Yes. We did all that at the back lot. They could
have gotten anyone to do that, but I did suit up for it and they said
“Would you do it?”. I said, “Sure, I’ll do it.” I’m easy to work with.
CH: Ben, why don’t you tell our readers a little bit
about how you got the role as the Gillman?
BC: A lot of people think that there was a big
audition and 100 people showed up. It was nothing like that. It was
being at the right place at the right time. I was on contract with
Universal. I used to come in and visit when I wasn’t working or going
to school. I used to go down to the casting office, because we had
casting offices in those days, and I went down there and said “hi” to
everyone. A woman by the name of Jonnie Rennick was a casting director
for stuntmen and cowboys. So, she said, “Has the studio approached you
about this new film they’re making about some creature from the Amazon?
It requires some swimming, and I know you, Benny, you’re half fish.”
So, I said “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” That first day
she said, “Let’s take a walk.”. So, we went for a walk and we saw some
people in the studio lot and she went over to talk to them. She came
back and said that she was going to make some appointments. So, I went
to the appointment. Actors always say they feel like a slab of meat. We
used to call agents “flesh peddlers” because they just sell your body.
CH: I understand, I have one!
BC: Oh, so you know they are flesh peddlers. If you
look like crap, you’re history. But, if they feel they can make money
off of you…anyway. So, I went up there and they made me turn around and
they looked at me. Finally, she said “Benny, let’s go.” and it turned
out later that the people in that office were people like Jack Arnold,
and some other executives from Universal. So, she asked me if I could
come back tomorrow, and I did. When I came back she said “Here, sign
this,” and she handed me a contract for $300 a week.
BC: They raised me up from like $125, or something. We
had 120 contractees at Universal at that time, The big star was a
budding actor named Rock Hudson and also Tony Curtis. After all, it was
1953, and they were JUST making it. Coming into their own, so to speak.
As far as contractees, there were a whole gang of people. I mean, Burt
Reynolds and everyone went through it. Back then, they offered you a
one year contract. Then, after the year, they offer you an option to
pick up the contract. I was just watching The Creature from the
Black Lagoon a couple nights ago, and they also had Revenge
of the Creature on. I don’t know if you ever saw it.
CH: Yep, I watched all three of them last night, in
BC: You know the very beginning of Revenge of the
Creature? You know, the very beginning when Johnny Agar is
playing in the laboratory and there’s a guy playing with mice. You know
who that guy is?
CH: Nope, who?
BC: You didn’t recognize him?
BC: OK, let me start from the beginning, and I know
you’re going to run for your Revenge of the Creature tape after
you hear this. It’s only about 15 minutes into the movie and Johnny
Agar is standing there and there’s another guy there with big pompadour
hair, and they are playing with mice. Johnny Agar is saying something
like “What happened, there is only three of them”. I forgot what was in
the cage with them, and the guy said, “Oh, the one must have eaten the
other one”. Then he looks in his pocket, and the mouse is there. Those
were the first lines ever spoken by this actor, and he turned out to be
the biggest star in the world.
CH: Who is it?
BC: His name is Clint Eastwood.
CH: Oh my God, really? I know he was also in a couple
minutes of TARANTULA!
I always thought that was his first film.
BC: Yep, in Tarantula he played a fighter
pilot, I believe. Nope, his first role was Revenge of the Creature.
CH: Wow! That’s great!
BC: Also, this is a cute little story about Clint. You
know, they didn’t pick up my option, which was OK with me because I’m
an entertainer, and I did nightclub work. I really didn’t care. I
always look forward, you know. Well, they never picked up his option,
either, and he was there a year after me. He was adamant, because he
wanted to know why they weren’t picking him up. So, he went up there
and they said “Do you really want to know?”. He said, “Yes.” So, they
said, “Well, the reason we’re not picking you up is because you have no
talent. That, and your Adam’s apple is too big.”
CH: Wow! That is a great piece of trivia! Now, just to
go back for a second. You said you were on contract with Universal.
What work did you do PRIOR to being picked up for Creature?
BC: I was an entertainer. I did nightclub work,
originally. I’m actually originally from Tahiti, and I was a dancer.
Have you ever been to luaus and see the dancing?
BC: You know like Tahitian dancing with the drums
beating, and the people screaming? That’s what I used to do. Plus, I
used to sing, but all island stuff. So, how I got the contract is I
used to serve in the Marines in Korea. I got discharged in 1952 and I
went back to work in a nightclub. So, my partner came in one night, and
I was in a nightclub in Hollywood called The Islander Group, right
across the street from the Grauman’s Chinese Theater. So, he said that
they were going to make a musical short on the 1952 Miss Universe, and
they want to do it with a Polynesian theme. So, he told me that a group
of people from Universal wanted to see my show that night. Well,
basically, we got signed to do the show, and I guess Universal was
running the film. The story I heard, was that someone asked, “Who is
that young guy playing the chief up there?”. So, someone said, “Oh,
that’s Ben Chapman.” So, they decided to give me a contract.
I never professed to be an actor. I’ve done acting, but my
profession was entertaining. So, you see, I’ve always been at the right
place at the right time. It’s as simple as that. It wasn’t that much
longer after that I was signed to do Creature. I had a
reputation of being a free diver, not a scuba diver. Scuba divers use
tanks. Free divers don’t use tanks. They swim along and can go down
like 80-85 feet and could hold their breath like 4 minutes. So that’s
what I did, because I used to go to the beach and I dived everyday. A
lot of people think that Ricou Browing, the man who played the Gillman
in the underwater scenes, had a tank. Nope, he didn’t. He was free
diving. What they did was they sent a hose down with air to be pumped
through it. So, instead of him going up and down, he would just stay
down there, and between the shots, he’d suck up the air. Then, they’d
give him his directions, and when they were through with him, they did
the next take.
CH: That’s amazing.
BC: Yep, that’s what they did. That’s Ricou Browning.
He’s a wonderful diver, and is still alive. He lives in Florida.
CH: Do you still keep in touch with him?
BC: I haven’t seen Ricou, nor talked to him, in almost
50 years. Speaking of that, I’m leaving Monday to go to Florida. We’re
doing the CreatureFest down there. If you go to my website, you’ll see
the icons (www.the-reelgillman.com)
for my appearances. Just scroll down ‘til you get to the CreatureFest
and you can see what I’ll be doing next week at this very time.
CH: Sounds fun!
BC: In fact, it is the first time Julie Adams has
consented to appear with me. I’ve been after her for years. For some
reason, I talked about CreatureFest with her and I got a call from her.
“Hello, Benny, it’s Julie.” “Well, hi, Julie.” “Well you were talking
about this Creaturefest, and before we go any further…” “Julie, I don’t
want to get all excited. Are you considering doing this?” “Well, yeah.”
So, I sent her some printouts, because Julie is one of the few people I
know that doesn’t have a computer. So, she read them and consented to
do it with me.
CH: So, where is CreatureFest in Florida?
BC: It’s in Tallahassee. Now, Julie and I have never
been there. We have no idea where the Black Lagoon is. You know where
they filmed the underwater stuff? We’ve never been there. We filmed all
our stuff on the back lot. We never met Ginger Stanley who is her
double. And, she is going to be there.
CH: So, this is the first time you are actually going
to the Black Lagoon?
CH: That’s amazing!
BC: Julie and I are very excited about it. They did
invite Ricou, but for some reason, he turned it down.
CH: I briefly want to talk about The Gillman’s
costume, because I am a huge costume/makeup buff.
BC: The costume is made of foam rubber. It wasn’t
cumbersome. It wasn’t heavy; it was very light. It was comfortable. The
bad thing about it was that it was a one piece body stocking. The only
part of me that could get air was my face. The rest of me was all
covered, which is very dangerous because you shut off your pores, which
is how your body breathes. A friend actually told me that apparently
the guy who played Harry from Harry and the Hendersons died
because of the temperature in his costume going up and down. In my day,
we were by a big lake, so if I was overheated, I just dived into the
lake and swim all day. If we were on a stage, I had a gentleman in the
corner with a hose. They could take my helmet off, and the webbed hands
were like gloves, and the feet were like boots. However, I couldn’t
come out of the costume. So if I got warm, I just went to the corner
and tell him to hose me down until I felt better.
CH: Now, who actually came up with the idea for the
BC: Well, on paper, the artist was a woman named
Milicent Patrick. She did the artwork. There’s a gentleman named Chris
Muller, who is the gentleman who sculpted my head. I give all the
credit to supervising the costume to Jack Kevan. Jack has since passed
on. But, he didn’t get credit for it.
CH: Actually, did you get credit in the film at all?
BC: No, none of us did in any of the movies. Revenge
of the Creature was done by Tom Hennesy. He’s still alive and lives
in Malibu. And, Creature Walks Among Us was Don Megowan. Don
has left us. So, Tom and I are the only Gillman still alive. Not to
mention, next year is our 50th anniversary. We filmed it in
1953. It was released in 1954. Which is misleading, because there is a
lot of movies made that are put in the can for 3, 5, 10, years,
sometimes. So, I always like to say the anniversary is the date you
wrap it up.
CH: So, you’ll be celebrating your anniversary for The
Gillman next year then.
BC: As far as I’m concerned, we finished filming in
October 1953. I’m hoping to go to the mainland to go to Universal
Studios and see if they are planning on doing something for the 50th Anniversary.
CH: Oh, I’m sure they will.
What’s to follow is an approximate 20 minute bitch fest
between Ben and I about the lack of talent currently in Hollywood.
Since you read this site, you must already know the meaning of good
cinema. Therefore, you will likely to find this conversation amusing.
However, this conversation may be offensive to those readers that
actually find boy bands and teen heart throbs, talented.
BC: Well, you know studios today are run by morons.
CH: (laughs) They really are!
BC: They are run by people who have no clue how to
make a movie.
CH: They are run by people who don’t WATCH movies,
BC: The nice thing about my day is that people made
real movies with real scripts about real people. Now, they can
computerize everything. Which is OK for some things, I guess. I still
believe in real movies with a real script. In those days, someone would
have an idea, or read a book, and then they would do a draft. Then,
they would say “Ok, so-and-so can play this part.” Nowadays, they get a
star with a name, and then they build a story. That’s why there is so
many crappy movies nowadays.
CH: I SO agree with you.
BC: And, crappy actors! See, to me, there aren’t any
movie stars. There are celebrities, but no true movie stars.
Celebrities are people you always hear about and get sick of reading.
Jennifer Lopez? To me, she’s a zero. Ben Affleck….who the hell is Ben
Affleck?! These are zeros. But, it’s the people of America who makes
them what they are.
CH: Probably because most of them don’t watch movies
like Creature From the Black Lagoon.
BC: Most people don’t like real stories. Like it’s the
same thing on television. I don’t watch all that crap they have on
television. Are you kidding? I watch "JAG," "Law and Order," you know,
things that make SENSE. They have great actors and great writing. But,
all these situational comedies…they write those for morons! Maybe it’s
because I come from the old school. And, maybe it’s because I’m 74
CH: No, because my parents brought me up right. I
basically just watched the old black and white sitcoms when I was
younger, and I still prefer the black and white movies.
BC: Just today, in fact, I was watching The Wolf Man.
They were showing Dracula, The Wolf Man, and Frankenstein back to back. I do a lot of seminars when I do conventions, and I
always talk about how movies from today and yesterday are like night
and day. The only true great stars we have today are people like Robert
Deniro and Dustin Hoffman. But, you never hear about those, because
they don’t need the publicity! All you hear about is these
“celebrities” because they need the publicity.
CH: Actually Ben, they need it because they don’t have
BC: You are exactly right! Thank you! If they were to
go back to my day, they would never even got a contract, much alone
anything else! The great thing about black and white is the way they
light. You see the shadows, and the half of the face lighted up. If you
ever want to see a great movie….and I’ve seen it a bunch of times, but
I watch it just to look at the set…see the French version of Beauty and
CH: What year is that from?
BC: Late 30’s, early 40’s. I know that there are some
still around. I can’t describe it. If I tried to describe it, you
wouldn’t be able to visualize it. But, getting back to American movies,
the “film noirs” as they call them today, are all from Warner Brothers.
Warner Brothers was known for the heavy stuff, like the Joan Crawford
stuff. MGM and 20th Century [Fox] were known for the
musicals. Republic made westerns. Paramount made comedies. When you
went bar hopping, you’d see real people. I mean REAL movie stars. They
didn’t have an entourage of body guards and all that crap. I used to
see Bogart and Clark Gable, sitting in their jeans having a drink, and
then getting in the wagon and driving away. Now, you see these people
like Britney Spears, and they have body guards on them. Why would I go
up to her and ask her for anything??? She is nothing that I want or
even want to look at! They have these entourage of body guards and
limousine cars, like they are the President of the United States.
CH: Ben, let’s face it, the president doesn’t even
have THAT good of protection!
BC: You know, I always look forward, but it is nice to
look back. I just don’t go back to live it.
CH: I know. Just watch the movies, and enjoy them.
BC: Well, I just create my own little world, and I
live in Hawaii. This is a different world. We have nothing to do with
you people on the mainland. I live in tee shirts and shorts 365 days a
year. I’m looking down at the driving range right now. This is the way
we live. Open spaces. Fresh air. When people come up to me at shows,
they always think it’s spectacular to live in Hawaii, and I say “Oh,
no. It’s terrible.” They say, “What do you mean it’s terrible!?” I say,
“It’s so boring. I wake up every morning and look at a blue sky, white
clouds. I walk down the street and I’m at the beach. There’s no
excitement, it’s boring” People who live in the mainland have much more
excitement. You get to go out, go to McDonalds, have dinner, stand on
the street corner, and watch drive by shootings!
CH: Not to mention, I live near Harvard Square, so we
have to drive through a protest every other day because tree huggers
don’t want fluoride in their water, so their teeth can drop out faster.
BC: Of course, you know, I like to be facetious.
CH: Yeah, Ben, I kind of noticed that about you. Hey,
you think we’re through complaining? Is it safe to go back to Creature
of the Black Lagoon now?
BC: Oh, yeah, that Creature from the Black Lagoon. I know him well.
CH: Actually, I have one more question about the
costume. Who owns the original Gillman costume?
BC: There’s no costumes left. I know Forry Ackerman
claims to have one. You see, after 50 years, foam rubber would
disintegrate. Bob Burns and I are like “Yeah, OK”. I mean, we’re not
going to argue with Forry. But, it’s impossible.
CH: Come on, Ben. You don’t have one in a time-lock
vault in Hawaii? You have enough space out there.
BC: Hey, you know, we’re all born with one gift. It’s
called 20-20 hindsight. If I knew then when I know today, believe me,
when we wrapped up everyday, I would be so busy picking up everything I
could and putting it all in the back of my car.
CH: You could have stolen the whole set!
BC: Oh, I wouldn’t be STEALING, I’d be PRESERVING.
CH: Oh, yes. PRESERVING, Ben.
BC: They threw all that stuff away. I would have
gotten a couple costumes, and put them in a temperature control vault.
I would be a millionaire with those things.
CH: Yeah, but how were you suppose to know it would be
such a huge hit?
BC: Well, that’s what Julie and I laugh about. Julie
was a true actress and movie star. Wherever she goes out, people always
remember Creature From the Black Lagoon. They forget about the
other movies she’s made. But, at least we have something no one else
has. After 50 years, our movie is as big, or even bigger, then when it
came out, and we’re still alive to enjoy it.
CH: That’s true!
BC: That’s why we’re going to go back to the studio. I
mean, how many people can celebrate a gold anniversary of their movie?
CH: How old were you when you started the film, Ben?
BC: When I started, I was 24. When I finished, I was
25. When we were making the film, I celebrated my 25th birthday.
(Ben’s birthday was October 29thHappy Birthday,
CH: I just want to get into a little about the filming
of the movie, because I think most of us Gillman fans want to know
about the scene when the Gillman is set on fire. How was this scene
BC: I did the scene without any fire. I wanted to do
the stunt where I was set on fire. They ended up getting Rock Hudson’s
double, because we were the same size. So, they dressed him up in a
costume with asbestos. So, there was like a mirror image of myself, and
then he does the actual scene. You can see when I get set on fire, the
fire is superimposed. So, that’s how they did the fire scene. I did
want to do it, because I did all my own stunts in the movie. But, they
wouldn’t let me do that one in case I got burned, or something. After
all, no one else could wear my suit because they took a plaster of
paris body impression of me to make the suit. Actually, inside the mask
is an impression of my face. They actually ended up giving me the bust
they made of my face and shoulders, and I took it home to my wife. She
said, “What are we going to do with it?” And I said, “I have no idea”.
So, we took it out onto the beach and we put it in the sand, put some
glasses on it, and a hat, so it looked like a guy that was buried up to
his shoulders. We used to watch people walk up and down the beach
looking at it. So, she asked me “Eh….what are we going to do with it?”
So I said, “Eh, leave it there.” You know how much that thing is worth
CH: I have no clue.
BC: About $100,000. Easy.
BC: Because, it’s the original mold of my face.
CH: Do you have any favorite memories of filming Creature that you’d like to share with us?
BC: Well, actually my memories of the movie is that we
had a great time. It was a perfect shoot. It was a great shoot.
Everyone was like a perfect family. There was no egos. You didn’t have
to cater to anybody. It’s not like one of those shoots that you feel,
“Oh, god. I gotta go face that moron again….” I have no bad memories.
CH: That’s great. Now, obviously the Gillman was so
successful that it spawned two sequels. What is your opinion of the two
BC: I liked Revenge of the Creature. Creature
Walks Among Us made me cry.
CH: My sentiments exactly.
BC: They ruined him. They took a beautiful creature.
and they ruined him. But, if you look at all of our costumes, they were
all sculpted differently. If you look at Ricou’s head, Tom Hennessey’s
head, and Don’s head, they are not alike at all. They were all molded
and sculpted separately. They had to, because the inside of the mask is
my face. It wouldn’t fit the other actor.
CH: I see. You know, coincidentally, I finished interviewing Chris
BC: Oh, Chris! How is she? Her table was next to mine
at the Monsterbash!
CH: She is wonderful, and such a charming woman!
Anyway, I asked her a little bit about the time Abbott and Costello met
the Creature on the Colgate Comedy Hour. Can you let me know a little
bit about how this came to be and what was it like working with Glenn
Strange and Abbott and Costello?
BC: Well, I was surprised, because we already wrapped
the movie. They called me up and asked me to report to NBC for the
Colgate Comedy Hour and they said that I was going to do a skit with
Abbott and Costello. I was surprised, because on the set it was such a
hush-hush thing. No one was allowed to see the costume, or what he
looked like. It was very hush-hush. So, when I got the call, I was
surprised. When I went to the theater, I saw that Glenn Strange was
there and I said, “Hey, what are you doing here?” He said he was going
to play the Frankenstein monster. Here’s a little trivia you might not
know. You know who Glenn Strange was?
BC: When they were FIRST going to do the Creature,
Glenn Strange was the first person they approached to play the Gillman.
You know, Glenn is the cowboy type. So, they mentioned water, and he
was like “Water? WATER? I don’t think so.” He wasn’t a water man.
Otherwise, Glenn would have played him.
Anyway, Glen had his room and I had my room. We got to meet
Abbott and Costello, but we really didn’t get a chance to sit down and
talk with them. It was a one day shoot and everything is live. Once the
skit was going, there is no second shot. There’s no rehearsals. It’s
just a one shot deal. We never really got to sit down and talk to them.
For the time we spent with them in their room….well, you know that Lou
was a big time gambler. He loved to play gin rummy. So when we were in
there, he was busy playing cards and said, “Oh hi, how are you…sit
down.” After a few minutes, I figured the man was busy, and I’m not
going to talk to a deck of cards. Not to mention, we weren’t in costume
We got into costume, and Glenn got in his. His was harder,
because it was all makeup. Mine was a suit. Mind you, it took me a
couple hours to get in it. However, he had to sit down and let people
put his makeup on. Once we got makeup on, Costello was losing at his
card game, or something, and he’s like “Wait a minute…wait a minute.” I
didn’t have someone to hose me down, and I was starting to overheat.
So, I had to say, “Listen, we gotta get going, or else I‘m going to rip
this off, and I’m not going to get back in to it.” So, we finally did
the scene. However, I really didn’t get to know Abbott and Costello,
and I wish I had. I really wish we got to do an Abbott and Costello
meets the Creature movie. They met everyone else. However, they never
really met the Gillman.
CH: That would have been great if they did a movie. By
the way, what was Glenn Strange like?
BC: Glenn was a very nice man. There’s really not much
more I can say about him. I got to meet Boris Karloff too, and he was a real classy man. He was a very handsome man. He had a
wonderful voice and dressed impeccably. What else can I say? He was a
CH: Now, speaking of working with famous celebrities,
weren’t you in an Esther Williams movie?
BC: Yep. That was my first movie. Pagan Love Song. We were very friendly with her. It was like a big luau. I was
hired primarily as a dancer, and I did a couple scenes.
CH: Were you credited in that movie?
BC: Nope, in fact, most of the scenes I did ended up
on the cutting room floor.
CH: Now, I want to get to you. You’re always moving
around from convention to convention. I know you’re going to
CreatureFest now. What else do you have lined up?
BC: I’m looking forward to taking some time off,
because I did 10-11 shows this year. I’ve been going everywhere. Not to
mention, when you live in Hawaii, you have to fly 2500 miles just to
get to anywhere. I plan to start my first show next year in March which
is FrightVision. Then, I may do one in North Hollywood.
CH: Is there any new Creature memorabilia coming out
for the fans?
BC: Not that I personally know about. Sideshow Toys
puts stuff out all the time. I talk to the guy who does all the figures
over there and he’s trying to make a Gillman in the soft rubber finish
instead of the hard rubber finish. He also told me “Benny, as fast as
we make Creature dolls, they’re gone. You’re the hottest selling
CH: Yes, Creature fans are very devoted, as I’ve come
BC: I appreciate them very much. I’m very protective
of Creature fans.
CH: I have one more question for you and then I’ll let
you go. I think I may already know your answer to this. We’ve seen
Hollywood remake basically every monster movie recently. Would you like
to see a more modernized version of Creature?
BC: No. Well, not really, because I know they’d screw
it up. I know they’re going to go high tech. I know they’re going to go
to color. They’re going to reinvent him. If they kept him as HIM, it
might be different. But, I know they won’t do that. Actually, they did
a rip-off of Creature a couple years ago called Anaconda.
CH: (lets out some kind of disgusted utterance)
BC: Oh, you saw it?
CH: Yes, unfortunately, I sat through it.
BC: It was exactly the same plot as Creature,
with the only difference being that it was a giant snake. I don’t know
if I should say that I’m flattered, but if you look at any of your
movie creatures in the last 50 years, they all kind of resemble the
Gillman, with the scales and all. Like Predator…I love Predator.
CH: First one was all right. I don’t like the second
BC: Yeah, that second one was on last night. It was
kind of dumb. But, that first one was a GOOD movie. Anyway, the
Predator’s face was different, but you can still see with the fins and
scales that they are basing him off the Gillman, which is very
flattering. I wouldn’t like them to do it, but if they did, it would
only be better for me. Anytime you see a remake, no matter who you are,
you’re going to compare it to the original. So, honestly, I’m not
scared either way, because they can’t beat it. Well, I really shouldn’t
say that, but I don’t THINK they can beat it.
CH: Ben, with the movies they’ve made lately, trust
me, they can’t beat it.
BC: Well, you know, people always ask me what makes Creature
from the Black Lagoon hold up after all these years. I always say
that if you look at the movie, the storyline starts with the Big Bang.
Then it goes to the creation of man, and you see evolution with man
coming out of the sea. The theory today is that man DID come out of the
sea. These are issues that men today are STILL dwelling on. Was man
created? Or, was man evolved? So, that’s why if you watch Creature,
you’re not bored because it still makes sense.
CH: I agree. I think it is a very timeless story that
could have easily been made 6 months ago versus 50 years ago. That is
the reason for its success.
BC: Also, the Gillman COULD possibly exist. How do we
know that in these untouched parts of the world, that there isn’t some
guy roaming around that is still half man, half fish? That’s part of
the reason that people still like Creature, because it still
could happen. Frankenstein and Dracula…people know they are just
monster movies. They can’t actually happen. But, man is still trying to
find out where man comes from. No one really knows.
CH: Ben, it was a pleasure talking to you.
BC: My pleasure as well. I hope I didn’t talk too
CH: Absolutely not!
Classic-Horror would like to thank Ben Chapman for such an
entertaining and informative interview. The last of the Universal
Monsters, this man is one in a million! Thanks, Ben! You’re wonderful!
(I must admit that the temptation is there to send him a Britney Spears
poster for a belated birthday present. However, I have to see him
at the Monsterbash next year and it may not be the wisest thing for my
well being. Just kidding, Ben. You're awesome!
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