Take the Trivia Quiz!
The Creature from the Black
Lagoon, at age 15 million years old, is the last survivor of its
species - a mixture of amphibian and man. When his habitat in the
Amazon is disturbed, he attacks those who try to capture it.
The Creature from the Black Lagoon is one of Hollywood's original
and memorable monsters created by Universal Studios. The makeup for
the Gillman was created by Universal's Bud Westmore (also did makeup
in SOYLENT GREEN, 1973; ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN, 1948;
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE KILLER, BORIS KARLOFF, 1949; MAN OF
A THOUSAND FACES, 1957; MONOLITH MONSTERS, THE, 1957; MOLE PEOPLE,
THE, 1956; REVENGE OF THE CREATURE, 1955; TARANTULA, 1955; ABBOTT
AND COSTELLO MEET DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, 1954; and IT CAME FROM
OUTER SPACE, 1953) and Jack Kevan. The Westmore family's influence upon film and television continues today. It takes a lot to create a movie.
The above-water scenes
by Ben Chapman, while the underwater scenes were done by Ricou Browning, an
Olympic swimmer. Browning would use an air hose to breathe and then dump the
air hose to do the scene. More air was brought at the conclusion of the scene.
Browning later on made a career as an underwater cinematographer and choreographer
of underwater action sequences and was the creator of Flipper. His climactic
battle in the James Bond epic Thunderball was a recent movie.
The Creature from the
Lagoon was influenced by H. P. Lovecraft, who wrote tales of strange creatures
who never evolved from amphibians. Lovecraft wrote of a mythical town called
Innsmouth (The Shadow over Innsmouth,
Everett, PA: Visionary Publishing Co., 1936) , where greenish, watery-eyed
creatures raised their collars
to hide the gills that protruded from their necks.
According to Universal Studios, the "Creature
is either the last remnant of a 15 million year old species, or has
itself survived since the Devonian age. Substantially taller than
the average human male, although never accurately measured. Approximately
300 pounds. The African lungfish, which lives underwater during mating
season, but breathes surface air when its lake habitat
- Able to breathe surface air for only a few minutes before returning
to a watery habitat
- Is around 6 feet 5 inches in height on land and 5 feet 8 inches
in the water! (due to actors of different height playing the creature)
- Blood composition is approximately 35% white corpuscles, or "halfway
between marine life and mammal." It is also important to note that
these white corpuscles have no nucleus.
- The Gillman falls in love with Kay (Julia Adams), the lone female
in the party.
- Outer layer of marine scales cover a layer of mammalian epidermis
- Living primarily in the dark depths of the sea, the GillMan reacts
adversely to bright light
- Although it has been known to exhibit violent tendencies, such
actions can be classified as defensive. Typically, it usually hunts
fish for its food.
- The film was originally shot in 3-D
- Universal - International © 1954
- Starring: Richard Carlson, Julia Adams, Richard Denning, Antonio
Moreno, Nestor Paiva, Whit Bissell
- Screenplay by Harry Essex and Arthur
- Produced by William Alland
- Directed by Jack Arnold
- Available on Universal
Studios Home Video | BW | 79 min. | Not Rated
Ben Chapman's Stats
- Ben was born on October 29, 1928 in Oakland, California.
- His parents were from Tahiti and had Ben while visiting the U.S. mainland.
- His parents returned to Tahiti and raised Ben there until 1940 at the age of 15.
- After attending school in San Fransisco, he began working as a Tahitian dancer in nightclubs.
- His first movie was MGM's Pagan Love Song in 1950. He had additional small roles until he was drafted in the Korean war.
- Upon return to the U.S., he became a stock player for Universal Studios.
- His height at 6' 5" made him an ideal candidate for the Gillman. He had fortunate timing by visiting the casting office and meeting with Jonny Rennig, who was looking for someone to cast for the role.
- He made $300 a week while working in the movie.
- Ben now lives in Honolulu, Hawaii.
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON
Prompted by archaeologist
Dr. Carl Maia's (Moreno) discovery of a strange, half-man, half-amphibian
skeletal hand from the Devonian period, a team of scientists descend
upon the Amazon. Led by scientist David Reed (Carlson), fellow scientist
and girlfriend Kay (Adams), and their jealous benefactor Dr. Mark
Williams (Denning), they soon discover that the fossil they seek
is alive and well and hopping mad from their intrusion in his
shot in 3-D, Creature needs no gimmick to be a great
monster movie. Featuring a still-used formula, the film allows our unsuspecting
players to drift into the Creature's lair to be
picked off one-by-one until the monster's weakness is found. Creature also
uses the classic "love triangle" subplot, with hero Carlson and mercenary Denning
vying for the affections of Julia Adams. However, Universal's specialty, the
sympathetic monster, creates a fourth side to the triangle, turning the old cliche
on its head. The last of an ancient race of gill men, the Creature certainly has mating on his mind, and his aquatic
ballet with an unsuspecting Adams makes us feel for him as we would other classic
heartsick grotesques like Quasimodo or Cyrano. Creature's portrayal of romance is surprisingly adult
-- Carlson and Adams never descend into the cutesy couples' dialogue typical
of genre films of the time. Additionally, although Denning's jealous Dr. Williams
tries to wedge his way between the lovers, it is clear by today's standards that
he is overcompensating for some shortcoming -- just watch him handle that speargun!
The underwater photography, groundbreaking for its era and budget, still rival
anything seen today. All in all, this film is a Monster Masterpiece, and was
so successful it spawned two sequels, Revenge of the Creature and The Creature Walks Among Us.