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Review of Creature From the Black Lagoon

Creature From the Black Lagoon
1954



Blurbage: Who knows what undiscovered life forms inhabit the bodies of water on our planet? When scientists exploring the Amazon River stumble on a "missing link" connecting humans and fish, they plan to capture it for later study. But the creature has plans of his own, inspired by the lead scientist's beautiful fiancee, Kay. This classic thriller is a genuine tribute to imaginative storytelling and an exceptional showcase for the legendary makeup artistry of Bud Westmore.

Oh yeah... also, NOT SPOILER FREE.


It should be noted that Creature From the Black Lagoon was originally in 3-D. That always makes watching a movie that is now in 2-D risky at best, if not actively painful (Jaws 3-D, I'd be looking at you). See the Score for discussion on how badly the film came out in this regard....


Scene 01: The movie starts on a sour note, as most movies do in the 50's, with a pompous narrator. The PN informs us that the world started out as a void, when God created it (how scientific!). We actually do get some science however, once we make sure that the bible believers are satisfied that we've been told God created the Earth. We're let known that the Earth cooled during a period of 5 billion years (I don't think it was that long... but they're trying and this IS the 1950's, so we have to make allowances. Plus, we're entering a story in which mankind and fish are connected via a fishman, so you know, suspension of disbelief is necessary).

The pompous narrator continues with our impromptu early Earth history by letting us know how the seas rose, but then he pisses off the bible folk by ignoring God creating mankind through Adam by going with evolutionary theory. Oops.

Anyway, narrator drones on about life starting in the deep seas and expanding outward to the land. We see the evidence of footprints of some sort of (implied) amphibian. He drones on about how millenia later man continues trying to unlock the evidence of this early development... taking us to the Amazon with an aerial shot of the trees as we hear 'jungle sounds' and swoop landward.

Scene 02: We hear a man yelling for a professor to come and look at what has been found. What has caused the ruckus turns out to be a fossilized, clawed hand sticking out of the rock. It's a webbed hand, with an opposable thumb! Dah-duh-Dahhh!



The Professor has never seen anything like this fossil and he and his work crew excitedly take photos and then dig the fossil out of the rock. The Professor tells his native assistant Luis that he is heading back to the Institute to determine an identity for the skeletal remains and to recruit a proper expedition to retrieve the rest of the skeleton presumed to be embedded in the rock face.

But as he's giving orders for how to handle things while he is gone, we see bubbles come up from the nearby body of water and a webbed claw comes out briefly to claw dramatically at the mud before sinking away again. As the dramatic duhh-duh-duhhh music BLARES, we note that the claw matches the skeletal one that was just found! Dah-duh-daaahhhhhh!!!!

Commentary: I love this movie. BUT, they really overdid the stings here. Okay - we get it! This is dramatic. Thanks.

Scene 03: Back at the Instituto de Biologia Maritima (even in South America, 50's institutions had Nombre de Generico), Professor Hand-Finder and Kay go out to a float to retrieve another scientist who is working underwater. And we get to laugh (and be impressed by the risks these folks took) by seeing that they have no underwater communications. Kay has to tug on an anchor line and wait for the diver to notice. In addition, the scientist working underwater is NOT practicing the buddy system.

The diver is Doctor David Reed. The Skeletal-Hand Scientist is Dr. Carl Maia (pronounced May-E-Ah) and our heroine is Kay Lawrence. We have some clumsy exposition here, but basically its to establish that Carl is a geologist and David is a fish expert. Kay will turn out to be a botanist and expert in aquatic plants.

David and Kay are fiancees, but its clear that neither is in a rush to tie the knot since they're already together so much anyway (which seems progressive for the era, but maybe I think of the 50's as more buttoned up than it was). Anyway, naturally Carl is there to see if David can help him identify the hand-in-question. We also get mention of Dr. Mark Williams who is David's boss as well as being the one in charge of fund raising to keep the institute open and in business. The movie tries hard here to give Dr. Williams his due, but he'll quickly be shown to be the film's somewhat villain by ONLY being interested in the publicity and ergo money that the Creature will bring in. We're also going to find out that Kay once dated Mark so that we can have our cliche love triangle. Thankfully, the movie will then undercut it by not having Kay dallying between the two men. Mark remains in the past, while David is the man she continues to love.

Scene 04: In the Institute the skeletal hand is displayed and Dr. Maia tells the others of his hopes to find the rest of the skeleton with an expedition covered by the Institute. Dr. Williams jumps at the chance and he further decides there are noone better than the already assembled to make up this team.

Commentary: We have some padding shots in this movie, but they're not too painful. I can think of the boat trip out to the float and back to the institute for one, and now here we get a shot of Kay watching sharks in a tank and then we watch David as he talks about the lung fish and how its a bridge between the land and sea animals... that everyone in the room, being trained scientists themselves, surely already know - even if they are a geologist and botanist.

David continues to expound on the value of studying marine life... again, these folks are scientists and no one has suggested that marine study isn't valuable, so what is his point? In fact, the exact opposite has happened - everyone is excited about the expedition to the Amazon to find the rest of the Creature skeleton....

Mark spotlights David's blatherings, which is a nice touch of the script by telling him it was a nice speech. But then, he also takes the opportunity to point out the monetary value of any possible find.

Commentary: I'll admit, this scene 04 is some slow slogging, but things really pick up nicely when we get everyone out of this Institute lab. Hang in there....

Scene 05: Once they decide to form the expedition and they're all done with their speechifying, we cut to another overblown musical sting to the creature's hand emerging from the water and onto the muddy banks. But this time, the hand doesn't sink out of sight... instead, we get a Monster POV heading into the camp, where the South American natives (one assumes they're Brazilians) are waiting for Dr. Maia's return.



Commentary: Any guesses on whether they capture the creature and become famous, or whether they get red-shirted? Let's investigate: a) they're not white b) they barely get named c) they're alone without proper weapons d) they're 'just the help', not actually scientists (around which this picture revolves)...

I think you can guess what their fates are... probably from a) alone.



As a bonus though (if you're me): we get lots of man-flesh in this pic including hunky Brazilian guy... at least before this happens:



Scene 06: Our scientists return an indeterminate amount of time later aboard the river boat, Rita, with a shifty looking, but ultimately not villainous, boat captain (Capt. Lucas) to the site of Maia's camp. Dr. Williams again shows that he's not exactly the hero of the piece by being a jerk-ass about the Rita (in front of her Captain, I might add) and throwing out the possibility that this is going to turn into a giant goose-chase on his dime.



Commentary: But, I'll add that even though he's a bit of a prick, he doesn't plow into dangerously arrogant/greedy that his cinematic kindred will in the future. He's just a bit... prickly... instead of outright evilly short-sighted.

It falls to Kay to play peacemaker between Dr. Reed (pure science interest) and Dr. Williams (concerned with the expense).

We get some travelogue footage here (I believe of the Everglades - obviously this wasn't filmed in the Amazon), but since its really beautiful scenery, I don't at all resent it (unlike say the 'tourist montage' of Denmark in Reptilicus).

Scene 07: The gang arrive at Dr. Maia's camp, but there's no response to his calls to Luis and Tomas (and we saw why they're not responding earlier). Naturally the men take off to search the camp (all of one tent) while telling Kay to wait at the waters edge because, you know, she's a girl.

The scientists find the remains of Luis and Tomas while at the water's edge, a webbed hand reaches for Kay's ankle. The creature's attempt to reach out to her are thwarted by Dr. Williams' calling to her and her moving away from the shore.

Scene 08: Some time later, after sweaty, backbreaking work (which Tomas and Luis are no longer providing - the ingrates!) our scientists come up empty-handed, pissing off Dr. Williams. Oh, wait! Dr. Williams lets us know it has been eight days of digging... we don't get mention of what happened to the two Brazilians by the way... one would hope they at least got a makeshift burial plot.

Dr. Reed is the one to point out the possibility that sometime in the past, part of the embankment broke away into the tributary. Our expedition is energized with the possibility that what they seek may be found in the Black Lagoon that dead-ends this branch of the Amazon system.

There is some discussion on whether they should risk going into an unexplored Lagoon because... you know... there's a woman with them. It's nice that Dr. Williams speaks up for Kay, however (though there may be the ulterior monetary motive behind this) pointing out that he had always found that she was more than capable of looking after herself. Again, this doesn't strike me as the stereotypical 50's view of women in the movies and it's a nice change of pace that the movie seems to remember that Kay is a scientist in her own right (and she doesn't wear thick-rimmed glasses, act cold and remote nor wears her hair in a tight bun!).

Scene 09: The 'Rita' proceeds to the mysterious Black Lagoon. We take some time to be cutesy-romantic with David and Kay. Of course, Mark Williams gets an eyeful of their toe-curling kiss and the way he fondles the speargun in his hand, we're expecting treachery from him.

Commentary: And, it's never followed through on... which is great. Mark never becomes 'Snidely Whiplash', even though his affection for Kay is firmly pointed to throughout the picture. This is especially admirable since they imply that Mark likes his spear gun a bit much in this scene. I don't know if they meant a tweek toward the cliches here or not, but it's nice that while Mark Williams isn't always likable, he never becomes psychotic.

Scene 10: Scene ten is used to establish that the entranceway and only exit by water into/out of the Lagoon is very narrow. This will come into play a bit later when our expedition wants to retreat. We also get another scene pointing to the tensions between David and Mark over both the expedition's ultimate goals and the relationships with Kay, but it's thankfully not overdone.

Scene 11: A net is lowered into the Lagoon in order to research what sort of fish are inhabiting the area (nicely reminding us of David's real career - he's interested in the fish). In addition, David and Mark go into the water (oh no!) to look for any evidence of rocks that could have been swept down the tributary from the original camp site. The Captain is skeptical of this "rock-fishing", and it gives Carl a chance to explain what a geologist does.

Commentary: We also get plenty more skin, since Mark and David are dressed in nothing but their tight swim trunks and scuba gear. Kay has also decided to spend most of the rest of the movie either in a bathing suit or short-shorts for the other half of the audience.

Scene 12: We get the underwater footage that Creature of the Black Lagoon is really known for here, as we get shots of our scuba divers and the fish and whatnot. It is really good cinematography and the images are impressively clear and beautiful - we also get Mark and David separating, again not practicing the buddy system!

Truthfully, these shots may go on a little long, but it isn't bad. The upshot is that Mark and David converge on a group of rocks on the bottom that were probably carried in by the current.

Scene 13: Up on the boat, we get more Mr. Wizard dialog as Captain Lucas asks Carl about what he wants the rocks for. While back underwater, our divers continue collecting samples. Mark gets a sudden burr up his butt about something... I don't know what. But, he leaves David to the samples and goes swimming off on his own... BUDDY-SYSTEM, Damn it, Buddy System!

Of course the real reason is so that the Creature can come into camera just behind Mark as he's out of eyesight of David. And yes, they do repeat the way overdone and overblown dah-duh-daaaahhhh! musical blare of suspense, too.

The picture here is nicely grainy, so that we can't make out many details, but can get the thrill of seeing the fish-man for the first time in total.



Mark returns to David's side and they decide to head up, but first David cuts some plant off of a log for Kay. A nice, sweet touch that he would think of her scientific interests as well.

We also see that the Creature is keeping tabs on what these strangers are doing.

Scene 14: The scuba team arrives back on deck to unload their samples, with some more nice, understated interaction between Kay and David. And some not so subtle irritation from Mark in regards to Kay and David.... Really, Mark - stop looking so petulant, it's unbecoming a rational scientist, yes?

Commentary: Again, you start to think that Mark is going to ultimately be the bad guy here because of short scenes like this one that we're conditioned to take as short hand for 'villainous', but the script keeps him from going all black hat.

Kay does an admirable job of sticking up for Mark with David here, without giving the impression that she's "torn between two lovers", pointing out that despite his prickly attitude and his being concerned with money, he is a scientist too with some impressive (though unspecified) findings under his belt.



Kay also expresses interest in seeing the Lagoon from below the surface, which will lead to her taking a swim and the iconic (perhaps) image of the movie (excepting the Creature gaping for air on the surface).



Scene 15: Kay dives into the Lagoon for a refreshing swim, while the menfolk are busy with their rocks below deck. From below the surface (accompanied by the duh-duh-duhhhhh music, 'natch) we get the Creature watch Kay make her way.

Commentary: By the way, notice Kay's swimsuit here... why was it designed to make her boobs look like pointy missiles? Was this a movie swimsuit convention, or was this the general design for women's ware in the '50s? Anyway, the following images of the creature shadowing Kay beneath her are really stunning. There's almost something ballet-like in their movements together, she completely unknowing. And the underwater scenes with Ricou Browning deserve the fame they've received - I've never seen this movie until I bought the DVD (I know! I don't know how that happened either) but I came away just as impressed as the hype would suggest that I should.



The Creature breaks away to return to a strand of seaweed just before Kay engages in some literal water ballet, as it watches. You can see that this would probably be why the monster becomes so infatuated with her at this point; enough for it to pursue her later. The Creature plays with her a bit here, in a scene oddly innocent and menacing at the same time. It reaches out so tentatively to touch her kicking feet as she treads water, but once it makes contact it quickly dives for the seaweed again to hide and watch.

Scene 16: Captain Lucas comes up on deck at this point and decides that Miss Kay has gotten too far out from the boat. As we saw in the earlier 'travelogue' scenes, his concern isn't as sexist as it might seem on the surface. We've already seen that there are cayman's in the water system and we've heard from Lucas himself that the Amazon has catfish that are bigger than a man that can be dangerous to the unwary. As he told his visitors, "Everything in the Amazon are killers".

As he's pulling up anchor to motor the distance closer to Kay, the Creature continues to watch her frollic in the water. The other men come up to find out what is going on and have a minor cow about her being out there by herself, which does come off as incredibly sexist. Frankly, if I were Kay, I'd would have reminded them that I wasn't a little girl under their watch. As she heads back to the boat, the creature again swims under her, accompanying her.

As Kay climbs aboard, everyone is distracted by the boat suddenly listing. That net to catch fish? Well, it has caught something alright, and whatever it is, is causing the boat to tilt to and fro.

As the men struggle to attempt to get the net out of the water, the beam joist its attached to starts to buckle under the strain.

Commentary: And yes, it does point strongly to Steven Spielberg having been impressed with this movie's visuals before filming Jaws. We've already had the "seeing girl silouetted from below" in Kay's swim scene, the underwater monster approaching the unaware swimmer, and now the "joist creaking under the strain of trying to lift creature out of water" - in Jaws' case it was trying to lift the shark cage as the shark attacked Richard Dreyfuss.

With the boon in danger of breaking and falling down on them all, David readies to cut the lines with an axe, when suddenly the pressure against the net releases. When they pull it out of the water, they find a huge hole.

In the remains of a net, they find a claw... and Kay suddenly gets a thoughtful and disturbed look on her face.

Scene 17: David and Mark have more words of contention: this time David is going into the water to get photos of the creature in its natural habitat, while Mark takes the spear gun, and implies that he'd like the specimen instead. When David complains he's thinking less like a scientist and more like a big game hunter (the truth), Mark snidely reminds him that he's still an employee of Mark (also truth). Oh, Mark, why must you be an ass?

Scene 18: David and Mark are underwater again (this movie has a lot of time spent filming underwater, so you really have to give them props in how good everything looks, given 1950's black and white photography; it's really stunning).

We spend another chunk of time with scenery (especially following a gar) which is less forgivable since we're now far enough along in the running to not expect padding like this. The underwater photography is nice, but it isn't THAT nice. Finally, though, we see the Creature's clawed hand resting against a log as it watches the men swimming in its environment.

When he takes off in a cloud of seaweed, the humans spot him and swim after him. The Creature effectively hides as the men swim right above him, not seeing that he's crouched in more plant life. He might have been fine if he'd stayed put, but he breaks cover to swim in the opposite direction, and Mark happens to turn and look behind them. They again give chase.



Mark fires his spear gun, nailing the creature in the side, but it's able to make it to a deeper depression in the Lagoon, disappearing into the darkness.

Scene 19: Having lost sight of it, the guys return to the surface. David is pissed off that Mark shot it, when they weren't under attack. Mark's point of view is that they weren't down there to play tag with the thing - and you have to be on David's side here. This is a unique lifeform, for all they know, the only one they'll ever see and instead of studying it alive in its natural habitat, all Mark can think of is the fortune they'll make if they bring it in.

Commentary: And as we know, this will be taken to extremes by everyone following in Mark's footsteps. It's also hard to argue any sympathetic view of Mark's actions here - he was clearly out of line. Unfortunately, the others are too busy asking what exactly they saw to point out that Mark is being a giant, irresponsible asshole here. And they might not have even if they had the chance, since technically, their paychecks depend on him.

We get here an argument over what the gill-man is, with the scientists who didn't see it expressing their skepticism (without being obnoxious about it) that there could be a man who breathes water. Unfortunately, the proof that David brought back (the camera) didn't catch a good view of the thing, since Mark chased it off by firing his spear.

Obligingly, as Mark is asking how they'll prove anything if they don't have any physical proof of their claims, the Gillman shows up stalking across the deck of the Rita outside a porthole. Random deckhand quickly buys it and his yell and a splash call the others up from belowdecks.

Scene 20: Above deck, another crewman (who we find out is the attackee's brother who was Chico) is crying in hysterics as his brother was taken overboard and dragged down into the depths.

Carl points out the clear, wet impressions of the Creature's fin-prints on the wood deck. No one, I'll point out, immediately wonders if they were attacked because Mark shot it for no reason.

Instead, effort is put into building an improvised cage on deck in hopes of capturing the thing.

Mark and David start arguing some more: trying to capture the Creature alive, vs. going after it with more spears. Guess which scientist is espousing which view....

Again, it's Kay to the rescue though as she interrupts with her thoughts about whether the Creature could have come aboard because of Mark's attack - whether it's developed enough to seek revenge (but, alas, she doesn't say it in a tone of condemnation for Mark's impulsive actions).

Lucas now tells the others that there may be a way to bring the Creature up before it can attack again, and would allow them to take it relatively unharmed (anymore than it already is). Aboard he has a powder that acts as a sedative. It's used by fisherman all the time to drug fish so they'll float to the top in still water and thereby be made much easier to haul aboard.

Scene 21: Mark and David board a dingy and begin to seed the Lagoon with the powder. As Kay watches from deck, she flicks her cigarette into the pristine waters of the Lagoon (thanks!) and we see the creature is under the boat, watching!



(And we get more of that damned musical sting!)

A short while later, fish are floating at the surface, but no monster....

Scene 22: Mark and David again go out into the Lagoon, this time having fixed the drug to sink deeper into the water. Everyone hears a splash echo across the water, but they don't see anything. Mark takes the opportunity to go on a semi-rant over how the only way anyone will believe them back home is if they can bring this specimen in. David doesn't entirely buy that no one will believe them - which is ridiculous... of course they're not going to believe you if you can't provide proof, you smug dimwit! I have to take Mark's side on this one, even though he's still acting slightly jerky... David is being entirely too self-superior here for him to not come off badly. On the other hand, Mark is starting to sound just a little bit unhealthily obsessed here... and he's the one with a death grip on the rifle. I might think twice about arguing with him if I were David.

He apparently agrees, since he stops arguing and starts rowing back to the Rita.


Scene 23: It's after dark that night, and obviously the drug failed to reach the Creature... or it's immune. Either way, it hasn't floated to the surface, paralyzed the way the fish had earlier.

Everyone is armed, watchful, and expectant. Wait, I'm sorry - did I say everyone? I meant, almost everyone is armed. Guess which one of our group can't possibly be carrying around a rifle for her own self-protection.

Conveniently, every inch of the boat isn't being watched, so the creature can slip aboard anyway. Kay sees the Creature and naturally, immediately screams as if her life depended on it, rather than say, calmly tell the others to be ready to capture it..., of course she is 'the girl'.

A lantern and Kay's scream bugs the Gillman, and he immediately dives back into the dark waters. With a spotlight, they're able to spot it once again, but it quickly dives below the surface after waving its arms around and vocalizing briefly.

David, Mark, Kay and anonymous crewman go after the Creature. David's concern is that the drug may have had an effect after all and if the Creature passes out on land, trying to avoid them, it may suffocate - I guess. I don't really understand what the reasoning is to go into the water after it in the pitch darkness after its already proved itself to have freedom of movement and to be incredibly strong underwater. This seems dumb to me. And, I'd like to point out that they are going in after it without any scuba tanks, too....

Scene 24: Mark goes diving into the deep well where they saw the Creature go. He tells David to wait, but after less than a minute, David is concerned with Mark's welfare. He deep dives after them...

... to resurface on a hidden grotto. Mark startles David and nearly gets a dagger, which he really would have deserved. He waves David to come with him, and they track the Creature by its fin-prints in the sand. As the two men are following, we can see that the Creature has indeed been drugged by the way its stumbling about through a short semi-valley. And we get one of those annoying scenes where two people are waiting for our heroes (apparently Kay and anonymous crewman went to a beach near the shallows where the Creature, Mark and David went into the water) are both facing the wrong way as the monster approaches. And, despite the suspense, they don't bother looking around themselves constantly....

At least they aren't deciding now would be a good time for a shower, a nap or a shag though. Finally, after the creature gets close enough to present the threat that it could actually grab Kay, she manages to notice that she has peripheral vision and looks to see the monster's approach. Her cry of alarm sends crewman (whose brother had been killed by the creature) into its waiting arms, ineffectively waiving a machete. That goes about as well as you'd expect, leaving Kay to scream in horror as the Gillman stumbles toward her - which might not have been such a crisis if somebody had given her SOMETHING to protect herself with. Unfortunately, I guess Mark's believing in her ability to look after herself only stretched so far....

And, OH NO THEY DIDN'T (yes, they really did)! Kay trips. Apparently over her own feet.

The Creature is able to scoop Kay into its arms, but before it can sweep her away, the drug finally causes it to collapse.

The Creature is trussed up by Carl and Whit Bissel scientist (where the hell were they??) and at least they acknowledge that crewman guy is lying there dead before moving on.

Scene 25: The Gillman is put into the makeshift hold/cage under the sedative effects of the drug. This gives David and Mark another reason to argue. Mark is ready to call the expedition over, but David insists that they have to make a complete study of the grotto (I'm with Mark again, here. You can come back for the other study, David - you can't keep the Creature in a makeshift cage long term, you dolt!)

David insists. He gets his way.

Scene 26: Whit Bissel scientist is on deck watching over the creature while David and Mark are off at the grotto taking photographs. As this is happening, we see Kay on her bunk, looking a bit upset still by the earlier happenings. I like to think that she's putting some time in on offering up a prayer of thanks to crewman who delayed the Creature and died so that she might not be nabbed.

As Whit Bissel makes the error often repeated by scientists, guardsman, soldiers, and evil flunkies everywhere (nodding off when supposed to be watching the monster/prisoner/hero), we see the Gillman stir.

Kay comes up on deck (for air) and distracting Whit scientist. She tells him that she couldn't sleep and I want to believe it's because she's feeling some sort of guilt (deserved or not) over crewman getting throttled and killed earlier. She claims that it's the animal noises in the night jungle keeping her up. Whatever. The point is that the Creature is able to make a break for it, while they're gabbing to one another.

Pushing on the bamboo and rope top covering the hold, it snaps the lines. The noise draws the human's attention, but it has already jumped free. Now, it attacks, causing grievous wounds to Whit scientist before being driven off by Kay's quick thinking and a good throwing arm....



Scene 27: David and Mark have returned to find Whit scientist lying in a cot with his face swathed in bandages. The Creature has escaped back to the Lagoon. The unhurt men who are left and Kay meet on the deck to decide what to do next.

Oh, yay. Another Mark and David argument. And this time, I'm firmly with David. He's ready to run and return later with a better equipped expedition, but Mark won't hear of it. You know, despite the gravely injured colleague with the carved up face and no proper medical supplies?

Thankfully, this is Captain Lucas' boat. That fact, along with a huge knife he's not hesitant in pulling makes the decision for them, and he's ready to follow David's lead. They're pulling out.

Scene 28: The Rita begins its trek back to civilization. But, remember how the entrance into the Lagoon is rather narrow and cramped? Well, it doesn't take too much to block it up with detritus to keep the Rita from leaving.

Mark sees this set back as a last chance to capture the creature, but David rightly says in dismay:

"We're trapped and fighting for our lives, and you're worried people will believe us!"

I'd say David's been very patient up until now, but clearly Mark should be knocked on his ass.

From the aft comes the sounds of wood crunching and rifle blasts. When Mark, David and Lucas get back there they see the dingy smashed beyond repair and Carl firing wildly toward the water. The Creature has struck again, keeping them trapped aboard ship (or trying to anyway - they barely used the rowboat anyway).

Scene 29: With nothing else to do, focus turns to getting the Rita out of the Lagoon. David goes in to secure the winch line to the detritus blocking their exit. With trouble winching the weight load up, we see the Creature studying what David did underwater. He quickly snaps the hook holding the cabling around the blockade.

Mark takes this opportunity to decide to go down with David -not to help secure the blockage, of course, but to act as bait for the Creature so that David can "get it". Well, Dave has had just about enough of Mark's obsessing over capturing the damned thing. They finally get into the physical confrontation that has been building the whole trip and David punches him out.

David, now clearly in charge, goes into the drink with an aqualung and the spear gun.

Scene 30: David is now under the debris and trying to re-secure the winch cable. The Gillman (complete with *sigh* musical sting) watches him. The Creature makes a direct line right for him, but Mark is there with a spear gun of his own and is able to drive the monster off before David gets it.

Mark, pushing his obsessive behavior too far goes after it again. He manages to spear it once more. But the Gillman outpaces him. As Mark is searching for the Creature, it rids itself of the spear and then barrels into him, grabbing his leg and dragging him down into the depths.

The Creature pins Mark to the bottom, but David has seen what is happening and rushes to aid. In the meanwhile, silt is being kicked up from the bottom so that we can't see what is happening. Suddenly, Mark makes a break for the surface. But, the Gillman re-grabs him, this time also tearing his oxygen hose. David rushes to help Mark, firing his own spear gun. The Creature is driven away, but Mark is floating limp....

Commentary: This is easily the most exciting sequence of the movie, with the underwater action really nicely done.

On the boat, Kay sees the floating figure and cries out in horror. David retrieves Mark and hauls him back to the Rita.

Scene 31: The shellshocked survivors sit helplessly on deck, as it was too late to save Mark. David points out there is no other way. They have to unblock the outlet, or none of them will survive.

Commentary: I have to admit, this death surprised me. I expected Kay to get nabbed by the critter, and thereby teaching Mark of his folly in obsessing on capturing/killing the monster long past when it made sense. I expected he and David to bury the hatchet regarding Kay and David's view to get the hell outta dodge with Mark giving a mea culpa. I didn't expect that he'd die, since like I stated at the beginning of this review (hours ago) his character never turned EEEvil or did anything that you'd say, "Oh, yeah, you're going to die for that" throughout the movie. Yes, he was a jerk - but it seemed like the "jerk who learns his lesson" rather than the "too stupid/greedy/evil/arrogant to live".

Mark comes up with a plan to keep the Creature from interfering involving air under pressure and a makeshift spray gun of the paralyzing agent used earlier to make it groggy. In theory, that will force it to go off and pass out while they can clear the tree from the Lagoon mouth and be on their way.

Scene 32: They prepare their brilliant spray gun trick. In the meantime, Whit scientist lying and recuperating, notices that the monster has once again invaded the boat:



Again, Kay starts screaming like a bloody fool, despite the fact that she's in no direct danger. It's really a shame that they made her do this girly crap too, because otherwise she's a competent, intelligent, resourceful woman. They really did not need to undermine her with all of this screaming (and that pathetic 'trip over my own feet' stunt).

David (you man, you!) fights off the claw as we hear a gunshot (from Captain Lucas) and then a splash into the Lagoon.

Scene 33: Now armed with the drug under pressure, David again heads underwater to affix the winch cable. Creature swims for David, he swims with his Rohypnol (or whatever its exact name) for the Gillman.

Commentary: This is another suspenseful scene as we see the Creature circling up on David as he's busy yanking on the cable and damn near gets close enough to take him unawares....

The Gillman is driven away by a faceful of drug and David is able to get the winch cable secure and to return to the surface.

With the cable secure, our crew are able to remove the blockade, but they aren't watching the stern, where we see the Creature's clawed hands come up over the side. We watch the monster haul itself aboard, while everyone's attention is on the winch line.

Commentary: We get here probably the most iconic image from the film as the Creature stalks forward across the deck. Also noticable here is the wonderful effect of having the Creature's mouth gape and gills flap as he takes in air out of the water. They did a really stellar job on the costuming for the Gillman, and I can see why it was such a hit with the theater audience when it was released.



Scene 34: Kay finally notices that the Creature is aboard, but far too late. Again, she screams and crosses her arms in front of her face. The monster is able to grab her and throw them both overboard, where we see it dragging Kay into the depths, the same way it dragged the now deceased Mark....



Scene 35: While David readies to go after Kay, she is being lifted out of the water in the now-not-secret grotto. David is hot on the trail, though.

Commentary: And, I think this has to be the most uncomfortable scene for both Julie Adams (Kay) and the Creature (Ben Chapman for the land scenes) as she looks really awkwardly held by the monster. It looks like it would be painful for her back and hips, and he looks like he'd really be straining to not drop her.

As he tracks the Creature with Kay in its arms we get a *pointless fake bat swoop* toward David... seriously, what the hell was that about? I can only think that somebody decided we had to have one more 3-D effect, but that was really stupid.

David catches up with Kay, now lying unattended on a rock slab, just coming conscious from her brush with drowning. Of course, she's not quite as unattended as it looks. And, considering the pond of water sitting *right there*, I think we know where Dave should be watching....

The Creature is able to grab up David after smashing his spear gun, and despite his attempts to stab it to death with his knife. Thankfully for both of them, Lucas and Carl have followed (though how, I don't know... the rowboat was smashed and they're both dry as a bone - continuity is our friend). And they, not being all that worried about hitting him, I guess, open rifle fire on the monster.

The Creature makes one last attempt to reach Kay, but when it's shot again, it heads off toward escape. David stops the two men from firing again, wanting to let it return to the Lagoon. Which it does, bloody and stumbling... sinking into the depths, still and limp and possibly lifeless - all because it wasn't left alone (I felt the need to add that because somehow, they failed to have David make the observation).

And End Credits on the Creature sinking....


The Good: The cinematography was really great, especially the underwater sequences.

The way Kay was handled was so much better than how far too many of her filmic sisters were treated.

The underwater fight scenes with the Gillman vs. Mark and vs. David was excellent.

All of the characters were people you could stand to be around. This was quite a feat with Mark, who nowadays would, with a 100% chance, be so obnoxious as to practically be twirling a black moustache. This made his death both shocking and sad.

The amount of man skin on display (but admittedly, that could just be me).

The non-white background characters managed to avoid painful stereotyping... again, in a movie made in the 1950's, they managed a feat that today's filmmakers seem to find nearly impossible. Why?! It is so appreciated here.

The monster design, function, and place in the story was terrific. We start with glimpses, but when we see the whole thing multiple times and up close, the illusion isn't instantly shattered by bad costuming.

That scene with Kay unknowingly swimming in tandem with the Creature is beautifully shot and quite poetic.


The Bad: That beginning narrator stuff is nearly never a good idea.

The musical sting gets really repetitive and the way it blares with the same "this is exciting" tone everytime nearly undermines the excitement it's supposed to be highlighting.

Kay's trip and fall... and screaming....


The Score: This movie is named a classic, and I've found it holds the title for a reason. As mentioned, I've never seen the movie before the DVD purchase (I thought I had, but my memories are of the creature breaking out of a Sea World type park - that must be 'Revenge of the Creature'... or a completely different movie altogether - I'll find out soon), and I'm glad that I now own this one. As to my wondering what this movie being a 3-Der was going to do to the picture, you really couldn't even tell (except for maybe that lame faux-bat swoop toward the camera). It's going from a 3-D pic to a 2-D pic didn't hurt my viewing experience one bit, I'm happy to report.

So, the score is: 4.25 out of 5.

Tags: review creature from the black lagoon
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