Rubber monsters unite!
Say what you will about Creature From the Black Lagoon: seeing this drive-in classic again after twenty years, I was startled and impressed by how technically proficient it really is.
You know the story, of course: scientists discover a prehistoric amphibian alive and well in an Amazonian lagoon that is not so very black and attempt to capture it for study. The “gill-man” becomes enamored with the only female on the expedition (naturally), and tries to steal her away to its remote cave hideaway–surely to talk about things such as the American economy after the end of WWII.
The acting is predictably bland for a low-budget horror film at the time, and there are plenty of dramatic musical swells and stingers to accompany the action. But I was surprised by the little details of Bud Westmore’s intricate creature design; obviously rubber, but not too much so, if you know what I mean. The underwater photography, too, is impressive. In several scenes, director Jack Arnold frames the creature and our heroine, Kay (Julie Adams), in long shots, with Kay swimming along the water’s surface, and the creature in a mirror image below her, paddling upside down. And there’s a neat shot toward the end involving a spotlight and air bubbles.
Of course there’s no suspense to speak of, really; although I’m sure all if this might have come off as modestly frightening to a mid-50’s teenage audience. But I imagine it was a lot of fun, and Creature From the Black Lagoon has continued to thrill audiences for more than fifty years.