My first review ever was for a local access horror show about 6 years ago. It was called “The Death of the Drive-In’s.” When I watched the show one night I was shocked to find the two hosts were going to read my review on the air! It was about the drive-in era dying out like a plague sweeping across the country. Everywhere you went (in Ohio alone), For Sale signs were all over the once majestic, towering screens that used to show some of the greatest films of our time. One in particular was the Memphis drive-in, one of the most popular ones in Ohio. It was so popular that people tried to get a petition going to make it a historical site. It never happened. So the “drive-in plague,” as I refer to it, continues. And why, you may ask? Well, mostly because the use of the film costs money, and in order to turn a profit, drive-ins rely on concession stands besides ticket purchases. Today, with movies costing in the millions to make, the price goes up. A drive-in by me did a smart thing and charged $5 to bring your own food, generating a little more profit, which in turn keeps it running to this day.
Okay, enough history lessons — let’s get to the plot. By the way, the 3D version of Creature from the Black Lagoon is amazing if you can find it. It does have great underwater effects! A large explosion is seen as a narrator gives a short speech on earth. The film then shows a beach with strange footprints coming out of the water. The waves slowly wash over them, leaving the viewer the obvious question: what was it?
Meanwhile, scientists are digging into a wall of dirt and rock, uncovering an odd-looking skeletal hand. Later that night, two men are wakened in their tent by a monstrous shadow. The thing tears down the tent, slashes one man with a sharp claw, and kills both of them. The skeletal claw is sent to a lab so it can be determined what species it is from. Dr. Carl Maia, who discovered the hand, assembles a crew of scientists to find more fossils in the “black lagoon.” Among the crew are Dr. David Reed, Kay Laurence, Dr. Mark Williams and Dr. Edwin Thompson. They board the boat, the “Rita,” driven by Lucas, who tells them a tale of “gill-man,” a legendary creature who, millions of years ago, may have been a throwback to the human and amphibious race — a cross-breed, if you will. It is then we get our first glimpse of the creature, coming up from the lagoon to grab a large bird and pull it down to the deep lagoon.
It soon becomes apparent that the legend is real and two battles begin. One is for the capture of the creature for study purposes, or to let it stay in its natural environment. Second is the ever-famous battle for the love of a woman (Kay), which was common in these types of films. In a brilliant scene, Kay goes for a swim in the lagoon. The creature sees her and has never witnessed such beauty before, swimming inches away from her, slightly grazing her leg, wondering what she is. Kay panics and gets out of the water. The gill-man then begins his pursue of Kay by jumping onto the boat and causing chaos.
Eventually it is decided that the scientists will use rotenone (a drug that is used to capture fish). Then they put the creature in a cage, but unfortunately it doesn’t hold the beast for long. The creature breaks out and seriously injures Dr Thompson. Lucas thinks it’s time to leave the cursed lagoon, but cannot, because the creature has blocked off the only exit with giant logs. Williams decides to go underwater to try to remove the debris, but is confronted by the gill-man and is killed. Using the rotenone on the creature gives Dr. Reed enough time to remove the barricade created by the gill-man. Later that night, the gill-man comes on board, kidnapping Kay and taking her to his cave somewhere within the lagoon. Yes, its’ like King Kong underwater, but I’m fine with that! The rest of the team manages to find the gill-man’s subterranean lair, and after a brief fight the creature is shot and falls into the darkest depths of the lagoon.
This is without a doubt my favorite Universal monster film, and seeing it in the 3D form (the way it was introduced to American audiences) was amazing, especially the underwater shots! Ben Chapman, who played the creature, would have to hold his breath for over a minute in some scenes.
On a scale from 1-10, Creature from the Black Lagoon is a perfect 10! If you should happen to want to buy the movie, I would recommend the legacy collection. It comes with all three creature films, several documentaries, anda lot of other photos, trailers, etc. You can get it at Amazon.com for around $20 — a steal in my book.
Well, that’s it for this time around. Once again, thanks to Corey for allowing me to continue reviewing some of the drive-in classics! See you at the drive-ins! This is Misfit boy and I’m out!