'Creature from the Black Lagoon' Review: Plight of the Love Stricken Gill-man
It must be hard to be the Gill-man in Creature from the Black Lagoon. All he wanted was some love, or at least some heavy petting. If I were the last of the Devonian amphibians who had just seen Julie Adams in her one piece bikini I'd want some of that ass too. It wasn't like he had access to any gill-woman; even if he did, Julie Adams is a much better choice. Poor Gill-man can't seem to get any love no matter how many times he abducts scantily clad women from boats. I blame the "scientists" of the film who thwart his every attempt at kidnapping her. There seems to be a missed opportunity for a fish on woman sex scene; who doesn't love big ole fish boners?
Richard Carlson is David Reed in the film and he clearly wants Kay Lawrence (Adams) all to himself. So much so that he makes it his mission to stop the Gill-man from keeping her. Carlson is as believable an ichthyologist as Schwarzenegger was a mattress salesman in Jingle All The Way; no ichthyologist would be shirtless the entire film. In reality he would be more worried about the mating ritual of the Amazonian catfish than whether the poor Gill-man is getting some human poontang. It isn't convincing when he gets the single biggest find in marine biology and doesn't seem to give a shit. Too bad there is little in the film that makes rooting for the humans a viable option; they're boorish, pig-headed, and slightly homo-erotic in an odd fight scene on the boat.
It's not surprising Julie Adams doesn't do anything the entire film other than wear "skimpy" outfits and scream. What a hard job that must have been, "play the stereotypical damsel in distress." The idea of the B movie era was apparently to paint woman as helpless victims in every film, oh how times haven't changed. Her eye candy status in the film, while visually appealing, didn't bring anything to the plot other than punctured ear drums and mild half chubs.
The Gill-man is the real star of the film, go figure. He doesn't say a single word the entire film unlike the other classic Universal Monsters but is able to be as sympathetic. Frankenstein and Wolfman both emoted the hell out of their performances and were able to really show that they were misunderstood beasts, Gill-man doesn't have that luxury. When he does emote, he is reminiscent of a fish gasping for air, which is the closest thing to realism throughout the whole film. The suit looked great artistically but technically it had no ventilation or cooling apparatus. The actor who played the Gill-man stayed in the suit for 14 hours, primarily in the back-lot lake, waiting to be hosed down to cool off.
At best though, Creature's plot is a blatant ripoff of King Kong, like Kong was a ripoff of The Beauty and the Beast. Instead of the Skull Island or the Beast's castle its the Black Lagoon, instead of an ape or a man-lion-warthog chimera its a fish-man. The story is mostly the same except for some beats: the climax takes place in the Black Lagoon as opposed to New York and there is no mystical rose that will magically kill the beast when it wilts (thanks no thanks Disney). As with Kong, the Gill-man gets no love at the end of the film, just his scaly webbed hand.
It says something about American culture that the "monster" never gets the beautiful woman. Why screenwriters feel the need to make a monster sympathetic yet never truly follow through is a mystery. Right when the "sympathetic, misunderstood" monster has the girl, he gets killed by the shirtless bro who loves her more. Is there something that the monster has that the bro doesn't? Kong and the Gill-man both have homes and ways to provide, even if raw fish isn't the most appealing of options.
Too bad the Gill-man didn't get the girl, that ending would have been preferable to sinking to the bottom of the lake riddled with bullet holes. Carlson stops the boat captain and geologist, who is toting a rifle of course, from shooting the Gill-man, AFTER they've shot him at least five times. "No let him go", Carlson says as the Gill-man stumbles out into the Lagoon, bleeding profusely. Why the fuck couldn't you have stopped them before they filled his ass with lead? Oh, because you wanted the woman, of course.
If they were to remake Creature, which has been in talks for years, one would hope for once the Gill-man would get the girl. However, there would be little surprise if the Gill-man turned out as a CGI abomination who was an alien from Zeta Reticuli with has a fish boner for Megan Fox playing a Greenpeace activist. It would be set on the banks of the Mississippi River and the finale would show the Gill-man joining forces with other displaced cryptids (i.e. Bigfoot, Skunk Ape, Chupacabra) to take back their precious land from the encroaching human world. It would be a CGI fuckfest of Transformers magnitude, and probably directed by everyone's favorite explosion fetishist Michael Bay.
Creature is by no means a great film. Its poorly acted, poorly cast, and the script is illogical at best. The saving grace is the iconic design of the Gill-man who carries the entire film on his scaly back. Watch Creature for the Gill-man and nothing else, except for maybe Julie Adams in that skimpy one piece.
Author's Note: Please don't steal my idea Mr. Bay
Final Say: Watch It
Who Said What?
Lucas: "There are many strange legends in the Amazon. Even I, Lucas, have heard the legend of a man-fish."