Friday, October 16, 2009

Top Films: The Creature from the Black Lagoon

It is said to be one of Ingmar Bergman’s favorite films. Apparently, Steven Spielberg was inspired by it and it’s sequel when making Jaws. Movies like Aliens and Predator owe a lot to its existence. For a black and white sci-fi horror movie from the 50’s, it holds up incredibly well. In fact, it may be the most enjoyable of the old Universal Horror movies for today’s audiences.

The only thing most people who have not seen this film know about it is not true; the suit is not fake looking. Perhaps later versions and imitators of this film were, but the effects in this one are great. Especially when you think that this was made in the early days of scuba.

It is the typical story of modernity encroaching on nature’s territory and paying the price of its arrogance. The scientists in this movie are not the mad scientists of the 30s and 40s. They are not trying to tread where only God should venture. They simply want to know everything, and to hear them talk they already think they nearly do.

An interesting aspect of this film is its ecological message. No… not the new environmentalism as a cover for communism; simply the good old idea that people should respect nature and other living things. In one scene, the scientists poison the entire lagoon in an attempt to catch the creature. (An ironic aspect of this scene is the way the director cuts between the men poisoning the water and the woman smoking a cigarette. It is especially jarring to today’s audience, especially when she casually tosses the butt into the water.)

This film was successful enough to spawn two sequels: The Revenge of the Creature and The Creature Walks Among Us. They are not as good as the original. The third one is pretty awful, but the second was not so bad as to deserve its being featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000.


  1. You can really tell by the way so much of the action comes right at the camera. It would have been neat to have seen this in the theater in the original 3D. The first sequel was also in 3D.


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