This week is Creature From The Black Lagoon. I saw this movie as a kid and remember almost nothing, although I do think I liked it? It's black and white from 1954, and while it does show its age, it's still a pretty good old monster film. So why is it getting the Movies That Suck beatdown? Well that's a good question, but come on- old monster flicks are so fair game! So let's take a peek
We begin with a voiceover talking about biblical creation and then some stuff about evolution and how life developed, with the upshot being that something clearly must have been the link between sea and land, right? Accompanied by ominous shots of footprints (or are those clawprints) in some sand. And then we segue right into the camp of Dr. Carl Maia, who is doing a geological survey (or something) in the Amazon, and who happens to find a webbed claw that looks like it would belong to a humanoid creature. Pretty hideous thing. Carl leaves his helpers to watch the camp while he hightails it to the nearby marine bio institute to identify it. Yeah that will go well for the helpers, I'm sure.
As if to emphasize the point, we see a menacing claw arise from the water- and it's just like the one Carl found. Ooh. Someone's gonna be toast. Carl meanwhile shows up at the institute (where is this place, in the middle of the Amazon?) and runs into his former student Dr. David Reed and David's girlfriend Kay Lawrence. Carl shows them and a few others the claw, saying it dates from the Devonian period, and after some dialogue about the value of marine science we get an expedition set up to go find more creature stuff.
So they're on a tramp steamer called the Rita heading upriver, and we get more talk of how the area resembles the world as it was one hundred-fifty million years ago or whatever- yeah we get it. Anything could show up here! Oh, and just an FYI- the helpers back at camp? They're history, as the creature (which we haven't seen yet except for his claw) comes into camp and wrecks the place. I'm liking Julie Adams in this, by the way, as Kay Lawrence. The captain of the boat is Lucas, and we have Carl, David and Kay along for the expedition, as well as two other guys- Mark and Edwin. They get back to camp and find the two helpers all torn apart, and Kay almost has a close encounter with the creature but doesn't know it.
They're thinking of calling the expedition off until David theorizes that maybe more fossils can be found further along the river, which ends in a lagoon. The "black lagoon," Lucas calls it, and says it is supposed to be a paradise, although no one has ever returned from there. Um, okay. They agree to press on, after a little debate and some concerns about going farther upriver with a woman- after all, it's dangerous. Different times. Oh, and Lucas is quite the character. Hope he survives. Anyway they reach the lagoon forthwith and David is all anxious to go diving, and see if there's any evidence of fossils or... whatever. I get the sense here that Mark has a thing for Kay as well, with all the little comments he makes.
Mark and David go diving and we get the ominous music to key us in that the creature is nearby. And so it is, as we get our first real glimpses of it. The filmmakers have been stingy with it so far. They come back with samples and are anxious to test them immediately, and while they do so Kay decides to go swimming! Great idea. She asked David what is was like down there, and he said "another world." She wants to see it so off she goes (without telling anyone). The creature of course sees her and swims with her, just beneath her, but she of course doesn't know it's there.
Lucas happens to see her and tells her she's too far away, and after she comes back aboard something gets fouled up in the one of the nets. We know what the something is, don't we? Sure enough, it leaves something behind, part of a claw? They know something is there, and Mark and David want to go down and check it out.Those two aren't really getting along though, I suspect partly because of Kay, and Mark reminds David that he's the boss. Oh and Mark is taking a harpoon gun with him down below. Probably wise. They catch a glimpse of it before long and Mark shoots it, but it gets away. It soon follows them aboard and scratch one crew member. It's always the red shirts that go at first.
So they manage to capture it after a few false starts, but not before it almost makes off with Kay. She's quite popular. David and Mark are still bitching at each other too. The creature gets loose though (shocker) while David and Mark are investigating an underwater grotto, and sadly Thompson gets the worst of that. He might pull through, they don't know, so they argue about whether to leave or stay, with Mark wanting to stay til they recapture it. David says no we're outta here and Lucas agrees- but oh now, the way out is blocked! Of course it is. The creature ain't done with y'all yet.
So there's a bunch of logs and shit in the way, and the creature sabotages their attempts to haul them so David has to go down and do it the hard way. Mark goes too and tries to capture it, and instead gets dead after an intense underwater battle. He was kind of an ass actually. The creature makes off with Kay (seriously, why can't they keep an eye out for the thing?) and we get the conclusion in it's underwater lair. What exactly was it going to with her- is this like a Beauty and the Beast thing? I mean everyone else it just killed, but Kay is like being all carried around and all that. Anyway, David gets to her in the nick of time, but like an idiot puts the harpoon gun down. Uh-huh. Gill-man of course breaks it at first opportunity and is about to kill him, when Lucas and Carl show up and shoot it. They're about to finish it off but David says no, and lets it sink below the waves. Is is still alive?
Okay so this is a pretty short movie, and that's good. It's not bad for what it is, but the music is a bit overwrought and it sort of just... ends. There's no epilogue of sorts or any real resolution after the creature flees underwater, no musing over the folly of man or the wonders of unexplored Amazonia like there would be if they remade this movie. They literally have the climax in the grotto and that's it- lights on, go home peeps. It's a bit jarring. Still, it's a classic.