Film Review: The ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ Franchise

Into the Dark: Video Vault Series Review - Creature from the Black Lagoon

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

Pools of water are often used as symbols of our collective subconscious. Since Creature from the Black Lagoon is about a humanoid creature who emerges from the depths to kidnap a beautiful woman, you might then say the Creature is a symbol for male sexual desire. And then you might have a B-movie monster I can really sink my teeth into. Sure, it’s just a matinee horror flick, but there are at least a few scenes that certainly invite a little deeper meaning and level of enjoyment. I particularly like the scene where Julie Adams goes swimming in the lagoon and the ‘Gill Man’ mimics along beneath her, just out of sight, perhaps longing to be one with her.

Into the Dark: Video Vault Series Review - Creature from the Black LagoonEven if you like to keep your enjoyment at surface level, Creature has a lot to offer, including a moody central location, memorable underwater photography, and one of the coolest movie monster designs of all time. The only disparaging element is an abrasive musical motif that blares whenever the creature is on screen (though other passages of the score are actually quite nice, particularly cues composed by Henry Mancini).

Rating: 3.5/5 ★★★½☆ 

The Creature may have been a late edition to the Universal Studios pantheon of great movie monsters, coming nearly two decades after the hey-day of Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolf Man — but I’ll be darned if he isn’t my favorite of the lot.  Even if he did make a couple of lousy sequels…

Into the Dark: Video Vault Series Review - Creature from the Black Lagoon

Revenge of the Creature (1955)

This sequel finds the Gill Man captured and put on display in a Florida theme park. Before long, he escapes, takes a woman hostage, and terrorizes the local community. Away from the depths and darkness of the Black Lagoon, the Creature is sadly out of his element and far less intimidating. I mean, how hard is it to spot an amphibious mutant on the side of a coastal highway? The creature mask is reworked for the worse, too. Look for Clint Eastwood in a cameo, one of his earliest big-screen performances.

Rating: 2/5 ★★☆☆☆ 

Into the Dark: Video Vault Series Review - Creature from the Black Lagoon

The Creature Walks Among Us (1956) 

The Gill Man’s second sequel starts off okay and gets progressively worse. It’s cool enough while a team of scientists are hunting the Creature, especially when they catch him on fire (the highlight scene of the movie), but once they capture him and begin experimenting on him, the movie takes a nosedive. You’ll have to forget that genetic mutation doesn’t happen overnight. And then you’ll have to say goodbye to the iconic Creature design. When the genetic mutation begins, he mysteriously transforms into a docile, Refrigerator Perry-sized behemoth with a humanoid face (why cast a much larger man halfway through the story?) The third act sees the Creature observing human behavior and relearning his violent ways. As two inferior sequels prove, you can take the Creature out of the Lagoon, but you can’t take the Lagoon out of the Creature.

Rating: 1.5/5 ★½☆☆☆ 

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About Scott_S

Scott studied film and sociology at Indiana University and is currently the video producer for a large publishing company. He is the director of several independent films, including "House of Hope," "Off the Beaten Path," "The Day Joe Left," and "Found." For more about Scott, visit www.scottschirmer.com. Scott is also one of the principal organizers of the Dark Carnival Film Festival. (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com)

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