Creature from the Black Lagoon is one of those films I always felt I’d see one day, classic monster flick that it is. And surely I would — it was bound to come on in the classic Sunday afternoon slot on BBC2 wasn’t it? Well, in the old days maybe, the pre-digital, pre-satellite, pre-cable days, but now it probably shows on a constant loop on The Creature from the Black Lagoon Channel, and as I’ve only got an old-style non-digital TV, and Rupert Murdoch personally stops me from accessing Freeview in my flat, I decided to put it on my Amazon rental list. That’s what the Amazon rental list is for.
Alright, so the reason for that ramblous first paragraph is I really don’t have much to say about the film. It has no real plot to speak of, other than to get the scientists down the Amazon river into the Black Lagoon where they can have a series of encounters with the Gill-Man, and a number of dives into the lagoon itself to show off about 18 minutes of underwater footage (in glorious black & white 3D, when it first came out). No, the film’s only redeeming feature is the creature itself, which works really well, even though it’s a man in a suit. In the underwater sequences, the creature moves very sinuously; on dry land, its gasping breathing is quite convincing in a fish-out-of-water kind of way. And, it just looks good, for a monster. It works, visually, particularly in the grainy underwater sequences.
It was a given in 50s horror films that the creature would kill the men it came across while trying to kidnap the one and only woman. With Creature from the Black Lagoon, this “given” has become so accepted that the filmmakers felt no need to give any explanation as to why a fish-man should want to kidnap a female human, (other than that he’s a foot fetishist, I’d say, from the evidence of these two stills), particularly as, once he’s got her, all he does is take her to his cave and drape her (that’s not a euphemism) casually on a rock. But perhaps that’s just because the “main act” has already taken place between the two of them. Earlier on, in the film’s most aesthetically pleasing sequence, the creature swims (facing upwards) below the woman (facing down), at the height of which she performs some ecstatic (and no doubt symbolic) aqua-acrobatics. Shortly afterwards, back on the boat, we see her smoking a cigarette, which she casts, half-finished, into the Black Lagoon. So the Gill-Man, by kidnapping her and storing her away in his cave after this metaphoric lovemaking, is really just trying to do the decent thing. The film’s hero, after all, has been putting off proposing to her in lieu of other, far more square-chinned activities such as diving for rocks, so it’s no wonder she’s tempted to swim out into the lake and dally (that is a euphemism) with strange men. Even if they’ve got gills.