Deep beneath the surface, hidden from the world for who knows how long, lurks the Gil-man. He sits, waiting for the human race to come close enough to exact his revenge for… wait a minute, why is the Gil-man killing everyone? Oh, well. Whatever the reason may be, the humans have come at last, and Gil-man is angry. At first he just kills whatever he can get his webbed hands around, mercilessly destroying all the men that cross his path, but then he sees Kay (Julie Adams) swimming seductively in his lagoon. She leaves him speechless (which he was anyway), as he is enamored by her beauty, and of course by her swimming ability. The callous, slimy exterior that covers his body might be how everyone sees him, but inside he just wants to be loved by the only woman he has ever seen, whose has forever captured his heart.
Unfortunately Kay wants nothing to do with Gil-man, and would prefer to marry her fellow scientist, Dr. Reed (Richard Carlson), who is on this expedition as well. And wouldn’t you know it, her boss Mark (Richard Denning), who is also along for the ride, is vying for her affections as well. Apparently, everyone in this movie is just trying to win Kay’s heart. Who will she choose, the cocky, arrogant boss, the loving, yet non-committing boyfriend, or perhaps the incredibly good swimming and seemingly devoted Gil-man? Only time will tell!
O.K., I know that’s laying it on pretty thick, but come on, a movie this fun does things to you.
The thin, easily forgettable plot of “Creature from the Black Lagoon” (1954) is dumb and uninvolved; but that’s alright. Nobody cares because nobody watches this film for the story anyway. In fact, I applaud director Jack Arnold for not trying to give the film too much of anything except Gil-man. We get Gil-man swimming, Gil-man killing, Gil-man walking incredibly slowly, and of course, Gil-man lusting over Kay. That’s it, the whole package right there, Gil-man and Kay, and it couldn’t be any better. At first I was slightly irritated that there wasn’t more going on in this film. Couldn’t the Creature have had some reason for his actions? Perhaps by coming into his Lagoon, they were trespassing on sacred ground or something. Then it occurred to me that any kind of motivation for the senseless killing would have made Gil-man less terrifying. A movie killer with a purpose is exacting, regimented, and beatable because his moves can be predicted, but a monster that kills just because is almost unstoppable.
Ben Chapman plays the Creature on land, and Ricou Browning does the underwater scenes, both of them achieving a perfect combination of terrifying and pitiful. What they had to endure, with 14 hour days, limited visibility, and not being able to sit in their suit, is a true testament to their dedication to a character. Especially since their faces are never seen of film. The costume itself is remarkable, the underwater scenes are stunningly filmed, and just in case the movie needed another selling point, it makes great use of 3D, considering when it was released. I am not typically a huge supporter of the 3D medium, but I think “Creature from the Black Lagoon” is perfectly suited for the extra enjoyment that it provides here.