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Updated: February 13, 2024

Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954) Directed By: Jack Arnold


Richard Carlson as Dr. David Reed Julie Adams as Kay Lawrence Richard Denning as Dr. Mark Williams Antonio Moreno as Dr. Carl Maia Ricou Browning as The Gill-Man (Under Water) Ben Chapman as The Gill-Man (On land) Nestor Paivia as Lucas (Captain of The Rita) Whit Bissell as Edward Thompson Bernie Gozier as Zee Henry A. Escalante as Chico


Creature from the Black Lagoon was the last of a long line of classic movie monsters developed by Universal Pictures. By the 1950's most studios had switched from horror pictures to science fiction. Universal was no exception. Creature would come fresh on the heels of the very popular "It Came From Outer Space." Both films would star Richard Carlson who soon would become the studio's staple playing the role of hero scientist. This would be a twist from most films. Scientists were generally portrayed as evil or misguided. It was only logical for Universal to blend both their popular horror with the science fiction of the time. Creature from the Black Lagoon would be created from the melding of the two.

Early designs for the Gill-Man (Creature) were very different from the finished product that we are familiar with today. Early on studio executives had wanted a very sleek looking monster. Test shots proved that this design just didn't look right under water. The design was quickly scraped for a more scaly design with gills and more rounded head. Hence fourth the Creature was born. The original costume was kept in limbo in case a sequel were to be made and a possible female Creature would be needed. Of course a sequel was made the next year but, the She-Creature never made it into a film.

Two actors would end up actually playing the Creature. Ricou Browning was used for the underwater shots and Ben Chapman for the scenes on dry land. Browning had been responsible for showing the films producers the area in Florida that would end up becoming the Black Lagoon. He was asked to swim in front of the camera for some underwater test shots. A week later he was called and asked if he would like the job. He accepted. Browning worked well for the underwater Creature but, the studio wanted the monster to be a giant and he was just under six feet in height. That's when the six foot seven inch Ben Chapman entered the picture. With the costume on he measured in at well over seven feet tall. That was just what the film makers were looking for. As a result of there being two actors of different sizes two separate Creature costumes were developed. Each would be quite different in design and appearance to fit each actor. On screen these differences are not detectable but, when one costume was next to the other it was obvious. This worked because the viewer would never see the two together and no one ever noticed.

The Creature From The Black Lagoon was shown originally in 3-D. 3-D pictures were becoming popular in Hollywood in the middle 1950's and Creature was filmed to fit this format. A special underwater 3-D camera was developed exclusively for use in this production. Viewers would remark on how they felt like they were underwater with the monster. It was a very unique experience. However showing a film in 3-D was a difficult process. If the two cameras needed to produce the effect were not aligned properly the image would turn blurry and the 3-D effect would be ruined. This forced later releases of the film to abandon 3-D for a more conventional showing.

Trailer Text:

Science hunts Amazon Gill-Man Not since the begining of time has the world known terror like this? Shocking and suspenseful First underwater 3-D Creature From The Black Lagoon.

Most monster movie fans have believed for decades that the design of the Creature was the work of Bud Westmoore, but that is not the case. The Creature's "gill-man" design actually came off of the pen of artist Milicent (Millicent) Patrick. Although the fetching young illustrator never got her name in the films credits she was paraded from film screening to film screening in hopes that her model like good looks would drum up more publicity for the film. Her contribution to the history of monster films has never been fully given the credit that it so deserves. Unfortunatlly there a far too many such "unknown heroes" in the genre of horror and sci-fi films.

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