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CREATURE PHOTO GALLERY #03

Updated: July 16, 2017

The Gill-man, as portrayed by Ben Chapman in Creature from the Black Lagoon.

The Creature, sometimes referred to less ambiguously as the Gill-man, is the titular character of the 1954 black-and-white science fiction film Creature from the Black Lagoon and its two sequels Revenge of the Creature (1955) and The Creature Walks Among Us (1956). Ricou Browning portrays the underwater Gill-man throughout the three films. Ben Chapman plays the Gill-Man on land in the first film, followed by Tom Hennesy in the second, and Don Megowan in the third. The Gill-man's popularity as an iconic monster of cinema has led to numerous cameo appearances, including in an episode of The Munsters, the motion picture The Monster Squad and a stage show.

Producer William Alland was attending a dinner party during the filming of Orson Welles' Citizen Kane (in which Alland played the reporter Thompson) in 1941 when Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa told him about the myth of a race of half-fish, half-human creatures in the Amazon river. Figueroa spoke of a friend of his who disappeared in the Amazon while filming a documentary on a rumored population of fish people. Alland then wrote story notes entitled "The Sea Monster" ten years later. There were various designs for the creature. William Alland envisioned the creature as a "sad, beautiful monster" and the sculpture of it was much like that of an aquatic development of a human. Alland said, "It would still frighten you, but because how human it was, not the other way around". Originally, the creature's design was meant to incorporate a sleek, feminine eel-like figure, which did not have as many bumps and gills as the final version. The designer of the approved Gill-man was Disney animator Millicent Patrick, though her role was deliberately downplayed by makeup artist Bud Westmore, who for half a century would receive sole credit for the creature's conception. The Gill-man suit was made from airtight molded sponge rubber and cost $15,000.

The underwater sequences were filmed at Wakulla Springs in North Florida (today a state park), as were many of the rear projection images. Part of the film was shot in Jacksonville, Florida on the south side of the river near the foot of the old Acosta Bridge. The underwater Gill-man suit was painted yellow for greater visibility in the dark waters. Air was fed into the suit with a rubber hose.

The Gill-man is fully amphibious, capable of breathing both in and out of the water. As shown in the first film, it is vulnerable to rotenone. It also possesses superhuman strength, which is flamboyantly displayed in the second and third films. It also possesses large, webbed hands with sharp claws on the tip of each finger. The Gill-man's scaly skin is extremely tough, which combined with a fast acting healing factor, allows it to survive wounds which would be fatal to humans, such as gunshots and full immolation. As shown in the third film, the creature has a dormant set of lungs, should its gills be irreparably damaged. The Gill-man is slightly photophobic, due to its murky water habitat. 35% of the Gill-man's blood is composed of white corpuscles lacking a nucleus.


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