Film Review: Creature from the Black Lagoon – 6/10

‘We didn’t come here to fight with monsters. We’re not equipped for it…’

Everyone knows the title Creature from the Black Lagoon, and most of us can probably picture the big old fish man himself. It is telling, however, that unlike many other monsters from the era (King Kong, Godzilla, the Wolfman, the Mummy etc), the creature has been mostly forgotten about in the world of cinema. Indeed, Jack Arnold’s 1954 feature film is pretty much all she wrote for this character…

The plot is pretty similar to King Kong. Instead of a group of filmmakers arriving at a prehistoric island and attempting (and indeed succeeding) to bring the beast home, we have a group of scientists led by Dr. Reed (Richard Carlson) and Dr. Williams (Richard Denning) arriving in the Amazonian jungle to steal away a big old fish man. Think Old Gregg from The Mighty Boosh but less weirdly sexual.

I’ve been revisiting some of the classic monster movies in recent times and I’ve been surprised at how well the special effects have held up in most of them. Well. The creature here is quite clearly a man in a big fish suit. It’s a pretty convincing big fish suit, but a big fish suit nevertheless. The bombastic score and overwrought acting add to the sense that you are watching something incredibly old-fashioned, as does the abrupt and massively anticlimactic conclusion.

Creature from the Black Lagoon is iconic in its own way, but it doesn’t hold up the same way as some of its peers do and it’s unlikely to be the subject of a renaissance any time soon. Sorry, fish man.