CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, THE (1954)
Reviewed October 2nd, 2000 by Chuck Arrington
Rumor had it that a throwback to man’s evolutionary past existed in the murky waters of the Amazon’s Black Lagoon. Part man and part fish, the gill man was the stuff of legends. That is until a petrified hand was located in an excavation of South American soil. Intent on capturing this creature for the benefit of science, a team of ichthyologists steams south in search of the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Universal Studios Next entry into the Classic Horror vein is the much loved Creature from The black Lagoon. Originally filmed and presented in 3-D, the film is captured here in all of its Black and White Glory but without the 3-D effect. Before there was Jaws, there was another reason to be afraid of the water!
the audio is presented in the film’s original mono soundtrack. Not exactly earth shattering or groundbreaking but it does adequately convey the classic feeling this film is loaded with. The commentary track that is included is very much a rehash of the information presented in the featurette-“back to the black Lagoon”. For those unfamiliar with a mono-soundtrack presentation, the resulting audio is fairly flat with no movement whatsoever.
The video is actually very nicely cleaned up and quite sharp as well. I have the VHS version of the film and was very pleasantly surprised at the tremendous difference in quality in its current digital format. There are definitely a few flecks and a speckle here and there of white however, the overall video presentation is beautiful. Universal has really gone to the mat for fans of classic horror, and it shows! Other than the aforementioned video transfer errors, the balance of the film’s digital transfer sparkles with clarity and is easily the best the Creature has looked in ages!
Here’s the good stuff! An hour long documentary complete with behind the scenes photos, interviews with the Gill-man and Julie Carson as well as fans of the genre and other insider information, really a treat! Some of the things that they begin to discuss (namely, that when the Gill-Man is swimming beneath Julie Carson-it’s simulated sex) show that someone needs to get out of the house a little more often. Given the extensive amount of time they spent analyzing the images in the film versus the constricted, conservative structure of the time shows way too much time spent on an enjoyable piece of fluff. Sometimes it really is just a movie! I guess that was a gripe brewing just below the surface.
Film historian Tom Weaver who is nothing if not painfully boring provides the commentary track. There really were no additional insights added. If you watch the documentary, you’ll already know everything his documentary will tell you. Maybe boring is too harsh a term, let’s just say his commentary will leave you non-plussed.
Production photos are included from all over the globe with the score playing over them. Most of the shots are definitely publicity photos but there are a few neat shots of the Gill-Man sans the gills and the cast in playful moods.
There are three trailers for the film that play all together. One leads into the other and you can’t choose which one to watch. Once you select the trailers, they play one after the other until done. It wouldn’t be so bad if there was some variety to the trailers but, they are essentially the same trailers with most of the same sequences and dialogue. The quality of the trailers runs from fair to poor.
Lastly, the obligatory cast and filmmakers bios and production notes round out the film’s extras.
The Creature from the black Lagoon is a childhood favorite that developed into an adult favorite as well. These Universal classic Monsters are exactly what fans of Classic Horror have been looking for. The themed menus and classic scores playing over are great additions to an already first rate disc.
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