Oct 12, 2019

What distinguished Jack Arnold’s pictures from mutant spinoffs/knockoffs is even more imperative to sci-fi today than it was in 1954: wonderment. Creature from the Black Lagoon opens with a brief take on the birth of the universe, milky gaseous clouds exploding into one another with a booming “In the beginning…” voiceover so amiably straight-laced it actually seems the opposite of pretentious… With wailing trumpets we land somewhat bumpily in the Amazon, where a sagacious archaeologist, Carl Maia (Antonio Moreno), digs out a bizarre humanoid reptile claw. He links up with a hunky Speedo-wearing marine biologist, David Reed (Richard Carlson), and his fiancée, Kay (Julie Adams), on an expedition downriver after the full skeleton, the whole trip underwritten by Mark Williams (Richard Denning), a square-shouldered, glory-seeking competitor for Kay’s affections…. Creature from the Black Lagoon perfectly typifies the transition from older, more European horror styles into bloodthirsty schlock and ever-cheaper thrills. Though the creature will destroy anyone who stands between him and Kay, who he continually sweeps up in his arms to drag off to do God-knows-where, it’s Denning actually forms the movie’s (human) conscience. An aspiring romantic stuck in a chiseled man’s-man persona, he’s all about the kill, as the audience must inevitably be as well. It’s still a man’s world—or is it? (Slate Magazine)