The Universal movie monster rears its head from the murky depths in Jack Arnold's visually compelling albeit doomed love story.
Please note, this session will be presented in 2D. See it in 3D on 10–14 Jun 2021.
Two decades after the first and oldest shared cinematic universe debuted in the 1930s, Creature From The Black Lagoon swam into theatres on the crest of the first wave of 3D.
Following the discovery of an unusual fossil on the banks of the Amazon, a team of scientists journey down a remote section of the river in search of answers. What they find is a prehistoric aquatic humanoid – the Gill Man – who once his habitat is disturbed, is torn between bloodthirsty vengeance on the scientists (played by Richards Carlson and Denning) and his fascination with the beautiful Kay (Julie Adams).
Following on in the footsteps of iconic characters like Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, the Wolf Man and others is no easy feat – let alone at a time when the appetite for traditional monster movies was waning – yet it’s testament to the vision of director Jack Arnold that Creature From The Black Lagoon has gone on to find its level as a classic alongside the icons of the genre.
Sex and desire have been the charged undercurrent of many Universal monster movies, yet none so overtly as Creature From The Black Lagoon, which just as lovingly shoots its buff leading men as it does its leading lady (and in some cases, the Gill Man too). It’s easy to see how Guillermo del Toro was able to pull on those pre-existing threads with his Oscar-winning The Shape Of Water and give the story a happy ending. From the beautiful underwater cinematography to the influential work of creature designer Milicent Patrick, the creature feature has managed to stay afloat through time thanks to the lasting creative elements and surprisingly romantic – albeit doomed – story at the core.
– Maria Lewis, Assistant Film Curator
Thu 13 Jun 2021
Mild violence and sexual references
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Screening after the film
Interview with Mallory O'Meara
Learn more about Milicent Patrick, the designer of the Gill Man costume, in Maria Lewis's interview with the author of The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick.
LISTEN: The Forgotten Woman Who Designed The Creature From The Black Lagoon
Mandalit Del Barco, NPR, Mar 2019
READ: How Guillermo del Toro's Black Lagoon Fantasy Inspired Shape of Water
Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter, Mar 2017
READ: The Enduring Terror of the Gill Man: Creature from the Black Lagoon Turns 65
Meagan Navarro, Bloody Disgusting, Mar 2019
READ: Creature From the Black Lagoon Review
Kim Newman, Empire, May 2006
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