While Universal studios' classic horror cycle is often said to have ended in 1945, when Count Dracula, the Wolfman, Invisible Man and Frankenstein's Monster all teamed up in Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein, the studio did add one more classic monster to their roster in 1951 in the form of the aquatic Creature From The Blacklagoon. Originally released in 3D, five decades before Avatar revived the Fifties cinema gimmick, the Creature also paved the way for many of today's most popular man-in-a-rubber-suit beasts, most obviously Ridley Scott's Xenomorph and later the Predator.
While the premise of a missing link between man and sea animals living in the Amazon is absurd, and the film's Creature theme is done to death, the stylish horror film still has the power to entertain despite the rubber suit, which has dated better than most science fiction films from the era of giant insects and alien blobs. The fossilised hand of a half human-aquatic creature, found at the beginning of the film, echoes Universal's Mummy series from the ‘40s, and the story of unrequested love between the Creature and Kay Lawrence (Juie Adams) strongly echoes that of Karloff's Adath Bay and reincarnated Egyptian princess Helen Grosvenor (Zita Johann).
Accompanying the classic film, that spawned two sequels as well as an abandoned remake written by Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale, is an excellent making of documentary that also covers the sequels, Revenge of The Creature and The Creature Walks Among Us. There is also an informative DVD commentary provided by film historian Tom Weaver. Unfortunately, these extras despite being excellent have been available for years on older DVD sets. If you have never owned any of the previous releases, however, this DVD is a must watch for classic monster fans.
THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954) / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: JACK ARNOLD / SCREENPLAY: HARRY ESSEX, ARTHUR A. ROSS / STARRING: RICHARD CARLSON, JULIE ADAMS, RICHARD DENNING, BEN CHAPMAN, RICOU BROWNING / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW