THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON/THE INVISIBLE MAN: A BONE-CHILLING DOUBLE HORROR FILM REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. (1954) DIRECTED BY JACK ARNOLD FOR UNIVERSAL STUDIOS. STARRING JULIE ADAMS, RICHARD CARLSON, RICHARD DENNING, ANTONIO MORENO, BEN CHAPMAN AND RICOU BROWNING.
THE INVISIBLE MAN. (1933) BASED ON ‘THE INVISIBLE MAN’ BY H.G. WELLS. DIRECTED BY JAMES WHALE FOR UNIVERSAL STUDIOS. PRODUCED BY CARL LAEMMLE JR.
STARRING CLAUDE RAINS, GLORIA STUART, WILLIAM HARRIGAN, UNA O’CONNOR, DUDLEY DIGGES AND E.E. CLIVE.
Now this is the stuff. This is the real thing. This is what I call horror. Ladies and gentlemen, here we have two superb examples of classic UNIVERSAL horror/sci-fi films that will stand the test of time even if the earth and the film industry survive for another millenium.
Do I sound emphatic? Damn straight! You won’t find better examples of the classic monster/sci-fi/horror genre if you search for the rest of your lives. You don’t have to search at all, though. You don’t have to look any farther than these two wonderful movies. Let’s take a closer look. We’re going deep underwater now so goggles on, people…!
THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON is the story of a sort of half-man, half-fish creature whose quiet existence in his Amazonian lagoon is shattered when a bunch of nosy marine biologists and geologists show up looking to capture him, dead or alive.
These fancy-pants scientists are a disgrace. Tossing cigarette butts into the beautiful lagoon, strutting around half-naked on their boat THE RITA in their pristine ‘Fifties bathing suits and terrorising the Creature, who doesn’t seem to have really killed or hurt anyone until the scientists showed up.
Yes, I’m totally on the side of the Creature. He just wants to be left alone, or to maybe kidnap a beautiful woman with pert ‘Fifties bosoms and spirit her away to his underwater lair to possibly attempt some sort of fishy sexual congress with her. That’s not too much to ask. How dare those pushy scientists come to the Creature’s home and start shoving him around? It’s simply not on.
Mark and David, the two male leads, both look like they’re auditioning fot the part of Sean Connery in the role of James Bond. With their broad hairy chests, muscular hairy thighs and snug-fitting briefs encasing their pert ‘Fifties buttocks, they’re pure ‘Fifties beefcake, each of them struggling to be the Alpha Male in the situation.
And if they’re the beefcake, Julie Adams (playing Kay) in that marvellous white one-piece swimming cossie is surely the cheesecake. The scene in which the smitten Creature swims directly underneath Kay, looking up in wonder at her while she pirouettes and undulates gracefully in the water, blissfully unaware of his presence, is definitely my favourite one.
Kay also spends much of the film turning round suddenly and shrieking her lungs out when she spots the Creature looming towards her. The poor Creature must have been half-deafened by the end of the film.
The Creature, or the Gill-Man, is now as iconic a UNIVERSAL HORROR monster as Frankenstein’s Monster or the Wolf-Man. He’s a miracle of modern costume-making. I sincerely hope that his wonderful body-suit is hanging in a museum of cinematic memorabilia somewhere, preserved for all eternity. (Like the cane from CITIZEN KANE…!)
I love the Creature. The film’s ending is too, too sad. Damn you, sexy ‘Fifties science-type persons…! I hate you all so much.
THE INVISIBLE MAN couldn’t make a more impressive entrance if he tried for a month of Sundays. Wandering through the tiny Sussex village of Iping in the middle of a snowstorm with his head swathed in bandages and dark glasses, he cuts an unforgettable figure as he enters the Lion’s Head Inn and demands food and shelter.
Of course, the good people of the Lion’s Head haven’t a clue that Dr. Jack Griffin is a (literally) mad scientist who has discovered how to make himself invisible through the use of certain dangerous drugs.
Now, unkowingly driven insane by these drugs, he plans a ‘reign of terror’ over an unsuspecting world. He wants his fellow scientist Dr. Arthur Kemp to help him kill, steal and generally wreak havoc undetected purely, it would seem, for the sheer hell of it but the good doctor sensibly doesn’t want anything to do with such an insane plan.
Dr. Kemp calls the cops and reports The Invisible Man for, well, being The Invisible Man. As Griffin already has a rap sheet, as they call it, for killing a copper, the bobbies come on the run.
There ain’t no bobby like an English bobby. The good solid old-fashioned English bobby, with his helmet and his chinstrap and his thick luxuriant moustache that simply screams reliability, is a staple of these old classic horror films and, truly, the films wouldn’t be the same without him.
The coppers in THE INVISIBLE MAN are an absolute joy to watch as they set about questioning the villagers and trying to capture The Invisible Man. The Invisible Man, meantime, is dancing down country roads maniacally singing ‘Here We Go Gathering Nuts In May’ while his own- nuts, that is- are clad only in a pair of trousers…
Yes, there are some terrifically funny (and technically astonishing and ground-breaking) scenes as The Invisible Man, who can only be seen when clothed, takes pleasure in freaking out everyone he meets by partially appearing and then disappearing altogether while moving various objects around the place willy-nilly just for kicks.
He’s mischievous, malicious and hell-bent on mayhem while under cover of his veil of invisibility. The bobbies have their work cut out for them trying to bring this nudie Invisible Man to justice. Even if they do catch him, they’d better be careful which body part they grab hold of. Maybe they should be wary of anything that’s sticking out…
Second only to The Invisible Man for sheer entertainment value is Una O’Connor playing Jenny Hall, the hysterical landlady of The Lion’s Head. She gives a magnificent performance, conveying mostly in shrieks her displeasure at the continuing presence in her respectable establishment of the decidely un-respectable Invisible Man. Gawd love her, she’s a decent woman, she is. She don’t need no Invisible Men cluttering up the place and giving it a bad reputation. Lawks-a-mussy and all that…!
Claude Rains, in his first American screen appearance, excels as the Naughty, Nudie Invisible Man. Gloria Stuart is on duty as the dreamy-eyed ‘Thirties beauty who has zero luck in trying to convince Jack Griffin to renounce his evil ways. This film is wickedly funny, whereas I personally find THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON very moving and sad.
Have I convinced you to watch (or re-watch) these marvellous films from a bygone age? If I have, great. If not, I might just set the Creature or his buddy The Invisible Man on you. You’ll never see ’em coming…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
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