Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954)
Science hunts Amazon Gill-man
Not since the begining of time has the world known terror like this?
Shocking and suspenseful
First underwater 3-D
Creature From The Black Lagoon!
Creature from the Black Lagoon was the last of a long line of classic movie monsters developed by Universal Pictures. By the 1950’s most studios had switched from horror pictures to science fiction. Universal was no exception. Creature would come fresh on the heels of the very popular “It Came from Outer Space.” Both films would star Richard Carlson who soon would become the studio’s staple playing the role of hero scientist. This would be a twist from most films. Scientists were generally portrayed as evil or misguided. It was only logical for Universal to blend both their popular horror with the science fiction of the time. Creature from the Black Lagoon would be created from the melding of the two.
Early designs for the Gill-Man (Creature) were very different from the finished product that we are familiar with today. Early on studio executives had wanted a very sleek looking monster. Test shots proved that this design just didn’t look right under water. The design was quickly scraped for a more scaly design with gills and more rounded head. Hence fourth the Creature was born. The original costume was kept in limbo in case a sequel was to be made and a possible female Creature would be needed. Of course a sequel was made the next year but, the She-Creature never made it into a film.
Most monster movie fans have believed for decades that the design of the Creature was the work of Bud Westmoore, but that is not the case. The Creature’s “gill-man” design actually came off of the pen of artist Milicent (Millicent) Patrick. Although the fetching young illustrator never got her name in the films credits she was paraded from film screening to film screening in hopes that her model-like good looks would drum up more publicity for the film. Her contribution to the history of monster films has never been fully given the credit that it so deserves. Unfortunately there a far too many such “unknown heroes” in the genre of horror and sci-fi films.
Two actors would end up actually playing the Creature. Ricou Browning was used for the underwater shots and Ben Chapman for the scenes on dry land. Browning had been responsible for showing the films producers two areas, one in Silver Springs, and the other in Wakulla Springs, Florida that would end up being used as the Black Lagoon. He was asked to swim in front of the camera for some underwater test shots. A week later he was called and asked if he would like the job. He accepted. Browning worked well for the underwater Creature but, the studio wanted the monster to be a giant and he was less than six feet in height. That’s when the six foot seven inch Ben Chapman entered the picture. With the costume on he measured in at well over seven feet tall. That was just what the film makers were looking for. As a result of there being two actors of different sizes two separate Creature costumes were developed. Each would be quite different in design and appearance to fit each actor. On screen these differences are not detectable but, when one costume was next to the other it was obvious. This worked because the viewer would never see the two together and no one ever noticed.
The Creature from the Black Lagoon was shown originally in 3-D. 3-D pictures were becoming popular in Hollywood in the middle 1950’s and Creature was filmed to fit this format. A special underwater 3-D camera was developed exclusively for use in this production. Viewers would remark on how they felt like they were underwater with the monster. It was a very unique experience. However showing a film in 3-D was a difficult process. If the two cameras needed to produce the effect were not aligned properly the image would turn blurry and the 3-D effect would be ruined. This forced later releases of the film to abandon 3-D for a more conventional showing.
It is a very interesting story how legendary monster movie fan and writer (Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine) Forrest J Ackerman came into possession of the Gill-man’s mask and claws. After Universal had finished working on Creature from the Black Lagoon and its two sequels, Revenge of the Creature and The Creature Walks Among Us, the remains of the costume were set out for the trash (!). A studio janitor discovered the costume a thought that it may have been a great present for his young son. The young boy enjoyed scaring the neighborhood children with it for a couple of Halloweens until he outgrew it and sold it to another boy for five dollars (!). Ackerman by this time had learned of the costumes whereabouts and contacted the boy to see if he wanted to sell it. The boy knew who Ackerman was and offered to give it to him for free after he was done with it. Several years down the road the boy, now a grown man, would show up at Ackerman’s door, costume in hand only to discover that he wasn’t home. Knowing full well that he couldn’t just leave it on the doorstep he decided to place it in the trunk of his rental car and return with it in the morning. Unfortunately he returned the rental without removing the costume from the trunk. The monster gods must have been smiling on Ackerman that day because when the gentleman returned to the rental car agency he found that the car had not yet been rented and that the costume was still where he had left it.
There have been numerous attempts at producing a remake of Creature from the Black Lagoon; in fact one is production at the time of this article. In the 1980s’ Universal had planned a 3-D remake which would have been directed by Jack Arnold and produced by John Landis. A script was penned by Nigel Kneale and Rick Baker was put on alert to design a new Gill-man costume, but in the end Universal decided to make Jaws 3-D instead. The Creature almost arose from the swamp again in the 1990s’ under the direction of John Carpenter, but again those plans fell through.
An archeological expedition to the Amazon discovers the fossilized remains of the arm and clawed hand of a “missing link” between man and fish. The item is returned to civilization and a research team consisting of marine biologist Dr. David Reed (Richard Carlson), his employer Mark Williams (Richard Denning), his assistant Kay (Julia Adams), and the man responsible for the find, Dr. Carlos Maia, are quickly assembled to return to the Amazon to search for the rest of the remains.
Upon returning to the site the group discovers that the campsite has been ransacked and the members of first expedition have been slaughtered. Despite this grizzly discovery the group continues on with the dig to no avail. It is soon discovered that the rest of the remains must have been washed down stream into an area that is known to the local natives as “The Black Lagoon.”
Upon arrival at the mysterious lagoon the young assistant, Kay, decides to take a morning swim when she catches the attention of the ominous Gill-man who instantly becomes fascinated with the delicate creature he sees swimming above him. The young woman soon becomes the Creatures obsession and several attempts are made by the monster to capture her.
The group quickly finds itself in a fight for survival after several attempts are made to capture the Creature. The monster effectively blocks the exit from the lagoon and finally captures the object of its fascination. A rescue operation is immediately put into action and the monster is tracked to its lair where it is shot several times. In the end the Gill-man stumbles back into the lagoon where it is last seen floating lifeless in the murky water.
The Creature No Longer Walks Among Us – Ben Chapman (1928 – 2008)
Ben Chapman passed away at 12:15 am Hawaii time on Thursday, February 21 at the VA hospital in Honolulu. His health began to deteriorate February 12 and he was admitted to the hospital on February 20. His life support was turned off Wednesday evening and his pacemaker was turned off shortly before he died. He died peacefully with his wife, Merrilee, and son, Ben Chapman III, by his side.
His body will be cremated and a memorial service will be held at St. Augustine By-The-Sea Church Waikiki in Honolulu. It will be held on Saturday, March 29 at 9:00 am. The scattering of the ashes willl follow off Waikiki Beach from Hawaiian outrigger canoes.
Anyone who wishes to send flowers or cards may send them to:
The Ben Chapman Family
300 Wainani Way, #1612
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
You can find a more detailed obituary in the Honolulu Advertiser.
Fans are being encouraged to submit their thoughts and memories of Ben Chapman to firstname.lastname@example.org for a special memorial page on Ben’s website.
I talked to Ben last May, when he was hospitalized for shortness of breath and dizziness. He had thought he was a goner then, and he laughed about feeling “out of water.” He seemed to be more concerned that he had missed a convention appearance in New Jersey, than he did for his own well being. That just goes to show how much he loved his fans. I regret now that I didn’t get to talk to him more, we had planned to conduct an interview, but we always seemed to have conficting schedules. I feel honored that I did get a chance to speak with him. He was a great guy, a real down to earth guy, someone who when you talked to him, you felt like you knew him all your life.
All the monster fans the world over are going to miss you, Ben. You brought us a lot of joy by putting on that Creature suite.
Life Magazine Discovers Rare Publicity Photos From Creature From The Black Lagoon
Written By: Ken Hulsey
Sources: Undead Backbrain / Life Magazine / Avery Guerra
The folks over at Life Magazine recently dug up a set of publicity photos from the movie “Creature from the Black Lagoon” shot by photographer Edward Clark. Odds are these were shots taken for a feature article that never got published.
It has been reported that these shots were taken on the set during filming, but that is not the case.
One thing that indicates that these are publicity photos is revealed by the “Creature” costume itself. What we see here is a green costume with the infamous “red” lips. That is a tell-tale indication that these are publicity images. The costume that was used for filming was a grey-green color all over, including the lips.
Secondly the area in which the photos were taken looks very much like Southern California, not Florida, where many of the outdoor scenes for the movie were filmed.
Though actress Julie Adams can be clearly seen in the photos it is unknown if it is Ben Chapman, Ricou Browning (unlikely if these were shot in California) or another actor in the monster suite.
Regardless of where or when they were taken, who is in them or for what purpose they were taken, these are some really cool images!
Check out some of the photos below:
Check out the rest of the photos – HERE
Talking About The CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON’S Texas Roots
Source: My SA
Well …. maybe not the monster itself but the man who played him underwater.
Everyone should know by now that I just love the “Creature From The Black Lagoon” so I decided to repost this article about Gil-Man actor Ricou Browning:
Meet a Creature from the Black Lagoon with a San Antonio past
Ricou Browning is best known for his scaly, scary turn as the Gill-Man in the 1954 classic Creature from the Black Lagoon as well as 1955′s Revenge of the Creature and 1956′s The Creature Walks Among Us. But few know that in the ’50s he also made a bit of a local splash as a physical training instructor at Lackland Air Force Base, where he put servicemen through the pool and other paces.
Browning is back in the Alamo City this week for San Antonio Horrific Film Fest 4, the indie horror flick festival that runs Thursday through Sunday at Alamo Drafthouse Westlakes.
These days you don’t have to swim laps or scream to the rafters to win Browning’s favor. After all, he’ll be the first to tell you his iconic role didn’t exactly make him an overnight sensation.
“After the picture was made and released, I’d say 20 years passed and I started getting some letters,” says Browning, now 81, crediting the late fame to the movie’s later TV broadcast.
It wasn’t just because Browning had an un-credited role as a masked amphibious humanoid. He only played the Gill-Man for the films’ underwater sequences, while other performers like Ben Chapman played the Gill-Man in more memorable on-land shots. Still, it was necessary work for a movie about a fish-man out of water. And Browning was perfect for the job.
The Florida native had a background in water shows, having taught the mermaid performers at Weeki Wachee Springs how to perform their underwater magic. When the folks behind Black Lagoon saw Browning flip his own feet in the water, he got the creature gig.
“The way the creature swims is the way I swim,” Browning says, noting that he breathed from an air hose then held his breath for his underwater creature scenes.
Browning would leave Gill-Man behind but stick with the wet. He went on to produce 1963′s Flipper and write for the subsequent TV series, plus direct two of the underwater sequences for the Bond films Thunderball and Never Say Never Again and do miniature work for 1980′s Raise the Titanic.
“I didn’t find (filming) underwater as any different than filming upside,” Browning says.
Just what you’d expect from a guy who’s made a monster of a career in and around the water.
The Monstrous Movie Photo Of The Day: “The Beauty Who Designed The Beasts!”
Written By: Ken Hulsey
Throughout the history of monster movies literally hundreds of beautiful young women have been carried off in the arms of an uncountable number of various creatures. What you may not know is that one such beauty actually was responsible for designing a few of these Hollywood Horrors.
Actress and artist Milicent Patrick (sometimes credited as Millicent Patrick) actually created several of the most notable and iconic monsters in history including the “Creature From The Black Lagoon”, the alien xenomorph from “It Came From Outer Space” and the alien mutant from “This Island Earth.” Patrick also penned an unknown amount of illustrations for Disney that included Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and the gang.
In 1954 Patrick was called in by Universal make-up artist Bud Westmore to design a half-man-half-amphibian monster for a little movie called “Creature From The Black Lagoon.” Though Westmore was credited for the creation of the “Gill-Man” for decades it was actually Patrick who created the monster from scratch.
During the production of “Creature” Patrick was photographed extensively both behind the scenes and on the set for publicity purposes. Actually there seems to be as many pictures of the artist with the monster as there are of Julia Adams … and she was actually the heroine.
Pairing Patrick with the Gill-Man made a lot of sense from a publicity stand point, after all the young woman was rather stunning and had all the curves in the right places.
Surprisingly she actually never appeared on screen in any of the three Creature films though she did land roles in several lesser known productions spanning from the late 1940s to the late 1960s.
Note: Observe the mask in the upper left portion of the photo … is it me or does that look an awful lot like the Gorn mask from the “Star Trek” episode “Arena”?
Did Patrick design that monster too?