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Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)

Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 76 mins . PG . PAL


Gills, webbed hands, claws, an ugly face only a blind mother could love and a body full of scales.

That could be a description of my wife in the morning, but it’s not. Actually, yeah, it is. But it’s also the description of one of the best monsters created by Hollywood, The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Universal Pictures really had their mojo working when they came up with this prehistoric monstrosity and foisted it upon an unsuspecting and shit-scared audience.

The story is as simple as they come. A bunch of nosey, inconsiderate scientists out to make the discovery of a lifetime by uncovering the fossil skeleton of a mysterious fish-man discover that a real life example is out and about protecting its turf. Incensed at the intrusion to its natural habitat, the creature goes on the warpath and means to kill any human it can get its slimy webbed hands on. Quite bizarrely, there also develops a weird sexual undertone to the hunt, with the creature falling for the obligatory female member of the expedition. And people tell you that stalking that good looking girl down the street is wrong? This is just plain sick. Imagine the offspring... it would be like living in Perth or something.

Regardless, it’s a very entertaining film, with plenty of thrills and chills of the old kind. Nothing blows up and no-one swears. If it was made today, all you’d hear would be “I’ll kill that muthaf***ing fishstink bastard!” and every now and then someone would fire a nuclear armed spear gun or something similarly over the top...

But never fear, Universal Pictures were experts at making this kind of film and they got it just the way audiences wanted. It was successful enough that they followed it with two sequels, and earned the creature a spot in fan memory as one of the best.


Ah, now this is the stuff. What a great looking picture! The full frame black and white image is practically faultless, so pack up your fears and relax. The print looks great, whether due to cleaning up or just good housekeeping. It’s as detailed as you could ask for in a film from the ’50s, with every little lump on the creature up for inspection and even the underwater settings coming up well. The black and whites and everything inbetween look good as well, the night shots never faltering.


Complimenting the picture is a can-do-no-wrong audio transfer. Although it's just a mono track as it was when originally released, it sounds quite good, with nice body rather than a tinny anaemic sound. The score never intrudes with the clarity of the dialogue or such, and the whole event comes off quite nicely, thank you very much Universal.


A good selection of quality extras, regardless of the quantity.

Back to the Black Lagoon
I was happy with the documentary provided on the Invisible Man disc, and seeing the same effort replicated here for CFTBL makes me think that some people out there in DVD production really do care about their product. Whoever authorised these docos should go and take the rest of the week off, because they really are great viewing.

Feature Commentary with Film Historian Tom Weaver
Another scripted commentary this time from Tom Weaver, with a ton of detail including the origins of the story (someone at a dinner party held by Orson Welles told of a half-man, half fish that supposedly really existed). He has an undoubtable enthusiasm for the story and the film, and throws about a lot of info, some great, some padding, but always interesting to listen to. You can also view the commentary as subtitles while listening to the normal film audio.

Theatrical Trailer
Four trailers running back to back, the first being the best with every thing that is good about old science fiction films, the second pushing the 3D aspect, the third just another variation of the second and ditto the fourth.

Production Photographs
Self-running for eleven and a half minutes, it has three groupings of images, being film posters, the story shown in stills and promotional/production shots, all set to appropriate background music.


You can't go wrong with this one. A great film, backed up by a transfer that fires off without a hitch and a few extras that will teach you something about the film. Isn't DVD just the bee's knees?

The Universal Studios Classic Monster Collection is a great series, and this is a great film to have a part in it.

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      And I quote...
    "Fishman watch DVD. Fishman go crazy. Fishman kill human. Fishman want woman. Fishman happy now. "
    - Vince Carrozza
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