Above: Part of Universal lot used for the Black Lagoon; Right: Ben Chapman and
Julia Adams in scene from CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON.
"Creature From The Black Lagoon" Richard Carlson, Julia Adams and Richard Denning Gill Man: Ben Chapman and Ricou Browning "Revenge Of The Creature" John Agar, Lori Nelson and John Bromfield Gill Man: Tom Hennesy and Ricou Browning "The Creature Walks Among Us" Jeff Morrow, Rex Reason and Leigh Snowden Gill Man: Don Megowan and Ricou Browning
SITE UPDATE: Redesigned the sitemap page into 3 columns, one for each Creature movie. Added a page of Sideshow Creature figures (link on Toys and Masks page), added more Other Creatures titles (now with the year each movie was released) and added the Mechanix Illustrated Creature article (link on Behind the Scenes page). You will also notice some new pictures throughout the site.
Universal Pictures has always been known as the studio that made such classic horror movies as "FRANKENSTEIN," "DRACULA," THE WOLF MAN," THE MUMMY" and "PHANTOM OF THE OPERA." But by the end of the 1940's, these monsters were no longer considered scary and when "ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN" was released in 1948, the world had changed dramatically and a new kind of monster was needed; one not based in the supernatural. The effects of the atomic bomb on Japan at the end of World War Two was the catalyst that saw the dawn of a new age of atomic powered monsters. Films like "THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD", "GODZILLA" and "THEM" were box office hits. Science Fiction and sci-fi/horror films were now the rage at the box office. But few of them captured the imagination of monster fans quite like the Gill Man did in "CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON." He was popular enough to warrant two sequels, "REVENGE OF THE CREATURE" and "THE CREATURE WALKS AMONG US." The first two Creature movies were filmed in 3-D. Come with us now and relive the thrills and excitement of this classic trilogy of motion pictures that will take you down the Amazon River to the Black Lagoon, then to Florida and finally to California as we follow the adventures of the Gill Man. The Creature even appeared on an Abbott and Costello special on TV. We also will discover that there attempts to cash in on the success of the Creature films with low-budget imitations, none of which were as good or as successful.
The Creature was the brainchild of producer William Alland. Recalling a story he was told by a South American movie director of prehistoric beings living somewhere along the Amazon River, Alland came up with the idea of a creature, half-man and half-fish. A missing link in the evolutionary chain that had survived unchanged by time. Alland chose Jack Arnold, who had just completed the 3-D movie "IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE" to direct. Arnold met with Bud Westmore, the man in charge of Universal International's makeup department, and asked him to create a convincing Gill Man outfit. Westmore turned to his co-workers, and it took the talents of Jack Kevan, Chris Mueller, Milicent Patrick and Bob Hickman to come up with the final design. The first costume they made for test shooting was rejected in favor of the one everyone agreed was perfect.
Next, they needed a script and to find an actor to wear the Creature outfit. Maurice Zimm turned in a 59 page treatment which was fine-tuned by script writers Arthur Ross and Harry Essex. Glenn Strange, who had portrayed the Frankenstein Monster in the last few Universal horror sequels, was the studio's first choice to play the title role; he turned it down because he thought there would be too much swimming involved. Ben Chapman was told about the part and ended up signing a contract to play the Gill Man. He would play the Creature in all the scenes filmed above water. Ricou Browning has hired to do the stunt work underwater (and in fact did the underwater scenes in all three films.) Tom Hennesy took over in "REVENGE OF THE CREATURE" and Don Megowan was "THE CREATURE WALKS AMONG US." But unlike Karloff, Lugosi and Chaney, who became household names for playing the classic monsters of the 1930's and 1940's, the actors who played the Creature went uncredited. Universal International would have us believe that there really was a "Gill Man." (The above information was culled from the MagicImage Filmbook "Creature From The Black Lagoon" production notes by Tom Weaver and from Donald F. Glut's "Classic Movie Monsters" chapter about the Gill Man movies, published by McFarland Books.)
NOTE: There is serious talk of remaking the "CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON" movie. Below is information about the remake:
New update on Creature remake (December 4, 2008) reported at Latino Review:
Following up on the last known Black Lagoon story, from Ryan at Shocktillyoudrop, I (writer George 'El Guapo' Roush of Latino Review) had a chance to talk to the writer and producer of Creature From The Black Lagoon, Gary Ross, today at the Tale of Despereaux press junket:
"You're working on Creature From The Black Lagoon?"
Ross: Ya, I'm producing. And I wrote a script.
"And how's that going?"
Ross: It's going great. We're actually moving forward.
"What's the tone of the film going to be?"
Ross: it's not campy. It's not like the original, it's not, my Dad wrote the original, so it's not a reference to what the original is. We take it sort of seriously. We found some scientific under pinnings for it, which my Dad actually felt in the original. In fact, he based it on a lung fish that was found around that time. So a lot of that was his. And kind of the conflict between science and ...
"Will the tone be a throwback to some of the older...?"
Ross: Actually, no. We're going to treat it with a certain amount of dignity. We're not approaching this in a retro campy kind of way. it's set in present day. There are reasonable scientific under pinnings. It should really be an interesting journey into the jungle both for the characters and for the audience.
"So the story isn't going to draw on the originals or the sequels?"
Ross: Oh, absolutely. Ya, my Dad's favorite was The Creature Walks Among us. One which he also wrote.
"So have you looked at who you want for the project?"
Ross: Well, I can't really talk about it. We've talked to some directors.
"Is it going to be a CGI creature? Do you guys have any idea how you would do that or...?"
Ross: Well, those are always decisions that are going to be made during prep. The movie is not greenlit. Let me say that. We hope to be making it sometime next year, so I don't want to send the wrong impression. I think it's going to be a very interesting movie. A lot of the decisions of the hybrid of CG versus practical will be made by the director down the line.
"It is gonna go for scares though?"
Ross: Oh sure. We're not gonna wink at the audience and make it silly in any sort of way, we're gonna take it seriously.
Gary says the project is moving forward but hasn't been greenlit. Weird. Anyways, that's all myself and Jeff from Reelz could squeeze out of him before the publicists ran up there and made Gary leave. Hopefully this project will happen sooner rather than later.
The Hollywood Reporter stated today that Universal Studios plans to remake the Jack Arnold-directed, 1954 monster classic “Creature from the Black Lagoon". Gary Ross ("Pleasantville"), son of Arthur A. Ross – who co-wrote the original film with Harry Essex, is producing the film, with his father, under his production company Larger Than Life Productions.
According to IGN Filmforce, Guillermo del Toro who is attached to the project, naturally. Sources tell us that Guillermo has been circling the property for quite awhile, and that the deal was just recently sealed. It has simply not been announced officially due to the number of projects that the director has on his plate. Del Toro, who is tied up with "Hellboy" for the next two years, has his hand in at least a half-dozen other films in various stages of development.
He'll likely follow "Hellboy" with "The Coffin", a comic book adaptation which will be scripted by Tim McCanlies ("The Iron Giant"). After that he'll probably tackle "Mephisto's Bridge" or "Montecristo" (a.k.a. "Left Hand of Darkness"), a couple of projects that are pretty much ready to go when he wants them. Then, he could take on "At the Mountains of Madness" – sources say that Matthew Robbins ("Dragonslayer", "Mimic") is currently working on that treatment. Not to mention the CG-animated "Wind in the Willows" adaptation for Disney!
So, where does all this leave The Creature? We're not exactly sure but it could come sooner than later. Sources say that Guillermo is extremely excited about the project (he's a huge fan of the original) and to expect a far more faithful adaptation than, say, Stephen Sommers' The Mummy. The events in del Toro's version is supposed to take place in the 1900's.
The Creature, originally played by Ben Chapman and Ricou Browning, has been the subject of remakes before (Jaws 3-D was made instead at one point and John Carpenter had planned a ‘Creature’ remake too). This time it looks like it is going to happen; Universal has asked various FX shops to come up with new designs for the Gillman. There is no director attached nor is there a script yet. Why now you may ask? I think Universal sees big box office receipts ahead based on the success of THE MUMMY remake and the sequel THE MUMMY RETURNS.
Thursday, October 20th, 2005
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Breck Eisner has been tapped to direct Universal Pictures' remake of Creature From the Black Lagoon. Gary Ross, whose father, Arthur Ross, was a writer on the 1954 original, is producing via his Larger Than Life banner.
Part of Universal's rich legacy of black-and-white monster movies, the original Lagoon followed a scientific expedition searching for fossils in the Amazon that discovers a prehistoric creature able to breathe underwater. The creature, named Gill-Man, terrorizes the group and falls in love with the fiancee of a member of the expedition. The studio began developing updates of its creature features after the success of 1999's The Mummy.
Ross wrote the current draft of the screenplay. Tedi Safarian also wrote a draft.
UPDATE: Looks like the Creature From the Black lagoon remake has been delayed once again as Breck Eisner has been signed to make a new version of Flash Gordon
As of January 2012 there had been no further news of a CREATURE remake.
The Universal Monsters series is a shared fictional universe that is the setting of various horror films that incorporates rebooted versions of the original film series. The films are being developed and distributed by Universal Studios, and are currently in various stages of development.
In October 2013, Roberto Orci spoke to IGN, hinting that both The Mummy and Van Helsing reboots will have a shared universe. New developments were made in July 2014, when Universal announced that they had tapped Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan to develop all classic movie monsters which include Frankenstein's monster, Count Dracula, The Wolf Man, Gill-man, The Invisible Man, Bride of Frankenstein, and The Mummy. In December 2014, Universal hired Jay Basu to write an undisclosed film for the shared universe. Universal's chairman, in a November interview, stated that the new films would be more action-adventure based rather than horror, and would be set in a present-day setting in order to "reimagine and reintroduce them to a contemporary audience." In August 2015, Alex Kurtzman announced the new film series will be a mix of horror and other fictional genres. Jeff Pinkner has been chosen to write the script for the new CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON film. Also Scarlett Johansson has been offered the female lead in Creature From The Black Lagoon Remake. But with THE MUMMY remake with Tom Cruise bombing at the box office, the new CREASTURE film has been put on hold again. Stay tuned for further developments should they occur!
Universal Studios actually produced a Creature musical in 2009.
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DISCLAIMER:All images, wav audio sounds and text (with notable exceptions) are copyright 1954, 1955 and 1956 and renewed by Universal Pictures. All Rights reserved; no rights given or implied. This website is a tribute to those involved in the making of the Creature trilogy. I have tried to give credit to all the source material I have used. If I have forgotten to mention anyone, please email me and I will make any necessary corrections. Website created in October 2000. Special thanks to Bob Johnson for the photo of the "Black Lagoon" on the Universal lot and to Buzz Bob Eckman and Bill A. Jones for their contributions.
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