Producer William Alland was attending a dinner party during the filming of Citizen Kane (in which he played the reporter Thompson) in 1941 when Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa told him about the myth of a race of half-fish, half-human creatures in the Amazon river.

Alland wrote story notes entitled "The Sea Monster" ten years later. His inspiration was Beauty and the Beast. In December 1952, Maurice Zimm expanded this into a treatment, which Harry Essex and Arthur Ross rewrote as The Black Lagoon. Following the success of the 3-D film House of Wax in 1953, Jack Arnold was hired to direct the film in the same format.

The designer of the approved Gill-man was Disney animator Millicent Patrick, though her role was deliberately downplayed by makeup artist Bud Westmore, who for half a century would receive sole credit for the creature's conception.

Jack Kevan, who worked on The Wizard of Oz and made prosthetics for amputees during World War II, created the bodysuit, while Chris Mueller, Jr. sculpted the head.

Ben Chapman portrayed the Gill-man for the majority of the film shot at Universal City, California. The costume made it impossible for Chapman to sit for the 14 hours of each day that he wore it, and it overheated easily, so he stayed in the backlot's lake, often requesting to be hosed down.

He also could not see very well while wearing the headpiece, which caused him to scrape Julie Adams' head against the wall when carrying her in the grotto scenes.

Ricou Browning played the Gill-Man in the underwater shots, which were filmed by the second unit in Wakulla Springs, Florida. Many of the on-top of the water scenes were filmed at Rice Creek near Palatka, Florida.


The film was novelized in 1954 by John Russell Fearn under the pseudonym of "Vargo Statten"; and then later, in 1977, in paperback under the pseudonym of "Carl Dreadstone", as part of a short-lived series of books based on the classic Universal horror films.

The book was introduced by Ramsey Campbell, but was written by Walter Harris. The novel offers a completely different Gill-man, who in this version of the story is gigantic, almost as big as the Rita herself, weighing in at 30 tons.

It is both coldblooded and warmblooded, is a hermaphrodite, and also possesses a long whip-like tail. The gigantic creature is dubbed "AA", for "Advanced Amphibian", by the expedition team members.

After slaying most of the team members, destroying a Sikorsky helicopter, and kidnapping Kay more than once, the creature is killed by the crew of a US Navy torpedo boat.

The novel also differs greatly with respect to the human characters. Only David Reed and Kay Lawrence remain the same. Mark Williams is a German named "Bruno Gebhardt", and dies not as a result from drowning but by the monster falling on him.

Lucas is named "Jose Goncalves Fonseca de Souza" and is a mostly sympathetic character until his suggestion of throwing the wounded and unconscious Reed to the monster makes an enraged Gebhardt/Williams throw him to the beast instead.

Dr. Thompson and Dr. Maia both die grisly deaths, whereas in the movie they survive; Maia is eaten by the monster, and Thompson is impaled on a long tree branch flung at him by the creature like a spear (in an apparent nod to a deleted scene from Revenge of the Creature wherein the Gill-man killed a guard in this fashion).


The Creature's extensive and persistent impact on media and popular culture began even before it was seen in theaters. To publicize the release of the film in 1954, Ben Chapman, in costume, introduced the Creature to the public on live television in The Colgate Comedy Hour with Abbott and Costello.

In the 1955 comedy The Seven Year Itch, Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell come out of a theater showing Creature from the Black Lagoon. Monroe expresses some sympathy for the Creature, saying that it was not really bad and "just wanted to be loved".

Trinidadian calypso singer Lord Melody released a song called "Creature From The Black Lagoon" in 1957. In this song, he is compared to the creature by his son's friends, which his son protests. This song became one of his signature songs and also endured as a nickname for Melody for many years.

In an episode of the classic TV series The Munsters, the Munster family receives a visit from "Uncle Gilbert" who proudly refers to himself as the "Creature from the Black Lagoon".

Dave Edmunds, with his band Rockpile, also performed a song called "Creature from the Black Lagoon". Edmunds' song, included in his 1979 album Repeat When Necessary, was written by Rockpile's lead guitarist Billy Bremner.

A musical based on the film opened at Universal Studios Hollywood in late June 2009. Many films featuring monsters put a Gill-man likeness in the background as homage. More directly, the Gill-man appeared in the Robot Chicken episode "Shoe", voiced by Seth Green. He tells a man that he prefers the lagoon to be called the "African-American Lagoon".

The Gill-man also appears in "We Are a Humble Factory", now voiced by Breckin Meyer, where Count Chocula, FrankenBerry, and BooBerry are angrily mentioned by him, as well as Fruity Yummy Mummy and Fruit Brute.

The creature decides to make his own cereal called "Creature with the Black Macaroons" because macaroon sounds like lagoon; however, the cereal wasn't successful and when all the cereals were dumped into his lagoon, he says "I should've gone with legumes", as legume also sounds like lagoon.

Its likeness was also used for the film The Monster Squad. However, due to licensing issues with Universal, the creature is referred to as "Gill-Man". There is a very famous poster made in the early 1970s of the character, with him saying "Alright, who peed in the pool?"

The creature has a brief cameo emerging from Lake Springfield on The Simpsons. Creature from the Black Lagoon was made into a pinball game, designed by John Trudeau (aka "Dr. Flash") and released in 1992 by Midway under the Bally brand name. It has a retro 1950s drive-in theme.

Completing side missions causes the screen to display "Universal Presents... Creature from the Black Lagoon", and then requires the player to chase after the monster just like in the film. The game sold 7,841 units.

The Marvel Comics character Triton of the Inhumans is a green water breathing character resembling the Creature from the Black Lagoon. In the Stephen King novel It (novel), the shape-shifting Pennywise the Clown pursues and kills a victim whilst in the form of the Gill-Man.

The DC Comics character Aquaman donned a suit of armor resembling the creature in the 2005�2007 miniseries Justice.

In The Nightmare Before Christmas, there is a character in Halloween Town who is clearly meant to be a version of the Creature from the Black Lagoon. In one song, it ponders the contents of Jack's present: "Perhaps it's the head that I found in the lake".

When paleontologist Jenny Clack of the University of Cambridge discovered a fossil amphibian in what was once a fetid swamp, she named it Eucritta melanolimnetes, which is Greek for "the true creature from the black lagoon."

Abe Sapien of Hellboy fame was originally inspired by the film and its titular creature. The half-man half-fish character known as The Missing Link (often referred to as "Link") in the film Monsters vs. Aliens is an homage to the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

In Hotel Transylvania, there are multiple Gill-men in the crowd scenes with other famous monsters. The Monster High character, Lagoona Blue, is the daughter of the Gill-man. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Go Fish" featured aquatic creatures very similar to the Gill-man.

Director William Winckler was inspired by the film when producing his 2005 black and white horror film Frankenstein vs. the Creature from Blood Cove.

In the 90-minute retro monster movie, a biogenetically engineered half-man, half-fish creature battles Frankenstein's monster on a beach and beneath the waves, with underwater photography reminiscent of the underwater shots in Creature from the Black Lagoon.

A stuntman/diver wearing a full body latex rubber costume was used to portray the Blood Cove creature on camera, not unlike Ben Chapman and Ricou Browning in costume in Creature from the Black Lagoon.

References and Excerpts:,

Creature from the Black Lagoon - 1954

Introduction: As the narrator reads the Genesis story of the Creation, we see images on the screen.

In the jungles of the upper Amazon, Dr Carl Maia (Antonio Moreno ) has discovered a fossilized claw. Excited, he explains to the native workers that he needs to go back to the institute on the coast to get help to dig out the rest of the fossil. Hidden from view, a claw, similar to the one found in the fossil, rears out onto a river bank, then slides back into the water.

At the institute Dr David Reed (Richard Carlson) meets Maia, who seems surprised to find Reed in Brazil. Reed explains they're researching lung fish. The rest of the conversation centers around Maia remembering when Reed was a student. Maia asks Reed about why he never married Kay Lawrence (Julie Adams). He explains she's never been able to talk him into it.

Maia then shows Reed a photo of the fossil he found and believes it is hundreds of million years old. Reed immediately takes an interest and wants to go back up river to recover the rest of the fossil. At the institute discussions occur about the meaning of the fossil, it is generally agreed it was an amphibian and probably very strong.

Dr Williams (Richard Denning) agrees the fossil is a major find, and as one of the directors gives the go ahead for a larger expedition to go back up river and dig the rest of it out. Back at the campsite it is night and the workers are preparing to settle down for the night. One sees a creature enter the tents and kills both occupants.

Sometime later the expedition is making its way upstream on the Rita, a battered motor vessel with little comfort. Captain Lucas (Nestor Paiva) explains how deadly and large all the life around the Amazon River is. The boat docks and the crew quickly discover the campsite has been destroyed and the men are dead. They consider it could have been a jaguar.

Despite the situation, the crew clean up the camp and work begins retrieving the fossil. After eight days no fossil remains are found. Reed figures that perhaps the fossil had been washed away from the river bank, and the remains might be located further downstream in a lagoon, The Black Lagoon. Capt Lucas explains that many people have gone to the lagoon over the years, but none have come back.

Reed and Kay have a romantic moment as the boat is moved. They discuss their plans to marry and settle down together. The boat pushes towards the lagoon, it is a very tight fit through a section of the river, but it soon opens up to the lagoon. Reed and Williams break out the aqua-lungs to dive the lagoon and investigate the local life forms.

The men successfully complete their mission not realizing they are being stalked by the creature. Williams is jealous of the attention Kay is giving to Reed. To break the tension she goes for a swim. The creature swims along with her, mimicking some of her swimming moves, unsure what to make of the situation. At one point it briefly grazes her leg while she is floating on the surface.

Rather than be surprised, she dives to investigate, further firing the creature's curiosity. Back on board, the boat is upset by the pressure being put on the net. Quickly they try to haul the net in, only to discover a huge tear in the net and what appears to be a fang or claw. Kay begins to wonder now exactly what might have touched her while swimming.

Williams decides to go back down and hunt whatever is in the lagoon. Reed opposes the course of action, but is over ruled. While on the dive the two men catch sight of the creature and attempt to shoot it with a spear fishing gun. They hit it once but it escapes before they can capture it. Lucas tells the men when they get back on board that there was an old river legend about a gill man who lived underwater.

Reed thinks he has photographed the creature but the images appear blank. On deck one of the men is attacked and dragged into the water by the creature. Lucas tells the team about a native poison he has which makes fish come to the surface. All agree it is a good idea and begin spreading it over the lagoon. After some time a huge number of fish float to the surface but no sign of the creature.

They surmise the poison is not getting down deep enough and create some pellets to flush the creature from the bottom. They wait for hours well into the night with no result. As they survey the lagoon, the creature unaffected by the poison, attempts to climb into the boat . He is frightened by the light of a lantern. They see a trail of bubbles leading to the bank.

When they fix a search light on it, the creature suddenly rears up, roars and disappears. Reed and Willliams follow the creature, discovering a cave hidden by the bank. They begin tracking footprints through the sand. The creature doubles back on the men. Reaching the boat it kills one of the crew then attempts to kidnap Kay. Wounded and suffering the effects of the drugs, the creature collapses.

Reed and Williams build a makeshift cage and contain the creature, then go back to document the cave and leave doctor Thompson (Whit Bissell) and Kay discuss what the future holds. The creature breaks free and attacks Thompson. He has the presence of mind to smash a lantern over the creature setting it on fire but is gravely injured. Williams wants to stay try and recapture the creature.

Reed and the rest of the team argue that with four people dead, the best thing is leave with the evidence and data they have. Williams clashes with Lucas who pulls a knife on Williams and explains they are leaving right now. As the boat heads out of the lagoon, it is blocked by a snag that was not there before. It is assumed the creature did this to stop them from leaving.

They try to clear the snag with a winch but the obstruction is too heavy. Infuriated, the creature breaks the links, bringing attempt to an end. Reed decides to try again using the aqualung. He and Williams again clash, this time ending with Williams being knocked out. Reed then goes over the side.

While preoccupied with the work he does not see the creature until Williams appears and tries to shoot the animal with the spear gun. On the second attempt he manages to hit the creature, but loses him. The creature counter attacks and drags Williams into the depths. A life and death struggle continues till Reed, realizing the danger, comes to the rescue.

Defeated, the creature once again retreats to the depths, leaving a badly injured Williams floating on the surface. Williams is ultimately killed in the attack. The team decides to try the poison again, this time just to slow the creature down while they try to clear the snag. Reed goes back into the water armed with the poison and begins work on the snag.

Reed waits for the creature to get to very close range and fires twice, enveloping the creature in the paralyzing poison. Reed tries yet a third time before succeeding. The plan works and the lagoon is cleared. Preoccupied by the activity they don't see the creature climb on board.

The creature spots Kay and drags her over the side, taking her back to his cave. Reed follows armed once again with the spear gun. Reed finds Kay but the creature stops the rescue by attacking Reed.

Two of the crew coming from the beach entrance of the cave open fire hitting him multiple times. The creature retreats back into the water badly injured. Reed stops the men from finishing the job, allowing the creature to slink back to the depths, possibly to die.

50's SCI-FI - 1955 > > >












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