Arts

Cult Movie: Classic Creature feature trilogy revived on Blu-ray for first time

Julie Adams encounters The Creature From The Black Lagoon
Ralph McLean

The Creature From The Black Lagoon

HE MAY have only risen from his murky depths on three cinematic occasions, but the impact that The Creature From The Black Lagoon had on the world of classic monster movies was massive.

A brand new box set, The Complete Legacy Collection, from Universal gathers together that trilogy of timeless adventures together on Blu-ray for the first time and, despite the passing decades, that mysterious beast – the missing link between man and fish according to the film – still has the power to impress and entertain in equal measure.

The original Creature feature hit cinema screens in glorious 3D in 1953 and freeze-framed the gilled monster in all his fishy glory forever in the consciousness of monster movie fans the world over.

Swimming champ Ricou Browning donned the scaly rubber suit for the underwater sequences and looks great as he dodges harpoons and suchlike. Ben Chapman had the considerably more thankless task of playing the beast when he ventures onto dry land, but even he carries it off well.

As bold and brazen 50s monsters go, they don't come much more iconic, frankly.

That first film isn't just a monster flick either. This is a moody little B movie that delivers on just about every front. Shot in impressive 3D at the time, which sadly Universal don't replicate here (maybe the cardboard glasses cost too much to reproduce?) it must have been a revelation in '53.

Story-wise its simplicity personified. A scientific expedition down the Amazon – or at least deep into the Universal studio water tanks – uncovers the creature and two men fight over what to do with it.

One, played by Richard Carlson, takes the scientific approach and wants to put it back from where it emerges, while the other, played by Richard Denning, wants to shoot it and mount it on his study wall.

Providing some 1950's style sexual tension is Julie Adams, who spends most of her screen time lolling around in a figure hugging white swimsuit.

Cheap and cheerful as it is, this first outing was a huge hit with cinema audiences in '53 and bust all kinds of box office records, with the result that a sequel followed swiftly on its fishy fins.

Revenge Of The Creature (1955) is an inferior take on the same story but with the action relocated to Florida. Browning still takes on the underwater duties (as he would for the final instalment also), but this time Universal made the classic mistake of showing us too much of the monster and also allowing him too much time on dry land.

The result is a fun adventure, if a decidedly less frightening one.

The final outing, The Creature Walks Among Us (1956) is the weakest of the bunch, with a routine tale of the beast getting dragged from his natural habitat by ruthless exploiters once again.

It's all still historically interesting, however, and it looks fab with mighty fine HD transfers and plenty of extras. It's an essential purchase for monster movie buffs.

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