Son of 31 Nights, 31 Frights: Creature from the Black Lagoon

Son of 31 Nights, 31 Frights

In observance of that autumn spell when we celebrate the primal, compulsive instinct of fear, Rainestorm once more highlights 31 days of spooky scares to season the eerie atmosphere of Halloween.

For those who tuned in last year, I subjected you to a daily dose of diabolical dread and devilish distress. Just as every good horror movie deserves an inferior sequel, I offer this follow-up of also-rans, not bads, and perhaps a couple of you’ve-gotta-be-kidding-mes.

Unleashed: 1954

'Creature from the Black Lagoon'

margin=”0 0 25px” Here we have a handsome full-piece freshwater bathing suit for the discerning L.L. Bean connoisseur.

What evil lurks: Beyond Universal’s big three in their monster legacy collection (Dracula, Frankenstein and The Wolf Man), Creature from the Black Lagoon was more of a summer adventure than an outright horror film. I had the privilege of watching it in 3D when it was broadcast on television in my youth (didn’t need no fancy 3D TV in those days) and remains one of the best technical uses of the medium. Pity Universal hasn’t decided to release a home video 3D version.

Ben Chapman’s performance as the out-of-water Gill-man is quite thoughtful, mouthing slowly as the creature gasps for oxygen in the open air. Ricou Browning, who portrayed the underwater Gill-man, had to hold his breath for up to four minutes at a time while performing his scenes. He does so effortlessly without ever breaking character. And what self-respecting horror film is complete without the competing machismo of its male leads and the why-is-she-even-here damsel in distress?

Highlight from hell: Because all movie monsters are zoophiles at heart, the creature stalks the female object of his affection from beneath as she takes a dip in the waters above.

Terrifying trivia: As one could imagine, the creature’s suit was quite cumbersome and greatly inhibited actor Ben Chapman’s vision, causing him to scrape Julie Adams’ head against the wall when carrying her in the grotto scenes.

Diabolical dialogue: “We’re trapped and fighting for our lives and you’re worried about whether people will believe us!”

Son of: King Kong (1933). Still the granddaddy of all monster movies (and far superior to Peter Jackson’s nausea-inducing remake), this ground-breaking horror classic still boasts remarkable effects by Willis O’Brien that would influence his more renowned protégé, Ray Harryhausen.

Shoddy sequel syndrome: That god-awful movie score.