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Jack Arnold's horror classic The Creature from the Black Lagoon spawned not one but two iconic images: the web-footed humanoid gill-man with a hankering for women and the leggy, luscious Julia Adams, the object of his desire, swimming the lagoon in a luminous white bathing suit. Not since King Kong has the "beauty and the beast" theme been portrayed in such sexually charged (though chaste) terms. Arnold turns an effectively B-movie plot--a small expedition up a remote Amazon river captures a prehistoric amphibian man, who escapes to wreak havoc on the team and kidnap his bathing beauty--into a moody, stylish, low-budget feature. The jungle exteriors turn from exotic to treacherous when the creature blocks their passage and strands them in the wilds. Much of the film is shot underwater, where the murky dark is animated by shimmering shards of sunlight, creating images both lovely and alien (the studio-built sets of the creature's underground lair are far less naturalistic, but serve their purpose). As with most of Arnold's '50s genre films, he's saddled with a less than magnetic leading man (in this case the colorless but stalwart Richard Carlson) and a conventional script, but he overcomes such limitations by creating a vivid and sympathetic monster (helped immeasurably by a marvelous suit of scales and fins) and establishing a mood thick with atmosphere. The film was originally shot in 3-D.

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Special Features * The documentary "Back To The Black Lagoon", by film historian and Universal monster aficionado David Skal, provides some intriguing insights into the making of the Gill Man trilogy, including such revelations as: - The studio's original vision for the look of the Gill Man, and what they intended to do with that look after it was scrapped. - The real makers of the Gill Man - including concept artist Milicent Patrick and sculptors Chris Mueller and Jack Keban. - Comical anecdotes of on-set mishaps involving an eyebrow-raising trade-paper photo and a man-eating sea turtle. - The principle behind the 3-D in which the first two movies were filmed, and the truth behind why the fad faded so quickly. - Discussion about subtexts and implications in the films, and the progression of the Gill Man as a character. * Audio commentary by film historian Tom Weaver, who reveals little tidbits like what role Orson Welles played in the genesis of the Gill Man, and how the first two Gill Man movies resemble a certain classic movie about a giant ape. * Theatrical trailers for the first film.

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MC20470 Creature From the Black Lagoon DVD (1954/Richard Carlson) $14.98 $13.49