The iconic Berwyn/Chicago-based horror film host will be presenting the 1954 Universal monster film classic, “Creature From the Black Lagoon.” The fun starts this Sat., July 15 at 10 p.m. Eastern/9 p.m. Central on Me-TV.
The film was directed by Jack Arnold, who also directed “It Came from Outer Space” (1953), “Tarantula” (1955) and “The Incredible Shrinking Man” (1957). He also directed the 1955 “Gill-Man” sequel for Universal, “Revenge of the Creature” (all aforementioned films were previously shown on Sven’s showcase). James C. Havens directed the underwater sequences for Arnold’s film.
Who was in “Creature From the Black Lagoon?”
The players who appeared in “Creature From the Black Lagoon” were Richard Carlson (as David Reed), Julie Adams (as Kay, Adams was credited as “Julia Adams” in the film), Richard Denning (as Mark Williams), Antonio Moreno (as Carl Maia), Nestor Paiva (as Lucas), Whit Bissell (as Dr. Thompson), Henry A. Escalante (as Chico, Escalante was credited as “Henry Escalante” in the film), Bernie Gozier (as Zee), Ricou Browning (who appeared in the “Gill-Man” monster costume for underwater scenes) and Ben Chapman (who appeared in the “Gill-Man” costume for land scenes).
Both “Gill-Man” performers were not credited in the film (according to IMDB).
Shortly after appearing in “Creature From the Black Lagoon,” Julie Adams appeared in the comedy “Francis Joins The WACS” (as Capt. Jane Parker, alongside Donald O’ Connor as Peter Stirling and Chill Wills, who provided the vocal stylings of the “talking mule” known as “Francis”). One year before his appearance in “Creature From the Black Lagoon,” Richard Carlson played the role of John Putnam in “It Came From Outer Space.” Whit Bissell would later go on to play the role of Lt. Gen. Heywood Kirk in Irwin Allen’s TV sci-fi adventure series, “The Time Tunnel” (1966-67).
Richard Carlson was not the first choice for the role of David Reed
Millicent Patrick, Bud Westmore, Chris Mueller and the “Gill-Man” creature costume
The Gill-Man creature costume that was used in “Creature From the Black Lagoon” was designed by Universal make-up designers Millicent Patrick and Bud Westmore (Patrick was not credited in the film, according to IMDB). Chris Mueller also worked on the Gill-Man head sculpture for the film (according to Ben Chapman’s 2000 interview with Bob Gourley of “Chaos Control Digizine”).
Released in 3-D and 2-D
Universal released “Creature From the Black Lagoon” to theaters on March 5, 1954 (according to additional findings in IMDB’s list of release dates for the film). Jack Arnold’s film was shot in the polarized dual-strip 3-D format (consisting of a twin-camera setup, according to the 3-D Film Archive).
The studio offered the film in both 3-D and flat 2-D formats to theaters. For theaters that showcased the 3-D version of “Creature From the Black Lagoon,” Universal promoted the film with 3-D View-Master viewing kiosks for “preview scenes” of the film (in cinema lobbies).
Shortly before the film was released, the “Gill-Man” creature made a surprise appearance on the “Colgate Comedy Hour” TV show with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in Feb. 1954 (according to additional info from the 3-D Film Archive).
“Creature From the Black Lagoon” was a smash success in cinemas throughout the nation. Universal decided to make two more Gill-Man monster features.
“Creature From the Black Lagoon” spawned two more films in Universal’s “Gill-Man” monster series
The studio released the sequel to “Creature From the Black Lagoon,” “Revenge of the Creature” in 1955. A third (and final) Gill-Man film was released by Universal in 1956, “The Creature Walks Among Us” (the third feature was directed by John Sherwood)*.
Eleven years later: The Gill-Man makes an appearance on “The Munsters”
Ten years after “Creature From the Black Lagoon,” Universal’s Gill-Man creature made an appearance on the hit TV series “The Munsters” (in the episode “Love Comes to Mockingbird Heights,” which aired on April 22, 1965). The creature was known as “Uncle Gilbert” in the episode and Richard Hale appeared in the Gill-Man costume.
Re-released as a double feature with another 3-D Universal classic
According to additional findings from film archivist Bob Furmanek and his 3-D Film Archive, Universal Studios was planning to re-release “Creature From the Black Lagoon” as a double feature presentation with “It Came From Outer Space” in 1972. The studio delayed these plans and prints were re-issued to cinemas in 1975.
The re-issue prints did not utilize the original polarized 3-D film process. Instead, the prints were converted into the anaglyph (red/cyan) 3-D format.
Universal also released “Creature From the Black Lagoon” through their 16mm non-theatrical arm (with complimentary 3-D glasses for colleges and film clubs). The studio also prepared a 17-minute Super 8mm home version of “Creature From the Black Lagoon” (with magnetic sound) in the late 1970s. The “Universal Eight” edition also contained two pairs of anaglyph 3-D glasses.
Be sure to watch Svengoolie’s showcase of “Creature From the Black Lagoon” this Sat. on Me-TV!
You will not want to miss out on Svengoolie’s upcoming showcase of “Creature From the Black Lagoon” (in 2-D) this Sat. on Me-TV! Break out the popcorn and watch Sven’s showcase of the 1954 Universal monster gem with his fun facts about the Gill-Man and the cast, along with Doug Graves’ music and Kerwyn’s mail call segment!
*A film that was previously showcased on Svengoolie’s show.
Sat., July 15 at 10 p.m. Eastern/9 p.m. Central on Me-TV
In the Frederick, Maryland/Washington, D.C. area: WTTG-5.3 (over-the-air)/Comcast 196/Verizon 489
In the Baltimore, Maryland area: WBAL-TV 11.2/Comcast 208 (“Svengoolie” is time-delayed to 11 p.m. due to TV-11’s 10 p.m. newscast on their Me-TV sub-channel)
In the Hanover/Gettysburg/York, Pennsylvania area: WGAL-TV 8.2/Comcast 248 (Sven is also time-delayed on WGAL-TV 8 due to their 10 p.m. newscast on their Me-TV sub-channel)
In Connection to “Creature From the Black Lagoon” (1954):
Update (July 13): “Creature From the Black Lagoon” was shown in Littlestown, Pennsylvania (not far from the home office of “Silver Screen Reflections”): According to a recent search on Google’s Newspaper archives for The Gettysburg Times, the Towne Theater showcased “Creature From the Black Lagoon” in Littlestown, Pennsylvania (in May 1954, which can be found on page four).
The theater was later converted to an auto parts store (according to a series of photographs from CinemaTour). Today, a small supermarket occupies the former Towne cinema building (according to Cinema Treasures).
“Creature From the Black Lagoon” (1954) is also available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Universal Studios (the film is also available as part of Universal’s “Legacy Collection” DVD set and the “Classic Monsters Spotlight Collection” on DVD)
All rights acknowledged.