Are you scared yet? You should be, because according to the original 1954 trailer, ‘not since the beginning of time has the world known terror like this.’
That terror was the ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon.’
If you haven’t seen the film, don’t worry – guess at the plot, and you’ll be right. Let’s just say it involves a scientist, his beautiful girlfriend, a crusty ship’s captain, the missing evolutionary link between fish and man, and an Amazonian lagoon from which no-one has ever returned.
If you think this sounds not unlike an underwater King Kong – correct. But whatever the somewhat predictable ingredients, the film worked. Big time. It cost $500,000 to make, and grossed six times that amount.
The monster – aka Gill-man – was played by two guys; one in the water, one on dry land. Both wore a suit of rubber, and spawned the entire ‘man in a rubber suit’ genre of monsters.
This was the first time movie-goers had been shown a full-body monster – previous villains like Frankenstein looked like people in makeup – this one certainly didn’t.
The designer of such horror? A woman, actually, Millicent Patrick.
Though, even more predictably than the plot, her credit as designer of the Gill-man was stolen for 50 years by Bud Wetsmore, the male make-up artist with whom she worked.