Tom Weaver has long been recognised as the doyen of commentators about the classic (and not so classic) science-fiction films of the 1950s and 60s, and he is the perfect guide here to one of the most fondly remembered film sequences in horror cinema. When Universal Studios made one final addition to its memorable roster of movie monsters, they chose wisely with the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the ‘gill man’ quickly became as almost as iconic as Frankenstein and Dracula had been before it. Of course, much of the success was down to the fact that the first two films were directed by the greatest of all 1950s SF filmmakers Jack Arnold, while the last entry was handled by Arnold’s protégé John Sherwood. Almost every contribution is given forensic and fascinating attention in Weaver’s over-sized book – and it’s particularly refreshing to see an unsung heroine behind the creature design, Millicent Patrick recognised; despite credit grabbed by others, she was actually responsible for look of the creature. Her contribution – and that of everyone else connected with the films — is examined in loving fashion, With a new Blu-ray set is in the offing – in which the first two films will both be available in their original 3-D versions (Revenge of the Creature has not been previously seen in this format in home video, apart from an authorised edition, while the final film will be shown for the first time on DVD in the correct widescreen format) – Weaver’s fascinating labour of love could not be better timed.
The Creature Chronicles: Exploring the Black Lagoon Trilogy by Tom Weaver et al is published by McFarland