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  • Writer's pictureAdam Williams

Celebrate Creature From The Black Lagoon's 67th Anniversary

Easily one of the most beloved and iconic films within the Universal Monsters series, Creature From the Black Lagoon celebrates its 67th Anniversary today. The film first hit cinemas on this day back in 1954 and has wowed audiences for generations. We thought we'd celebrate by giving you a few fun facts about the film, enjoy folks!

There was two different suits.

Two different stuntmen were used to portray the creature, and therefore, two different suits were used in the movie. Ben Chapman played the creature for any scenes on dry land (wearing a darker suit) where as professional diver and swimmer Ricou Browning played the creature whenever the creature was in the water (wearing a darker suit). Funnily enough despite playing the same creature they never met during filming. Browning's underwater scenes were shot in Florida whereas Chapman's scenes were shot in California. They wouldn't meet each other until a convention in Florida some 20 years later.

You want me to hold my breath for how long?

Ricou Browning was actually required to hold his breath underwater for up to 4 minutes at a time. The suit wasn't fitted with an oxygen tank as the director, Jack Arnold, didn't want any air bubbles coming from his nose or mouth due to the creature having gills. Arnold figured that any air the creature required would be taken in through his gills, so he didn't want to ruin the illusion by having sir bubbles come from his nose and mouth. A detail that unfortunately future films chose to ignore. All subsequent suits for the films to follow featured an oxygen supply built into them.

Used as a Halloween costume

A horror and science fiction writer for Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine, Forrest J. Ackerman, managed to track down pieces of the original suit for this film (as well as its two sequels). He bought the creature mask and claws from a young man who obtained them from his Dad. His Father actually worked as a janitor at Universal Studios and found discarded pieces of the suit in one of the studios dumpsters, he fished them out as he thought they would make a good Halloween costume for his son. Other pieces were sold at auction in the last few years by effects artist Bud Westmore, who worked as an assistant to the original costume creator and designer Millicent Patrick. The Creature mask sold in 2009 for $70,000.

Julie Adams wasn't knocked out.

There was a rumour flying around for a long time that Julie Adams was accidentally knocked out whilst being carried into the cave by the creature. She later stated this was not the case at all and just scraped her head against the plaster wall of the cave. The suit made for very poor visibility for whoever was wearing it. That combined with Adams pretending to be unconscious (and having her eyes closed) caused the minor accident. Despite this she noted making this film was an extremely pleasant and enjoyable process with the cast and crew getting along quite well. Adams also explained she always felt quite sympathetic towards Gill-man.

"There always is that feeling of compassion for the monster. I think maybe it touches something in ourselves, maybe the darker parts of ourselves, that long to be loved and think they really can't ever be loved. It strikes a chord within us."

Near miss accident.

The fight scene between the creature and Zee very nearly resulted in a serious accident. Chapman and Bernie Gozier had rehearsed the scene for several days due to restricted mobility and vision caused by the suit. The scene called for Zee to swing a machete at the creature only for the creature to grab his arm mid movement stopping a possibly fatal blow. When they filmed the scene Chapman missed Gozier's arm which resulted in the real machete connecting squarely with Gill-man's head. Luckily the machete had been blunted before filming took place and did not pierce the suit head. The thick foam rubber head of the suit saved Chapman from receiving any serious head injuries.

Scaring women and children.

Ricou Browning accidentally scared a mother and child whilst in full Gill-man costume. He had been underwater for several minutes filming a scene when he needed an emergency bathroom break. Without hesitation he made his way to the shoreline and quickly breached the water in full costume next to an unsuspecting mother and her young daughter who were minding their own business on the shoreline. They both screamed and fled in terror upon seeing him. Browning later recalled this in an interview "They took off, and that's the last I saw of 'em!"

Inspiration behind Gill-man

The very first design for the creature costume was actually modelled after the iconic Oscar statuette given as an award by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The design was not what they wanted and the entire design was scrapped, the final design featured little to no resemblance to it. The final appearance and design was based on old seventeenth-century woodcuts of two bizarre creatures called the Sea Monk and the Sea Bishop. The earlier head design was based more on that of a Sea Bishop, it was discarded in the end. The final head design, seen and used in the film, is based on that of a Sea Monk.


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