CREATURE PROFILE: THE GILL-MAN
Horror has been one of the most popular genres in cinema history, as we have seen it progress from slashers with clear mommy issues to possessed dolls with butcher knives to found footage films where ghosts never actually appear on screen. Horror has had its fads and favorites throughout the decades, some very entertaining and some that are painfully boring to sit through, but it all started with one group of monsters, the Universal Monsters.
When fans rattle off the Universal Monsters we always hear the favorites - The Wolf Man, Dracula, and Frankenstein’s Monster. There are always a few that go forgotten by the general audience and one of those unsung heroes is the Gill-Man from “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” Gill-Man is based off old myths of people who were half-human and half-fish that lived deep in the Amazon River. Producer of the eventual “Creature from the Black Lagoon” film, William Alland, became inspired after hearing a story of a cinematographer’s friend who went missing in the Amazon.
The Gill-Man began terrorizing audiences in 1954 with the feature film, “Creature from the Black Lagoon” as moviegoers saw the man-fish frighten members of a geology expedition. The film itself captivated audiences, as they hadn’t seen a creature like this brought to the silver screen. With Wolf Man, Dracula and The Mummy garnering so much popularity, The Gill-Man was able to disturb audiences because of how human it was rather than how human it wasn’t. With its underwater shots and its suspenseful atmosphere, the Gill-Man was inducted into the Universal Monsters after the full-length feature film.
The “Creature from the Black Lagoon” spawned two more sequels. While the first sequel was unable to capture the magic of the first, the third installment was down right laughable and has caused the Gill-Man to lose some of his luster in the monster verse. Since the first film the Gill-Man has had many appearances in cinema, from The Munsters, Stephen King’s “It”, The Monster Squad and most recently, The Lego Batman Movie. While the Gill-Man has yet to be the main focal point of a film since the original trilogy there are always heavy rumors a new film is in the works.
While never being at the forefront of the Universal Monsters, the Gill-Man still remains an integral part with an interesting back-story that both intrigues audiences and gives them chills. Whether we see the Gill-Man back in theaters with Universal’s reboot of the Monsters Universe, the original 1954 film was able to give audiences a new spin on a monster movie and solidify the Gill-Man in pop culture history.