Monster 50

The Gill Man.

The Creature From the Black Lagoon.

There is something eerie and ethereal about the Gill Man in the original Universal movie, as he pushes through the waters of the deep, effortlessly, shadowing the oblivious swimmer above. This a creature forgotten by time but disturbed by curious and fearful humans, driven to do what he must to ensure his survival. Of course, the beautiful Julie Adams makes a pretty good lure.

I can’t remember precisely the first time I happened upon the Gill Man, but I didn’t see the original Universal movie until later in my monster timeline. It could have been in The Monster Squad, which would have made a fine introduction. Whatever the origin, I did find the Gill Man and gleefully added him to my list of favorite monsters.

The design of the original creature is perfection, which is a minor miracle considering what it started out as. The original costume was bland and boring, looking more akin to a classic grey alien than a fishy man from the deeps. We can thank former Disney illustrator Millicent Patrick for the improved and now beloved design. It was Ricou Browning that gave the creature his grace and strength while playing him under water.

I heard that Universal once had a musical show featuring the Gill Man at their theme park, but sadly, it was too late for me to view it. At one time John Carpenter was set to direct a remake of the Creature From the Black Lagoon, which I would have no doubt loved (still trying to hunt down a copy of the screenplay for that). There has been no talk of the Gill Man joining the recent revival of Universal monster movies, but I do hope they include him somehow.

There is something about the things that lurk under the water which instill a natural fear and unease that the Gill Man taps into with great effect.