Saturday, October 17, 2015

Top 20 Horror Movies - #12) Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

One of the things that I'm doing this month as I celebrate Halloween here in the Land of Way is taking the time to rank my Top 20 Horror Movies and my Top 20 Horror Novels.

I want to be clear that I'm basing these choices on my own humble opinion.  I'm not trying to rank these movies in accordance with their place in pop culture, but I'm offering up my take on the best horror films that I have ever watched and enjoyed.  There are some familiar candidates that I consider to be great pictures that didn't make the cut because there wasn't room, and there are some films that are widely regarded as great pictures that didn't make the cut because I feel that they are overrated.  There are also a few instances where it was difficult to determine whether or not a movie belonged to the horror genre (I said "no" to Aliens but "yes" to Jaws), and it may also be worth noting that this is largely a modern list (as long as you're okay with my classification of modern as anything after 1960) that only features one lonely creature from the so-called "Classic Monsters" films produced by Universal Studios.

Thus far, the list includes:

#20) The Fly (1986) 
#19) The Howling (1981)
#18) Night of the Living Dead (1968)
#17) Alien (1979) 
#16) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
#15) Suspiria (1977) 
#14) Phantasm (1979)
#13) Evil Dead 2 (1985)

Let's turn the clock back a bit.  In fact, let's turn the clock way back to the days when Universal Studios sat atop the mountain so far as horrific cinema was concerned.

Top 20 Horror Movies - #12) Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

I love all of the "Classic Monsters" and I'm not here to throw shade at Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, or any other ghoulish menace who ran with that Universal Studios crew.  I am here to anoint the scaly fiend who terrorized the crew of the good ship Rita as my personal favorite of the bunch.  I also feel that his movie is the coolest, and I think it's a bit odd that he's the only representative of that era who hasn't seen his saga officially updated for modern audiences.  Of course, given the strength of this picture, maybe it's better that way.  The Creature from the Black Lagoon is a whimsical and exciting horror film that boasts stellar cinematography, giving genuine meaning to the phrase "in glorious black and white."  The creature design is incredible, and the meticulous application of the costume yields one of the best-looking monsters of all time.  The creature's presence on screen is still rather breath-taking more than sixty years after The Creature from the Black Lagoon was released.  A strong cast that includes Richard Carlson and Julie Adams helped director Jack Arnold breathe life into this fascinating classic that features some of the best underwater photography that you'll ever see.  More so than any of the other beloved horror films that Universal produced, I think there's something magical about The Creature from the Black Lagoon that extends beyond the unique look of the titular menace and the technical prowess on display.  The themes concerning the environment and science that run just beneath the surface never distract us from the wonder that the picture inspires.   The creature is both fearsome and sympathetic, giving the film additional depth and conflict.  Creature from the Black Lagoon is a rich and rewarding motion picture that is still impressive to behold, and there's no way I could make a list like this without including it. 

Man, oh man, do I love that creature design!  It still looks great in this dazzling era of modern effects.

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