Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

This classic Universal horror film was by director Jack Arnold - originally shot in 3-D, and was the last great prototypical classic from Universal Studios; in the pantheon of Universal Monsters, only The Creature was given the 3D treatment. Special effects effectively used a foam-latex costume suit to represent the amphibious creature called the Gill-Man - one of the most famous movie monsters ever created. Director Guillermo del Toro years later used the movie as inspiration for his Best Picture-winning The Shape of Water (2017):

  • the campy film began with the discovery in an upper Amazonian jungle of a fossilized claw or hand (with webbed fingers) embedded in rock by Dr. Carl Maia (Antonio Moren) - it was evidence of an unusual, prehistoric, amphibious web-handed and footed humanoid-reptile. The discovery might prove that a strong, prehistoric creature existed linked sea and land animals. Not visible to the scientist, a similar-looking webbed hand emerged from the river bank and then slid back into the water after leaving claw marks.
  • [Note: In the film, every time the aggressive 'Creature' appeared in some shape or form, its entry was signaled or cued by the film's recognizable theme music. It was estimated that the theme music was played over 130 times throughout the film.]
  • slightly later, Dr. Maia's two assistants, Tomas (Perry Lopez) and Luis (Rodd Redwing) at their campsite were suddenly attacked by a humanoid creature (first seen as a disembodied claw reaching into their tent) - a descendant of the fossil species. Both men were grabbed by the claw in the face and killed amidst ferocious growls. It was presumed that a jaguar had attacked them with its claws. As the group surveyed the campsite, Kay stood by the water's edge as the clawed hand reached out for her legs, but was unable to grab her.
Attack of Gill-Man on Dr. Maia's Two Campsite Assistants, Tomas and Luis
  • an anthropological expedition was organized by Dr. Maia and funded by Dr. Mark Williams (Richard Denning) to a Brazilian river in the Amazon on board the Rita. They were accompanied by ichthyologist Dr. David Reed (Richard Carlson) and his dark-haired girlfriend/fiancee and colleague Kay Lawrence (Julia Adams), and scientist Dr. Edwin Thompson (Whit Bissell). Others included Captain Lucas (Nestor Paiva) and two crew members Zee (Bernie Gozier) and Chico (Henry Escalante).
  • there were two individuals who played the Creature of the film's title, and because of their differing heights, two different costumes (full-bodied monster suits and masks) were created:

Creature on Land
(stuntman Ben Chapman)

Creature Underwater - (professional diver and water showman Ricou Browning)
  • it was eventually thought that more fossil remains or a descendant of the original fossilized creature, a Gill-Man (Ben Chapman), might be living in a dark lagoon known as the "Black Lagoon." Once the Rita arrived at the Black Lagoon, two of the expedition members, Reed and Williams went scuba diving to investigate and find some samples - unaware that they were being stalked by the Gill-Man. After the divers returned, Kay took an impromptu swim by herself - in a stunning one-piece white bathing suit.
  • in scary and superbly-photographed underwater sequences, as she swam at the surface, the creature expressed 'Beauty-and-the-Beast' love interest in bathing beauty Kay, stalking and watching her from below as she swam above him. He even appeared to mirror or mimic her movements.
Film's Most Memorable Scene - "Beauty and Beast" Underwater Stalking
  • after Kay's swim, the Creature was briefly caught in one of the ship's draglines, and although it escaped, it left behind a claw in the net, proving its existence. Kay expressed dismay, realized that she had possibly been swimming near the Creature.
  • the expedition's two divers, Reed and Williams pursued the Creature and were able to spear it underwater with a fishing gun, but it escaped.
The Creature - Pursued and Speared Underwater With a Fishing Gun
  • after several deadly encounters with the Gill-Man and the death of two crew members Zee and Chico, the Creature was captured and caged up onboard the Rita. When it escaped, it attacked Dr. Thompson who hit the Creature with a lantern and set it on fire, but Dr. Thompson was seriously wounded. As the group decided to leave the lagoon, they realized that their exit-way was blocked. When Dr. Williams went underwater to capture the creature, he was mauled to death as Dr. Reed watched and eventually scared the Gill-Man off.

First Unsuccessful Assault on Kay


Creature Set on Fire During Attack on Edwin

Dr. Williams Mauled to Death Underwater

Kay Kidnapped

Kay Taken to Grotto
  • soon after, the Creature reached in through a porthole to attack the bandaged and ailing Dr. Thompson, and Kay was grabbed and kidnapped from the boat. It dove into the water with her and took her back to its swampy cave or grotto hidden by the bank, but she was soon pursued by Dr. Reed who came to Kay's rescue.
  • as the Creature was attacking Dr. Reed, it was shot with bullets (by Dr. Maia and the Captain) and severely injured in the chest with bullet wounds. Dr. Reed allowed the Creature to retreat back to the lagoon's beach where it swam off, disappeared, and sank lifelessly back into the deep watery depths of the lagoon.

Dr. Maia's Discovery of Fossilized Claw in Rock

Claw That Emerged on River Bank - Similar to the Fossil

Picture of Fossil Discovery

Clawed Hand Reaching Out for Kay's Legs

Expedition into the Black Lagoon

Creature Underwater - Stalking the Divers

Kay Preparing to Swim in the Black Lagoon

Claw Found in Net

Kay Disturbed by the Finding

Creature Attacking Crew Member Chico on Deck of the Rita

Captured in Spotlight Emerging From Water

In the Grotto: Kay Rescued by Dr. Reed

Creature Shot With Bullets

The Creature's Demise in Lagoon?


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z