Creature From the Black Lagoon

     Creature From the Black Lagoon – Probably one of the best movies and the most forgotten of the great, classic movie monsters in history.  But, see a picture or say the name, and he instantly comes back to mind.  If you haven’t seen this movie, then you’ve got to see this one to appreciate one the greats.  In 1954, Jack Arnold, who gave us the great movie Tarantula, unleashes a new beast on us…the amphibious missing link…”Gill Man”.  While it is a product of it’s time, it holds up very well and I still enjoy this movie to this day.  Creature of the Black Lagoon was originally filmed in 3-D, which was all the rage in the 50’s, but the dvd comes with the standard format.  One of the best parts about this movie is that the humans are actually the instigators to the horror rather than being the victims to a rogue monster.

The plot is that a group of scientists are tipped to fossil findings from the Devonian period of land and sea animals with webbed fingers.  They board the steamboat “Rita” and head down the Amazon to where these fossils were found, but nothing substantial is found.  Captain Lucas suggest they may have been dumped into the “Black Lagoon” down river, a paradise that no one returns from.  They proceed to the site.  2 of the scientists dive for fossils at the bottom and Gill-Man is now watching the invaders of his home.  Kay, played by the beautiful Julie Adams, goes swimming and Gill-Man is quite “interested” with the shape of this one.  However, in his stalking of Kay, he gets caught in one of the drag nets revealing himself.  After several encounters, Gill-Man is finally captured.  However, Gill-Man escapes the cage and is driven off by the crew.  Now, they decide they need to leave, but Gill-Man has blocked the way.  Can’t let a woman like Julie Adams get away.  The creature abducts Kay and tries to get back to his lair, but the crew is in hot pursuit.  They catch up with him and shoot him numerous times before he retreats to the lagoon.

While it is a “horror” film, it is not overly frightening and actually has very romantic and sexual overtones for its time.  In the scene to the right while Kay is swimming, the monster mimics her movements in the water in clear infatuation with the beautiful intruder.  The water scenes are excellently shot to show the interaction of Gill-Man and his love interest.  Now, he must have her leading to the final climax of the movie.

Rated 85% at Rotten Tomatoes and 4.5 stars at Amazon.com, this is still an excellent movie.  Being from the 50’s, it’s pretty tame for a horror film, but the story and acting are good and the water scenes are excellent.  Finally, Gill-Man is still one of the classic monsters in the same realm of Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolfman.  So, if you enjoy the classic monsters, this is a must-see movie.

** Just click the image to see “Creature From the Black Lagoon” at Amazon.com. **

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Friday the 13th

   Friday the 13th – The original 1980 classic horror film.  Quick, who is the killer?  If you are like 90% of Americans, you just answered that question wrong.   We’ll get to that later.  Originally a knock off of the slasher genre king “Halloween”, Friday the 13th was intended to be a low budget money maker.  However, it was hugely successful with audiences and started a franchise spawning 11 sequels (mostly forgettable).  The story is actually good, but the script and acting were not so hot.  Critics absolutely hated this movie.  But, movie lovers revel in it.  In fact, it became a strange phenomena for movie goers to cheer for the killer.  How twisted were America’s youth back then?  Ok, I still enjoy the slashing of annoying teenagers.  This film is now an iconic horror film for all time.

The plot is simplistic.  A guy and group of older teenagers are trying to re-open a kids camp at Crystal Lake.  It had been closed because a boy had accidentally drowned and, since that time, many unexplained deaths had occurred.  So, all the teenage camp counselors gather at the campsite and are there trying to get the place in shape for the campers.  But, what they don’t know is that those deaths weren’t accidents and the killer is after them.  Will the killer get them all?

Sporting one of the most iconic music scores in film history, the chilling “ki ki ki ma ma ma” that starts up only when the killer is around is still haunting.  Everyone knows this simple score.  However, it can still send chills through you.  **Spoiler Alert here”**…This simple repeat of sounds actually has a meaning.  It comes from “kill mama” as Jason (the boy who drowned) is talking to his mother from beyond to avenge his death.  The “ki” in kill and the “ma” in mama is the origin that leads to this iconic music.  And, once you think you’ve had enough, the ending will stop your heart.  Ironically, the ending was not in the original script, but they wanted to deliver one final punch.  It became one of the best scenes in film history.  The special effects specialist so enjoyed his work that he would sneak into theaters for the last 5 minutes to watch the audiences react to the final scenes.

If you haven’t seen this movie in a long time or enjoy a great horror film, I encourage you to revisit this classic.  Beware to avoid the re-make in 2009.  Being summertime, the setting pulls you in.  While the film has serious flaws from a critical standpoint, it is not intended to be “artistic”.  It’s intended to be scary and fun.  Once it gets dark, I put this dvd in and just get into it.  I handle horror films pretty well, but after rewatching this movie, I double checked that the doors were locked before going to bed.

**  Just click the image to see “Friday the 13th” at Amazon.com **


Jaws 2

    Jaws 2 – “Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water.”  This 1978 sequel to the horror classic holds up pretty well and brings back those second guessing about going swimming at the beach.  Normally, a sequel is a disappointment and to many Jaws enthusiasts, this one is too.  But, lets get real.  Jaws was one of the greatest horror movies of all time.  Do you really think the sequel could top it?  No.  Ever heard of Casablanca 2, Wizard of Oz 2, or any sequel to any great film that topped the original?  So, now that we’ve eliminated faulty expectations, the film is actually very good.  Yes, there are some holes in the plot that anyone can point out if they nit pick every detail from the original Jaws.  One blogger I read, was actually following the time line of kids age change and that the film was made only 3 years later.  Are you serious?  Come on….Movies are to be enjoyed.

The plot is…is….well, a giant shark eating teenagers.  Our head man Brody is now fired and working another job in Amity, but he keeps worrying about shark attacks.  Clearly, he hasn’t gotten over nearly becoming an appetizer from the previous attack.  Of course, the local leaders again ignore his crazy warnings.  Apparently, the memory is quite short there.  Well, you guessed it.  Another great white shark is lurking and hungry for some tasty humans.  But, the older teenagers want to go sailing out to the lighthouse, including Brody’s kids.  And, the the new Jaws says, “Yummy, come to daddy.”  When Brody finds out, he’s off to chase the kids to bring them back.  In the meantime…CHOMP!!!  After a couple of snacks, Jaws has got them where he wants them, but Brody shows up in the nick of time…and it’s Man VS Shark, round 2.

Granted, it is not equal to the original Jaws, but that is not to be expected.  But, the tension & suspense is still there and the set ups for our beloved shark are still gripping.  The music still sends chills down your spine with anticipation.  Some of the best parts of this film is the moments waiting and wondering….Is he there?  Is he gone?  Woo hoo….CHOMP!!!!  In fact, if arrogant teenagers annoy you, you will find yourself pulling for the shark…(I admit it…I did).  So, get the original Jaws and then watch this great movie, Jaws 2.  Rated 4 stars by Amazon purchasers and, frankly, it’s cheap.  Hard to beat that.  These movies are great to watch back to back as well.

** Just click on the image to check out “JAWS 2” at Amazon.com **


Piranha (1978)

     Piranha (1978) – After the success of Jaws, numerous b-class movies were made to cash in on the success.  These were typically low budget and most were not very good.  However, one of those movies has essentially become a cult classic.  Some movies are great movies to watch that are not actual “great movies” from a technical or script stand point.  Piranha is one of those cult classic movies.  I’m not going to tell you it is a great movie with dramatic story and great special effects because I want to maintain my credibility.  However, I absolutely love this film and many others do as well.  It’s been given mostly 4 & 5 stars at Amazon by those that bought the film.

The plot is that the government was developing these nasty little fish for a war effort, but once the war ended, the fish were to be destroyed.  But, a scientist has kept these mutated little monsters alive.  When two hikers go missing, an insurance agent is on the hunt.  With the help of a local drunk who knows the area, they stumble on this government location and oops, all the fish are loose in the river and headed down stream.  Well, down the river is a kids camp and luxury resort with a feast of fresh humans ready for the tasting.  Our friends try to warn everyone, but the government can’t let that happen.  Well, ring the dinner bell and our hungry little fish take care of the rest.  Wait a minute, this river dumps in the ocean.  Uh ohhh….

This is a campy, b-movie horror flick and it is great for what it is.  The movie’s story is actually pretty good and, if you let your seriousness down a little, you’ll enjoy this little gem.  The scary scenes are tense.  The special effects are good for their time (no CGI), but the direction makes it look better than they are.  The music and sound effects are really good and keeps you “on the hook”.  And, there’s also some great one liners throughout that add some good comedy…..as all good b-movies should.  It’ll have you laughing at times and other times scared.  Are your kids going to summer camp?  Show them this movie and they’ll avoid swimming in anything except a pool.  Well, this movie might have some scenes not subtable for younger kids.

I love this movie and recommend you watch it as well.  Understand that it may not be the caliber of Jaws or the other “horror royalty”, but it is a very good movie to watch.  After all, who doesn’t like watching kids and rich people get eaten up?

** Just click the image to see “Piranha (1978)” at Amazon.com **


Jaws

     Jaws – Summer is coming and people are planning their vacations.  Girls are getting tan and guys are trying to get into shape getting ready for the beach.  So what great movie is best for people to watch?  Of course, a movie with great white shark eating people!!!!  It just doesn’t get better than Jaws.  In 1975, Steven Spielberg’s summer terror hit the big screen and has kept people scared of the water to this day.  And, that haunting theme music is constantly used in numerous ways at various modern events.

The plot is simple.  Amity is a family vacation spot and ripe with delicious people to eat.  No doubt our toothy friend chose this town to visit and conveniently just before the huge tourist season that the town relies on this season to financially survive.  After a couple of attacks, the police chief Brody wants to shut down the beach, but he’s overruled by the mayor.  Of course, feeding time continues as our shark continues to feast on our beachgoers.  Brody hires a shark killer and and oceanographer and go after our shark.  It’s war on the high seas and our shark puts up a heck of a fight.  I won’t ruin the ending.

This is a great horror/thriller film that won 3 oscars and was listed 56 on the AFI’s top 100 movies of all time.  As summer approaches, this is the perfect time to enjoy this movie again.  It is one of the all time classics and a great summer thrill.  You’ll be on the edge of your seat even after watching it several times.  And, if you’re going to the beach this year, I guarantee you’ll look at the ocean a little differently.

** Just click on the image to check out “JAWS” at Amazon.com **