The Creature Chronicles: Exploring the Black Lagoon Trilogy
Published by McFarland, 2014. 408 pages.
By Tom Weaver, David Schecter, & Steve Kronenberg
This should be a very simple review. If you want to know anything about Creature from the Black Lagoon, or its two sequels, Revenge of the Creature and/or The Creature Walks Among Us, then just buy this book. Just about anything and everything you need to know about those films is in this book. Tom Weaver, along with Schecter and Kronenberg, have researched and compiled so much information, from the cast and crew, premieres, design teams, press, music, down to all the screenwriters involved in them, all here in this book. It even has an introduction by Creature star Julia Adams.
The Lady from the Black Lagoon
Published by Hanover Square Press, 2019. 368 pages.
By Mallory O’Meara
As a horror historian (sounds such more impressive than horror fan, doesn’t it?), anytime some light can be shed on someone important in the genre, especially when that light was purposely taken away from them, then I’m all for it.
If you were to just go by the screen credits in those classic movies, you’d never know about some of the thousands of people that actually worked on them. This isn’t anything new either, since a LOT of people go without given due credit. That’s just the business. But when that business included someone taking credit for someone else’s work, even getting rid of said person because they were starting to get their deserved credit, then that that error needs to be fixed, especially when we’re talking about the creation of one of the famous Universal Monsters. Helping do that is author Mallory O’Meara with this new book on Milicent Patrick, the woman who actually designed the Gill Man from Creature from the Black Lagoon.
The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) remains as one of the great monsters from the Universal studios, still holding up today, 65 years later. But there are quite a few out there that still don’t realize that the design of the creature was actually done by a woman, Milicent Patrick, who never received credit for it in the final film. But now, thanks to author Mallory O’Meara, you can learn all about this unsung hero in her new book, The Lady from the Black Lagoon, which will be released on March 5th, from Hanover Square Press.
For all of us that are interested in our Horror History and its heritage, Milicent Patrick is a person that we should get to know and definitely remember, because without her contributions, our favorite Gill-man could have looked quite different. And this book looks to be a great place to start! I’ve already got mine on pre-order, so why don’t you.
You can pre-order your hardcover edition from Amazon now for only $17.70! How could you pass up that price? Just click HERE.
Because our September and October wasn’t filling up already, the Music Box has decided to screen some of the Universal classics in their Universal Horror: A Matinee Series, starting at 11:30am on each weekend listed below. Plus the fact that these are all being screened from 35mm prints! Now is your chance to see some of these essential titles from our horror history but on the big screen like they were meant to be seen! Here’s the schedule for this series:
John L. Balderston
Born Oct. 22nd, 1889 – Died Mar. 8th, 1954
Ever wonder why the original ’30s film versions of Dracula and Frankenstein didn’t seem to follow the novels too much? Well, one of the men responsible for that was writer John L. Balderston. He started his career as a journalist, even before he finished school, working for different newspapers. He would even be a war correspondent during WWI. He eventually started in show business as a playwright, while continuing the journalism gigs as well.
In 1927, he was hired to re-write Hamilton Deane’s stage play of Dracula for American audiences, making more than a few changes. Because of its huge success, he was then hired to do the same for Peggy Webling’s play version of Frankenstein. He would later have his name attached to many of the early monster classics, even if his scripts were never used. But because of his work, a lot of the foundation of these early monster flicks were due to him.
In 1953, Balderston and the heirs of Webling won a lawsuit with Universal, getting paid not only $20,000 but also 1% of any of the films that resulted from their work, including any sequels!
The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)
Directed by Erle C. Kenton
Starring Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, Cedric Hardwicke, Ralph Bellamy, Lionel Atwill, Evelyn Ankers, Janet Ann Gallow, Barton Yarborough, Dwight Frye
There are certain movies from our childhood that still hold a type of charm over us. Ones that when watching it as an adult, even though the film might have flaws, or just isn’t the best, it still is able to recreate the same feeling it did upon that first viewing, all those years ago. The Ghost of Frankenstein is one of those for me. I still consider the original 1931 Frankenstein film one of my favorites and a much better film, but for some reason, I’d probably be more likely to sit down and watch Ghost on some afternoon than the original. Maybe because watching the original, I view it more like an adult, but with Ghost, it makes me feel like a 14 year old kid again watching it on my 13-inch black and white TV. That was when I first got to see this and I can still remember sitting there in my room, eyes glued to the little television set.
Now that is one name that most of us horror fans do not recognize. But if wasn’t for Mr. Umann, we might not have ever got to see Universal’s Son of Frankenstein, as well as the monster films that followed thereafter. But what exactly did Mr. Umann do to cause this resurgence of the Universal Monsters?
In 1938, with The Bride of Frankenstein now already 3 years old, it seems that Universal had pretty much given up on their monster heritage. Sure, they were still making horror pictures, such as The Raven, The Invisible Ray, and such, but not a lot of them and those familiar characters from just a few years ago were now seemed to have been put to rest. This is where Emil Umann came in to the picture. He ran the Regina-Whilshire Theatre in Los Angeles and on August 5th, 1938, he started a triple bill of Dracula, Frankenstein, and Son of Kong, getting the rentals from the studio for only $99 for 4 days. But much to his surprise, the screenings were selling out and he was getting lines down the block. The triple bill was so popular, he was running them almost 24 hours a day. He even got in contact with Bela Lugosi, who was not in the best financial situation at the time, and hired him to make appearances at the screenings. This not only put the monsters back in the limelight, but Lugosi himself. Lugosi even told the press “I owe it all to that little man at the Regina Theatre. I was dead, and he brought me back to life.”
Once Universal heard about this and the business the theater was doing, they immediately ordered 500 more prints of Dracula and Frankenstein and started renting them out around the country for a double bill. Of course, these rentals were at a much higher rate, so much higher that Umann couldn’t afford to keep them pass the original commitment. In fact, Universal reported in making over $500,000 in new film rentals. So nice of Universal to show such gratitude to someone who showed them how to make so much money. And it was because of this newly discovered interests in these movies that Universal quickly rushed another entry in the Frankenstein series, which would become Son of Frankenstein. Not only would it be the last time Karloff appeared as the creature, but it would also give Lugosi a chance to give one of his best screen performances on his career, as Igor, the twisted-neck friend of the creature.
So to people like Emil Umann, we here at the Krypt salute you for what you did, bringing back the Universal Monsters from their grave.