Heritage Lives: Halloween Refloats Columnist’s Memories Of ’50s Screen Monster

By Terry Hughes

Today, the realm of Halloween and associated monsters is enhanced by high-tech special effects. The best would have to be Michael Jackson’s Thriller! And poor Jamie Lee Curtis has had to come out of retirement to kill her brother off dozens of times in the Halloween horror movie franchise, the latest of which is 2021’s Halloween Kills.

In the past certain characters dominated the movie screens such as werewolves, vampires and the infamous Frankenstein monster. The 1950s were influenced, however, by the Atomic Bomb and its associated issues of harmful radiation. Creatures affected by such exposures may have frightened your girlfriend but the stories were far fetched. Those that did gain popularity were The Day The Earth Stood Still, The Thing and Them. The latter movies involved a radioactive alien and giant ants. Their story lines and actors made them enjoyable and for some, even credible.

Our feature creature was discovered by skeletal remains found along the Amazon jungles of South America which were still largely unexplored back then. A follow-up expedition to learn more about this specimen yielded the real thing. Along with the plot is the work that went into the costumes needed –  one for land scenes and a second that required a built-in aqua-lung for underwater photography. Of course we must throw in the attractive young  fiancée  to one of the scientists and their multiple efforts to escape the monster and there you have the story line. The motion picture would yield sequels and as a horror-movie fan I devoured all of them. 

The creature was known as Gill-man, also known as the Creature as in Creature from the Black Lagoon. He could breathe outside of water for short periods of time but his webbed hands and feet armed with claws were its sole weapons. Our photo features the creature with one of the doubles who played in the underwater scenes in a more friendly pose.

Next Column: The Great Land Sale Of Your Canal Lands 

(Terry  Hughes is a Wellander who is passionate about heritage, history and model railroading. His opinion column, Heritage Lives, appears on the blog once or twice monthly.)

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