Are you kidding me? The movie that scared me silly when I was a kid has been remade, and get this; it won the Oscar for best picture! Well, to be fair, maybe The Shape Of Water isn’t exactly a remake of Creature From The Black Lagoon, but more later about that. Let’s get into a little history first.
I was pretty gullible as a boy in the early 50’s (still am, I guess) but when I was watching that movie I knew the fishman was a guy wearing a rubber suit. . .but it still scared the dickens out of me. I’m pretty sure I saw the flick in the original 3-D, but in any format it was plenty creepy. It might look cheesy to us now, but at that time we didn’t have the modern special effects we now take for granted. (In fact, I was spooked by a lot of the science fiction in those days and I’ve written about it before.)
Supposedly based on an old legend, the film told the story of an expedition down the Amazon river that found a mysterious hidden lagoon, and it was inhabited by some kind of creature that looked to be half man and half fish. After a number of encounters that mostly end in bloody casualties, they capture him for study but he ends up breaking out and creating more havoc. At some point along the way he falls in love with a pretty female scientist and captures her, which inevitably leads to his downfall.
Let’s think about that for a minute. Wouldn’t a fishman looking for a significant other tend to do so among the members of his own species? Or at least a species that looked a little more like him; something along the lines of a largemouth bass or a grouper? Wouldn’t a human female — even the beautiful Julie Adams — look alien and weird and just plain wrong to him?
I haven’t seen the new movie, but there’s not much to dispute about the fact that it owes a lot to the earlier one. The director himself (who also co-wrote the script) has said so, and he also made a ‘retro’ trailer to celebrate the spiritual connection.
I have to admit that I find the whole idea of the new movie intriguing, and I think I will watch it when I get a chance even though I know it might not have a happy ending. One thing I know is that the trailer (the regular one) makes it look pretty darn fascinating.
The Shape Of Water won several other Oscars, including one for best original score, and the soundtrack also includes some solid old standards. But before we end with a couple of songs I just had one final thought, and it concerns one of the biggest differences between the two films. (And this has been pretty well publicized so I don’t think I’m giving anything away.) If you could somehow go back in time and whisper in that 11-year-old boy’s ear that the odd couple he’s watching on the screen would end up ‘doing it’, his face would have turned bright red and his eyes would have spun in their sockets. In short, he would have been stunned. Come to think of it, he still is.