Event Report: “CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON” 3D at Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers!Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
It’s a true testament to the power of horror that a 61-year-old creature feature would nearly sell out a full theater in the age of increasingly demanding fright fans. And following a day of good omens, this writer walked exactly into that when it came time to host a rare CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON 3D screening at Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers on Saturday, July 11th. Yet even more powerful were the fans themselves, ranging in ages and backgrounds, all of whom were genuinely excited to see this genre gem on the big screen in its intended presentation.
Before the show began, however, the audience was treated to the Alamo’s patented, custom-made pre-show. Aside from the trailers for both CREATURE sequels, REVENGE OF THE CREATURE and the infinitely sillier THE CREATURE WALKS AMONG US, previews for CREATURE rip-offs and other underwater monster movies played to set the mood for the evening. Even more impressively was Alamo’s deep digging when it came to the pre-show; even 1950s-era TV commercials featuring an animated gill-man played to much amusement. And to top it all off, Drafthouse also played the preview for the next Mondo x Chiller screening: William Lustig’s MANIAC COP 2!
Soon after, the Mondo x Chiller logo hit the screen and this writer took the stage. After surveying the audience, this writer learned more people had seen the film in 3D than they had on the big screen before sharing some fun facts about the film (including the longstanding fact that CREATURE is among the few Universal Monster properties yet to receive a formal remake). And following a trivia giveaway (in which a lucky fan won a copy of FANGORIA #342 as well as an exclusive Mondo poster), the audience went wild for news of the 35mm FRIGHT NIGHT screening at the Drafthouse next month (hosted by FANGO’s Mike Gingold) and offered some laughs upon hearing how The Creature fit into this writer’s upcoming book, THE I IN EVIL (now available for pre-order).
Once the film began, however, it became clear how much of a difference the remastered 3D presentation makes in viewing the film, especially in a setting as immersive as a dark theater. With the dazzling “early Earth” footage to the revelation of the skeletal claw hand, CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON reminded the whole audience about just how great old school, native 3D filmmaking could be. And by the time the main storyline kicked, the stunning underwater photography really makes the difference in 3D, and suddenly, there was little wondering why the aforementioned screening would nearly sell-out; this writer certainly knows further 3D creature screenings will be on his radar from now on.
But even beyond the 3D, the Jack Arnold-directed film still plays wonderfully, with everything from the Creature’s impressive design to the sadly tragic storyline really elevating it beyond many of its contemporaries. Likewise, the performances and writing go beyond that of the standard monster movie, and Julie Adams’ beauty still remains a sight to be seen over six decades later. And considering the smiles across every viewer’s face when the house lights went up, this writer was not alone in his reinvigorated fandom for THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON.
Afterwards, the engagement between fans, some of whom were complete strangers, was very cool to witness, especially considering how jaded and informal the theatrical experience has become. Personally speaking, this writer shared many conversations with hardcore CREATURE fans, sharing tales about the secretive John Landis/Rick Baker remake test footage as well as visiting the shooting location that stood in for the Black Lagoon! All in all, Alamo Yonkers’ screening of CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON was one of the most fun and genuinely communal Drafthouse-based events of the summer so far, and hopefully, it won’t be the last!