Exclusive Interview: Julie Adams on THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON at Mile High Horror!Books/Art/Culture,Movies/TV,News Madeleine Koestner
Last fall, the lobby of the Denver area Alamo Drafthouse was a sea of booths and costumes, wicked art, and local filmmakers peddling bizarre DVDs (What the hell is Motel London 2?!). Yet, nestled among a row of excitingly recognizable faces of the horror genre, including Gunner Hanson (THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE), Michael Berryman (THE HILLS HAVE EYES), and the powerfully voiced Tony Todd (CANDYMAN), is the petite and elegant figure of a gracefully aged starlet: Julie Adams. The actress has been greeting fans for several hours at Denver’s Mile High Horror Film Festival, and her charming smile has not left her face.
2014 marked the 60th anniversary of the amphibious horror that generations of monster fans have cherished, THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, which starred Adams as the long-legged damsel who travels aboard the terrorized cruise down the Amazon. To celebrate the event, the Mile High Horror Film Festival, which took place just a couple weekends prior to Halloween, hosted a 3-D screening of the classic monster movie.
Tickets for this anniversary screening of Creature were some of the most sought after of the weekend long festival, selling out far in advance alongside many of the other events, including the 4k screening of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, which featured Gunnar Hansen, the eminent Leatherface actor, carving a barbecued pig for the audience, and a screening of the third entry in the V/H/S franchise, V/H/S: VIRAL.
Yet prior to the CREATURE screening, Adams enters the theater to a roar of applause and takes a seat in front of the screen. She is joined by her son Mitch, who has been working as her manager. Adams spent an hour regaling the crowd with tales from her youth, memories from the shoot, and stories about some of her experiences with other famous figures. Later on, Adams is kind enough to step aside for a chat.
“It feels pretty good!” She exclaims when asked if how it feels to see so many fans still excited on the 60th anniversary of the film. “I’m very, very pleased… I knew it was a good movie, so it doesn’t really surprise me how it’s held out over time.”
There is no denying this: even more than half a century later, THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON is still undeniably an effective monster flick. The underwater scenes of the creature stalking the young, bathing suit clad Kay Lawrence (played by Adams), are eerie as ever, especially in the pristine 3-D rerelease. Since the re-master of the film in 2012, it’s unsurprisingly found new life in screenings of the updated digital print.
“The last time I know you saw it was at the Motion Picture Academy in 2012 for the 100th anniversary of Universal Studios,” Mitch tells his mother. “We’ve screened it a multitude of times, but usually we’re having a snack while the movie is going.” The two of them have been touring the country with the film, meeting fans at conventions, and signing Adams’ published autobiography, THE LUCKY SOUTHERN STAR: REFLECTIONS FROM THE BLACK LAGOON.
“We do about ten [appearances] a year,” Mitch explains.
“Ten a year?! That many?” Adams turns to her son in shock.
“We’ll probably do four this month,” he answers.
“I’m sorry you told me that! It makes me tired!” Adams exclaims with a laugh. Even with all the traveling and meet & greets, Adams still hasn’t lost her sense of humor.
Fans have begun to line up at her table again, several with her book in their hands. “I wrote it all myself, in longhand,” she admits. “It’s all my story.” In her book, Adams goes into detail about her screen time with Jimmy Stewart and Elvis.
“With James Stewart, it was wonderful to work with him. I really liked him… and respected him so much. I felt that we got along wonderfully, which we did! Later on I got to be in THE JIMMY STEWART SHOW, which was a series,” Adams chuckles, her face adorned with a warm smile. “I liked Elvis very much. He’s a southern boy, and I’m from the South. So I understood Elvis.”
On the topic of tips for young actors and actresses, she has a few suggestions. “The only thing I can say is keep learning. Even if your dream is movies, it might be good to do plays sometimes. You get a direct feeling from the audience. They teach you a lot. If you’re in a comedy and they don’t laugh, you know… I was already in movies, but then I did plays as well. No big deal, they were in little theaters. But they keep you on your toes. They keep you learning what works and what doesn’t work.”
By bringing together such a high caliber of guests, like Adams, and screenings of great films, Mile High Horror has earned its place as one of the best horror festivals of the Halloween season. As long as events like the Mile High Horror Film Festival continue to offer a chance for audiences to come together and celebrate classic horror like CREATURE, fans can rest assured these treasured films will never sink into the depths of obscurity.
Special thanks to Austin Taylor Hill for assisting with our interview with Julie Adams.