The fifties were a decade of fear. Sure, in 1954 there was much good about America. There was also quite a bit of bad. We were the leader of the free world alright, and we were an industrial giant as well. Made in America meant something back then. America in those days was the lender to the rest of the world. Today, we owe the rest of the world. To the tune of nearly twenty TRILLION dollars.
But that’s a subject for another blog.
The fifties was also the decade of the specter of nuclear war. We had just seen a couple of hundred thousand Japanese souls perish in a few nano-seconds at the end of the war in the Pacific. The Soviet Union now had the bomb, and were stating that they weren’t afraid to use it.
I remember being a kid in those days and being told at school that if there were a bomb alert, we would be safe if he crouched under our desks and covered our eyes with our hands. Well, maybe that was somewhat true with the Hiroshima sized atomic bombs, but the advice soon changed with thermo-nuclear bombs came along. Then it was, simply remain seated at your desk and wave goodbye. Some of the then new hydrogen bombs were nearly one thousand times more powerful than the ones used on Japan.
The motion pictures of the era played into and onto those fears. Fallout was a big, big, concern. We knew even then that it cause birth defects and deformities. The monster and big-bug flicks of the era focused on that fear.
The deformities in the movies were no small thing.
Out of the era came Godzilla, Mothra, King Kong, and various giant spiders, along with an assortment of other unsavory and very much deformed creatures.
One of them was . . . THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON.
It was a pretty scary movie. Beautiful girl (there was ALWAYS a beautiful girl) is threatened by a scaly, nasty critter, this time under water. This had the effect of increasing the darkness, atmosphere, and the tension, as well as showing off lovely Julia Adams at her best in her bathing suit.
Hey, what creature worth his salt wouldn’t go after that!
Gill-man (yep, that was the name of the monster) eventually meets his fate, as all the monsters in these movies always did, but not before racking up a fair-sized body count.
It was all good fun, scared the crap out of everyone, and spawned two sequels: Revenge of the Creature (1955), and The Creature Walks Among Us (A Fungus Among Us?) (1956).
By then, old Gilly had run his course.
These were cheesy movies in the extreme, but most anyone alive at the time loved them, and those of us still alive, probably miss them bunches. Like the days, the roads, and the times, they were part of our childhood. They were part of what we were, and what we were to become.
Thanks to those wonderful movie-makers of old, for those cheesy old. WONDERFUL movies. We will never see their like again . . . and I kind of think that is not such a good thing.
The kids today? Well, they have missed a lot.
Next time . . . BLACKS CATS IN MYTH AND LEGEND.