Friday, October 17, 2014

Happy birthday, Creature!

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the release of The Creature from the Black Lagoon, so this weekend we're going to honor that horror classic with songs about Mr. Gill-man! We all know he's more a lover than a fighter, so he lends himself quite nicely to wistful tunes of love, longing, and amphibious carnage.
Milicent Patrick
Other than being a sort of aquatic King Kong, Creech is an extra-special monster to me because he was designed by a lady! Former Disney illustrator Milicent Patrick not only created this one monster, however; she also designed the mutants in This Island Earth, the mole people in The Mole People, the masks in Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the Xenomorph in It Came from Outer Space. She wasn't given credit for much of her work, and the make-up artist in Creature from the Black Lagoon, Bud Westmore, went so far as to claim The Creature was entirely his own design and later refused to employ Milicent Patrick again.

The Creature takes a call
while carrying Ginger Stanley.
In recent years, however, Patrick's name has resurfaced in connection with her accomplishments, probably in some part due to female horror fans searching out the women who helped shape the genre. In fact, Creature from the Black Lagoon features yet another notable contribution from a woman, stunt swimmer Ginger Stanley. Stanley was a stunt double for lead actress Julia Adams, and appeared in many of Creature's underwater shots. She was discovered by Ricou Browning, the man who would play The Creature, when Stanley was performing as a mermaid at Florida's Weeki Wachee park. After Creature and its sequel, she would go on to appear in various underwater film/photography projects, and to perform as Esther Williams's underwater stunt double.

Today's song, "Creature Stole My Surfboard" by The Dead Elvi, pays homage to The Creature's love of aquatic trickery, and the video features the work of yet another former Disney artist, Frank Dietz. The Dead Elvi have been around since 1993, when New Jersey's Chiller Theater Expo needed a scary house band to play their parties, and they're still letting loose their surf punk horror-billy on convention-goers today. Frank Dietz helped them get really stripped down for today's song... all the way to the bone!

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