Leslie Nielson strikes heroic pose, but unfortunately looks just like Lt. Frank Drebin with a ray gun
Sci-Fi movies, I'm certain, contributed mightily to my delicate mental state.
Growing up in the 50's was unlike any other period in history. The Russians had exploded a hydrogen bomb and had, for all practical intents and purposes, closed the weapons gap between our countries. Khrushchev had declared “We will bury you” at the U.N., and we all believed that they might. Additionally, Sen. Joe McCarty went on a rampage and, with the help of a compliant and willing congress, began to root out “Communist Sympathizers” both in and out of government.
The movie community came under close scrutiny since they were weirdos anyway. Huge numbers of fine screenwriters were driven out of the biz by these morons, and had to support themselves writing scripts for “B” movies under assumed names. They took their politics with them, and wrote thinly disguised political commentaries under the guise of monster flicks. Think about it, the giant ants in “Them” were a result of nuclear testing. “The Day The Earth Stood Still” was a commentary on nuclear testing and warfare and bore no resemblance to the great short story that inspired it, “Farewell To the Master.” The greatest of them all was a clever allegory on The Ugly American, our tendency to intervene in the affairs of sovereign nations, “The Creature From The Black Lagoon.”
The Creature lived in the dark regions of the Amazon River and was more than content to stay right there, until some nasty old researchers (one of whom possessed no scruples whatsoever) dropped in uninvited, and proceeded to make his life miserable. They shot him with a spear gun, drugged him with Rotenone, and chased him all over the river. To make matters worse, they brought a woman with them. A GOOD LOOKING woman! Now remember, the creature was the last of his kind and not the best looking gent on the planet. The fact that she looked pretty good to him should come as no great surprise, hell JOAN RIVERS would've looked good to him!
Maybe not. Actually Joan looks just like him, see the above pictures. The Creature is the green one, but I digress...
The thing is, The Creature scared the living crap out of me! I damned near had an accident in the theater, and my mom swore she'd never take me to one of those movies again. Come to think of it, she actually LIKED The Creature. She got the whole “Hey, we invaded HIS space” thing. Not me. I knew that sombitch was out to get me.
For a looooooooong time I was afraid to go to the john. I just knew that, if I sat down, the damned thing would reach up and grab my ass! Hey it's water down there right? If he can live in the Amazon river he can live in the crapper!
Years later, in L.A. I met Ben Chapman. Ben played The Creature in all the above water scenes. He was a gregarious goof, who loved to talk about wearing the costume in the commissary, and jumping out from behind buildings, scaring the bejeepers out of people touring the lot.
Ben died a couple of years ago, but not before I got a chance to get acquainted with yet another wacko. LIFE IS GOOD!!!