infobox fictional creature
name = The Gill-man

caption = The Gill-man, as portrayed by Ben Chapman in "Creature from the Black Lagoon".
classification = Devonian amphibian
first = "Creature from the Black Lagoon"
last = "The Monster Squad"
created by = Harry Essex
Arthur A. Ross
Maurice Zimm
portrayed by = Land
"Creature from the Black Lagoon"
Ben Chapman
"Revenge of the Creature"
Tom Hennesy
"The Creature Walks Among Us"
Don Megowan
Ricou Browning

The Gill-man is the titular character of the 1954 black-and-white science fiction film "Creature from the Black Lagoon" and its two sequels "Revenge of the Creature" (1955) and "The Creature Walks Among Us" (1956). Ricou Browning portrays the underwater Gill-man throughout the three films. Ben Chapman plays the Gill-Man on land in the first film, followed by Tom Hennesy in the second, and Don Megowan in the third. The Gill-man's popularity as an iconic monster of cinema has led to numerous cameo appearances, most notably in an episode of "The Munsters" and "The Monster Squad".

Concept and design

According to producer William Alland, the idea behind the film was originally thought up by an unnamed Brazilian director whom he met at the home of Orson Welles. The unnamed man spoke of a friend of his who disappeared in the Amazon in an attempt at filming a documentary on a rumored population of fish people.cite book | author = Ferrari, Andrea| title = Il Cinema Dei Mostri | year = 2003 | pages = 287| id = ISBN 88-435-9915-1] There were various designs for the creature. William Alland envisioned the creature as a "sad, beautiful monster" and the sculpture of it was much like that of an aquatic development of a human. Alland said, "It would still frighten you, but because how human it was, not the other way around". Originally, the creature's design was meant to incorporate a sleek, feminine eel-like figure, which did not have as many bumps and gills as the final version. The designer of the approved Gill-man was Disney animator Millicent Patrick, though her role was deliberately downplayed by makeup artist Bud Westmore, who for half a century would receive sole credit for the creature's conception. The underwater sequences were filmed at Wakulla Springs in North Florida (today a state park), as were many of the rear projection images. Part of the film was shot in Jacksonville, Florida on the south side of the river near the foot of the old Acosta Bridge. The underwater Gill-man suit was painted yellow for greater visibility in the dark waters.

For its appearance in Fred Dekker’s "The Monster Squad", the gill-man was redesigned by Stan Winston in order to merely suggest Milicent Patrick’s original design due to licensing issues. The Gill-man was the first costume portrayal of Tom Woodruff, Jr. who would later work prominently in the Alien film series.cite book | author = Jody Duncan & James Cameron| title = The Winston Effect: The Art and History of Stan Winston Studio | year = 2007 | pages = | id = ISBN 1845761502 ]


The Gill-man is fully amphibious, capable of breathing both in and out of the water. As shown in the first film, it is vulnerable to rotenone. It also possesses superhuman strength, which is flamboyantly displayed in the second and third films. The Gill-man's scaly skin is extremely tough, which combined with a fast acting healing factor, allows it to survive wounds which would be fatal to humans, such as gunshots and full . As shown in the third film, the creature's body will automatically develop lungs should its gills be irreparably damaged. The Gill-man is slightly photophobic, due to its murky water habitat. 35% of the Gill-mans blood is composed of white corpuscles lacking a nucleus.cite web | url = | title = The Gill-man's movie trivia | publisher = Ben Chapman Family | accessdate = 9 | month = July | year = 2008]

Fictional character biography

Creature trilogy

"Creature from the Black Lagoon"

The last surviving member of a race of amphibious humanoids which lived during the Devonian age, the Gill-man (as christened by Dr. Thompson) dwelled in a lagoon located in a largely unexplored area of the Amazon Rainforest. The creature was apparently known to the natives, as the captain of the boat the "Rita" mentioned local legends of a "man-fish".After having found the fossilized remains of another Gill-man, a marine biology institute funds an expedition to the Amazon in order to find more remains. Though the Gill-man reacts violently to the intrusion, he develops a soft spot for the team's only female member, Kay and repeatedly tries to abduct her, going as far as building a makeshift dam to prevent their boat from escaping. After having killed numerous members of the expedition, the creature takes Kay to his underwater lair, where he is tracked down by the remaining survivors and riddled with bullets. The creature sinks into the depths of the lagoon.

"Revenge of the Creature"

The Gill-man survives and is captured and sent to the Ocean Harbor Oceanarium in Florida, where he is studied by an animal psychologist and his ichthyology student. The psychologist's attempts at communicating with the Gill-man are hampered by his attraction to his student. The Gill-man breaks free from his tank and escapes into the ocean. It is not long before he begins stalking the ichthyology student and kidnaps her. The Gill-man is soon tracked down and once again repeatedly shot, forcing him into the ocean.

"The Creature Walks Among Us"

After living for a short while in a Florida river, the creature is found again, and after a vicious struggle, is accidentally immolated. The Gill-man's injuries are so severe that his scales and gills fall off, forcing his captors to perform surgery on it to prevent it from suffocating. X-rays on the creature show he has begun developing a land animal's lung structure, so a tracheotomy is performed, opening an air passage to the lungs, transforming the Gill-man into an air-breathing, nearly human animal. Dressing him in a suit made of sail cloth, the creature is taken to a California estate where he is imprisoned within an electric fence. The creature escapes into the ocean, where he presumably drowns.

Monster Squad

The Gill-man reappears in "The Monster Squad", where it shows little interest in human females as opposed to its classic counterpart. Instead, it allies itself with Count Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, the Mummy and the Wolfman in order to secure a magical amulet which will allow them to conquer the world. After snapping the necks of several police-men the Gill-man is killed by Monster Squad member Horace, who shoots it with a shotgun.

In literature

"Creature from the Black Lagoon" novelization

The 1977 novelization of "Creature from the Black Lagoon" by Carl Dreadstone offers a completely different origin for the Gill-man, who in this version of the story is a hermaphroditic giant, almost as big as the "Rita" itself, weighing in at 30 tons. This Gill-man is both cold blooded and warm blooded and also has a long whiplike tail. The gigantic creature is dubbed "AA", for "Advanced Amphibian," by the expedition team members. After slaying most of the team members, destroying a Sikorsky helicopter, and kidnapping Kay more than once, the creature is killed by the crew of a United States Navy torpedo boat.

"Time's Black Lagoon"

In Paul Di Filippo's novel "Time's Black Lagoon", the Gill-man is depicted as descending from a race of extraterrestrials who came to Earth during the Devonian period on a giant spaceship called "The Mother". The Gill-people have the ability to communicate telepathically among themselves and among the human characters. Alphas such as "Fleshmolders", "Mudshapers", and "Fishcallers" are highly telepathic individuals in their tribal communities.

The Creature from the Black Lagoon itself is a degenerate member of this race, descended from an individual who explored deep in the ocean and became exposed to archaebacteria, becoming deformed and insane, driven to infect others with the disease. Eventually there were no healthy gill-people left, and the race's numbers dwindled over the epochs to one individual in the 1950s, which is the one that appears in the original film.

In popular culture

* In an Abbott and Costello sketch, Gill-man appears in a haunted house after Frankenstein's monster faints at the sight of Lou Costello.
* The creature made a cameo appearance on an episode of TV's "The Munsters" as visiting Uncle Gilbert.
* The Creature from the Black Lagoon appeared in the "Robot Chicken" episode "Shoe" voiced by Seth Green. He tells a guy that he prefers to be called the "Creature from the African American Lagoon."


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