Mike and I have known each other for many years. At times, it feels like we were torn from the same cloth. Both lovers of horror movies and comic books, both fond of the drink, and we both love antagonizing a mutual friend we share. But with this Drive-In Double Feature, I can add a new trait we share in common to the list: being delinquent! I’m glad Mike did finally turn a piece in, because the Drive-In Double Feature wouldn’t feel complete without his inclusion.
When I was asked to do a Drive-in Double Feature, I thought to myself “Fuck I gotta write something for another website”. But the more I thought about it, I figured this would be a great way to show off my love of two of the best horror movies of all time with Creature from the Black Lagoon and JAWS. Now many folks will say neither of these are horror movies and more monster movies, but come on those are one in the same, and you can’t tell me a movie (JAWS) that scared people enough to not swim for years isn’t a horror film. Plus I would envision these movies being shown somewhere where the audience can be in the water while they watch these films to add to the scariness of the features.
First I want to start with Creature from the Black Lagoon. This movie is on my list of favorite movies of all time and I feel it’s the best Universal Monster movie as well. This movie was introduced to me as a kid, probably around 6 or 7, by my father who is a huge fan of the franchise as well. Watching it, something about it sucked me into the world this movie was in. Not only did we get an elaborate and beautiful jungle setting, which is amazing since this was filmed in Florida and the Universal back lot, but we got a colorful cast of characters that I wasn’t used to seeing in movies made in the 80’s. We were given the strong confident man of the 50’s in Richard Carlson’s “David Reed”, the business man in Richard Denning’s “Mark Williams”, the know if all rugged boat captain in Nestor Paivas “Lucas” and the smart/damsel in distress with the beautiful Julia Adams portrayal of “Kay”. Along with the wonderful location, the film was shot beautifully as well as the underwater scenes were captured wonderfully, especially considering the technical limitations at the time, and the great score added to the tension of each scene where we thought the Gill-man would show up. Add to that the need for the actor in the Gill-man suit to hold his breath for long periods of time underwater, and you know this movie was a tough one to film. One can’t forget that this was also filmed for a 3-D release so we got some great 3-D gags that if you can see it in a theatre today, you will not be disappointed.
Not only does Creature continue the great legacy of Universal Monsters, but this also offers those great moments where you never know if the Gill-man will show up. A small swim by Kay makes you think her life is in danger, even when nothing is close to her. That and the Creature, like most Universal monsters, is a tragic character that in the end was just trying to protect his home from those stupid humans. Plus, and I’m not sure but it makes sense, I believe Julia Adams portrayal as Kay started my love of ladies with the classic pin-up look, that was luckily brought over by Jennifer Connelly in The Rocketeer, but that is a story for another day.
Next up is the 2nd best movie ever made in my opinion, (The Empire Strikes Back obviously takes the top spot) and that is JAWS. Now not much has to be said about how great this movie is as we all know that already, plus knowing all the trouble the movie had getting made is also common knowledge. But even not addressing any of that, and really we should but whatever, this movie is still one of the most enjoyable and scary movies out there. With a superb trio of stars, Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and the wonderful Robert Shaw, Steven Spielberg was able to create a fantastic film that featured all three men equally while giving us three completely different characters to all work off each other. Add to that we get a giant killing machine stalking Amity Island creating much havoc and were in for an exciting film. With all the problems the shark had, as we know, is why we barely see the thing until the climax of the film. And of course, tossing John Williams’s score on top of shots makes things even scarier, as we never know when an attack will happen. Much like in Creature, a simple swim by someone has us on the edge of our seats wondering if this is when the monster will attack. Lucky for us we get plenty of carnage even without seeing the shark.
See that image above? To me this is still one of the scariest scenes in movie history. A combination of how it is filmed, done on Spielbergs dime to get one more big scare out the audience, and the shock of seeing Ben Gardners head appear out of nowhere, gives you a jump each time. Whenever I watch it, the scene still gives me chills and fear even though I know exactly what will happen.
So yeah, we get it all with this film…gore, laughs, great film work and a wonderful score. On top of that you get a great cast of main and supporting characters as well and you’re in for a great flick.
So there you have it kids, two great movies that would play perfectly together and I’d highly recommend viewing this summer….or really anytime you get the chance.
Mike can be found (and contacted) via Nerd City, both on its website and its Facebook. He provides Nerd City’s most popular recurring piece, Wrasslin’ Wednesdays.