The Gill-man, as portrayed by Ben Chapman in Creature from the Black Lagoon.
|First appearance||Creature from the Black Lagoon|
|Last appearance||The Creature Walks Among Us|
|Created by||Harry Essex
Arthur A. Ross
|Portrayed by||Creature from the Black Lagoon
Revenge of the Creature
The Creature Walks Among Us
The Creature, sometimes referred to less ambiguously as 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 and is the only Creature actor to play the Creature more than once and is the only one that is still alive today. 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.
Concept and design 
|Film||Year||Gill-man on Land||Gill-man Underwater|
|Creature from the Black Lagoon||1954||Ben Chapman||Ricou Browning|
|Revenge of the Creature||1955||Tom Hennesy||Ricou Browning|
|The Creature Walks Among Us||1956||Don Megowan||Ricou Browning|
Producer William Alland was attending a dinner party during the filming of Orson Welles' Citizen Kane (in which Alland played the reporter Thompson) in 1941 when Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa told him about the myth of a race of half-fish, half-human creatures in the Amazon river. Figueroa spoke of a friend of his who disappeared in the Amazon while filming a documentary on a rumored population of fish people. Alland then wrote story notes entitled "The Sea Monster" ten years later.  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 Gill-man suit was made from airtight molded sponge rubber and cost $15,000. 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. Air was fed into the suit with a rubber hose.
In October 2005, Breck Eisner signed on as director to a Creature from the Black Lagoon remake. "As a kid, I remember loving Jack Arnold's original version of this film," he explained. "What I really want to do is update an iconic image from the '50s and bring in more of the sci-fi sensibility of Alien or John Carpenter's The Thing." Eisner spent six months designing the new incarnation of the Gill-man with Mark McCreery (Jurassic Park, and Davy Jones's designer). The director said the design was "very faithful to the original, but updated", and that the Gill-man will still be sympathetic. Universal has since put the project on hold. Reelgillman
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. It also possesses large, webbed hands with sharp claws on the tip of each finger. 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 immolation. As shown in the third film, the creature has a dormant set of lungs, should its gills be irreparably damaged. The Gill-man is slightly photophobic, due to its murky water habitat. 35% of the Gill-man's blood is composed of white corpuscles lacking a nucleus.
Fictional character biography 
Creature trilogy 
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 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.
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.
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 him to prevent suffocation. 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. Though they initially try to integrate the creature into human society, one of its captors frame it for a murder, and the creature ultimately escapes into the ocean.
Breck Eisner remake 
Producer Gary Ross said in March 2007 that the Gill-man's origin would be reinvented, with him being the result of a pharmaceutical corporation polluting the Amazon. "It’s about the rainforest being exploited for profit," he said.
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.
Theme park attraction 
The Gill-man was the star of Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Musical, a live performance show that once added to the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park in Los Angeles, California. It debuted on July 1, 2009, it will replaced Fear Factor LIVE. It closed down for good on March 9,2010 and replaced by Special Effects Stage which opened 3 months later on June 26,2010.
In popular culture 
Live Action 
- In an Abbott and Costello sketch, on TV's Colgate Comedy Hour, Gill-man appears in a haunted house after Frankenstein's monster faints at the sight of Lou Costello.
- The Gill-Man made a brief cameo in an episode of the McHale's Navy television show.
- The creature made a cameo appearance on an episode of TV's The Munsters as a visiting relative called Uncle Gilbert (portrayed by Richard Hale). Uncle Gilbert is considered the Munsters' favorite relative from the Old Country. He once brought with him $180,000 in gold and Spanish doubloons, when visiting the family. He used to be a politician as well.
- The Gill-man reappears in Fred Dekker’s 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. For its appearance in 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.
- A gill-man appears alongside a vampire (based on Count Dracula), a werewolf, a mummy and Frankenstein's monster in the film The Castle of the Monsters.
- It appears as one of Bruno Aleixo's friends in the Portuguese comedy series "O Programa do Aleixo", with the name Renato.
- The Japanese action series Kamen Rider Kiva includes a race inspired by the Gill-man called the Mermen, their last surviving member bring Basshaa.
- In the action series Big Bad Beetleborgs, there is a monster named Charterville Charlie (who is based on the Gill Man) who is really a comic book character called Swamp Scumoid (voiced by Dave Mallow) from the BeetleBorgs comics.
- The Gill-man resided at Count Dracula's castle in the first draft of Van Helsing. The Gill-man was to have surfaced briefly for a cameo though this never came to fruition. It is somewhat implied that if a sequel were made, it would appear, as would Jack Griffin.
- Mad Monster Party, a 1967 stop-motion animated comedy film by Rankin/Bass, included the Creature, among other famous monsters; albeit visually different than his normal look and purple-ish.
- In Hanna-Barbera's Gravedale High, a student named Gill Waterman (voiced by Jackie Earle Haley) is based on the Gill-man.
- In The Nightmare Before Christmas, the Undersea Gal (voiced by Carmen Twillie) is a hybrid of a Gill-man and a mermaid.
- In the Teen Titans episode "Episode 257-494," a creature that was somewhat similar in appearance to the gill-man, though more massive and capable of emitting plasma blasts from its mouth is called the Creature From Jones Lake.
- The Creature from the Black Lagoon appeared in the Robot Chicken episode "Shoe" voiced by Seth Green. He complains that he prefers to be called the "Creature from the African American Lagoon." In the episode "We Are a Humble Factory" the Creature (voiced by Breckin Meyer) tried to create his own cereal called "The Creature with the Black Macaroons".
- The Gill-man alongside the rest of the Universal monsters appears in the animated television show Monster Force.
- The Monsters vs. Aliens character Missing Link shares some physical attributes with Gill-Man.
- The Disney series Kim Possible had a mutant villain named Gill who bore a resemblance to the creature in features and abilities. Furthering his parody, he was called the "Creature from the Muck Lagoon" in one of his appearances.
- The animated series Ugly Americans contains lagoon men (referred to as Mermen) as a race which can occasionally be seen around the city, among its other creature inhabitants, and episode 10 entitled "Sympathy for the Devil", featured a politician who's appearance was essentially a gill-man wearing a toupée and a suit.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figure line by Playmates made an official Universal Monsters series in 1994, which included Leonardo as the Creature from the Black Lagoon in series 2, after Leo portrayed the Wolfman in series 1.
- Monster High (a Mattel fashion line of dolls and related series) features Lagoona Blue, daughter of the Gill-man and a Nereid, and her boyfriend Gill Werberton.
- In Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein, when Dr. Frankenstein tries turning Alvin into a monster, one of the variations of monsters Alvin briefly turns into is the Gill-man.
- In the 2012 Sony Pictures animated film Hotel Transylvania, multiple Gill-men are a couple of the monsters to go check in to the hotel in order to get away from the humans. There were also female versions of the Gill-men present as well
- In The Simpsons, Homer was trying to get Maggie to go into the pool and Maggie imagined him as the Gill-man.
- The character of Rikuo (a fishman creature also known as Aulbath) from Capcom's Darkstalkers series is a similar being, and also named in honor of Ricou Brownings's portrayal of the Gill-Man from Creature from the Black Lagoon.
- Gill-men have appeared in Konami Wai Wai World and in the Castlevania games Castlevania, Vampire Killer, Haunted Castle, Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin and Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia under different names
- There are creatures in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, called Mirelurk King and Lakelurk, respectively, which are very similar to the gill-man.
- In the 1995 MicroProse game X-COM: Terror from the Deep, the Gillmen are a central race in the alien forces, but one not alien of origin. They are a pre-historic Earth race of intelligent, amphibious humanoids thought to have been destroyed when mammals became dominant on Earth. In fact they were instead forced into a symbiotic relationship with the aliens who had cashed on Earth.
- In 1993 there was a version of the Gill-Man in the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis game, Zombies Ate My Neighbors
- The Gill-man appears in the pinball machines Creature from the Black Lagoon (pinball) and Monster Bash (pinball).
Comics & Graphic Novels 
- Gill-man and his race are mentioned in passing in the second volume of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen where they are connected to the Silurians and Sea Devils from Doctor Who.
Similar sighting and hoaxes 
- In 1972 near Thetis Lake in British Columbia, Canada, a creature known as the Thetis Lake Monster was said to be similar to Gill-Man in appearance.
See also 
- Universal Monsters
- List of piscine and amphibian humanoids
- Swamp monster
- Sea monster
- Creature from the Black Lagoon Legacy
- Ferrari, Andrea (2003). Il Cinema Dei Mostri. p. 287. ISBN 88-435-9915-1.
- Rouin, Jeff (1977). The Fabulous Fantasy Films.
- Snyder, Gabriel (2005-10-19). "U's 'Creature' meets maker". Variety. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- Rotten, Ryan (2008-05-02). "Excl: Eisner on Creature from the Black Lagoon Remake!". Shock Till You Drop. Retrieved 2008-05-03.
- "The Gill-man's movie trivia". Ben Chapman Family. July 2008. Retrieved 9.
- Cieply, Michael (2007-03-12). "On Screens Soon, Abused Earth Gets Its Revenge". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- Jody Duncan & James Cameron (2007). The Winston Effect: The Art and History of Stan Winston Studio. ISBN 1-84576-150-2.
- Renato a dar Show, Youtube.com
- Derek Thompson. "Projects". Retrieved 2008-12-11.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Gill-man|