29
Oct
08

Where’d HE come from? The Gill Man

You see her swimming in the water by the boat. You wanna take her home, back to your cave. What will she think of a guy with webbed feet and hands, as well as gills? And her boyfriend would probably protest, getting a bunch of guys with harpoons to hunt you down. But how did you get here?

 

Following such horror authors as Poe, Bierce, and Maupassant, there lived one Howard Phillips “H.P.” Lovecraft (1890-1937). Lovecraft is known for creating the Cthulhu mythos, as well as stories involving guilt, crimes committed by forefathers, forbidden knowledge, etc. His work has been brought to the screen with such films as “Re-Animator,” and influenced such writers as Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. To cut to the chase, it’s theorized that Gill-man, a.k.a. “The Creature,” was based off of Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”

 

But I’m getting ahead of myself, here. The Lovecraft story was seemingly based on “The Harbor-Master,” by Robert W. Chambers, a story about the last race of amphibious humans and “Fishhead” by Irvin S. Cobb, a story about a fish-man.

 

Published in 1936, “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” deals with a man on a secret mission to Innsmouth. He says that he’s studying the architecture and general nature of the place, but there’s more to what he’s doing. When he comes across town local Zadok Allen, he’s told of Obed Marsh, a sea captain who brought the fish-frog men to Innsmouth so they can mate. The offspring can supposedly live forever. The narrator tries getting out of the town only to have the bus he’s waiting on experience engine trouble. While trying to stay an extra night he’s accosted by the local fish-frog men and escapes to the next town. In time he finds out that he’s a descendent of Obed Marsh and that he, too, will become one of the fish-frog men.

 

The “Creature,” or “Gill Man,” came to cinematic consciousness in the 1954 film, “The Creature From the Black Lagoon.” Directed by Jack Arnold and originally filmed in 3-D, the film centered on a group of scientists traversing the Amazon River (funny how it looks like Jacksonville, Florida) for fossils when they run across an amphibious creature. They capture him; he escapes but returns and falls in love with Kay, the fiancée of one of the scientists. Kidnapping her the hunt is on for him.

 

“The Creature From the Black Lagoon,” inspired two sequels, “Revenge of the Creature” (1955) and “The Creature Walks Among Us” (1956). H has also been referenced in the TV show “The Munsters,” as well as a pinball game and other merchandise. Currently, the film is being remade by Breck Eisner.

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