Creature from The Black Lagoon (lost production material of various unmade remakes/reboots of horror film franchise; 1982-2018)

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CFTBL Poster.jpg

The original film's poster.

Status: Lost

Creature From The Black Lagoon, released in 1954, is widely regarded as one of the best Universal monster movies. Being the subject of many tributes, parodies, imitations, and even went on to inspire the academy award-winning film The Shape of Water. Though two theatrical sequels were released shortly thereafter, the original film is one of the few Universal monster movies to never receive a remake or reboot. However, several attempts were made to revive the franchise throughout the years, but for various reasons, none ever saw the light of day.

1980s-1990s[edit | edit source]

John Landis[edit | edit source]

In 1982, following the success of An American Werewolf In London, director John Landis became interested in directing a remake of the film with the original film's director Jack Arnold. With acclaimed British writer, Nigel Kneale writing the screenplay.[1]

The plot of the film would have involved two different creatures, one good and gentle, and the other evil and destructive, a concept inspired by the characters Lenny and George from "Of Mice and Men". Both of which would end up leaving the Lagoon and battle with the modern-day U.S navy.[2]

Troubles arose when it was decided the film should be shot in 3D. As not only the budget of the proposed film would have skyrocketed, but production also clashed with the production of Jaws 3D. Eventually led to Creature being scrapped in favour of Jaws 3D.[3]

John Carpenter[edit | edit source]

About ten years after John Landis' attempt, John Carpenter began developing his version with Bill Phillips writing the script and Rick Baker providing the special effects. Though several maquettes for the creature were made, as well as a script, the film was abruptly cancelled. Many attributed the film's cancellation due to John Carpenter's previous film, Memoirs Of An Invisible Man, flopping at the box office.[4]

According to Austin Hill from universalmonstersuniverse.com, who got to read a copy of the script, the film would have been much more violent and gory than its predecessors.

The plot involved a vengeful drunkard, named Pete Hazard, who travels to the Amazon to kill the Gill-man after a near-deadly encounter with him years earlier. Joining him on the journey are the main protagonist Abel Gonzales (an ichthyologist), Jake Hayman (a womanizing doctor), Jean-Clause Gaston (a scientist), Adolpho Palminteri (a "schmoozer" who gets shot to death by Pete), Hector Ramirez (a botanist and local Amazonian), Mary Pierson (Jake's girlfriend and an algologist), and Cirri Thompson (a Greenpiece worker and the film's Kay Lawrence analog). The Gill-man would then proceed to kill off several of the characters in very graphic and brutal ways.[5]

Three supposed scripts for this version are currently on sale on eBay, it's unknown if anyone has ever purchased a copy of these scripts.[6][7][8]

The Weingrod/Harris Script[edit | edit source]

In 1995, director Peter Jackson was once allowed to direct a remake of the film with a script written by Herschel Weingrod and Timothy Harris. But Jackson turned down the project in favour of directing a remake of King Kong, which would end up being a massive success.[9]

Ivan Reitman was also offered to direct the film with the same script, but nothing ever came of it.[10]

2000s-2010s[edit | edit source]

Gary Ross[edit | edit source]

In 2001, shortly after the success of 1999's "The Mummy" remake, Gary Ross was set to produce/write another attempt at a remake alongside his father, Arthur Ross, one of the original film's writers.[11] Later in 2008, at a press conference for The Tale Of Despereaux, Gary Ross was asked about what had become of the film;

"Q: What’s going on with Creature from the Black Lagoon?

Gary Ross: I’m producing it. We’re actually moving forward.

Q: What’s the tone of it going to be?

Gary: It’s not going to be campy. It’s not a reference to what the original was. It’s not reverential that way. We take it seriously. We found some scientific underpinnings for it which my dad actually found in the original. He based it on a lungfish he found around that time, a lot of that was his. We’re not approaching it in a campy, retro sort of way.

Q: Is it going to be based on the original and the sequels?

Gary: Well it’s certainly going to be based on the original; my dad’s favourite was The Creature Walks Among Us and that was the last one which my dad also wrote. My dad actually died two weeks ago. We’re going to be faithful to it.

Q: Does it have a director yet?

Gary: That hasn’t been decided yet.

Q: Will the creature be live or CGI?

Gary: Well those are decisions that will always be made during prep. The movie is not greenlit – let me say that. But we hope to be making it sometime next year...

Q: Is going to go for scares though?

Gary: Oh yeah. I don’t think we’re going to wink at the audience or make it silly in any way, I think we’re going to take it seriously."

- Gary Ross on Creature Of The Black Lagoon.[12]

Despite his apparent interest in the remake, the film was never produced and nothing has been heard from it since.

Guillermo Del Toro[edit | edit source]

Having always been a major fan of the original, Guillermo Del Toro was interested in directing his own take on the story. His vision involved the film being seen from the creature's point of view, and the film would've had the Gill-Man and his human love interest getting together in the end. However, Universal was not open to Del Toro's ideas, and with various other creative differences, the film was quietly scrapped.[13]

Though the project getting turned down by Universal, Del Toro would later reuse his ideas in the aforementioned film, The Shape of Water.

James Gunn[edit | edit source]

Shortly after the release of 2004's Dawn Of The Dead, the film's writer, James Gunn, approached Universal Studios for a potential idea for a remake of Creature From The Black Lagoon. Yet for seemingly unknown reasons, he was turned down. The only known information about this was an Instagram Q&A held by Gunn himself.[14]

Breck Eisner[edit | edit source]

Breck Eisner was once assigned to direct a remake using the same script that Gary Ross wrote.[15] Yet this story had some slight changes, being more blatantly environmentalist with a plot involving a pharmaceutical company spilling dangerous chemicals into the Amazon.[16]

This film would have been shot on location in the Amazon River as well as in Manaus, Brazil. Special effects designer Mark "Crash" McCreery was tasked to create the titular Gill-Man, with it being a combination of both practical effects and CGI. But production was suddenly halted by the 2007-2008 Writers Strike and was presumably cancelled sometime afterward.

"We scouted the movie last year but got shut down when the writers' strike happened, we had a crew in the Amazon where we're going to shoot all of the exteriors. We're shooting in Manaus, Brazil, and on the Amazon in Peru. I want it to be authentic. I'm a big fan of Werner Herzog and Fitzcarraldo. Herzog got that authenticity. He shot in Manaus. So, we scouted for a month. There's this place called the Forest of Mirrors, because there are so many lagoons on a thousand-mile green carpet river, and we found the lagoon we're going to shoot in."

- Breck Eisner on the film.[17]

Carl Erik Rinsch[edit | edit source]

Carl Erik Rinsch was set to direct a remake which was meant to be released in 2010. Gary Ross was also attached to produce the film and insisted that the Gill-Man was not going to be 100% CGI.[18] But this too, was affected by the Writer's Strike, and it eventually led to the film being shelved once again.[19]

The Black Lagoon[edit | edit source]

Another attempt at a remake (simply titled "The Black Lagoon") was announced in 2012 by Universal and had hired Dave Kajganich to write the screenplay.[20] When asked about the film, Kajganich stated;

"It may seem hard to believe, but I have no idea if any part of my script is being used currently or not. That’s a surreal part of writing for a studio. They own what you’ve written and can do with it whatever they choose, with no obligation to keep you informed. I did two drafts a number of years ago now, so I imagine they’ve probably started over since my drafts did not in any way connect the mythology of the Black Lagoon to the rest of the monsters in the Universal stable. That concept came after my involvement. It’s definitely the most commercial script I’ve done, but it was a shitload of fun to research and write. It was a ride through the kind of 70s-style id-based horror I grew up loving."

- Dave Kajganich on The Black Lagoon.[21]

Though the film was meant for a 2014 release, it was never released.

The Dark Universe Reboot[edit | edit source]

A full reboot of the franchise was once planned to coincide with Universal's "Dark Universe" series. Alex Kurtzman, director of 2017's The Mummy, was also attached to direct this film with a story/script written by Jeff Pinkner and Will Beall.[22] The Gill-Man was stated to have come from the Amazon.

However, following the critical and commercial failure of The Mummy, Universal's plans for the Dark Universe were abruptly cancelled. Including the reboot for Creature From The Black Lagoon.[23]

Potential Future[edit | edit source]

Though the films intended for the Dark Universe were scrapped, a remake of Creature From The Black Lagoon could be made regardless. After the success of Blumhouse's The Invisible Man reboot in 2020, there have been talks of a potential new Black Lagoon film starring Chris Evans and Scarlett Johanssen.[24] But only time will tell if anything becomes of this remake.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Videos[edit | edit source]

Debunk File's video on the subject.
HN Entertainment's video on the subject.


Images[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Andy Murray on John Landis' remake (1/3). Retrieved 28 Mar '22
  2. Andy Murray on John Landis' remake (2/3). Retrieved 28 Mar '22
  3. Andy Murray on John Landis' remake (3/3). Retrieved 28 Mar '22
  4. DenOfGeek on the film's cancellation. Retrieved 29 Mar '22
  5. The plot of John Carpenter's remake. Retrieved 29 Mar '22
  6. eBay listing of the script (1/3). Retrieved 29 Mar '22
  7. eBay listing of the script (2/3). Retrieved 29 Mar '22
  8. eBay listing of the script (3/3). Retrieved 29 Mar '22
  9. "Recreating the Eighth Wonder." King Kong (3-disc Deluxe Extended Edition DVD), 2006. Retrieved 30 Mar '22
  10. The Weingrod/Harris script. Retrieved 30 Mar '22
  11. IGN article on Creature From The Black Lagoon. Retrieved 30 Mar '22
  12. Gary Ross' update on his remake. Retrieved 30 Mar '22
  13. Del Toro's take on the film. Retrieved 31 Mar '22
  14. James Gunn's remake. Retrieved 31 Mar '22
  15. Eisner's hiring on making a remake. Retrieved 31 Mar '22
  16. The plot of Eisner's version. Retrieved 31 Mar '22
  17. Details from Eisner's version. Retrieved 31 Mar '22
  18. Carl Rinsch's version (1/2). Retrieved 31 Mar '22
  19. Carl Rinsch (2/2). Retrieved 31 Mar '22
  20. The 2012 announcement of The Black Lagoon. Retrieved 31 Mar '22
  21. Kajganich's attempt. Retrieved 31 Mar '22
  22. Dark Universe's Creature From The Black Lagoon (1/2). Retrieved 31 Mar '22
  23. Dark Universe's Creature From The Black Lagoon (2/2). Retrieved 31 Mar '22
  24. Article on the possibility for a new film. Retrieved 31 Mar '22