"The Creature From the Black Lagoon" is one of those movies that took advantage of the 1950s 3D craze, but has been seen by most moviegoers watching it on TV in standard 2D version. Thanks to the Roku channel Drive In Classics, as well as opportunities afforded by some other public domain outlets and the DVD industry, TV viewers now have the chance to enjoy the 3D version of this classic horror flick from the age of Eisenhower.
Watching "Creature From the Black Lagoon" on today's wide screen televisions provides an excellent opportunity to enjoy 3D like you could not before. The wide screen ratio is much more intuitively designed for replication of the wide cinema screens for which most 3D movies of the 1950s were made. Having watched the 3D version of "Creature From the Black Lagoon" on both a standard fat-backed television and a thin widescreen television, I can tell you that enjoyment of the gimmick is much more enhanced with today's TV design.
So, just how well does the old 1950s version of 3D stand up? Pretty dang well, Beav! I purchased a selection of plastic 3D lenses instead of the cardboard kind for this review, and while a comparison is obviously beyond the scope of the review, the plastic lens handled the job very efficiently and didn't cost that much more.
Make sure you get 3D glasses with the red lens on the left and blue on the right. Watching the TV in a darkened room creates a better 3D effect, but watching with low lighting reduces the discomfort of the very dark red side of the glasses. You will have to decide which is more important.
As for the 3D effects presented in "Creature From the Black Lagoon," you will definitely notice a sense of spatial depth in every scene that has been missing from the 2D version. Whether the scene takes place outdoors around the lagoon itself or inside where all the scientific exposition is taking place, you get a well-defined perspective of foreground and background. You really notice the difference in textural quality when a character pops up in the background and enters the foreground.
Interestingly, the 3D effect is actually improved and the focus issues reduced if you watch the TV from a slightly side angle rather than straight on. You will need to experiment with the distance from the screen, but too close is definitely a downer.
Ah, but the real question in choosing to put up with the damnable necessity of wearing glasses, or an extra pair of glasses as in my case, when watching "Creature From the Black Lagoon" in 3D is obvious: How does the effect enhance the appearance of that titular creature? The answer, unfortunately, is not much. The ol' gill man just doesn't really come to life in 3D.
The really cool effects of 3D are best accomplished by, well, you know those 3D posters where you see a hidden image suddenly pop out from within the poster once you've allowed your eyes to adjust to deep focus? Something similar occurs by allowing your eyes to rest in a deep focus so you really are not concentrating on the effect. Once you do this, you will suddenly notice that things on the periphery of the screen actually do appear to be leaping out at you. It's an amazing effect, and sometimes even startling.
As for Julie Adams? Well, heck, she doesn't need 3D to be an amazing effect! But it sure don't hurt.
For more from Timothy Sexton, slip on some 3D glasses and enjoy:
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- Technology & Electronics