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“Creature from the Black Lagoon is thought of as the last of the classic Universal monster films,” says Todd Hitchcock, director of programming for the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center. “It’s twenty years after Dracula and Frankenstein, but because it was such a sensational film, the ‘Gill Man’ has been placed in the pantheon with the others from the ’30s.”
Hitchcock notes that because the film is “a fan favorite, it never went away as a repertory item.” The AFI Silver will screen Creature on Saturday, July 21, in 3D, as part of the theater’s occasional series celebrating monster movies of yore.
The film’s iconic monster was the inspiration for Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar-winning The Shape of Water, although the ’50s version is significantly less articulated. And to see it in 3D is a rare opportunity. “Anyone who hasn’t seen Creature in 3D or saw it in 3D in a drive-in setting with the red/blue glasses, will be very impressed,” says Hitchcock.
The screening will be hosted by Count Gore de Vol, whose “Creature Feature” and “Saturday Chiller Theater” were mainstays on WDCA Channel 20 from 1973 to 1987. A creation of Dick Dyszel, who also portrayed Bozo the Clown for the UHF station, the Count has hosted his own weekly horror movie show online since 1998 (countgore.com).
“We usually run some kind of interactive trivia contest related to the film we’re showing,” says Dyszel of his AFI appearances. “And there’s a plethora of interesting, fascinating bits about the making of Creature and how audiences reacted to it.”
“It’s easy to say the special effects are terrible, that they’re silly, not convincing, campy,” adds Hitchcock. “But I think some of these movies have an eerie quality, and are convincingly frightening, especially when you’re younger, if that’s the age at which you first see them. They can make a big impression.”
Creature from the Black Lagoon in 3D screens on Saturday, July 21, at 7:30 p.m. at the AFI Silver, 8633 Colesville Road, a short walk from the Silver Spring Metro. Tickets are $15. Visit silver.afi.com.
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