Last weekend, I finally got to see the 3D Blu-ray release of the 1954 horror classic, Creature from the Black Lagoon. It was originally released as part of the Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection Blu-ray set back in late 2012, but this is the first time I got to see it on my 3D TV.
Seeing Creature from the Black Lagoon in 3D has been my personal holy grail of sorts. I was born after the 3D film boom between 1952-54, so all I had to go on about these films was what was written about them in books and magazines. Some stills from the films were printed on paper in anaglyph 3D, but that was it. Since the arrival of DVDs, the 3D version of Creature was only available as anaglyph or field sequential bootlegs from a Japanese 3D laserdisc that was released back in the '80s. Naturally, the Creature 3D Blu-ray blows the bootlegs way, way out of the Black Lagoon’s waters.
Watching a 3D creature feature from the '50s in the way it was meant to be seen might not sound like a big deal, but it certainly felt like it. I had to keep reminding myself throughout the movie that none of the 3D effects were done through CGI; the 3D photography was amazing, and director Jack Arnold and his crew did it without the aid of any computers (the later film restoration and digital conversion process aside). Furthermore, because the filmmaking aesthetic of the '50s didn't involve flashy cuts, my eyes didn't have to adjust to sudden and rapid shifts in perspective over and over again. True, the monster suits in Creature are amazing to see simply because of how well made they were made, but you'll only see half of what this film accomplished if you see it in 2D.
Unfortunately, only four of the '50s 3D films have been released so far on 3D Blu-ray: Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dial M for Murder, House of Wax, and Man in the Dark. Not all of the 3D films from this era are classics, but at their best they represent a kind of cinematic ingenuity that's rarely seen anymore. For these titles not to be released on high-definition 3D Blu-ray--the home video format that brings out their best features--is an absolute shame.
Film noir in the third dimension, currently unavailable on 3D Blu-ray.