'The Creature From The Black Lagoon' Gets A Water-Friendly Screenwriter

This summer's new take on The Mummy doesn't even open for a few more months, but Universal keeps on digging in their heels and doubling down on their new monsters universe. And while the studio waits with bated breath to see if there's a blockbuster-sized audience for this new venture, they keep on hiring writers to shepherd new characters to the screen. And for their new take on The Creature From the Black Lagoon, a writer already very familiar with lead characters who are more able in water than on land has nabbed the job.

According to a report in The Hollywood Reporter, screenwriter Will Beall has been tasked with resurrecting the gill-man for the 21st century. Beall is no stranger to writing water-loving characters in cinematic universes – he recently wrote Aquaman for Warner Bros., which is just about to go before cameras under the direction of James Wan. Beall's other credits include episodes of Castle, the new Training Day series, and Gangster Squad.

As with many of Universal's other pending monsters projects (the line-up includes The Wolfman, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, Van Helsing and more), there's no rigid release date for the new Creature From the Black Lagoon. You get the impression that everyone is waiting to see what goes down with The Mummy before committing to anything beyond script pages.

Building a New Creature

I'm choosing to remain "glass half-full" when it comes to the new Universal monster movies (The Mummy looks pretty cool, even if it doesn't look like a horror movie), so I'm ready to look on the brightest possible side of a new Creature From the Black Lagoon. Specifically, a new version, built to be part of a shared universe, could truly belong to the Universal monster family in a way that the previous version did not.

Released in 1954, the original The Creature From the Black Lagoon is the weird cousin of the "core" Universal monsters. Arriving long after the heyday of Dracula, the Mummy, Frankenstein, and the Wolf Man (who collectively ruled the '30s and the early '40s), it is seen by many genre fans as the final "classic" Universal monster movies. Others have argued that it is just a monster movie produced by Universal, not a "proper" Universal monster film. This debate still rages today and it's understandable – the gill-man doesn't seem to have a lot in common with the wounded, gothic creatures of those early films. Well, not until 1956's The Creature Walks Among Us, where the gill-man is elevated to something so much more complex. In one of the most underrated horror movies of all time, that horny fish-man became a desperate and tragic figure driven to suicide by the actions of man. It's a great movie.

While I remain a fan of the original movie, a remake has the opportunity to start where that final film left off and create a central monster who is more layered, complex, and at-home with his complicated Universal brethren. With the right approach, Beall could build a Creature From the Black Lagoon movie that definitively establishes the gill-man as a permanent resident of the Universal monster family, not a tourist.

Of course, let's see how The Mummy goes first.