31 Days of Terror: The Creature from the Black Lagoon
If you haven't already guessed, I'm a fan of monsters. Whether they be kaiju or anthropomorphic, I dig them. Aside from Godzilla, one of my first monsters was the Gill-Man in the 1954 classic, The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Though it's another tried and true attempt at the Beauty and the Beast story, the film itself is as beautiful as its monster is ugly.
When an expedition in the Amazon uncovers pieces of a skeleton that belonged to a species of half-man, half-fish creatures, the team mounts a return expedition to find the remaining bones. Unbeknownst to the group, they're being watched by a descendant of the Gill-Man, who's enamored by one of the crew's passengers and lies beneath the water, waiting to strike.
First off, the cinematography in this movie is absolutely stunning and one of the earliest films that I can think of that filmed entire scenes underwater. The exact scene I fell in love with this movie though was when Julia Adams's character goes for a swim and the creature is swimming in backstroke beneath her while she's completely unaware.
The Gill-Man himself is a wild creature. Though his face is a little dorky and more fish-like, his claws make him a dangerous opponent. The creature's actor, Rico Browning, would film scenes four minutes at a time without an oxygen tank at the director's request so the above scene would make the creature feel more natural.
Along with the other monster films of its time, Creature does resort to the typical damsel in distress scenario as the men save Julia Adams several times from the creature, but it's still worth checking it out if not for the story, for the cinematography.