Thursday, February 21, 2008

Saying So Long To The Man-Fish...Good-Bye Ben Chapman

Lucas: There are many strange legends in the Amazon. Even I, Lucas, have heard the legend of a man-fish.
I make no secret of the fact that my favorite movies coming out of Hollyweird are those primarily made BEFORE 1960. SURE, there have been many, many great blockbusters and fine movie franchises since then, but for me, I am happiest watching a set of WELL-WORN Bette Davis dramas from ANY studio she chose to be associated with than ANY of today's perceived "drama queens". No one holds a candle to the soap, the style, the substance....or THE STORY. By contrast, as much as I love watching Bette Davis, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, Joan Crawford, and many others from Hollywood's Golden Era, I AM EQUALLY at home with the pickings of familiar faces from my horror movie stable. I love mystery, horror, and suspense....and for me, the A and B-Movie of this genre and it's brother, The Sci-Fi Category, has kept me enthralled for decades.
With the advent of the internet, this love of monster movies has also made me some very dear friends as well. We gather together in our groups from one coast of this country to the other and points beyond, encompassing nations around the world, and we all have a common interest: We LOVE THESE MOVIES.....These characters....These stories have touched us. Within these characters, we see a little bit of ourselves. We've been that misunderstood monster at one point (OR MORE) in our lives. We feel compassion for the monster and identify with him as much as our own reflection in the mirror.
As such, these characters (and the actors who play them) become "ONE OF US" (to steal a line from the movie, Freaks) and when one passes on, we are sad. Today is one such day.
Ben Chapman who played the land Creature in The Creature From The Black Lagoon passed away today. I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr Chapman, but from what I have heard from the people who did and the people who knew him well, this was a man who enjoyed his iconic place in Monsterdom and had an appreciation for his fans. Up until very recently, he was still active in Fan Shows. He attended them, signed autographs and talked to those who still appreciated the "Creature" he helped bring to life over 50 years before.
I can tell you I saw this movie, for the first time, OVER 35 years ago. I thought The Creature From The Black Lagoon was one of the most frightening movies I had ever seen (heck, I was barely 12 years old)...And the image of The Creature swimming after Julie Adams, or lumbering and gasping for breath (which had to be played by two different people)...well, those are memories that stay with you for a lifetime.
Fast forwarding to the present, TCFTBL seems tame....In fact, there is a remake in the offing that is suppose to come out this year. I'm sure it will be chock full of CGI EFX...and sadly, a lame story line.
But I'll be waiting for a dedication. I'll be waiting to see "Dedicated to the Memory of Ben Chapman, The Land Gill-Man".
Rest in Peace, Ben Chapman. Aloha......


Anonymous said...



ServoCrow said...

Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment. The movies have ocme to mean alot to me, but not as much as the people I have come to know through the years as well.

bobbie said...

I am deeply saddened to hear of his passing. He will be greatly missed and can never be replaced...especially by any cheezy remake Hollywierd can dream up! RIP Ben.

ServoCrow said...

So true Bobbie. Like you, I have an 'emotional' tie to this character as well. My youngest son ADORES the Creature. So tomorrow, we'll actually get to share some RARE time with just the two of us while the oldest is at a sleepover and we will watch this movie...and remember.

cmm4chris said...

"We've been that misunderstood monster at one point (OR MORE) in our lives."


How true!

As always a very well written piece.

It's great that you and your youngest son with get to enjoy the Creature one on one tomorrow.

May Ben live on in the hearts of his fans!

Unimonster said...

Great tribute, Mombie... And thank you, Ben, for decades of Monster thrills and chills.

ServoCrow said...

Thanks Chris and Uni. It is sad to see these icons go because, little-by-little your childhood goes with them, but the movies live on forever. In those roles, the actors never grow old, and our memories are just as fresh as when we first saw them.

Gillgrappler said...

Very well put.

I will be watching Creature From The Black Lagoon sometime today.

Rest Well Ben.

ServoCrow said...

Thanks for stopping by, Gill-daddy. I know he was one of your favorites too. It is amazing how someone with such a short career list as Mr. Chapman's has left such an indelible mark in so many of our lives.