PHOENIXVILLE -- Moviegoers who saw the special 3D screening of "The Creature From The Black Lagoon" got the opportunity to meet the film's star, Ricou Browning, who made his first ever appearance at the 2008 BlobFest this past weekend.
Browning, who played the underwater Creature, introduced the 3:30 showing of the film Saturday afternoon.
"It was neat introducing the film," said Browning. "I didn't want to say too much because the crowd was very enthusiastic."
The 1954 film is about a scientific expedition searching for fossils along the Amazon River discovering a prehistoric Gill-Man in the legendary Black Lagoon. The explorers capture the mysterious creature, but it breaks free. The Gill-Man returns to kidnap a woman who is a part of the expedition, with whom it has fallen in love.
A native of Sunshine Range, Florida, Browning said he got the role of a lifetime helping out a friend.
"My friend was the general manager of Wakulla Springs resort in Miami," he said. "I was going to Florida State University at the time. He told me that there were people coming to the resort to look at it for a film. He asked if I would show them around for him.
"While walking around with them, one of the cameramen asked me to swim around and so I did. After that, I took them to the airport. Two weeks later, I got a call from film director Jack Arnold, asking me if I wanted to be in the film. No one thought it was awesome at the time. Even 20 years later, people weren't impressed. Now, all of a sudden, I started getting autograph requests."
While filming the underwater scenes, Browning said that dive experts were alongside of him, and oxygen was
pumped into the suit via a hose.
Browning said that the underwater scenes for the film took about two months to shoot.
"When you put the costume on, it's pretty clumsy," he said. "Sort of like a football player putting on their uniform with all of the padding, but once you start moving around, it gets better. Once I got in the water, I got used to swimming in it. The vision was the most difficult because the eyeholes didn't match my eyes, plus they made my vision blurry."
Browning said that the first version of the Creature costume was rejected. "The first costume was green, but it didn't have all of the scales on it," he said. "It wasn't popular with the movie people. They went back and came up with the second costume. It looked a lot better and much more scary."
Once the filming was over, Browning said he hasn't seen the costume ever since.
"I don't even own a Creature suit," he said. "I haven't seen one since I took it off after the final scene was shot."
Making several convention appearances a year, Browning said he's flattered to be compared to other monsters in film history.
"I'm very flattered when people tell me that I'm a part of monster history," he said. "I respect their opinion of my work and who I portrayed."
Browning said he's seen the movie numerous times, and now enjoys it with his grandchildren.
"I've seen the movie 10 times," he said. "My grandchildren have watched it with me and it's mazing how the film still holds up with young audiences. My grandchildren are okay with their grandfather being the Creature. They ask me to come to their schools and give talks about it."
Enjoying his time during BlobFest, Browning said that he'd be open to coming back in the future.
"I've enjoyed my time at BlobFest," he said. "I've seen Wes (Shank) at other conventions but never met him. Everyone has been really nice and friendly, especially everyone at the (Colonial) Theatre. They've done an exceptional job."