The Creature from the Black lagoon is famous, I mean really famous, it's so famous that I've never seen it, and I know what it's about, it is referenced and paid homage to and parodied so much that you could probably go "Yeah, that old film," without seeing any of the box art or even what the monster looks like.
But after a fair amount of wiki-reading and TV-trope trawling, I've learned a lot about the film. It's one of the Universal B-movies, those movies that inspire your first thoughts of a Halloween costume before you then decide it's been done to death and go as captain Jack Sparrow and so does everyone else. The film's "Gill-man" stands side by side with such nightmares as the Wolfman, Dracula, Frankenstein, and Tim Curry.
Now, you might think: it's a remake, they're always steaming piles of shit trying to take the shape of Arnold Schartsenegger, and failing. But there is one movie that has defied all of that in a big way, and it's more relevant than you'd think.
It's The Mummy (1999), it's a fellow Universal B-movie remake, and it did really well, it earned enough money for two ill advised sequels, and a Scorpion King remake that went on to produce two of it's very own ill advised prequels. It's also the reason The Rock is in everything now, giving all of your summer blockbusters a higher protein content.
The Mummy is what TCFTBL (the remake) needs to live up to and take cues from, and this is a list of things that unequivocally need to be carried over:
1: Set it in the time
I don't want this to be a contemporary reboot, make like The Mummy and set it in the same time period the original was set in, make it straight-up 50's. That means radio's, records, greasers and at least 3-5 Elvises.
Furthermore, don't just focus on the creature, make it a whole movie about the 50's, highlight all the things that made the 50's fun and worth remembering. For The Mummy in the 30's we had things like treasure hunters, Egyptology, biplanes, tommy guns. For the 50's, I want to see the atomic age, rock and roll, motorbikes and one of those magic fridges that protects you from nuclear explosions.
Another point, no fictionalization. I don't want to see locations that don't exist or technology that wasn't there at the time (I'm looking at you: Mummy Returns!) Don't be the jackass who flies a rocket powered balloon through a magic oasis.
2: A Colourful and Varied Cast
There were lots of characters in The Mummy, and I mean lots, there was the main cast (who didn't get killed), the secondary cast (who got killed), and there was the other characters (who got a few lines before getting killed). We had the scummy jellyfish (benny), the moral compass (Evie), the comic relief (Jonathan), and the stone cold drifter badass/Han solo (O'Connell). It doesn't matter that I don't remember half of the other characters' names, I remember their faces.
The Mummy was very complex and very 3 dimensional, there were lots of locations, lots of separate stories and that made it worth watching it a second time. It wasn't just a Mummy coming to life and killing those who disturbed his tomb, it was about a cursed priest who wanted to resurrect his mistress by kidnaping a girl and he was afraid of cats and also had to kill the people who had his organs and he also brought some plagues with him and was invincible unless a misplaced book was used to strip him of his powers.
4: Nothing Else
There should be nothing else take from The Mummy, we don't want a situation like Eragon where the plot was almost parallel to that of Star Wars episode 4. You can't just swap "Mummy" for "Amphibian" and "flies a plane away from tornado" to "flies a boat away from tornado." Don't make this mistake, I know that in the original film kidnapping a woman was a main theme, but that has really become stale and shouldn't be in the new film.
In 1946, an expedition heads off to document an unexplored tributary of the Amazon River. Their boat is found a month later, having floated downriver. The crew have been savagely killed and the captain is found dead in the ship's galley, having locked the freezer from the outside. Inside is a severed humanoid hand covered in scales. The frozen specimen is paraded around and then sealed in the basement of the Smithsonian museum.
10 years later billionaire hears about the hand and manages to recover the expedition's logbook, the last page of which details their encounter with creatures that can never die. He hires a professional thief to break into the museum and swipe the hand, giving him apparatus to keep it frozen.
After getting hold of the hand, he has a team of experts thaw it out. Despite being frozen for 10 years and severed. The hand proceeds to twitch, when one of the scientists touches it, the hand grabs him and crushes his arm bones.
The billionaire sends a team of people on the same route as the original expedition, with the prerogative to capture one of these creatures alive, he sends the thief with them, as he has experience with the Brazilian criminal underworld and might be able to get them through without any trouble.
After a lot of trouble, they sail up the river and reach the second boat of the expedition, containing a much more detailed mission report. It describes a nearby tar pit. When they approach the tar pit, they find a set of pods floating in it. Cutting one open reveals an amphibious humanoid, long since dead., shot 10 years ago by the expedition. One of the pods is empty, and the rest contain dead and shot creatures.
One of them however, is still undamaged. They take the pod and determine there is something alive inside. On the boat, they cut it open, the creature awakens, breaks out of the boat and returns to the black lagoon. It finds the dead pods, recognises the bullets, and returns to the boat to exact revenge on who it thinks killed its brethren.
The team succeed in locking it in the freezer after a struggle. They return it to the Billionaire, who is revealed to have ordered the original expedition, following the legends of "eternal life" in the amazon. They thaw the creature and place it in a zoo to be studied.
As the thief looks at the creature's eyes, he senses that something is strange about them. He checks the diary again and finds that some of the pages were stuck together, they detail that the creature is intelligent, and its entire civilisation went into hibernation due to a volcanic winter.
When he goes to tell them, the creature has already broken out using it's problem solving abilities, killed its handlers and escaped to the ocean. They discover that the creature possesses a healing factor and is near impossible to kill. They also discover that there are many more tar pits with sleeping gill-men.
After convincing the paranoid government that there is a threat, they take a military platoon into the jungle to stop the creature from awakening it's other brethren and exterminating humanity. The government gives them a deadline before they nuke the site.
And that's all I've daydreamed up till now :)