“Enter the depths of the Black Lagoon!”
Released in 1963 from Hasbro, The Creature from the Black Lagoon Mystery Game immersed players in a cardboard version of the murky habitat that was home to the same amphibious entity that frightened moviegoers in the 1954 movie.
Creature from the Black Lagoon debuted in February 1954 to audiences enthusiastic to watch the story of a creature “born before time began” unfold in 3D. Directed by Jack Arnold who is also known for It Came from Outer Space (1953) and Tarantula (1955), the movie tells the tale of a human-like amphibious creature, Gill-man, who is being pursued by a group of curious scientists. The dramatic events and campy production play out to a soundtrack contributed by Henry Mancini.
The game board was illustrated with the likeness of Gill-man featured prominently in the centre. The game path flowed around the creature along the sides of the board.
Each player selected a creature pawn, differentiated by the colour of the base. The player with the highest spin started the game.
Beginning on the space marked Start, players took turns spinning and moving their creatures along the playing board. The spinner, which included the numbers one through five in two different sections, determined more than just how many spaces a player could move. The two sets of numbers were separated by the actions: Pick a Safety Card and Pick a Creature Card.
Players with the misfortune of spinning a Pick a Creature Card landed in the cave. To free themselves, they had to acquire four safety cards, four capture cards, or have another player move into the cave. If a player remained in the cave for three of their turns, they were granted a reprieve by being allowed to move their pawn to an arrow space and attempting to spin an odd number. Once an odd number was spun, the player could move off the arrow and continue along the regular path.
The red spaces along the board were also punishing — they penalized a player two turns, making an escape from the Black Lagoon a little less likely.
The first player to reach the space marked Finish won the game.
IN THE BOX
A complete game included the playing board, four creature pawns with coloured bases (red, green, yellow, blue), 20 creature cards, 20 safety cards, and a spinner. Instructions were printed inside the box top.
Collectors may have to break their budget to acquire The Creature from the Black Lagoon Mystery Game. It is considered rare and is highly coveted by board-game enthusiasts. The winning bidder in a 2015 Hake’s auction paid over $1,700 US for a near-mint copy of the game. Those who spot a copy for a more reasonable price may stand to make a tidy profit in resale if they don’t decide to keep the game for themselves.