The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick
by Mallory O’Meara
Hanover Square Press, 2019. 336 pgs. Nonfiction.
Milicent Patrick was the woman who designed the Creature from the Black Lagoon (or The Creature for short). Unfortunately, history and the male ego have all but erased her contribution to the movie. Mallory O’Meara, horror movie enthusiast, just happened to stumble upon a picture of her with The Creature. O’Meara thought Milicent looked stunning in her dress, heels, and pearls and immediately wanted to know who she was. Thus began a years long search for Milicent. Where did she come from? How did she become the designer of The Creature? And more importantly, where did she go afterwards?
This book is part Milicent’s personal history, part a history of the horror movie industry, and part memoir/detective story as the author hunts down any available information regarding Milicent’s life. This is the author’s first book—her day job is working as a horror movie producer—and that gives the book a tone that you don’t usually see in nonfiction. The author is really casual in the way she relays information and her footnotes more often than not contain snarky side comments. This serves to make the book extremely readable and I found myself reading it much faster than I usually read nonfiction books. O’Meara does a great job addressing the misogyny and sexism that Milicent faced throughout her life and ties it in with the #MeToo movement in current times along with her own personal experiences. My only critique is that sometimes O’Meara’s voice borders on too casual and I feel it makes her lose some credibility as an author. I would recommend this book for anyone who is a fan of horror movies or who wants to see a little historical context for the #MeToo movement.