Revenge of the Creature (1955)

Revenge of the Creature (1955)

Weird Monster Escapes! Terror Seizes City! …a woman’s beauty the lure for his dangerous desires!

A second expedition up the Amazon manages to capture the Gill Man and transport him to an aquarium in Florida where he is to become the star attraction. However he develops a fixation on one of the female scientists and escapes from his confinement to pursue her.

 

Success breeds sequels in the movie world and inevitably the classic Creature from the Black Lagoon would get a follow-up only a year after its release. Nothing was ever going to top that so the rule of diminishing sequels comes into force. Rather than just rehashing the story of the original, this first sequel at least manages to keep the material slightly more interesting than a sequel has any right to do. Like so many sequels, the makers could easily have had another scientific expedition go down the Amazon and encounter him in his domain for the entire film. Although that’s exactly what happens and the same story is rehashed, only it’s kept to a minimum at the beginning. After all, we’ve already seen the Gill Man in his own environment sowhy not transport him to somewhere alien?

The first fifteen minutes or so are set in the lagoon as the scientists attempt to capture the Gill Man. It’s basically a shortened down version of the original in which there’s some underwater swimming (looking as fabulous as it did before hand) and attempts to capture him alive. I mean we already know what the Gill Man looks like and we’ve already seen enough of his domain so it’s not like the slow burn approach is needed. The inventive method of blowing up the lagoon with dynamite is crude but it puts the Gill Man into a coma. When he awakens, he finds himself in the aquarium in Florida. Seeing the distress he is clearly suffering from is a bit heart-wrenching to be honest. More so than ever before, the film attempts to make the creature sympathetic and boy does it work! The sequences in which the scientists attempt to train the Gill Man underwater are cruel and you’ll be rooting for him to break free of his chains sooner rather than later. Getting constantly jabbed with a cattle prod and forced to play fetch would make anything snap and go crazy. Even more haunting are the images of it standing by the underwater window and watching his ‘love’ as she goes about her business.

The reasoning behind his rampage is clear for all to see. He isn’t just a mindless creature out to kill – he’s scared, confused, distressed and when animals are cornered, they fight back. The Gill Man is such an awesome movie monster. He’s got so much character, so much expression and so many different mannerisms – it’s a pity that the rest of the cast can’t follow suit. There have been a few tweaks to the costume this time around but the underwater swimming of Ricou Browning is still amazing. Unfortunately the film suffers from the fact that the Gill Man just isn’t as intimidating or dangerous when he’s out of his lagoon. Watching him stroll around the aquarium savaging staff isn’t as gripping as seeing him weave to and fro underwater. He just becomes any other land-based monster here and there’s plenty of scenes of him sluggishly stagger as he tries to walk on land.

Besides the cool idea of having the Gill Man loose in public, the film does little with it’s fresh take on the story. Once they get him to Florida, he pretty much does what he did in the original and that’s go after the first female he latches onto. We don’t learn anything new about him – why he exists, why he acts the way he does, etc. There’s little scientific research on him. He doesn’t just run amok or try and head home. He turns into the stalker figure again which is what he did before. The script wants to go off in a new direction but then ‘safety first’ comes into mind and this sequel simply rehashes a few old ideas which were done better in the original.

Clint Eastwood makes his film debut here as a lab technician with a couple of poor lines attempting to be funny. It’s a million miles away from the roles he’d become infamous for later in his career. Sadly, the film has become more well-known for that reason as opposed to it being a half-decent sequel to an all-time classic. Eastwood aside, I’m never a big fan of the casting of these old school shockers in general. They’re almost too prehistoric in their depictions of manly men and helpless women. The cast isn’t as strong here as it was in the original. John Agar and Lori Nelson don’t seem to have a spark between them which is a shame because a lot more of the script is devoted to their romance than it should have right to. Agar seems to have had a charisma by-pass and is way out of his depth. Nelson has been cast for her charms but isn’t a patch on Julie Adams.

 

Revenge of the Creature isn’t a bad sequel, just an unmemorable one. It had a tough act to follow but my golden rule of sequels is if you can’t do it better or add to the original, why do it at all? This proves my rule right. They should have left him alone down the Amazon.

 

 ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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