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Saturday, October 27, 2012

October 27- Revenge of the Creature (1955)

In 1955, Universal Studios (technically Universal International Pictures) decided to release a sequel to the wildly popular Creature from the Black Lagoon. Revenge of the Creature details the events that occurred directly after the first film. Ricou Browning again plays Gil-Man in the underwater scenes, with Tom Hennesy playing the Creature on land this time around.

Gill-man in his holding tank
The movie begins with a return to the Black Lagoon, with Lucas (Nestor Paiva) ferrying another expedition to capture the Gill-man. Lucas explains the background of the first film and basically what happened. One year after the events of the first movie, this expedition manages to find and capture the Gill-man in a comatose state. After the capture, Gill-man is transported to the Ocean Harbor Oceanarium for study. The Creature is brought in and revived by Joe Hayes (John Bromfield). When the Gill-man awakes, he attacks everyone around in a blind rage, but is eventually subdued and placed in chains in a "permanent" holding tank.

The two individuals in charge of studying the Gill-man are Professor Clete Ferguson (played by John Agar), an animal psychologist; and Helen Dobson (played by Lori Nelson), an ichthyology student. During their studying of the Creature, Dobson and Ferguson start to fall in love, which angers Joe Hayes. Also, the Gill-man takes an instant liking to Helen.

Ferguson, Dobson, and Hayes.

After some conditioning by the two scientists, Gill-man manages to break free from his chains and in the process of escaping to the ocean, murders Joe Hayes. After escaping, the Gill-man stalks Dobson and Ferguson down the St. John's River to Jacksonville, where he kidnaps Dobson while she's at a dance. After that, a series of events occurs that culminates in the rescuing of Helen Dobson, but what happens to the Creature is something you'll have to find out yourself.

Gill-man (Hennesy) carrying Dobson

Although this movie is well-made, it just doesn't seem to live up the reputation of the first film. It does, however, have a special place in history as being the only 3-D film released in 1955 and the only sequel to a 3-D film also released in 3-D. Releasing this film in 3-D was an attempt to revive the 3-D brand, which had been popular during the early 1950's, but had run its course by this point. Another fun fact is that this film marked the first film appearance by Clint Eastwood, who plays a lab technician named "Jennings," although he is uncredited for the role. In terms of cinematography and camera work, I only have one comment. The underwater scenes were done well again in this film, but the shots just didn't blow me away like in the first film.

Lori Nelson was incredible as Helen Dobson

Regardless of the Gill-man's actions, I still feel bad for how terribly he was treated in this film. He was taken from his habitat, put in a pen, chained up, put on public display, and hit with a cattle prod repeatedly. Nonetheless, he did show incredible intelligence and the ability to show compassion/restraint, as shown by him bypassing attacking a child after first escaping his holding tank.

Even big stars started out small.
To me, this movie had little to no scare factor, it was more of a "what if" scenario. Essentially, the writers must have simply thought, "what would happen if the Gill-man was brought back to civilization." Personally, I like the idea of a "what if" movie, and it definitely gives it a B-movie feel. The overall atmosphere of this film is that of a stereotypical science fiction film of the 1950's, with huge groups of people running away at once from a monster (this time, the Gill-man). I still liked this movie a lot for that atmosphere and the scenario that's presented.
Still, I prefer the first film better, but just by a little bit.

I give Revenge of the Creature a 4 out of 5.

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