Director: Jack Arnold
Writer: Martin Berkeley
Cast: John Agar, Lori Nelson, John Bromfield, Nestor Paiva, Grandon Rhodes, Dave Willock, Robert B. Williams, and Charles R. Cane
Composer: Joseph Gershenson
Release Date: 5/13/1955
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Having been captured and relocated to a Florida marine park, the Gill-man develops an attraction toward ichthyologist Helen Dobson (Lori Nelson). When the creature kidnaps Helen and wreaks havoc on the Southeastern coast, Prof. Clete Ferguson (John Agar) leads a team of authorities to hunt down and destroy the Gill-man once and for all.
An inferior sequel, Revenge of the Creature employs a number of B-movie tropes typical of 1950s science fiction fare. Universal Monster buffs may nevertheless enjoy this production, which portrays the Gill-man in a more tragic manner than did the original Creature from the Black Lagoon.
By reducing the Gill-man—previously a force of nature whose raw strength and power of will parallel those of Frankenstein’s monster, the Wolf Man, or the Mummy—to a Marineland exhibit, Revenge of the Creature lulls the viewer into a false sense of security prior to unleashing the said Gill-man on a residential community. Though somewhat predictable, Jack Arnold’s unique method of suspense-building will appeal to horror fans who appreciate the subtlety exemplified by Universal Studios’ classic monster films.
Revenge of the Creature never sufficiently acquaints the audience with Clete and Helen before “plunging” them into a life-threatening situation. While a lack of character development allows the Gill-man to remain the central focus of Martin Berkeley’s narrative from start to finish, both protagonists might fail to elicit sympathy given that no substantive interactions ever take place between the two.
As indicated above, the Gill-man’s prolonged confinement makes for a sudden and highly effective escape sequence. That being said, there are times when Revenge of the Creature’s languid pacing may result in a tedious viewing experience—a flaw that Arnold managed to avoid while filming Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Revenge of the Creature is surpassed by its predecessor in all but one regard: the Gill-man becomes a clear victim of circumstance and will thus evoke compassion from those of a sensitive inclination. Specifically, the creature is abducted from his natural environment and put on display for exploitative purposes; therefore, the Gill-man’s savagery in the final act occurs within a decidedly justifiable context—much in contrast to Creature from the Black Lagoon, wherein the ethics of invading an animal’s territory and suffering the consequences thereof are presented through an ambiguous perspective.
Revenge of the Creature is an entertaining chapter in Universal Studios’ Creature from the Black Lagoon series. Also worth mentioning is Clint Eastwood’s uncredited performance, which, though irrelevant to the Gill-man’s story, serves as an amusing cinematic debut of perhaps the most legendary actor of the 20th century.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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