Director: John Sherwood
Writer: Arthur Ross
Cast: Jeff Morrow, Rex Reason, Leigh Snowden, Gregg Palmer, Maurice Manson, James Rawley, David McMahon, Paul Fierro, Lillian Molieri, Larry Hudson, and Frank Chase
Composer: Joseph Gershenson
Release Date: 4/26/1956
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Having relocated to the Everglades, the Gill-man is pursued, burned, and captured by a scientific team consisting of Dr. William Barton (Jeff Morrow), Dr. Thomas Morgan (Rex Reason), Marcia Barton (Leigh Snowden), Jed Grant (Gregg Palmer), Dr. Johnson (James Rawley), and Dr. Borg (Maurice Manson). No longer able to breathe underwater, the Gill-man must live in captivity alongside animals of the terrestrial variety; however, a primal instinct prevents the creature from accepting the situation imposed upon him.
An underrated sequel, The Creature Walks Among Us combines the rich, haunting underwater cinematography of Creature from the Black Lagoon with a penetrating study on the human desire to “improve” that which need not be fixed. Also worth mentioning is the monstrous, imposing presence embodied by the Gill-man, which creates a disturbing contrast with his original graceful manner.
As opposed to Revenge of the Creature, The Creature Walks Among Us endows each human character (excepting Thomas and Marcia) with a contemptible but realistic series of motivations. Audiences will thus be inclined to actively root against the so-called protagonists while sympathizing with the Gill-man’s plight, especially when one “scientist” cruelly sets fire to the creature after invading his territory; likewise, later sequences evoke compassion for the Gill-man—now a shadow of his formerly magnificent self—by emphasizing his futile desire to return to the oceans that spawned him.
Though visually and emotionally striking, the climactic scene in this film leaves ambiguous the Gill-man’s ultimate fate; therefore, The Creature Walks Among Us fails to deliver the poignant finality that one would expect the concluding chapter in Universal Studios’ iconic monster movie saga to provide.
A commentary on the arrogance of man, The Creature Walks Among Us puts a unique spin on the Frankenstein legend. Specifically, a butcher masquerading as a surgeon feels compelled to kidnap, mutilate, and domesticate a freak of nature, all in the name of scientific progress. When provoked into attacking his aggressors, the Gill-man is once again regarded as a mindless killing machine who must be put down before additional harm can ensue—a fate shared by Frankenstein’s monster in the 1931 classic directed by James Whale (note that after suffering his initial injuries, the Gill-man assumes a lumbering, stocky appearance not unlike that of Frankenstein’s aforementioned monster—possibly a deliberate acknowledgment of the similar circumstances surrounding both characters).
Despite operating on the scientifically inaccurate premise that an individual could “evolve” if prompted by environmental stressors, The Creature Walks Among Us is a worthy final installment in Universal Studios’ trilogy of Gill-man features. That being said, an inordinate amount of human drama may detract from the insightful subject matter at the core of Arthur Ross’ screenplay.
Overall Quality: 7/10
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