31 Weeks to Halloween: Revenge of the Creature (1955)
Panic grips a city as the Monster strikes again... and again!
Well, well, well... we have officially made it into October, the season of spook. And what's a better way to spend the very first Saturday of the month than with this week's 31 Weeks to Halloween countdown feature: REVENGE OF THE CREATURE. As we take yet another step closer to Halloween, we checked out the follow-up to 1954's Creature From The Black Lagoon which takes place shortly after the first film and while it tells a bit of a different story, the overall theme of the film is the same. Revenge of the Creature was directed by Jack Arnold and while they brought in new talent Tom Hennesy to portray the Gill-Man on land, the fantastic Ricou Browning reprised his role of the Creature for all of his underwater scenes. While everyone knows and has seen the original film and praises it for its greatness, I honestly have to say that it's a shame I never hear people talking about Revenge because it truly has some of the best shots of the Creature (both on land and in the water) in the entire series. He looks absolutely fucking terrifying in the feature - his face speaking a million words a minute and his body language screaming internally. What's great about this movie is how in-your-face they allow the Creature to be: in many horror films today, directors are always going with the "less is better" approach and showing as little of the monster as they have to. That's the total opposite of Universal Monster films and Creature films in particular: Arnold made sure the Gill-Man's terrifying features are prominent in the movie and that the audience gets to see just how fucking incredible the Gill-Man suit is, and how amazing is it portrayed by its wearers. While the story is sad - almost like that of the original film in the series - it tells a great story about we as humans and our desire to exploit the world around us for our own entertainment - and the Gill-Man ain't having it. At the end of the day, Revenge of the Creature deserves just as much love as the classic film for how terrifying it is!
Like the many, many Universal Monster movies we've seen before it, the story of the film is very simple: some captors hire Captain Lucas from the original film to take them down to the lagoon so that they can hunt down the Gill-Man and bring him back, preferably alive but dead works as well. The captors end up using dynamite to stun the Creature and put him in a comatose state, where they can safety transport him from the lagoon in the Amazon to the Ocean Harbor Oceanarium in Florida. Once he arrives there, scientists can revive him and Professor Clete Ferguson (John Agar) and ichthyology student Helen Dobson (Lori Nelson) can begin studying and even trying to train him by issuing brief electric shocks to the Creature. The poor Creature is chained down in an aquarium display for audiences, news reporters and scientists to all watch and enjoy him from a safe distance... that is, until his desire for the beautiful Helen drives him to escape from the tank and he flees to both capture her and flee to the open ocean. Will Helen and Clete be able to escape the terrifying claws of the Creature, or will he be able to overpower the duo and drag Helen down to the depths with him?! Find out in... REVENGE OF THE CREATURE!
There's really not a whole lot not to love about this movie; it's a perfect example of a great classic horror. While the Creature may not be as horrifying as he is in the original film, he is still beyond haunting in Revenge and the fact that the studio made sure you get to see plenty of him just makes it that much better. Both the on-land and underwater scenes look absolutely phenomenal and both actors did a seriously sick job at the movements and reactions of the Gill-Man as the story unfolds. I honestly think that if you have even the slightest interest in classic horror or monster movies, Revenge of the Creature is a perfect reflection of the genre, and while it's off-subject love affair between Helen and Clete is kinda meh, it does help guide the storyline to its end and the characters help make this film one of the best in the Universal Monsters series. This film is an absolute must for your Halloween countdown!!