“This beast exists because it is stronger than the thing that you call evolution. In it is some force of life, a demon driving it through millions of centuries. It does not surrender so easily to weaklings like you and me.”
This movie is so incredibly boring and forgettable it hardly deserves being talked about. Here we go anyway.
The Gill-Man (played above water by Tom Hennsey and underwater by Ricou Browning) is captured by a team of three guys (one of them Lucas, played by Nestor Paiva, from the first film) and sent to Ocean Harbor Oceanarium in Florida. There he is put on display for an interested public and studied by animal psychologist Professor Clete Ferguson (John Agar) and ichthyologist (studier of fish) Helen Dobson (Lori Nelson).
As Clete and Helen gauge the Gill-Man’s intelligence and way of living, it forms a fascination with Helen. Man may have bit off more than it can chew with a creature determined to escape and return to open water.
I’ll say this for the movie: it has an exciting opening. For a while, I was lulled into a false sense of quality and excitement with a thrilling sequence where the Gill-Man is captured and brought back to civilized life. Almost the entire rest of the film was a disappointment.
Remember my Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) review? Remember how I said it felt like I was reading a stiff, dull academic journal? Well, amp that up to about a thousand, throw it in with a sub-par love story, and you have yourself Revenge of the Creature (1955).
Almost this entire film is watching Clete and Helen conduct experiments that are neither interesting nor profound. They discover the Gill-Man is more intelligent than monkeys and apes. Whoopty freakin’ doo. If you’ve watched the first film, you can probably see that the Gill-Man, while not super intelligent, is a smart, problem-solving creature with complex desires, emotions, and motivations. But the movie must think these discoveries are somehow novel as it spends 35 darn minutes on it and the love story between Clete and Helen.
I couldn’t care less about the romance, by the way. Agar and Nelson have NO chemistry together, they’re wooden, and there’s barely anything to them beyond their professions. This wouldn’t be a problem if it wasn’t given sooo much screen time. It’s like director Jack Arnold wanted this to be a straightforward love story and was forced to add Creature scenes.
As before, the Gill-Man looks great. Browning’s swimming is so unique and strangely different that you can believe this is a creature from another age. The same can not be said of Hennsey as the Gill-Man on land. Ben Chapman (who played the Creature in the first movie) had a way of gliding through the air in Creature from the Black Lagoon that maintained the Gill-Man’s alien movements even while on land. Hennsey walks practically like a normal person. It jars me out of the movie and creates incongruity between the above-and-below water scenes.
I wish both men were given more to do as the Gill-Man. The Creature spends most of the time in a tank doing hardly anything. The scenes where Clete and Nelson are underwater and studying him are meant to be tense. The music tells us that. Will the Creature break the metal chain holding him by the leg? Will he harm our heroes? Those are the questions that should be frantically swimming through our mind, but the movie fails to build any sense of actual danger into these moments so that they just feel like padding.
If you couldn’t tell already, I really didn’t like this movie. It’s harmless, but there’s almost nothing about it that you’ll find yourself remembering. I can barely recall watching it and I literally just got done watching it an hour ago.