For the last couple of months, I’ve been watching old horror and sci-fi movies from the 1940’s and 1950’s. I haven’t watched any of these movies before, and in some cases, never heard of them until recently.
The quality of the films varies from studio to studio, but there’s still something about these old movies that I can’t seem to get enough of.
This past weekend I saw the 1955 film “Revenge of the Creature.” The film is a sequel to the classic “Creature from the Black Lagoon” which came out one year earlier. Which makes sense, because the sequel takes places roughly a year after the events of the first film. “Revenge of the Creature” was directed by Jack Arnold, and starred John Agar as Prof. Clete Ferguson, and Lori Nelson as Helen Dobson. “Revenge of the Creature” is also notable for being Clint Eastwood’s film debut.
This time out, a team of scientists led by Prof. Clete Ferguson make the trip down to the Amazon in the hopes of finding a living, breathing Gill Man. Once there, the team finds that the Creature from the first movie is still very much alive. He’s captured and taken back to the States to be put on display in a Florida aquarium. During the trip, Helen writes a journal about the Gill-man, and she and Ferguson begin to fall in love.
Seeing the two love birds together doesn’t please their colleague Joe Hayes (John Bromfield), who also has a thing for Helen. You know who else has a thing for Helen? the Gill-man. Can’t say I blame Joe or Gilly, Lori Nelson was quite beautiful. Ultimately, the Gill-man escapes from his tank, killing Joe, and flees to the open water. However, the Gill-man is unable to stop thinking about Helen, so he begins to stalk her and Clete.
Things escalate one night when the Gill-man adducts Helen from a seaside restaurant where the two are at a party. Clete valiantly gives chase into the water, but the Gill-man escapes with his captive. Clete joins the police and an army of volunteers in hunting down the Gill-man in hopes of finding Helen before its too late.
“Creature from the Black Lagoon” is such an iconic monster movie, that I didn’t think “Revenge of the Creature” had a chance to be any good. But I have to say I really enjoyed Revenge. The sequel follows the stuff that worked well in the first movie, while also building its on world. The pace in Revenge is much faster than in the previous film. There’s more action, and some of the acting is better here than in the original.
Another interesting thing in this movie is that the monster a lot more aggressive and ferocious than before. He got more to do in this film, and he leaves quite the body count as he rampages through Florida. And some of his scenes (like kidnapping Helen) are down right terrifying. The underwater footage is also rather good in Revenge. It looks clearer then before, and you get a better sense of motion for the Gill-man and the other actors.
But there’s also the familiarity of the first film. Both movies open in the Amazon, and the sequel has a carbon copy of the famous swimming scene. This time though, John Agar treading water with Lori Nelson eliminates the sexual subtext of the first film. Guess the Gill-man is not into threesomes, or more likely, he was added to the scene because the studio got heat the first time.
I thought the cast was pretty good throughout, but the standout for me was Lori Nelson. She’s a knockout, and her swimming was cool and all. But to me, her reactions to seeing the Gill-man were phenomenal. Nelson acted like she really was dealing with a monster, and the way she fought back in the kidnapping scene was terrific.
As a sequel, “Revenge of the Creature” is a fun, loud, action packed ride, and a better B movie than most. It delivered on everything I liked in the first movie, and much more. The creature is scarier, and the girl is hotter.
While the original Gill-man movie will always be the one considered a classic, don’t discount how good “Revenge of the Creature” is.