Wednesday, May 20, 2015

#1,738. Revenge of the Creature (1955)

Directed By: Jack Arnold

Starring: John Agar, Lori Nelson, John Bromfield

Tag line: "Weird Monster Escapes! Terror Seizes City!"

Trivia: Reported to be the highest-grossing film of the "Creature" trilogy

I was one of the many people who tuned in to the televised 3-D broadcast of Revenge of the Creature in 1982, which played on a local UHF station here in Philadelphia (the glasses were the old red-and-blue style, and were delivered straight to my door in the weekend edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer). Well, the 3-D, as I remember it, was shit; the only time it actually worked was during one of the underwater scenes (when a glob of seaweed floated by), yet the film itself kept my attention. In fact, I took the glasses off around the halfway point, but still watched the movie straight through to the end.

A direct sequel to 1954’s Creature from the Black Lagoon, Revenge of the Creature picks up shortly after the events of that film, with the scientific world all abuzz over the possible existence of a prehistoric sea monster (aka the “Gill Man”). Hoping to make history, Joe Hayes (John Bromfield) of Florida’s Ocean Harbor Oceanarium leads an expedition to the Black Lagoon, where, following a close encounter with the creature, he manages to capture it. Once back at Ocean Harbor, Joe, aided by animal psychologist Clete Ferguson (John Agar) and ichthyology student Helen Dobson (Lori Nelson), sets to work studying the Gill man in the hopes they’ll be able to communicate with him. During the course of their experiments, Clete falls in love with Helen, but what he doesn’t realize is that the creature also has feeling for her. After escaping from the Oceanarium, the Gill Man begins to stalk Helen, and, before long, kidnaps her. With no idea whether she’s alive or dead, Clete searches frantically for Helen, but will he find her in time to save her from a watery grave?

Revenge of the Creature gets things rolling pretty quickly; within the first 10 minutes or so, we’re treated to both the Gill Man (looking every bit as menacing as he did in the original) and a handful of intense scenes (the most thrilling of which is an underwater fight between the creature & Joe Hayes). From there, the movie barely stops to take a breath, giving us one dramatic sequence after another, including the monster’s escape (during which he turns a car over) and his abduction of Helen (grabbing her while she and Clete are enjoying an evening at a seaside restaurant). In addition to the excitement, Revenge of the Creature has some great underwater photography, an impressive cast (along with John Agar, who’s suitably heroic, and the beautiful Lori Nelson, the film marks the screen debut of actor Clint Eastwood, playing an absent-minded scientist), and a finale that’s positively nerve-racking.

While it never quite reaches the level of the iconic original, Revenge of the Creature is both a solid sequel and a ‘10” on the fun meter.

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