Revenge Of The Creature (1955)

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The Creature from the Black Lagoon has been captured by scientists and transported to an aquarium in south Florida. Once there, he becomes attracted to lovely female scientist Helen Dobson and manages to escape and kidnap her, and heads to Jacksonville, with her real-life love in pursuit. --IMDb
Review by Crispy
Added: January 25, 2009
The Creature From the Black Lagoon has always found comparison with King Kong, so it's no real surprise that it's sequel takes a bit of inspiration from the second half of the 1933 classic. Sadly, we don't get to see the gillman climbing the Empire State Building, but we do have Clint Eastwood's very first appearance in front of the camera. Fair trade.

A year after Dr. Maia's ill-fated expedition looking for fossils, Lucas (Nestor Paiva) again finds himself hired to take scientists into the Black Lagoon. However, the voyage has a much different purpose this time. Joe Hayes (John Bromfield) isn't looking for fossils; he has a single goal in mind, bring the gillman back to America. After barely surviving a one on one encounter underwater with the creature, Hayes realizes just what he's dealing with. Knowing that dealing with this creature will require desperate measures, he blasts it into a coma with dynamite. Back in the States, the creature naturally makes national headlines. It's being kept at Ocean Harbor, a giant aquarium on the Florida coastline. While Hayes is designated as the creature's keeper, Professor Clete Ferguson (John Agar) is heading the research. Assisted by his new love interest, ichthyologist Helen Dobson (Lori Nelson), the two attempt to learn everything they can about the creature and it's ability to learn. However, the creature's love of beautiful women is still going strong, and it quickly falls for Helen. It's obsession drives it to break the chains that hold it captive in its tank and escape to the ocean, leaving a trail of death and injury in its wake. With its new found freedom, it devotes his time to stalking Helen, and Professor Ferguson has to do everything in his power to ensure her safety.

The very premise of this movie takes away a lot of what made the first film so effective. By taking the creature out of the lagoon and chaining him at the bottom of the tank, returning gillman actor Ricou Browning isn't given the free-roaming mobility he had. In my opinion, this took away a lot from the monster right off the bat. There was something about watching him swim around Julia Adams that was really unnerving. Browning's winding strokes were both extremely graceful, yet animal-like. Like most forces of nature, it was at once beautiful and deadly. And again like most forces of nature, it loses all of its effectiveness when caged. This plot also leads to a lot of pacing problems. An extremely healthy chunk of the running time is focused on Clete and Hellen's tests on the creature, which had it been executed correctly, could have worked out a lot better than it did. They spend a lot of time training it to respond to the command 'Stop!, but when the creature starts his rampage, this aspect is horribly used. It just seems forcefully tacked on and unrealistic. The research had the same problem. Watching them work, it begins very apparent that the creature is more human than animal, but this plotline is painfully underused. I haven't seen the third movie yet, but it sounds like that's when those elements are finally used. Here's hoping.

There are some things going in this movie's favor though. Before the monster's capture and after its escape, we once again get to see it uninhibited in its element. As I mentioned before, this is an extremely important change, and some of the best scenes are at either end of the film, from the scuffle in the lagoon with Hayes to stalking Hellen unseen as she frolics in the water with Clete. I don't mean to completely take away from the middle of the film; despite the problems I mentioned, it has it's own high points. For everything the creature lost when it was captured, the observational approach adds a lot back. The growing obsession with Hellen is much more apparent. So was the creature's rage; you can practically feel it's anger when you're watching it trying to rip the chain out of the bottom of the tank. And of course, it was nice to see Paiva return as Lucas, even though his role was quite short.

Revenge of the Creature isn't a bad flick, even if it does tend to drag a bit. It's nowhere near as tight as the last movie, but it's nice seeing a sequel that wasn't a complete rehash of its predecessor, and fans of the gillman will probably enjoy this second outing as well. 6.5/10.
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