Revenge of the Creature (Universal 1955)
The success of Universal’s Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) inevitably led to a sequel, and Revenge of the Creature duly followed just five months later.
Again directed by Jack Arnold, Revenge of the Creature takes the plot to the Marineland of Florida oceanarium. Captured in his native habitat, the hapless gill man is transported to the south Florida oceanarium as a visitor attraction.
Swim date: Clete Ferguson (John Agar) cautions Helen Dobson (Lori Nelson) that she may be about to encounter the Revenge of the Creature (Universal 1955)
Predictably, our fishy friend falls for young ichthyology student Helen Dobson (Lori Nelson), who in turn has her eye on admirer Professor Clete Ferguson (John Agar).
Of course, it all goes gills-up as the Creature escapes, terrorising the neighbourhood as he tracks Helen down to a motel and steals her back. Riddled with bullets by local police, he heads seaward in a bid for freedom.
As with the first film, sympathies are most decidedly with the Creature; man is the enemy who exploits nature for profit, so it’s a pity that he wins out in the end really. Arnold directs Martin Berkeley’s screenplay, with guts and liveliness, allowing the Creature to deliciously run amok.
Peekaboo: The Creature (Ricou Browning) looks longingly out at Helen Dobson (Lori Nelson) in Revenge of the Creature (Universal 1955)
Performances from the leads in Revenge of the Creature are generally well-executed, although Ricou Browning’s stunning underwater scenes steal the show. Asked back only to replace the sacked John Lamb, Browning sought credit for his role as the Creature, but was declined by studio executives.
On land, Revenge of the Creature featured actor/stuntman Tom Hennesy, who nearly came a cropper when the stunt scene with Ginger Stanley (standing in for Nelson) went badly wrong; as Hennesy jumped off a pier with Stanley under his arm, he discovered the water was full of jellyfish, and an unexpected current was pulling them both deeper underwater. Stanley escaped, but Hennesy’s waterlogged Creature suit was heavy and inflexible, making it impossible for him to fight the swell. Two local boys, who had been watching the filming from their nearby boat, raced over and pulled him to safety. It was a close call, and made Alland nervous; stunts henceforth would have to be carefully supervised.
Filmed in 3-D to match its forerunner, Revenge of the Creature is a delightful showcase piece of fifties cinema at its best. The highest grossing feature of the trilogy, it is a satisfying second chapter, and has the kitsch value of having introduced audiences to Clint Eastwood as an uncredited lab technician. Innovative on many fronts, Revenge of the Creature helped cement the loveable gill man even more firmly into the annals of popular culture.