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 the lovely female scientist and manages to escape and kidnap her, and heads to Jacksonville, with her real life love in pursuit.
At least it’s better than Kevin Costner’s “Revenge”.
After the success of “Creature from the Black Lagoon”, Universal Studios figured audiences would want to take another dip with the Gill Man and they were right. This time, marine biologist Bromfield hires the same boat captain that took the first set of scientists to the lagoon and sets out to capture the creature. After bombing the place (and killing all the fish….apparently ecology was but a thing of the future!), he captures the comatose creature and ships him to Florida to be an attraction and an experiment at an aqua park. He is joined by researcher Agar and student Nelson (looking and sounding far more mature than her 22 years!) who attempt to train the creature to respond to human commands.
When the Gill Man has had enough of being chained to the floor of a huge aquarium and being prodded and tormented by his captors, he breaks loose, nabs Nelson and leads the police on a massive chase along the Florida coastline. This second entry (with one more sequel to come) doesn’t have the same creepy atmosphere of the original, but it more than makes up for it in campy, unintentionally humorous ways. Agar gives a very routine performance, smiling idiotically at various points, then reverting to stoicism. Nelson runs hot and cold, too.
In her first scene, when she witnesses a man being attacked by the creature, her expression is along the same lines as discovering that her soufflé fell while she was gabbing on the phone. She improves as it goes along, but is given some goofy things to say and do. She is hardly a match for the divine Julie Adams in the original, though her dress at the end is lovely and she gets to do what had to be a partial inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock’s shower scene in “Psycho”. Bromfield, not long after having frolicked with Esther Williams in “Easy to Love”, has a more difficult swimming partner this time as he continuously wrangles the Gill Man. His tan, beefy looks fill out his teeny swim trunks beautifully, though his role eventually becomes a bit of a throwaway.
(Fortunately, the baggy shorts the men wore in the first movie have been replaced by dinky, tight speedo-like ones here.) Future stars Eastwood and Halsey appear in bit parts. Eastwood has the most lamentable role as a sort of backward lab technician who can’t keep track of the four mice he’s been placed in charge of. Halsey has it better as a college student who has a run-in with the creature. The film is chock full of dry, now-hilarious moments of drama and bizarre plot details that make little or no sense. Nelson befriends a dog that roams into the aqua park and then has it living in her hotel room? The creature can track Nelson on land from the ocean? A police dispatcher feels it necessary to announce that she’s a “pretty” student when detailing her kidnapping. When the monster goes on his rampage, a woman blithely lets go of her daughter who then falls at the feet of the creature.
Miraculously, though he has mauled and killed men beforehand, he lets the mother kneel down and protect the child. In this film, more than in the original, audience sympathy leans towards the creature. After all, he was dragged form his home and then placed on display. The “training” sequences are remarkably cruel. Nelson places a box of food near him and as he reaches for it, Agar stabs him with a bull prod! Nice! Then she does the same thing with a ball. She entices him to play with it and then here comes the prod again! (Incidentally, the whole prod issue seems unlikely to work the way it is shown.) It does, however, turn a bit funny when the Gill Man retreats and sits on a rusty anchor.
As in the original, there’s an underwater swimming sequence, this time with Agar and Nelson canoodling while the creature lurks. Gill Man could have easily snatched her and gone off, but then there’d be no film. Even amongst all the goofiness, a modicum of suspense makes its way into the movie. Again, the monster gets some surprising mobility and speed underwater and is pretty threatening. This film draws from past classics (“King Kong”), yet inspired future movies as well (“Jaws 3-D”, “Orca”.) Far from a true classic, it entertains in spite of itself.
This B Monster Film is well worth watching!
Author: William Giesin from United States
16 May 2004
In all fairness this movie should be judged for what it is …. a 1950’s B Monster movie flick. I give it high marks in this area. It may not have the shock and scare value as it predecessor “The Creature of the Black Lagoon” but I find it to be a good representative of it’s genre. A lot of this film was shot at Marineland in Florida at a time before there ever was a Sea World. As a kid I was amazed at some of the scenes in the film such as “The Creature” over turning a car as he was escaping the Aqua Park, and jumping out of a huge aquatic tank to attack the audience. Recently I talked with Ricou Browning (who played “The Creature”) and determined that Universal Studios used wires to turn over the car that was supposedly thrown by the Creature. Wires were once again used to pull the Creature out of the large tank at Marineland as the Creature attacked actor, John Bromfeld. Seconds later he was attacking the Marineland crowd. As a young theater goer I found this fascinating. This film has been taking a lot of heat from some of your web site critics. I think it is well worth watching to see how the old Hollywood crowd use to scare us at the Drive-In. If nothing else it serves as a pleasant stroll down “memory lane”.
Using the working titles of Return of the Creature and Return of the Creature from the Black Lagoon, filming took place at the Marineland of Florida which played the part of the film’s Ocean Harbor Oceanarium. The St. Johns River stood in for the Amazon in the film.
The Lobster House restaurant where the Creature kidnaps Lori Nelson was located in Jacksonville, Florida. It was destroyed by fire in 1962. The Diamondhead Restaurant (now the River City Brewing Co.) was built adjacent to the site where the old Lobster House once stood. Friendship Park was built on the vacant land near where the Lobster House stood.
During the attack by the Creature on the Lobster House, a clock hangs above the entrance that suddenly jumps ahead two hours during the Creature’s attack. This is a continuity error resulting from the heat from the production equipment tripping the sprinkler system in the restaurant shortly after the scene started. The extras, mostly workers from the nearby Independent Life Insurance Company, were drenched, along with the production equipment, and the extras had to go home and change while the equipment was dried, which resulted in the time difference.
Revenge of the Creature marks the screen debut of Clint Eastwood, who appears uncredited as a lab technician named Jennings early in the story. He is shown having a discussion with Professor Ferguson, accusing a test subject cat of eating a lab rat, only to find that he had in fact accidentally put the lab rat in his lab coat pocket.