The Creature Walks Among Us, released in 1956, is the third and final installment of the Creature from the Black Lagoon horror film series from Universal Pictures, following 1955’s Revenge of the Creature. The film was directed by John Sherwood, the long-time Universal-International assistant director, in his directorial debut. Jack Arnold, who had directed the first two films in the series, had moved on to “A-list” films, and felt he had no more to contribute to the horror genre. He suggested that his assistant director, Sherwood, could move up to full director, which partly affected Universal’s decision to allow him to direct the film. The Creature Walks Among Us starred Jeff Morrow, Rex Reason, and Leigh Snowden, and, like the original Creature from the Black Lagoon, had music composed by Henry Mancini, who at the time was under contract with Universal.
Doctor Barton, Doctor Morgan, Doctor Johnson, Mister Grant!
(There are Spoilers) Third of the “Creature from the Black Lagoon” trilogy but in this movie the Gill Man or Creature is by far the most sympathetic of all the other Creatures in the “Creature from the Black Lagoon” films that he was in. Being badly burned by a can of gasoline as he was captured in the Florida Evergaldes the Creature is nursed back to heath by those scientists who almost killed him. He ends up becoming more human then most humans are both in his physical and biological makeup, his lungs for swimming underwater are now completely useless, as well as his spiritual understanding of life and the difference between Good and Evil.
Brought back to San Francisco to be studied by Dr. Barton, Jeff Morrow, and his staff of scientist the Creatue is like a Buddist Monk. Observing nature and not at all violent towards humans or the animals that are caged along with him.
The Creature looking like he grew a foot taller and gained an extra hundred pounds, all muscles, lost his ability to swim as graceful as an Olympic swimming and diving champion. He just lumbers around his cage like Tor Johnson’s Lobo in “Bride of the Monster”. As gentle as a kitten when not incited the Creature resorts to violence only when violence is directed towards him or anyone else. As we soon see when the peaceful Creature loses his cool and kills an attacking mountain lion; after the big cat attacked and killed a sheep and then tried to pounce on the Creature.
We also have a sub plot in the movie “The Creature walks Among Us” that’s an attempted love affair with Dr. Barton’s beautiful young wife Marcia, Leigh Snowden, and one of her husbands staff the handsome Jed Grant, Gregg Plamer. Jed, who can’t take no for an answer from Marcia, actions leads Dr. Barton to lose his cool and later smash Grant’s head in killing him. The Creature watching all these goings on from the safety of his steel cage minds his own business , while meditating and enjoying the wonders of nature, is driven back to his roots the Law of the Jungle. That happens when Dr. Barton attempts to cover up Grant’s murder and dumps his body into the innocent Creature’s cage, trying to implicate the totally innocent Creature in Grant’s death.
Outraged at not only Dr. Barton’s crime of taking a life but even more angry at him for trying to frame him for it the Creature goes completely bananas! Breaking out of his confinement the now mad as hell Creature tears the Barton house, and then Dr. Barton himself, apart as he lumbers towards the ocean where we last see him.
Standing by the shore and looking across the vast Pacific the Creature now knows that man is far too inhuman for his new found humanity. He decides to swim back home, the Black Lagoon?, with a new and better understanding of what life, as well as himself and his fellow living creatures, is all about.
P.S It seemed that the Creature must have re-learned, since when we last saw him, his ability to swim on top as well as underwater with his new found, instead of gills, lungs.
Still pleases in spite of budgetary shortcomings
Author: Vornoff-3 from Vancouver, BC
7 July 2003
I remember seeing `The Creature Walks Among Us’ on TV as a kid. The local syndicated TV channel had worked out a deal with Burger King where you would buy one of their Happy Meal rip-offs (whatever they were called then) and get a pair of 3D glasses, so you could watch the movie with its `full effect.’ Brilliant. I don’t recall that the 3D worked very well (it rarely does on a TV screen), but I do remember how excited I was to stay up late and see the Creature from the Black Lagoon arise again in glory.
Now this was the third film in the `Creature’ trilogy, and it’s clear that the budget was far smaller than on either of the previous films. I’m guessing that accounts for the recycled underwater footage (there is not one new shot of the Creature swimming – it’s all from the first film) and the limited use of the original Creature suit. In all probability, the suit was showing its wear and tear, we only see it from the waist up, in darkness, except for the brief scene in which they set it on fire (!). After the Gillman is captured, they explain his modified (cheaper) makeup by explaining that he is `mutating’ to adapt to air-breathing circumstances. Apparently his skin is now so `sensitive’ that he is required to wear a potato sack for `protection.’ This means that they only had to come up with hands and a head for the actor to wear, rather than a full-bodied suit.
Still, there is something compelling about this picture, even after 20 years of growing up. Somehow the fact that the Creature is brought into our world and made to wear clothes reminds one of the Fall of Man, and our unexpected shame at our nakedness. This Creature still longs for that innocence, for a return to his primal water environment, even though his gills are damaged and his lungs would drown if submerged. The romantic subplot parallels this theme in its reversal of the original `Creature’ pattern. This time, instead of a lustful but rich scientist hitting on the Hero’s girl, the girl is married to the rich but jealous scientist while our Hero reminds her what love is meant to be like. This girl is already Fallen, and she begins the movie looking like a slut, but she slowly comes around to innocence, under the charms of Rex Reason.
Jeff Morrow and Rex Reason have a fascinating chemistry, just as interesting here as in their better known picture, `This Island Earth.’ In that movie, again, Morrow plays the scientist who `has it all’ – unlimited funding, access to advanced alien technology, and Reason portrays the good guy who won’t sell his soul to get ahead. This version of the story has Reason a bit more subdued, and Morrow a bit more paranoid/manic. Comparing the two films makes it possible to appreciate the actors’ range, and makes me wish they had worked together more often.
The Best of the Three For Me.
5 January 2005
I seem to differ from many of my fellow “monster movie” fans because I find this film the best of the series and in many ways one of the better horror flicks from this era. The reason for this preference on my part is because the human characters are rich, the actors do an excellent job, especially Jeff Morrow, and the focus is on the relationships between the characters against the backdrop of the adventure of again capturing the creature and then dealing with what to do with him when they get him. These relationships are as complex as my last sentence.
The film opens with establishing a very strained relationship between Dr. Barton and his wife Marsha by inference of their nonverbal behavior. We soon find that Dr. Barton is not simply a very suspicious man afraid of being turned into a cock old by his young sexy wife. He is exploding with paranoia and she is repelled by him. This sets the underplay of all the remaining events in the film. Dr. Barton is a narcissistic, arrogant man besides paranoid. And, these are his more charming features.
Jeff Morrow, who usually played a good natured hero, gets to show his muscles an actor by making himself totally repulsive in this role. Rex Reason is very good in his role and does so by using his good looks, great voice and easy charm to underplay his part. Thus, he makes himself a pleasant contrast to the splenetic Dr. Barton. Leigh Snowden as Dr. Barton’s wife Marsha is, well, very good and also underplays her sexuality so well that it becomes intense. For those who look at a “monster movie” and think the plot of the movie is the monster, which in a good monster film would never take place, this film is not for that person. For those who like a little gem of good acting and interesting characters- enjoy this film.