The Creature Walks Among Us

02/05/2020 06:29

Film: The Creature Walks Among Us

Year: 1956

Director: John Sherwood

Writer: Arthur A. Ross

Starring: Jeff Morrow, Rex Reason and Leigh Snowden



Much like the sequel prior to this, I had no idea there was a third one, but it came up in the encyclopedia I’m working through to round out my horror film watching. As I’ve said, I came late to the Creature from the Black Lagoon films, but it is one of my favorites now from the original Universal run. I thought the sequel was above average so I was intrigued to see this one. The synopsis is scientists captures the Creature (Ricou Browning and Don Megowan) and turns him into an air-breather, only for him to escape and start killing.

Now this synopsis is a bit misleading if I’m going to be honest. This follows the continuity that the original Gill-man was found in the Amazon and then brought back to the United States to be studied before it ultimately was killed. There’s then rumors there’s another in the everglades. Dr. William Barton (Jeff Morrow), Dr. Thomas Morgan (Rex Reason) and Jed Grant (Gregg Palmer) have an expedition to try to find it. Also coming along on this is Marcia (Leigh Snowden) who is Dr. Barton’s wife. She is used to adventures as she has experience with hunting and scuba diving.

The group first meets with Mortero (Paul Fierro) who had a run in with something that has left him crippled. He tells them what it looked like and they go searching for it. Helping them is Dr. Borg (Maurice Manson) and Dr. Johnson (James Rawley). On their boat is a room where they do a full check on whatever they find as well as sonar to help their search.

It turns out the rumor is true and they encounter the creature a couple of times. It doesn’t go as planned when it is badly burned. They do get into the operating room where they learn the outer scales have burns of the 3rd degree. The metabolism is much higher than humans and it’s making the creature adapt as they try to give it medical attention to survive. It appears that evolution is much more rapid and might hold the key for humans to exploration of the unknown.

Much like other Universal horror films, I went lighter on the recap, because it doesn’t have the most complex story. What I do find interesting is that since this came out in the mid-1950’s, we are getting some more of the sci-fi aspects incorporated here. That really does create social commentary that I really do enjoy to delve into when it comes to movies.

What I want to tackle first is the evolution and the science that this movie is delving into. Dr. Barton is convinced that experimenting and studying Gill-man will result in us being able to explore space. I don’t think this is completely wrong. If you really look and consider it, the space suit isn’t that much different from suits that were used in deep sea diving more early on. If we could somehow find a creature like this and see how it can withstand pressure underwater, the implications could help exploring the depths of the ocean or going into space.

Moving from this, what I was really interested in was the genetics of the Gill-man. They reveal that its metabolism is higher than ours and that it is healing from its burns faster. What I really find fascinating about this though is the fact that because it is healing out of the water, it does have lungs. They do explain that there are certain fish in the drought season have this as a way to survive. The gills are burned closed so it has to resort to healing into being a land creature which I thought was a cool touch. Because of the effects of its injuries, it actually has to stay out of the water as well. Evolution is just something that I find to interesting, so seeing it play out faster here held my interest.

The last aspects I’m going to lump together. Before Cannibal Holocaust we are looking at humanity and how civilized we think we are, we are still beasts by nature. It is a couple of the humans who really seem to be more of the villains than this creature who is trying to defend itself. It is crazy this is an aspect that is still quite relevant today. Dr. Morgan is nice to the creature while studying and we see that Gill-man stops being as aggressive. It is only when something attacks it does it retaliate. There’s also Dr. Barton and Jed who are both misogynistic. Dr. Barton doesn’t trust Marcia. I don’t know if she cheated on him previously, or he just thinks she will since she doesn’t wear a lot of clothes for the era and is flirty by nature. He treats her like crap and I feel bad for her. Jed is just your manly man that thinks every woman wants him and I despise his character. I do give credit though as he got a reaction out of me.

Shifting over to the pacing of the movie, I think that it is fine. My gripe normally with Universal films is that we don’t get a lot of the monster and it doesn’t have much in the way of story or subplots. This one really does break that as do the others in this series. I’ve delved into the social commentary and we get the creature within like 20 minutes. It kept me interested and I think the runtime of 78 minutes really does help there. I also liked the ending as it is quite different from its predecessors.

That will take me next into the acting. Morrow I thought was solid and I actually like the duality of how I feel towards him. He’s a man of science and I don’t disagree with the line of experiment he’s trying to go along. The problem though is how he treats his wife and he’s just a bastard all around. I’ve already said what I feel about Palmer, it is about the same just that he doesn’t really have any redeeming qualities, but I like the reaction I have toward him. Reason was good as the complete opposite to Dr. Barton. I do like that he treats Marcia with respect. I also enjoy that they gave her depth, where she won’t be told what to do by her husband and she was quite strong there. She was quite attractive as well. Both Browning and Megowan were the Gill-man, but uncredited. I like what they did in bringing this monster to life. The rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed.

There’s not a lot in the way of effects for the movie and of course, a lot of that is the time period it is from. I do think that the suit that the Gill-man is in was good. It looks fairly real if I’m honest. I even like the update that we get after the burns are healing for it. There’s an interesting scene with the creature and a mountain lion as well. The underwater scenes that we get are also pretty solid as usual. I would say that the cinematography was good overall. No complaints about how this was shot.

Now with that said, I thought this was another solid sequel. It does keep that feel of the original and just keeps expanding on the mythology. As a story guy, I do like that it doesn’t violate continuity. I like what they introduce about the creature and learning a bit more about its genetics. The pacing was pretty tight and I never lost interest. Acting was solid as was how the movie was shot along with the look of the creature. The soundtrack really didn’t stand out to me, but it also didn’t hurt or take me out of it. I would say that I liked this one better than the previous and coming in that this is an above average movie overall.


My Rating: 7.5 out of 10