Monday, October 11, 2010

Creature Walks Among Us, The (1956)

Directed by:
John Sherwood

Third and final of Universal's original "Gill-Man" trilogy, following CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954) and REVENGE OF THE CREATURE (1955), this was the only one of the three not filmed in 3D. At the end of Revenge, the creature managed to escape captivity at a water park and make his way to the ocean. Now, eyewitness reports are placing him somewhere in the Florida Everglades. Wealthy and brilliant, but possibly insane, surgeon Dr. William Barton (Jeff Morrow) decides to organize an expedition there to locate the creature. Accompanying him on his quest are his beautiful, unhappy, much-younger wife Marcia (Leigh Snowden), nice guy geneticist Dr. Thomas Morgan (Rex Reason), lecherous "beach bum" hired hand Jed Grant (Gregg Palmer) and a few other doctors. Using sonar technology, the group manage to locate the creature, shoot it with a harpoon and then set it on fire. The injured beast is then brought on board ship, where they discover that not only has he lost his outer layer or protective skin (and is thus more vulnerable) but he's dying because of his inability to rely on its lungs alone for breathing. An operation follows to correct this and the creature goes from being a sea beast to a land one. Things come to a head at Morgan's California compound.

There's not much in the way of action here. Actually, the creature itself isn't really even really the focal point of the film. The compensation is with a decent and reasonably compelling human interest story (courtesy writers Arthur A. Ross and Harry Essex) involving the loveless marriage between jealous Dr. Barton and his sheltered wife. As far as the monster is concerned, he is not only given a new look here, but he's treated with an adequate amount of sympathy. Performances are decent, as is the underwater photography, and the ending is pretty downbeat. It's much more in the spirit of the original film than the first sequel.

Universal released a nice box set in 2004 that contains all three Creature titles.

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