Jack Arnold, 1955
Starring: John Agar, Lori Nelson, John Bromfield
I’m sure it will surprise no one that the sequel to Creature from the Black Lagoon isn’t a particularly good film. For starters, the Gill-man was gunned down at the end of the first movie when he tried to kidnap the beautiful Kay and it’s a little implausible that he is still swimming about the Amazon, in perfect health, at the start of Revenge. And that’s another frustrating element: the Gill-man doesn’t get revenge on anyone in this film. If anything, it should be called Capture of the Creature or something along those lines.
A new group of scientists travels to the Amazon in search of the Gill-man, once again led by the wizened captain from the first film on his ship, the Rita. They locate and capture the Gill-man with surprising ease and he is sent to the Ocean Harbor Oceanarium in Florida without incident. An animal psychologist from a local university, Professor Ferguson, travels there to study the Gill-man. He meets a young ichthyologist, Helen, and the two begin to fall in love. But the Gill-man also develops an interest in Helen and becomes obsessed with her. He escapes from his tank, kills his handler, and follows Ferguson and Helen on a romantic vacation. He kidnaps her, desperate to take her and return to the sea. Can Ferguson rescue her in time?
First of all, the Gill-man is from a fresh water lagoon, but in this film he is suddenly a salt water creature and lives in the aquarium’s largest salt water tank with a number of other fish. And then tries to escape into the Atlantic Ocean. Revenge also has the audacity to have the same exact ending as Creature of the Black Lagoon, where the Gill-man is gunned down immediately after the blonde damsel in distress is rescued. These elements would seem less flagrant if the entire middle section of the film was a little more interesting. Instead, we have a lot of very talkie scenes in and around the aquarium. Though the Gill-man is more present than in the first film, he isn’t given a lot to do other than swim around and look downtrodden.
Aside from Helen, played by the adorable and somewhat believable Lori Nelson, the human characters are simply annoying. John Agar, a regular character actor from the period, is (surprise) incredibly haughty and self-important as Professor Ferguson. Some of his dialogue with Helen - or, more accurately, at Helen - is just teeth grindingly misogynistic, but it is a ‘50s movie. Most of the other scientists are outright cruel to the Gill-man, which makes it difficult to side with any of the human characters. Clint Eastwood has his first small role here as a bumbling scientist.
In a certain sense, Revenge of the Creature bears a lot in common with one of my favorite aquatic horror sequels of all time, Jaws 3-D. In both films, the titular monster is involved with a theme part in Florida and eventually escapes. Both films were also shot in 3-D, though Revenge of the Creature is the only 3-D sequel to a 3-D film. It’s a shame that Jaws 3-D is so much more ridiculous and entertaining, though Revenge of the Creature was featured in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and deservedly so.
Revenge isn’t a terrible film, particularly if you’re not expecting much more than a B monster movie sequel. There are some entertaining moments with the Gill-man, but it obviously can’t compare to the first film. Revenge is available as part of the Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Legacy Collection DVD set. This is followed by a third film, the excellently titled, but disappointing The Creature Walks Among Us (1956).