Wherein I continue my slow, shambling stroll through the classic Universal Monster movie catalog. Or should I say, my slow, uncoordinated swim through the Creature from the Black Lagoon series, of which there are only really three entries and a massive trail of failed remakes and reboots. Naturally, there are tons of Gillman-like creatures peppering the pop culture landscape. Most recent and notable is Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar Winning The Shape of Water, itself a failed reboot concept that del Toro was able to wrangle into something slightly different. Now that the whole Dark Universe concept has floundered, who knows when we’ll see the next iteration of the Creature. But I suspect we will, someday. In the meantime, let’s dive into the sequels:
- Creature from the Black Lagoon (trailer)
- The Lagoon Creature’s Name (Robot Chicken)
- The Shape of Water (trailer)
- Revenge of the Creature – Another trip to the Amazon, another encounter with the Creature. This time, the Gillman is captured and transported back to a water-themed amusement park, presumably to be trained in dumb show tricks like jumping through hoops and kicking footbals or something. Naturally, the experiments go poorly and the Gillman escapes for the inevitable rampage. Lots of underwater photography (I want to say more than the original, though its been awhile since I watched it) and the Creature hiself looks as good as ever.
Storywise, there’s not really much here. The love triangle is not especially romantic and perfunctory at best, and the characters strike me as less effective versions of the same types from the first film. The Creature kidnaps our heroine not so much because of story reasons, but because that’s what happened in the first film. The aforementioned inevitable rampage isn’t particularly rampagey, and the Gillman seems a bit less badass in this sequel. Even the thematic component lacks here, with the broad ecological concerns of the first film replaced with the idea that animals don’t like being in zoos (which is fine, but a step backwards for the series). A paint by numbers sequel that entertains well enough but doesn’t really push any boundaries. I think the most interesting thing about this movie is that it features a very early appearance of Clint Eastwood as a scientist who forgot he has a mouse in his pocket. Which is cool, and all, but it’s only about 30 seconds of screen time. **
- The Monster Squad (trailer)
- Creature Nightlife (Robot Chicken)
- The Host (X-Files)
- The Creature Walks Among Us – Another expedition, this time to the everglades, where they quickly find the creature but accidentally light him on fire. The third degree burns have mostly burned off the Gillman’s scales, revealing what appears to be human skin, prompting questions about biological transformation and evolution. Credit where credit is due – this is not a tired retread of the previous two films, and indeed, it makes some interesting choices. In fact, the Gillman is notably less aggressive in this film, especially after his transformation (this despite appearing to be surprisingly jacked in his more human form).
There is, of course, the requisite rampage towards the end, but besides the two main villains of the piece (a serial harasser and a cowardly, abusive scientist and husband that are both real turds, especially with respect to their treatment of our female hero), the Gillman’s ire is mostly reserved for inanimate objects like gates and stone pillars. The ending is surprisingly affecting, with the Gillman, suffering from several bullet wounds, instinctively trying to retreat towards the water, a place where he can no longer survive. **1/2
I’ve been traveling, so this week’s posts have been a little lighter than normal (actually pretty surprised I managed the two scheduled posts, even if they’re not up to normal standards). I’m back now, so regularly scheduled 6WH activities can resume in full force. At this point, I’m not sure what the coming week will hold for me, but I have some ideas, so stay tuned!