I get to spend a little more time with Jack Arnold, the director, thanks to the Sci-Fi Chronicles book, and I also get to see the next installment in the Creature films…
I’ll be completely honest with you, I’m with the Gill-man in this film. The guy is treated incredibly badly, and he’s made out to be the villain when he exerts revenge? How is that far? I’m sure there is a commentary in here on America, specifically in the 1950s… The belief they were the absolute peak of the evolutionary food chain, and thus rulers to everything beneath them.
The story opens with an expedition on the Amazon, overseen by Joe Hayes (John Bromfield), as they head to the lagoon. The plan is to investigate the claims of the previous expedition, and if the creature is proven to exist, then capture it and bring it back to America so that the whole world can revel in studying it. The poor fella is captured pretty damned quickly; they dynamite the water rendering the creature unconscious, in fact, it plunges him right into a coma, where he stays, until he is slowly roused in his new home… an aquarium in Ocean World, Florida. (This is starting to feel like Jaws 3D).
Hearing of the creature’s arrival, Professor Clete Ferguson (John Agar), an evolutionary scientist, who has Clint Eastwood working with him in his lab, packs up and heads south. It’s here that he gets paired up with the pretty ichthyologist student, Helen Dobson (Lori Nelson), and a bit of a romance begins to spring up between them, despite Joe’s trying to horn in on the action…
So the creature is introduced to its new environment, and to make sure he doesn’t escape, he’s chained to the bottom of the large aquarium as sharks and sea turtles swim around him (wouldn’t the salt water have an effect on him?). John and Helen try to train him, find some way to communicate with him, and use an underwater cattle prod to instill fear in the beast, and make him respond to rudimentary commands.
There are hints, though, that the creature is smarter than your average fish, and yet instead of trying to actually communicate, they want to train and show him off to the world, like his fellow prisoners that we get a glimpse of… some dolphins in an Ocean World show.
Consequently, it’s really difficult to feel bad for everyone when the creature finally breaks free of its chains, and springs from the aquarium. Sure he slashes a couple of people with his talons, and there are a couple of fatalities, but for the most part, the guy just wants to get away from everyone, and back into the open water. Where, like any vengeful creature, begins to plot his revenge…
… by trailing Clete and Helen. The pair are so wrapped up in each other that neither seem extremely troubled by the fact that the creature has escaped. And what’s really weird, instead of driving to the airport, or taking a small plan from a landing field to fly north, they decide to take a boat, up river, to the airport.
Surprise, surprise, the creature follows them, stalking them… and waiting for a chance to take his revenge.
I prefer the first film, to this one, it’s just tough to see the creature as the monster in this film considering the way he gets treated by humanity. I don’t blame him for any of his actions (well maybe the dog…)
What did you think of it?