The Universal Monsters are almost as ubiquitous today as they were 70 years ago when they first appeared on the silver screen. Built on the stirring performances of Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Lon Chaney Jr the Universal Monsters are now cultural icons. The Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Invisible Man, The Mummy, Dracula and The Creature from the Black Lagoon all appear regularly in pop culture. The monsters are more beloved now than they’ve ever been.
Most people Remember the big three Dracula, Wolf Man and Frankenstein’s Monster. They’re without a doubt the majors. They’re the big guns. However, the B-list of the Universal Monsters are just as impressive. Mummy, Invisible Man, and Creature From the Black Lagoon all had their own feature film franchises. The last of the monsters to appear was the Creature in his 1954 first appearance The Creature from the Black Lagoon. This film, originally filmed in 3-D was a massive success. It captured the imagination of the entire nation despite having been produced almost solely to exploit the new ‘movie gimmick’ of 3-D. The film was quickly followed by a sequel The Revenge of the Creature in 1955. The sequel didn’t do as well as the original but still managed to make a decent amount of money. By 1956 Universal was panicking. They felt that their monster franchises were dying and began creating ‘monster rally’ films Such as Frankenstein Vs The Wolf Man and House of Frankenstein.
Universal, for reasons unknown, never saw fit to include the Creature aka The Gill Man in these team-up films. And as such, he got a third film, The Creature Walks Among Us. Creature Walks Among Us is a textbook example of how to kill a franchise. It’s very obvious that the film has a lower budget than the previous two entries but it’s the fact that they force the Gill Man to ‘evolve’ that really just causes the whole franchise to shudder and die.
Creature Walks Among Us picks up almost immediately after the conclusion of Revenge of the Creature. The Gill Man has escaped from the torture compound/Sea World-ish amusement park that he was being held captive and has fled into the everglades. A team of scientists strike out on an expedition to re-capture the creature. Inevitably, they catch up with him, capture him, and accidentally set him on fire because, y’know, that’s what always happens.
As the team of scientists rush him back to their lab where they discover that underneath his scales he has a second layer of skin and… wait for it… lungs. That’s right. The Creature has lungs.
You may be thinking to yourself, ‘So, who cares if the Creature now has lungs. Who cares?’ I’ll tell you. The Creature cares because it means he can no longer swim under water. That means… wait for it… CREATURE WALKS AMONG US takes place entirely on land. That’s correct. The film predominately consist of the creature, who is now supremely depressed and confused, staring at the ocean.
The film is tragic. It’s heart breaking. On two levels. One because the narrative is so batshit crazy that it actually kind of works. You feel for the creature. You understand his plight. He just wants to swim in the ocean but he can’t because… he has lungs now. But it’s also heart breaking in that the film is so far towards the ‘we don’t fucking want this movie’ scale that you can practically hear the 1956 audience crying and weeping. Why would Universal choose to make this movie over, I don’t know, a movie that actually has the Creature under water fighting things and eating people? Because Universal had lost touch with their audience. All you have to do is watch any of the Universal Horror films past the first entry into the franchise and you can feel the panic. Sure, Bride of Frankenstein is amazing. But’s it’s the only Universal Monster Sequel that is. The Invisible Man Returns? Stinker. The Mummy’s Hand? Fun but not anywhere near the level of the Mummy. Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man? Awesomely bad.
Creature Walks Among Us is a film that is so insane it’s almost brilliant. If Universal ever get their ducks in a row and actually remake Creature From The Black Lagoon, I’m prying that they remake Creature Walks Among us as well.
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Tagged: lex barker, the creature from the black lagoon, the creature walks among us, the revenge of the creature, universal horror, universal monsters
Posted in: Cult Movies, Featured (Film), Film, Film Reviews, Horror Films