The Gill-Man returns for his second film outing and lucky for us so do William Alland and Jack Arnold! Alland wrote the story and hired veteran screenwriter Martin Berkeley to script it out.
Berkeley had written and would continue to write a number of screenplays for both film and television, but his real lasting fame (and mark of infamy) would be his reputation as the witness to name (and thus blackball) more Hollywood personalities than anyone else called before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Actor Ben Chapman In His Later Years
Ricou Browning came back to play the Gill-Man’s swimming scenes, but Ben Chapman who had played the creature on land in the first film was no longer under contract to Universal when the sequel was put into production, so he was replaced by Tom Hennesey, a Hollywood stuntman turned actor.
Ben Chapman in the Gill-Man Costume
Revenge of the Creature is not as good as the original, but it’s not bad as sequels go. Like any good sequel, it takes the elements worked for it previously and tries to find new things to do with them.
The story opens with Captain Lucas, (the Captain of the ship the Gill-Man attacked in the first movie whom I’ve foolishly forgotten to mention thus far) once again played by Nestor Paiva, taking a representative of the Ocean Harbor Aquarium and a professional game hunter into the Amazon to look for the Gill-Man.
They find him soon enough which is good and bad in certain respects. On one hand it’s foolish to hold off showing the creature. Everyone already knows what the Gil-Man looks like so there’s not much point in making them wait half the movie to see him again, but it’s also bad for the fact that his sudden appearance in the movie distills any kind of dread the audience might have felt while waiting for his big reveal.
Captain Lucas only has a small role at the beginning but his experience with the creature helps to bridge this film with the last.
Lori Nelson alongside her 'Revenge' co-start John Agar
I’m not accusing the Gill-Man of ripping Kong off anymore than I would accuse Captain Marvel of ripping off Superman (though did you know there was a law suit in the 1940s wherein the owners of Superman sued the creators of Captain Marvel for copyright infringement). What I am pointing out is a very different take on an already established story that manages to do new things and go new places by shifting the setting a bit.
As for the climax of this delightful picture? Sorry, I’m not telling. You’ll have to watch it for yourself to see how Lori Nelson gets out of this scrape and if the Gil-Man ever decides to climb the Empire State Building.
There are a few fun facts to mention though. For instance, both The Creature From The Black Lagoon and Revenge Of The Creature were originally shot in 3-D. At the time this film was made and (so far as I know) to this day, it remains the only sequel to a 3-D movie that was also shot in 3-D.
Clint Eastwood on SetAnd there’s more! This film also boasts the very first on screen appearance of a talented young actor who would rise to become one of the most famous action stars and film directors of all time: Mr. Clint Eastwood! He has a minor uncredited role as an assistant in a science lab, but still. It's Clint freakin' Eastwood! The first movie introduced the creator of Flipper to film and the second installment gives us a nerdy version of Dirty Harry! How cool is that!
This movie is definitely worth a watch. It’s only been released to dvd as part of Universal Studios Legacy collection. The movie comes packaged with the original Creature From The Black Lagoon as well as it’s second sequel (the follow up to Revenge) The Creature Walks Among us, which we’ll talk more about in the coming days.
If you’re interesting in buying the dvd, it can be had at amazon.com for a very reasonable price.
Creature Week continues tomorrow, so stay tuned!