Saturday, September 18, 2010

Daddy-Daughter Bonding Time, Part II

As I mentioned last time, my daughters were eager to watch the sequels to The Creature from the Black Lagoon. The very next day, at around 8:30 in the morning, we watched Revenge of the Creature. Once again the girls loved it, not realizing that the movie is a pretty average one for the '50s and therefore greatly inferior to the original.

It starts out well enough. There's some of the suspense of the original as two scientists working for an aquarium in Florida go searching for the gillman in his lagoon. They eventually capture the creature and bring him to the aquarium where they study his biochemistry and try to condition him to make him more controllable. At this point, the movie shifts focus to the male and female leads and their developing romance. This whole portion of the movie is interminable; the kids sat through it well enough but I wanted nothing more than for the gillman to escape and start wreaking havoc. I'd like to point out that the original also showed a budding relationship, but it evenly balanced that with gillman-related action. The only useful part of this whole sequence is the discovery that the gillman is physically more similar to humans than to fish.

Eventually the gillman does escape and 1950s-style violence ensues. Unfortunately, the movie places the lone gillman among civilization, where he is at a distinct disadvantage. This reduces the menace that the gillman poses and kills the suspense.

Yes, the gillman has been reduced to a
supporting character in his own movie.

This morning we watched the third and final film, The Creature Walks Among Us. Once again the girls did a good job sitting through it, but at least once my five year old asked, "when are we going to see the monster?" Actually, I had been thinking the exact same thing. Eventually the scientists do capture the gillman in the Florida Everglades (where it was last seen at the end of Revenge of the Creature), but in the process the creature is badly burned. Despite loosing its gills, the creature continues breathing due to a previously unused set of lungs. The gillman's outer layer of scales sloughs off to reveal a human-like layer of skin underneath. Because of the sensitivity of this newly exposed skin, the scientists dress the gillman in makeshift canvas clothing. All this furthers the purposes of the surgeon financing the expedition; the creature's development into a more human-like being encourages his own theories that mankind can be transformed to become more survivable in hostile environments.

Unfortunately, this movie also reduces the gillman to a supporting character. Most of the plot is spent on the surgeon, who is shown to be abusive and possessive of his wife, and his decaying marriage. Of only two(!) killings in this monster movie, one of them is perpetrated by the surgeon. While this movie has a more interesting plot than its immediate predecessor, it lacks suspense or excitement. The gillman has only a few ineffective rampages and spends most of its time in bandages or trying to get used to its new surroundings. The movie's primary success is in making the gillman a sympathetic character; now that its gills are gone, it can no longer survive in the only home it has ever known.

He may be even uglier now that he's more human.

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