If there was one thing that Universal enjoyed doing during the first few decades of its existence, it was going back to the well as many times as possible. That meant that any film that was profitable was likely to get a sequel, whether it be from comedy troupes like Abbot and Costello or horror films like Creature From the Black Lagoon. That brings us to Revenge of the Creature, the first sequel to the original film and the second to be directed by Jack Arnold. It is not as good as the first one, few sequels ever are, but it is an enjoyable one and they do something a little different with this film to set it apart so that people are not just seeing a rehash of the first film.
Here, the Gill-man has survived his encounter with the scientists from the first movie, but mankind is never satisfied to leave things alone and so a group heads back and they capture the poor creature and take him back to humanity where he is kept chained up in a place reminiscent of Sea World. Professor Ferguson, played by John Agar, along with Helen and Joe are studying the Gill-man to learn what they can but they make the big mistake of assuming that he is just a stupid and brainless creature. For his part, the Gill-man is not happy and when he escapes, he proves he is more than just some unthinking monster.
The problem this film immediately had was trying to live up to its predecessor and in the end, it was not fully able to do so. It was and is a satisfying movie and seeing that the creature survived from the first film was good to see, at least that was until he suffered the exact same fate as he did in the first. By taking the Gill-man out of the Lagoon and putting him in a man-made complex, it took a lot of the mystery and the fun out of the film as well. In his native habitat, he was something talked about and rarely seen and now, having been removed, most of what made him special was also gone and would now find himself just another specimen for man to study. It was good to change things up and not make a film that would have been similar to the first, but on another hand, it was not as interesting either.
Putting all that aside, the film does manage to entertain even if it is lacking in horror. There is a little, when the creature finally escapes and does a little rampaging, but other than that, the film was quite tame compared to the original. Thankfully there was enough action combined with a little suspense to keep the film going and hold your attention. Starring the previously mentioned Agar as well as Lori Nelson and John Bromfield, they would do a decent enough job, but this go round while the story was all right, the script was lacking and the dialogue was a little rough at times, particularly when it came to Nelson. The relationship between Nelson’s character Helen Dobson and Professor Ferguson would fill up those moments in the film when not dealing with the creature and while it was all right, at the end of the day, you simply did not care what was going on between the two. Maybe it was a lack of chemistry or perhaps it could all be blamed on the script, but when the focus was off of the creature, the movie simply became a little uninteresting. If the film needed anything, it was a better script and more horror because a horror film that fails to deliver any is a sad thing indeed.
As far as sequels go, Revenge of the Creature was decent but it was not great. Fans of monster movies and horror in general will like it, but in this day and age, the general movie-going public would probably just find it silly. It has its flaws and it has its charms and yet it was good enough and performed well enough that Universal green-lit a second and final sequel which would become the final outing of the infamous Gill-man.