Friday, May 30, 2014

"Revenge of the Creature" (1955) d/ Jack Arnold

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Tonight, we'll cover the 1955 3D sequel to the 1954 3D original (Revenge was also the only 3D feature released that year, coincidentally), the only time in cinema history that's ever occurred, and the first of two sequels spawned by the frenetic enthusiasm that audiences displayed for the Gill-Man at the box office. Jack Arnold returned to the director's chair here, and B-movie hero, Mr. Shirley Temple, John Agar himself, takes the lead, with cerebral blonde, Lori Nelson, appearing as his romantic interest/ Gill-Man bait. Ricou Browning also returns as the Creature, who's undergone a few noticeable cosmetic alterations, but remains ever ready to face palm the nearest unlucky devil with webbed authority.

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"You feel lucky enough to light that Bunsen burner...well, do ya...punk?"
Despite the previous year's expedition to the Amazon ending in tragic failure, Lucas (Nestor Paiva) is back in the Green Inferno with a new boat, and a new crew of scientists determined to capture the fabled amphibious monster that dwells in the Black Lagoon, for obvious research purposes, but more so, for lucrative ticket sales at Ocean Harbor, an early Sea World-esque water park, where tourists will pay long green to gawk at the fishy fella from behind protective aquarium glass. The capture in question, takes all of fifteen minutes, thanks to an environmentally sound technique called "dynamite fishing", that leaves the titular Creature in a comatose dead man's float amid hundreds of belly up fish, ready to be exploited, errr, studied in far off,  sunny Florida. Once the experts have walked him back to consciousness, shark-style, with only one meathead casualty (John Bromfield), it's chains and shackle, feeder fish out of metal cages, and Pavlovian conditioning with a nifty cattle prod to the midsection for the new specimen. Ah, those early days of science...

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"I hope you've brought your snorkel tonight, darling...", quips Clete (John Agar).
Tired of being labonza-prodded with 'behave yourself' voltage, and being chained to the bottom of the fish tank like an amphibious Kunta Kinte, Gill-Man finally busts the fuck loose like Richard Pryor, amid screaming, terrified tourists, tipping over cars, and generally exacting rampaging Devonian era revenge, before diving into the ocean and swimming home...well, not exactly. Instead, the scaly fiend swims towards St. Augustine, where he does some peep-tomming on Helen Dobson (Lori Nelson) in the shower, but respectfully waits until she's decently clothed again (laying the whack on her improbably-named dog, Chris(!), in the meantime) at a nearby Lobster House bandstand party, before carrying her off, screaming, into the night. Helen's colleague/beau, Professor Clete Ferguson (John Agar), is totes jelly(fish) at the notion of an inter-species interloper, filling him full of lead, and forcing him to repeat his half-dead float from the original picture, in the end.

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The Gill-Man(Ricou Browning) can totally see you in your new underthings. And he doesn't much hate it.
Look for the first screen appearance of Clint Eastwood in a cameo as a scatterbrained lab assistant with mice in his pockets. I vividly recall New York station WPIX broadcasting this one in 3D in the early eighties, and being front row and center of the big floor model tv in our parlor, in red and blue glasses, with one hand on the pause button of my Panasonic top loader, to remove the commercials in between. Like many sequels before and since, Revenge doesn't nearly hold up in comparison with it's groundbreaking predecessor, but remains packed with enough nostalgic 50's B-movie monster mayhem to stay entertainingly buoyant on a cinematic ocean of also-ran's. A recommended cult classic that amasses an impressive three Wops, in review, and demands a spot on the shelves of every self-respecting horror dvd/BR enthusiast.

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"Only youuuuuu...can make this world seem riiiiight..."
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