‘A city screams in terror!’
The Creature Walks Among Us is a 1956 science fiction horror film. It is the third and final instalment of the Creature from the Black Lagoon horror film series from Universal-International, following 1955’s Revenge of the Creature.
The film was directed by John Sherwood (The Monolith Monsters), a longtime assistant director, from a screenplay by Arthur A. Ross (Creature from the Black Lagoon; Satan’s School for Girls).
Following the Gill-man’s escape from Ocean Harbour, Florida, a team of scientists led by the deranged and cold-hearted Doctor William Barton (Jeff Morrow) board the Vagabondia III to capture the creature in the Everglades.
Barton is mentally unstable and apparently abusive husband to his wife Marcia (Leigh Snowden), as he becomes very jealous and paranoid when Marcia is with other men. Their guide Jed Grant (Gregg Palmer) makes numerous passes on Marcia, with Barton becoming paranoid about the two.
Marcia accompanies Jed and Doctor Tom Morgan (Rex Reason) on their initial dive to look for the Gill-man, despite her husband’s fierce objections. During the dive, Marcia swims too deep and is overcome with the “raptures of the deep,” temporarily losing her mind, removing all her scuba gear. This forces Jed and Tom to abandon their hunt for the Gill Man to swim back and save her.
During the capture, the creature is badly burned in a fire leading to a surgical transformation…
Without question the weakest film of the series, The Creature Walks Among Us isn’t entirely terrible – the early scenes of the Creature in the swamp are as effective as any in the earlier films (admittedly, some are lifted from the earlier films), and his final rebellion is impressive, though brief. But the remodelling of the Creature is frankly unforgivable, leaving him looking more like Tor Johnson than the classic Gill Man.
It’s interesting to make him a sympathetic character (Barton is the real monster here), but we don’t get to see enough of him to really relate to him as a character or to understand why he is so easily domesticated.
The cast does their best with what they have, but this sort of cinema was definitely on the way out by the time the film was released, and compared to what was being made elsewhere – not just by Hammer, but on films like Les Diaboliques – it must have seemed pretty hokey stuff. Nostalgia improves it somewhat, and fans of 1950s monster movies will probably find enough here to make it passable.
David Flint, MOV!ES and MAN!A
“All in all, it’s an interesting idea for a film, but also a rather desperate one, and that desperation is part of the movie’s undoing. The creature’s transformation is too far-fetched to leave so largely unexplained (or rather, to leave supported by so many muddled, inconclusive, mutually contradictory explanations) as The Creature Walks Among Us does.” Scott Ashlin, 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting
“For a film that runs at 78 minutes The Creature Walks Among Us is all over the place when it comes to pacing, with around 35 minutes dedicated to the chase through the Everglades (which recycles a lot of underwater footage from the first movie) and the bulk of the rest concerning itself with Doctor Barton chastising his wife for nearly getting raped (twice) by the menacing Jed.” Gary Collinson, Flickering Myth
“This one’s better than Revenge but that’s not a hard thing to be…and it’s a difference of degrees. If you’d like to see a once-promising horror franchise run itself down like an old watch The Creature Walks Among Us is defiantly your film. Everyone else: skip back to the original. Or do what I do and jump forward to one of the many, many, many other aquatic monster movies it inspired.” David DeMoss, And You Thought It Was… Safe (?)
Cast and characters:
- Jeff Morrow as Doctor William Barton
- Rex Reason as Doctor Thomas Morgan
- Leigh Snowden as Marcia Barton
- Gregg Palmer as Jed Grant
- Ricou Browning as Gill-man – In water
- Don Megowan as Gill-man – On land
- Maurice Manson as Doctor Borg
- James Rawley as Doctor Johnson
- Paul Fierro as Morteno
- Lillian Molieri as Mrs. Morteno
- David McMahon as Captain Stanley
Image thanks: Wrong Side of the Art!