7 July 2003 | Vornoff-3
Still pleases in spite of budgetary shortcomings
I remember seeing `The Creature Walks Among Us' on TV as a kid. The local syndicated TV channel had worked out a deal with Burger King where you would buy one of their Happy Meal rip-offs (whatever they were called then) and get a pair of 3D glasses, so you could watch the movie with its `full effect.' Brilliant. I don't recall that the 3D worked very well (it rarely does on a TV screen), but I do remember how excited I was to stay up late and see the Creature from the Black Lagoon arise again in glory.
Now this was the third film in the `Creature' trilogy, and it's clear that the budget was far smaller than on either of the previous films. I'm guessing that accounts for the recycled underwater footage (there is not one new shot of the Creature swimming it's all from the first film) and the limited use of the original Creature suit. In all probability, the suit was showing its wear and tear, we only see it from the waist up, in darkness, except for the brief scene in which they set it on fire (!). After the Gillman is captured, they explain his modified (cheaper) makeup by explaining that he is `mutating' to adapt to air-breathing circumstances. Apparently his skin is now so `sensitive' that he is required to wear a potato sack for `protection.' This means that they only had to come up with hands and a head for the actor to wear, rather than a full-bodied suit.
Still, there is something compelling about this picture, even after 20 years of growing up. Somehow the fact that the Creature is brought into our world and made to wear clothes reminds one of the Fall of Man, and our unexpected shame at our nakedness. This Creature still longs for that innocence, for a return to his primal water environment, even though his gills are damaged and his lungs would drown if submerged. The romantic subplot parallels this theme in its reversal of the original `Creature' pattern. This time, instead of a lustful but rich scientist hitting on the Hero's girl, the girl is married to the rich but jealous scientist while our Hero reminds her what love is meant to be like. This girl is already Fallen, and she begins the movie looking like a slut, but she slowly comes around to innocence, under the charms of Rex Reason.
Jeff Morrow and Rex Reason have a fascinating chemistry, just as interesting here as in their better known picture, `This Island Earth.' In that movie, again, Morrow plays the scientist who `has it all' unlimited funding, access to advanced alien technology, and Reason portrays the good guy who won't sell his soul to get ahead. This version of the story has Reason a bit more subdued, and Morrow a bit more paranoid/manic. Comparing the two films makes it possible to appreciate the actors' range, and makes me wish they had worked together more often.