We’re going to start with a minor spoiler. There are rules to black & white monster-movies and one of the most unbreakable (rule #3b, to be precise) is that if the leading lady puts on a nightie within 15 minutes of the end, she will be carried off by the monster so she can be rescued from its monstrous/misunderstood (delete where applicable) clutches at the climax. But here in The Creature Walks Among Us (1956), Leigh Snowden (the only woman in the cast) dutifully dons her night attire at the 5-minutes-to-go mark, only to be completely ignored by the Creature when he turns up in mid-climatic-rampage. What? Are they deliberately subverting audience expectation? Or did they just leave it too late to bother? Just what are we to make of this third instalment in the Gill Man trilogy that started so memorable with Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)?
Millionaire Doctor Barton (Morrow) is in pursuit of the Creature up some lagoon or another as he reckons that the fact that the it’s at the evolutionary crossover-point between water-dwelling and living-on-land will be dead useful when mankind moves into space (okaaay...). To this end, he has brought the Vagabondia III, a significantly Bigger Boat than The Rita in original Creature, and a team of scientists and guides to ensure the correct level of trunk-wearing manly-rivalry so peculiar to the series. He also brings his wife (Snowden) on swimsuit-duties and to provide a bit of sexual tension to the testosterone. They capture the Creature but accidentally set fire to him, like you do. But it turns out that his skin underneath is human-like (but still monsterish) and his gills don’t work anymore. He even has to wear clothes to protect his skin. He’s become one of us! Or has he? Who are the real monsters? The Gill Man or the humans and their trunk-wearing rivalries? Golly. Perhaps they were subverting audience expectations after all...
In a sense, there’s much to recommend Walks Among Us. There’s the usual underwater photography (which was a reasonably big deal in the ‘50s even if they weren’t 3D this time out) and the addition of sonar to the scientists’ arsenal gives rise to some brilliant proto-Dallas-in-the-ventilator-shafts moments. You even have to admire the whole who-are-the-monsters? angle. But there are problems. The new “more human” Gill Man rubber outfit just doesn’t have the iconic quality of the original and the addition of clothes in-no-way fools us that it’s because the budget didn’t run to a full body-suit. In fact, it reminds us of Tor Johnson for some reason. But to be honest, it just isn’t as much fun as the others. Revenge of the Creature (1955) was saved by scenes like Gilly trashing a jazz gig at a waterside bar (one of our favourite moments in the genre) but there’s no particularly outstanding “moment” this time out. Jeff Morrow and Rex Reason (real name, we think), reprising their This Island Earth (1955) partnership, are good value as ever but this still the weakest of the trilogy despite the lofty intentions of the story.
But despite our criticisms it is still fairly enjoyable. Probably down to the Bigger Boat and the swimwear.
Special Features: Trailer / Lobby card gallery / Poster gallery / Stills gallery
THE CREATURE WALKS AMONG US (1956) / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: JOHN SHERWOOD / SCREENPLAY: ARTHUR A. ROSS / STARRING: JEFF MORROW, REX REASON. LEIGH SNOWDEN, GREGG PALMER / RELEASED: AUGUST 24TH