The Creature Walks Among Us Blu-ray Review

Walking Away

Creature Walks Among Us is the smallest of the three Gill Man episodes. It lacks the grandeur of man versus nature as evident in the original, or the scale of Revenge of the Creature’s southern Florida’s aquarium setting. Creature Walks Among Us takes place mostly in small rooms and later, a house.

What it does with that shrunken scale is profound though. Creature Walks Among Us is ferociously nihilistic, another anti-science story, the norm for Universal’s horror, but a dire condemnation of human behavior. After an inexcusably plodding first act, a well-off scientist (Jeff Morrow) sees exploitative value in the Gill Man’s transformation from water breather to land crawling, oxygen sucking missing link.

Gill Man ends up in the worst hands. He’s recast as an empathetic, lonely Frankenstein monster, unable to understand the torment scientists put him through. All he sees of human behavior is abuse, arguing, jealousy, and violence. He sees nature at its most raw, and cannot comprehend while killing a bobcat to save sheep is deemed troublesome.

Creature Walks Among Us is ferociously nihilistic… a dire condemnation of human behavior

The killer instinct fades with the loss his gills. Of all Universal’s roster, this is the most out-of-place creature. Wolf Man in wolf form shows no empathy. Dracula seduces. The mummy’s rebirths were not of his own accord. Here, the Gill Man tries to contemplate if he fits, but damage to an oxygen-starved brain rendered his thought processes erratic; he’s a walking tragedy.

He’s also stuck in an imperfect film. Poor Leigh Snowden endures nothing less than abuse, that from the script’s action and her male co-stars. She’s portrayed as a nuisance who dives too far underwater, needing rescue. Two men vie for her favor, one an abusive husband (Morrow), the other his rival (Rex Reason) who cannot (and will not) take no as an answer. Creature Walks Among Us takes pacing hits too, from the overlong first act that remakes the original Creature to the long-winded research that makes up the second.

There is payoff. A rampage in the final minutes is a brutal delight, with smashed furniture, strewn bodies, gunfire, and knocked over gates. That’s Gill Man at his most riotous, and his first real show of strength other than tossing a car in the prior entry.

Plus, this leads into the final shot, absolutely sorrowful and somber. Partly, this marked the end of Universal’s classic monster series. Although the studio still dealt in the genre with the likes of The Deadly Mantis and The Mole People, the shot of Gill Man looking on over the ocean marked the finale for these small form chillers in this style. It’s also a moment of fate, the Gill Man character turned from savage to humane, but then realizing he’s better off dead than being part of humankind. For a fish-monster movie, that’s way above par.

Video

On Blu-ray for the first time, Creature Walks Among Us debuts with a fine scan. Sharp resolution creates nice scenery, including some well textured images of Gill Man himself. Scenes in the Everglades resolve the various plant life, and in close, human actors display facial definition.

This one is let down by compression though. Underwater, some chroma errors pop in. It’s odd to see reddish artifacts in a B&W movie. Grain smears a touch, a bit buzzy rather than organic. There’s also a chance Creature Walks Among Us endured some excessive filtering in the clean-up process. As a bonus, no damage of any kind remains.

Gray scale impresses with saturated brightness and deep blacks. That’s calibrated perfectly. Even the underwater footage barely turns murky, all credit to the gray scale.

Audio

Pure highs capture the best part of this score, rendered by DTS-HD. Deeper elements sound great too, but the screechy horn section that makes up the main theme isn’t struck with audible signs of aging.

Natural and organic, the audio mix keeps the age intact, but without any hiss or static. It’s pure. Precision dialog stands out.

Extras

Historians Tom Weaver and Bob Burns give their thoughts in a commentary. Note Creature Walks Among Us is paired on the same disc with Revenge of the Creature.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The Creature Walks Among Us
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras

Movie

The Creature Walks Among Us is a daring sequel takes the Gill Man out of the water for a nihilistic look at human behavior.

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