Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Brace Yourself for 'The Return of the Creature'

In 1954, the Universal Monster age briefly gasped back to life through its scaly gills with the successful release of Creature from the Black Lagoon. The following year, director Jack Arnold was back to strike again while the iron continued glowing bright red with Revenge of the Creature. In 1956, the Gill Man would take his final stroll in the melancholic Creature Walks Among Us, but as it turns out, this was not exactly the third creature feature. In the interim between parts 1 and 2, members of Arnold’s crew and some of the folks from Marineland Studios, the aquatic animal park that was the setting of Revenge (now known as Marineland), created a comedic Gill Man short to screen at the Revenge of the Creature wrap party.

The Return of the Creature was a 21 minute, 8mm film starring Patsy Beery (aka Patricia Powers), who played the unforgettable, uncredited role of “Girl in Convertible” in Revenge of the Creature. On his website, Patsy’s brother Jere, who played the uncredited part of a photographer in Revenge, had this to say about his sister's picture: “(Patsy’s husband) Clayton (Powers) worked at Marineland and made many friends with the movie crew who were there to film the Black Lagoon sequel. After the production crew left town, Clayton and Patsy produced a (sic) amateur home movie satire of the Revenge of the Creature… One particular memorable scene in this no-budget production was when the ‘Creature’ is revived and kept alive in a apartment bath tub while being fed martinis to keep him sedated.”

A still of Patsy Beery with a makeshift Gill Man from The Return of the Creature.

Although Jere Beery goes on to say that members of the Revenge crew received copies of The Return of the Creature, it has generally been considered a lost film for the past 58 years. Film historian Tom Weaver performed his own search to find out if this was true. Weaver’s creature quest brought him to an associate of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the founder of Marine Studios, which led him to the filmmaker behind Return, who then sent Weaver a DVD duplicate of the film.

This is not the end of the story, because on Friday, July 19, The Return of the Creature will finally go public at the Monster Bash convention in Pittsburgh. Tom Weaver, who attested that the movie is laugh-out-loud funny, will be on hand to introduce the film.

In other Creature news, Bloody reported yesterday that Gammi Illustrations has released some spectacular, unpublished, color-corrected photos from the set of Black Lagoon originally shot for Life magazine in 1953. Check them out in all their full-color glory here.
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