Creature (1998)

In case anyone out there has missed it, Hollywood is strange.

Consider the case of Peter Benchley’s 1994 novel White Shark (later re-titled Creature):  it features a truly grotesque and frightening monster, a product of Nazi science which has been in hibernation since the war.  We are talking about a fanatical Nazi soldier, who has been transformed into a living, amphibious killing machine, part shark, part man, with steel teeth and claws.

Instead, we get the product of a Vietnam War secret weapons program gone awry, a nasty piece of genetic engineering, which is also part shark and part man.

But without the steel teeth and claws!

The problem is that the idea of creating a Frankenstein-type shark man is a very dark sort of idea — let alone that anyone would volunteer to be turned into such a thing!  It just isn’t the sort of thing we can picture our own government doing, even during the Vietnam War.  It is just too horrible.

Or is it just that it was too terrible to imagine in 1998.  Maybe a modern filmmaker might not be so timid.  Who knows?

It does, however, leave you wondering just why they made the change in the first place, though.  I suppose “evil American government” was the flavor of the month.

And it was a bit early for “evil corporation.”

Grumbling aside, this one bears little resemblance to the original, but it does benefit from its (new) setting, a former military research base which has been used for so many different things that it has it share of secrets — and an apparently endless series of water-filled tunnels.

The first half builds nicely to the first clear reveal of the creature at the cliffhanger, while the second half gives us some fairly well-done monster action, including a creepy, nighttime hunt for the beat through a swamp that doesn’t end well for the Navy commandos.  It has the advantage of some beautiful Caribbean scenery, some reasonably good creature FX, and Craig T. Nelson who gets to be the sympathetic outsider — and a marine biologist.  The creature itself comes to a nicely splattery end, although it does take a lot of explaining to set it up.

However, I do have to note that their ultimate reason for destroying the beast is directly contradicted by one of the novel’s specific details!

It never quite rises above its origins as a TV miniseries, but it is pleasant, has a scary creature, a good cast, some reasonably good action scenes, and doesn’t feel overlong.  Nor is there much obvious padding to get the longer two-night length.

And the scene where the creature first stands erect is a standout.

We aren’t talking a great movie here — or even a great monster movie.  And, yes, I suspect it may have been an attempt to cash in on the release of the American Godzilla.

But it is an amiable time waster with a few pretty good moments.

Although that Nazi shark man would have been way better!

Watch or Buy at Amazon:

Part 2


And check out our new Feature:

The Rivets Zone:  The Best SF Movies You’ve Never Seen!


One thought on “Creature (1998)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.