The Creature Walks Among Us, released in 1956, is the third and final installment of the Creature from the Black Lagoon horror film series from Universal Pictures, following 1955's Revenge of the Creature. The film was directed by John Sherwood, the long-time Universal-International assistant director, in his directorial debut. Jack Arnold, who had directed the first two films in the series, had moved on to "A-list" films, and felt he had no more to contribute to the horror genre. He suggested that his assistant director, Sherwood, could move up to full director, which partly affected Universal's decision to allow him to direct the film. The Creature Walks Among Us starred Jeff Morrow, Rex Reason, and Leigh Snowden, and, like the original Creature from the Black Lagoon, had music composed by Henry Mancini, who at the time was under contract with Universal.
Following the Gill-man's escape from Ocean Harbor, Florida, a team of scientists led by the deranged and cold-hearted Dr. William Barton (Jeff Morrow) board the Vagabondia III to capture the creature in the Everglades. Barton is mentally unstable and apparently an abusive husband to his wife Marcia (Leigh Snowden), as he becomes very jealous and paranoid when Marcia is with other men. Their guide Jed Grant (Gregg Palmer) makes numerous passes on Marcia, with Barton becoming paranoid about the two.
Marcia accompanies Jed and Dr. Tom Morgan (Rex Reason) on their initial dive to look for the Gill-man, despite her husband's fierce objections. During the dive, Marcia swims too deep and is overcome with the "raptures of the deep," temporarily losing her mind, removing all her scuba gear. This forces Jed and Tom to abandon their hunt for the Gill Man to swim back and save her.
During the capture, the creature is badly burned in a fire leading to a surgical transformation performed by Barton, Tom and their colleagues Dr. Borg (Maurice Manson) and Dr. Johnson (James Rawley). While bandaging the Gill-man, the doctors notice that he is shedding his gills and even breathing using a kind of lung system. Now that the creature has more human-like skin, he is given clothing. The doctors attempt to get the Gill-man used to living among humans. Although his life is saved, he is apparently unhappy, staring despondently at the ocean.
Barton ruins the plans when, in a murderous rage, he kills Jed, jealous that he had made romantic advances towards his wife. Realizing what he has done, Barton then tries to put the blame on the Gill-man. The Gill-man, witnessing the killing, and apparently realizing that he is being blamed for the murder, goes on a rampage. After ripping down the confining electric fence, he kills Barton and then slowly walks back to the sea. He is last seen on a beach, advancing towards the ocean.
Unlike the previous two Creature films, The Creature Walks Among Us was not filmed in 3-D. The underwater scenes were filmed at Wakulla Springs in North Florida, today a state park. Other locations in Florida were also utilized for location shooting. Principal photography ran from late August to mid-September 1955.
Bosley Crowther of The New York Times reviewed The Creature Walks Among Us as a return to the "merman" series. "It should be noted that the producers have captured some misty but pictorial underwater footage and that the Messrs. Morrow and Reason, and Gregg Palmer, who plays a guide with a yen fur the blonde and statuesque Miss Snowden, behave fairly well in decidedly unusual circumstances. The "creature," of course, is frightening enough to scare the scales of a tarpon. However, he apparently hasn't terrified his Hollywood discoverers."
Universal released The Creature Walks Among Us on DVD in a boxed set along with Creature from the Black Lagoon and Revenge of the Creature, and added a bonus behind-the-scenes documentary on the famous trilogy.