Even years after his death, it is difficult to forget American author, screenwriter, and ocean campaigner Peter Benchley. Benchley’s contributions to action-packed nautical novels, as well as their breakout hits and subsequent adaptations into mini-series and films, cemented his place in the business.
When we talk about adaptations, we are specifically referring to Stuart Gillard’s 1998 television miniseries Creature, which is based entirely on Benchley’s gripping novel White Shark from 1994.
Returning to the miniseries, we have an unrestricted secret military base, a shark-human hybrid on the loose that can adapt to any environment, and a story that combines aspects of horror, science fiction, and thriller.
So be ready for today’s video, in which we will go over the entire miniseries in great depth. Please keep in mind that this will be an interesting in-depth study of both episodes, so please do not be shy about sharing your ideas in the comments area.
Are you prepared for this? So, let us get started!
Now You’re Not Safe Anywhere – Creature TV Miniseries (1998)
The year is 1972 and the opening scene takes us to the arrival of Lieutenant Richland at a secret research facility in the Caribbean. We learn that he has come all the way from Washington DC and post his arrival, he is welcomed by Lt. Thomas Peniston, who has been on the island for nine months babysitting some kind of a project. With Peniston taking Richland inside the facility, the latter is seen introducing himself as the ‘project oversight officer’ to Dr. Bishop.
The head scientist isn’t too pleased to see Richland at all and addresses him as ‘a boy’. He even decides to give Richland a peek into the projects that he is working on. While the first one happens to be an amalgamation of a dolphin and a shark, the other is a special experiment.
According to the scientist, it is the recapitulation theory or in simple words, a shark and human hybrid. However, things go haywire when the hybrid gets overstimulated, breaks free from the tank, and ends up killing Dr. Bishop along with a few other workers. Upon realizing that the creature is headed out to the sea, Richland immediately orders Peniston to kill it. While the latter is able to trap the creature inside a containment unit, he is unable to kill it. Instead, he cuts off the ropes of the containment unit and drops the box in the sea.
Cut to the present day say about 25 long years later, Dr. Simon Chase, a researcher and marine biologist by profession is seen doing everything he can to find a cure for cancer, an answer that he firmly believes lies within the shark community. Chase is seen running a shark research institute along with his friend and assistant, Tall Man, and his place of work happens to be what was formerly the secret research facility.
Coming back to the events of the current day, Chase rescues a pregnant female great white shark, one that was tangled within the fishing nets of Ben Madiera, a local charter hiring out his boat to a bunch of tourists. Chase is absolutely exhilarated about having been successful in setting free the shark when it suddenly dawns upon him that he had to go and pick up his family from the airport.
As he is seen leaving, another local fisherman called Adam Puckett takes his boat for a spin. But, unbeknownst to Adam, the anchor of his boat gets caught up within the containment unit and calls it an accident, the creature inside escapes into the open. No points for guessing Madiera happens to be its first meal.
Back at the airport, Chase introduces his son Max and ex-wife Dr. Amanda Macy to Tall Man. As for Amanda, she has also brought along a sea lion called Robin to carry ahead with her research. With the duo of Chase and Amanda setting themselves up to venture into the waters, Max decides to explore the town. It is then that the viewers get to catch a glimpse of Peniston again but judging by his appearance, he seems to have clearly lost his mind. He is also addressed as ‘werewolf’ by the townspeople and no one knows why. Max, whilst touring the town encounters the Chief of Police’s daughter Elizabeth, as well as some of the local boys who tell him that in order to be a real islander, he has to take the test of bravery and jump off the cliff.
Soon, Madiera’s body is discovered by the locals; Chief Gibson, informs Chase about it and asks him to have a look at it. Post-inspection, it is clear to Chase that it wasn’t a shark attack but Chief Gibson blames it on the great white shark. Peniston, on the other hand, is absolutely horrified to see the empty containment unit as he instantly recognizes it. Back at Chase’s shark research institute, Amanda tells Tall Man about Chase’s younger brother and best friend, Brian, how he died of cancer, and Chase’s eventual fixation on the shark cancer connection.
As for Max, he is out with the local kids, all set to jump off the cliff and oblivious that the creature is skulking deep below. As he jumps after one of the local boys called Kimo, he narrowly evades the creature but Kimo gets brutally attacked to death. Chief Gibson is certain that it’s the work of the great white; even Max tells Chase that it was the great white except that it had ripples on its body. Later that night, Chase and Amanda while studying the tooth that was found in Kimo’s arm come to a conclusion that the creature is mammalian.
Their boat also gets attacked by the creature but they are able to escape it. The next morning, Adam Puckett is seen exhibiting the dead body of the great white shark and the locals are celebrating thinking that they are finally past the danger. Chase tries his best to explain to Chief Gibson what he saw the night before and how the creature attacked his boat but the chief is simply in no mood to pay heed to him.
Chase is able to in touch with the Office of Naval Research in Washington DC and soon gets a call back from Admiral Richland. As he lets the Admiral know of the current situation, Richland tells him not to do anything and that he and his men will take care of it.
Later that night, Chase sees Peniston using some kind of a horn, one that’s bound to lure the creature towards him. Chase jumps into the water to save Peniston and the duo is saved from getting mauled by the creature. Peniston is brought inside the facility and given a place to stay there. Richland, in the meantime, is seen boarding a helicopter along with his men calling it a shark expedition.
With Chase discovering claw marks on his boat, he makes his way back to the research institute with Amanda, and Peniston shows them a secret passage through an underground tunnel. Chase and Amanda decide to go down and take a look; the tunnel that is half flooded with water leads the duo to the actual research facility. There, they are stunned to find a horde of equipment along with various notes regarding the experiments that used to be carried out earlier. With Chase discovering Adam Puckett’s traps inside and thinking about how is it that it got there in the first place, the creature emerges out of the water and attacks them.
It is able to claw Amanda but Chase is fast enough to get her out of its sight. As they start running back towards the tunnel entrance, they see the creature following them but then it stops after some time. While they think it’s getting suffocated, the creature is actually seen growing arms and legs so as to continue pursuing them. Chase along with the rest is able to make it back to the entrance and re-seal it right before the creature can make its way up into the facility.
Chase along with the rest hops onto the boat and leaves the institute right away; he also asks Peniston to keep a watch for the creature on the way. Amanda is horrified by the creature and calls it an aberration. The family is able to make it to the dock, unaware that they are being followed by the creature the whole time. Max is the last one to leave the boat and while doing so, he falls into the water. Chase is able to pull him out of the water and just when he is done lifting him up, he sees the creature below. It looks at Chase for a while and then disappears back into the water.
The next morning, Amanda gets her wound treated by the town doctor who posts seeing her claw wound calls Chief Gibson. With Chase telling the chief how Amanda was attacked out of the water on the land and how the creature isn’t some mindless killing machine as it chose not to kill Max, Gibson tells him that both he and the werewolf seem to be drinking from the same glass. As the chief leaves, Amanda decides to stick around for a few days to help out Chase. As for Max, they decide to have him board the very next flight and get him out of there.
Amanda drops Max at the airport and comes back to the boat where she along with Chase, Tall Man as well as Peniston heads back to the facility. An over-ambitious Adam Puckett on the other hand decides to go diving and hunt for the creature to have him as part of his trophy collection. But the creature is fast enough to lay a trap for Puckett instead and as fated, he meets a brutal death.
Chase, Amanda, and Tall Man have hardly stepped inside the facility when Richland meets them there and tells them to go back. Chase informs the Admiral that the creature is amphibious and asks him if he is prepared for that. Richland tells him he knows exactly what is needed in order to kill it and tells his men that it’s a mean great white shark that he wants dead.
Max is almost about to board the plane when Elizabeth stops him and tells him that he can’t find her cousin. She also tells him about the only place that she could possibly be is the old rum factory and Max decides to help her lookout for her cousin instead. Back at the facility, Richland comes face to face with Peniston and tells him that he knows the reason why Peniston did not finish the job that he was asked to do that night 25 years ago. He also tells him that his secret is safe with him as long as he doesn’t blurt things out to anybody.
Richland, next, sends a team to probe deeper into the tunnels whilst keeping a track of them through their cameras. With Max and Elizabeth looking for her cousin, they come across an ancient burial site and find Tall Man’s wife Tauna there, who is clearly in a state of trance. They leave the site and start looking elsewhere outside in the marsh. All of a sudden, Puckett’s head floats out of the water and the terrified duo starts running away only to have the creature take a leap at them from a tree and chase them on its foot.
Back at the facility, Richland not only destroys the notebook of Dr. Bishop that Chase had found earlier but also torches the actual research facility. The kids somehow make it back to Tauna’s house, who lets the respective families know that their children are at her place. However, the creature attacks all three of them inside the house and when Chase gets there, the house is in complete ruins.
They almost think that the children have died until all three of them come out of their hiding places. Elizabeth fills in about the creature to her father, who finally appears to believe things. Just then Richland arrives and asks them about the marshes. The chief decides to show him and his men where the swamp is. As for Chase, he makes up his mind to go with the chief and expose the existence of the creature as well as Richland, before the latter ends up annihilating it.
As he goes along for the hunt, Amanda is able to place things from the notes that she had earlier managed to recover. The creature is actually capable of interbreeding with great whites and creating more of its kind and all it requires right now is to breed once as soon as its mating urge kicks in. Back at the swamp, the creature starts attacking Richland’s men one after the other and in the midst of the chaos, the chief falls into the water. Chase is able to save him right on time but the creature strategically breaks the bridge upon which Richland is standing and makes him fall into the water, thus eating him.
The chief and an injured Chase are able to make it back to town. Gibson tells his daughter that he saw the creature and apologizes to her for not believing him earlier. Chase goes back to the facility along with Amanda, Max, and Tall Man to put an end to the creature. Post finding Peniston there, Amanda tells him that she knows that he was there at the facility 25 years back, she knows that he was a part of everything, and angrily demands to know why he did not kill the creature back then.
It’s then that Peniston tells them that the creature is a part of him and his blood was used to create it. While thinking of different ways to locate the creature, Amanda comes up with a plan and sets Robin into the water attaching a camera to trace the creature. The sea lion is eventually able to discover the creature’s cave but post being able to hear the power generator of the facility, Chase realizes that the creature has managed to find another way in into the facility. He asks Amanda to get Robin out of there and tries to reach out to Max and Tall Man at the facility asking them to get out of there.
But due to the approaching storm outside, his voice starts breaking out. As for Robin, the cave leads the animal into a lab that is situated right under the institute only to get attacked by the creature there. As a result, the camera goes blank. Eventually, there’s a security breach at the facility; Tall Man is seen entering the tunnel along with Peniston and he is able to locate the creature devouring Robin.
Of course, he takes an aim at the creature and shoots at it a couple of times but the creature incapacitates Tall Man clawing him in the process. Chase arrives there right on time and asks Peniston to shoot it but he does not. Instead, he uses a sound device to distract the creature and lures him up inside the facility. With the sound device not working anymore, Chase engages in a fight with the creature, and taking the aid of his son and Peniston, he is able to lure the creature into the explosive decompression chamber.
With Peniston deciding to stay back in the chamber with the creature, Chase locks them in. It goes without saying that the creature savagely kills Peniston. With Amanda activating the pressure chamber, Chase deliberately lets the pressure inside build-up exceedingly high only to smash the window and cause all the air inside to come out thus leading to an explosive decompression which of course results in the creature getting exploded, ultimately putting an end to it.
The miniseries ends with Chase, Amanda, Max, and Tall Man finally getting out of the facility and boarding the boat back to the town.
An Amphibious Shark-Like Monster
To begin with, the monster that we are referring to here is a bioengineered creature. It is designed to be militarized so it should not surprise you at all when we tell you that it is smarter, faster, and way more clever. Don’t make the mistake of categorizing it as a mindless killing machine, it innovates, it makes its choices, it anticipates, it remembers and most importantly, it’s like anything one has ever seen before.
Stan Winston’s creature is a fantastic concept, a spectacular design, and a daunting opponent covered in slime and goo. Given that the creature is for a tv miniseries, it is really well done! What starts as a genetically altered creature eventually evolves forming lungs, gills, arms as well as legs like that of a human. The high point of the whole movie is inevitably the creature’s transformation scene. Mind you, it can be sickening because the creature is seen to vomit all over the floor and it is certainly not for the squeamish.
Why Should You Watch Creature TV Mini-Series?
Starring Craig T. Nelson, Kim Cattrall, and Giancarlo Esposito in leading roles, you would be surprised to know that Stuart Gillard’s Creature was actually nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award. With a teleplay by Rockne S. O’Bannon, Creature boasts a well-executed narrative along with a visually rich location, good musical score, some fantastic special effects, and plenty of recognizable faces.
If you are wondering how Gillard’s Creature benefits from being a tv movie, well, for starters, it is genuinely creative to its own concept. Next comes the creature, one that is convincing, creepy, and very well carried out. And, as a television miniseries made in the 90s and featuring a creature that’s made by the legendary Stan Winston, this three-plus hour extravaganza certainly deserves a watch.