Saturday, March 6, 2010

Swamp Thing (1982)

Swamp Thing

Written & directed by Wes Craven
Based on the DC Comics character

Ray Wise...Dr. Alec Holland
Adrienne Barbeau...Alice Cable
Dick Durock...Swamp Thing
Louis Jourdan...Anton Arcane
Ferret...David Hess
Bruno...Nicholas Worth
Jude...Reggie Batts

"Not long ago, in the unexplored reaches of an unmapped swamp, the creative genius of one man collided with another's evil dream, and a monster was born. Too powerful to be destroyed, too intelligent to be captured, this being still pursues its savage dream."

Deep in the humid bowels of the swamp, scientist Alec Holland and his team are playing God--well, more like SimLife, but still. They have finally, for whatever reason, discovered a formula for a recombinant DNA comprised of both plant and animal genetics. But the evil and resourceful Anton Arcane wants the formula for his own plans, and dispatches a group of mercenaries to take it by force and leave behind no witnesses. This combination corporate takeover and military siege goes awry (you think?), and Alec is accidentally doused in his own formula, set aflame, and then left for dead in the festering waters of his beloved swamp.

Newcomer good girl scientist Alice Cable manages to escape unscathed, salvaging the final notebook detailing Alec's bizarre experiments, so she immediately jumps to the top of Arcane's Most Wanted List.

Luckily for her, some thing emerges from the swamp--for the sake of argument, let's call it a...Swamp Thing--and it protects Cable from Arcane and his henchmen every step of the way. Turns out it's ol' Doctor Holland (never mind the fact that it's played by a different actor), reborn as some sort of sentient vegetable man.

Stop laughing. Nothing is more frightening than a walking talking salad, people. Seriously. Haven't you ever seen Gremlins 2: The New Batch?

Truth be told, I barely remembered this movie from my childhood. Most of my memories are of the sequel, which at the time I considered a much better (or at least more entertaining) movie. I haven't rewatched part 2 since my younger days, so I don't know if that opinion still holds up, but I do know that the original isn't all that I was hoping it would be.

Watching the opening credits, it read like a genre fan's fantasy football league: Wes Craven, Adrienne Barbeau, Ray Wise, David Hess, Harry Manfredini, Todd "Son of Roger" Corman...DC COMICS! But even all these great names couldn't elevate Swamp Thing to a classic.

The majority of the movie is an action flick, which would be all fine and good if I had sat down to watch an action flick. But I had wanted to see a horror-themed, comic book movie--something along the lines of The Fly meets Darkman, for instance--but it didn't come across that way at all. The basic sequence of events breaks down as such:

Arcane tries to capture Cable.
Swamp Thing stops him.
Arcane tries to capture Cable.
Swamp Thing stops him.
Arcane tries to capture Cable.
Swamp Thing stops him.
Arcane tries to capture Cable.
Swamp Thing fails to stop him, and gets captured himself.

Finally, once Mr. Muckypants and Cable were captured by Arcane, things picked up a bit and it turned the movie around enough that I actually enjoyed it after all. The highlight of the entire film, though, was far and away the character of Jude, a dry and quick-witted kid that Cable accidentally partners up with, who was always ready with a wise-ass comment that will make you smirk every time. Too bad this kid with the spot-on delivery never appeared in another movie. I say it's high time for a comeback.

Finally, the special effects were pretty poor in my opinion, and Swamp Thing looked more like a big green mummy than anything else. And no matter what anyone says, the notion of Swamp Thing driving a motorboat is still a ridiculous one. That's like Michael Myers driving a car, for Christ's sake!


In the evolutionary scale of water monster movies, this one would fall somewhere behind Creature from the Black Lagoon but ahead of Marvel Comics' similarly-themed but unsalvageable Man Thing.

Rated PG
91 Minutes
United States

"Oh shit. There goes the neighborhood."

HorrorBlips: vote it up!


  1. "That's like Michael Myers driving a car, for Christ's sake!"

    A-HA! I see what you did there.

    I have never seen the first Swamp Thing film, but I am quite familiar with the sequel. The sequel doesn't quite hold up to adult viewers, but it's at least better than Man-Thing.

    Anyways, I think your vote-it-up button goes to the wrong link. Takes me to the blogger log-in page.

  2. Zedword--thanks for telling me about the HorrorBlips error. I don't know what happened, but suddenly none of my "Vote It Up" buttons work... Looking into it.

  3. Time has taken such a huge toll on this one, I like it for the goofy 80sness, but if anything could use a remake its Swamp Thing!!


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