Swamp Thing (1982)
Director: Wes Craven
Ray Wise/Doctor Holland
Louis Jourdan/Dr. Arcane
After goons led by a madman (Jourdan) barge in on his experiments; Doctor Alec Holland (Wise) is turned into a half man, half swamp, half plant Hulk that goes on to cause a ruckus in the name of saving the girl and the world! Swamp this!
I have an acquaintance (I stress the word " acquaintance") who’s a big fan of Len Wein’s and
Berni Wrightson’s Swamp Thing comic-book which first saw the light in the early 70’s. And it is as a fan of the comic that he has constantly dissuaded me from seeing the cinematic adaptation which was written and directed by
Wes "Madman" Craven no less. Well I finally cracked…f*ck that guy, I never liked him anyways.
So the movie and I rumbled and well…read on!
Since I was unfamiliar with the comics (which are supposed to be moody and
somber) I didn’t give a Moby Dick about the film’s faithfulness to it. As-is, Swamp Thing
the film played a lot like a pussyfied version of The Hulk or/and Bride of Frankenstein. This is what I like to call a non-action, action genre opus where the premise and the chain of events begged for movement,
energy and style but the film went on to execute it all with little to no
"oomph". The going-ons just flatly happened before my eyes and apart from a semi slick swamp/motor boats/grenade jamboree; I can’t say that what I witnessed was too enthralling.
Was Craven sedated before the shoot? WAKE UP MAN! With that said, I did get a couple swamp kicks out of this misfire. I was so surprised to see the GREAT
Ray Wise (Leland baby...Leland...) in the film. His presence is always welcome
and he brought class to the proceedings. Adrienne Barbeau owned as well! I so got off on seeing her play the “action chick” role, jumping, running
and fighting…with cleavage bobbling out of her top non stop to boot…you just
can’t go wrong with that jive! Furthermore, the deliciously campy performances
and seeing mopy Swamp Thing toss people in the air in slow motion again, again and again never failed to slap a
smirk on my face. Yup I’m an easy man to please.
Unfortunately; this script needed some work big time in terms of making Swamp Thing’s first cinematic adventure a more gripping one. The plot mainly consisted of Barbeau’s character getting in trouble and Swampy saving her
ass. I got it the first time! Can we move on! It became tedious after a while!
Then there was the visual style at hand which bored me to death. Apart from clever scene transitions, Craven went the point and shoot way, failing to generate much pizzazz via his images.
Watching a plant grow would have been more compelling. Moreover, the last block
of the picture totally lost its footing to venture into "Power Rangers" land.
What was thus far a semi subtle and dead pan live comic book became a midget
whoring and cheapo werewolf suit wielding a sword, costume party. What the hell was that all about? I guess they put all of their cash in the Swamp Thing get-up cause that wolf suit was embarrassing; too embarrassing to be funny! SHEESH!
At the end of the kill; Swamp Thing was an effortless watch no doubt, one that made me giggle a few times but at the same time; there was nothing particularly stand out the whole way and that finale was a joke on two legs with the wolf suit being the punch-line. You going to venture into this swap or toss the thing in the garbage? Your move Dundees!
We get some random blood, an arm cut off and some gooey mutation sequences. Nothing to get in a tizzy about!
Adrienne Barbeau (Cable Ray) owned this film with her credible, tough and sexy show. She does it all, kick ass and show breasts…ahhh the good old days! Ray Wise (Doctor Holland) was a delight as the passionate and “Mack Daddy” inclined Doctor. Louis Jourdan’s (Dr. Arcane), quote whoring, “James Bond villain light” performance added much needed sassiness to the film. Fun stuff! David Hess (Ferret) played an evil goon, not much of a stretch but he does it so damn well! Dick Durock (Swamp thing) managed to emote some and actually move in that constrictive looking costume…good job!
T & A
Adrienne Barbeau showed us her incredible “Barbeaus” and so did a couple of chicks at an oddball party scene. The ladies get Swamp Thing naked…he aint all that downstairs if you know what I’m saying…
Well I dug the scene transitions and Craven’s knack at pushing the slow motion button cranked my dial. But in my opinion the film needed a more kinetic approach to liven things up; the whole was too bland for my buds.
The score by Harry Manfredini SOUNDED exactly like his Friday the 13th “action score”. Nice but I kept expecting Voorhees to pop out!
Swamp Thing was one of those “nothing watches” as I like to call them. I sat down, viewed the film, was never bored but yet never bowled over either. A few giggles, one big “wow” (Barbeau’s breasts are a work of art) and mucho groans (ending) popped out and then it was all over. See it just to say you’ve seen it or if your girlfriend is on that time of the month. But if you’re expecting the second coming of comic book adaptations, you’re in for a big let down.
A super campy sequel The Return of Swamp Thing (1989), a live TV action show (1990) and a cartoon (1991) followed this film.
Look out for Wes Craven’s wife at the time Mimi Craven in the film. She played Arcane's sexy secretary
Dick Durock played Swamp Thing in the sequel and the TV show.