Swamp Thing 1982
It’s been a while since I watched the Swamp Thing mirror from Marvel Man-Thing, and while they came out in comic book form near the same time, in the movie world Swamp Thing beat it by quite a wide margin. Not only that, but it was directed by horror master Wes Craven best known for the Nightmare on Elm Street series, and yet this is a far cry from a horror movie aside from the creature makeup. It’s rated PG for one thing though it does get away with the brief boob shot that happened once in a while back in the 80’s days of the PG rating. It’s a bit of a monster movie where the creature is a sympathetic/tragic hero, but there’s also a strong villain that he’s pitted against all the while he spends his time trying to protect an instant love-interest. Filled with a bit of cheese, but still a fun movie.
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One of the things that surprised me the most coming into this movie was seeing Ray Wise’s name in the credits, and he ends up playing the scientist before he becomes Swamp Thing. Though I know he’s probably most well known for Twin Peaks, I enjoyed him in the short lived series Reaper where he played the devil and I thought it was interesting that he gets third billed right below the villain. Playing against him is Adrienne Barbeau as Alice Cable who everyone seems to refer to as just Cable. She’s some type of agent, though I was never really clear on what her role was supposed to be in the movie aside from a typical love interest, though she does know how to handle herself in a fight and has some scientific knowledge as well. Unfortunately she is also prone to tripping frequently and gets captured more than once.
As far as the plot goes, it’s a typical science gone awry plot where Alec Holland and his sister are trying to create a serum that will combine plant and animal traits in order to give crops the survivability of an animal. Of course there’s a villain named Arcane who is supposedly dead that wants the serum for some reason, and when they do finally create it it’s very explosive and grows plants out of nothing on the spot. There’s a struggle and Holland gets covered with the serum and is covered in fire before running and jumping out into the swamp only to re-emerge as Swamp Thing a little while later even though Cable is too thick to make the connection between the two for several scenes.
I think both the cheesiest, and yet most enjoyable part of this movie is the ecclectic group of thugs in the movie. They tend to roam around the swamp wearing camo gear and surrounding the people they are trying to capture, and the more or less leader of the group is named Ferret and has the most fabulous head of hear imaginable, it’s a white guy perm topped off with a red bandana which blends in so well with everything green in the swamp. And of course, he’s always prepared as the first guy that they come across they take out by pulling a snake out of Ferret’s pocket and letting it bite the guy a few times. There’s also Bruno as the number two guy, the brawny bald guy who is assumed to not be that bright. He is also part of the first experiment by Arcane to test the Swamp Thing serum on other people, except it backfires and turns Bruno into a little rat-guy who eventually turns on Arcane to help Swamp Thing and his lady.
The other character who I really enjoyed in this movie was Jude, he’s a nerdy black kid that runs a gas station out in the swamp that Cable finds temporary shelter in and helps her out a few times. He’s got these huge glasses, looks to be about 12 years old, and has a very slow, deep voice. He also has some of the best lines in the movie like when Cable asks if there’s a gun in the shop and he replies “What kind of shop do you think I run here? Of course we have a gun.” He also generally helps much more than he hinders which isn’t always the case when it comes to kids in superhero movies, and had some great interaction with Cable without making her turn into a mother figure which is the other thing that tends to happen in sci-fi movies.
Overall, it was a fun movie. I think Arcane as a villain was a bit of an oddball. He’s the typical overconfident, rich, almost Bond villain with a bit of a playboy lifestyle and yet he ends up becoming a wild sword-wielding beast when he takes the plant/animal serum which also doesn’t entirely make any sense the way they originally described it in the movie. It was supposed to mix plant and animal elements, but when it’s used on the two villains, instead of giving them plant-like traits as it did with Dr. Holland, it gives them other animal traits, or as Holland explains it the serum increases their natural essence to the extreme. It was also a little odd, but made a sort of sense that when Dr. Holland became Swamp Thing, Ray Wise completely went away and all the acting was done by the stuntman, which according to the trivia was because they couldn’t get the makeup to look similar enough when applied to Ray Wise and Dick Durock, but they also ended up using Durock’s voice instead of having Wise dub over the lines. It was explained during the movie by having him not speak at all right after his transformation and he essentially had to learn to speak again just as he had to learn his other plant powers which were mostly just enhanced strength and the ability to heal people for some reason. It’s not one of my favorites, but there is plenty here in this movie that is fun to watch. And it never really gets into the so-bad-it’s-good category. It’s worth a watch if you’re a fan of Wes Craven even though this never really gets into much horror territory. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.