The Film(s): Swamp Thing & The Return of Swamp Thing
Your hosts: Andrew & Jon
Editor’s note: for this entry, Andrew opted for Jon to write the show notes for soon-to-be-revealed reasons*.
Comic book movies have become big business in the last (almost) decade, with both Marvel/Disney and DC/Warner Bros bringing beloved (and sometimes not-so-beloved) characters to the big screen. This has become a welcomed change to those of us who grew up reading the monthly exploits of these spandex-clad heroes. Richard Donner’s Superman and Tim Burton’s Batman come to mind as being the original ideal that we wished other comic films would follow. Those successes managed to pave the way for films that ranged from either genuinely entertaining (Men In Black, Blade) to those sadly ahead of their time (Tank Girl) to those that were just so unspeakably horrible that just thinking of them makes me want to curl up into the fetal position and cry *cough*-HowardTheDuck–Superman4–Batman&Robin-*cough.* Now, somewhere in between all these releases, came two little films based on a somewhat obscure DC Comics character that managed to find ways to both succeed and fail in their portrayal of their subject.
Swamp Thing, and its much superior sequel The Return of Swamp Thing, bring to life the supernatural/environmental hero (created by Len Wein and the late, great Bernie Wrightson) in two tales of genetic experimentation gone wild. In 1982’s Swamp Thing (an early Wes Craven effort), we are introduced to Alec Holland (Ray Wise), a scientist who is trying to create plant/animal hybrids that would be able to thrive in extreme environments. Just as he is making a major breakthrough in his research, rival scientist Anton Arcane (Louis Jourdan) attacks, and Alec winds up drenched in the chemicals that ultimately turn him into The Swamp Thing (Dick Durock). Now a sentient pile of plant matter, Alec teams up with Alice Cable (Adrienne Barbeau), a government agent who had arrived shortly before the attack, to take down the evil Dr. Arcane.
But evil is not so easily defeated, as 1989’s The Return of Swamp Thing (dir. Jim Wynorski) shows. Arcane somehow survived his defeat at the end of the first film, and began kidnapping people in order to continue creating his evil human/animal hybrids. Using his army of Un-Men, Arcane seeks to locate and destroy his elusive nemesis, The Swamp Thing. Thankfully our hero is not alone, as Swamp Thing teams up this time with Arcane’s step-daughter, Abigail (Heather Locklear), a woman who connects more to plants than she does to other humans.
For as big a fan of comics as I am, I somehow missed these two*. I mean, I knew that the Swamp Thing TV series existed, but beyond that I hadn’t put much thought into the existence of these outings. Thankfully(?) I was able to rectify this. Please join me, Jon, the Unimpressible Mini-Hulk, as I drag Andrew, The Mighty BurgerTRON, through the mire, so to speak. With a double feature filled with grotesque rubber monsters, oddball children, plant puns and psychotropic sex, we certainly have our work cut out for us.