Cult Film Corner – Swamp Thing

This is the first of what I hope is many reviews I aim to write in a little section called Cult Film Corner. Cult Film Corner could cover many things – genuine cult pictures with a passionate following, cheesy b-movies, the most horrendous pieces of awfulness committed to celluloid, and those films that seem to fall through the cracks and avoid making the slightest mark on the collective pop-culture consciousness. Today, dear reader, is Swamp Thing.

Swamp Thing (1982) is based on the DC Comics title of the same name. Written and directed by Wes Craven, it tells the tale of scientist Alec Holland (Ray Wise) and his attempts to meld animal and vegetable DNA to create hardier, stronger plants to help solve the global food crisis. He’s aided in his quest by chesty new arrival Alice Cable (Adrienne Barbeau). Funded and protected by the US Government and his laboratory built in the middle of swamps of South Carolina, he discovers a formula that causes plants to grow at an exceptional rate. Unfortunately, evil genius Dr Arcane (Louis Jourdan) hears about this, and thinking the formula will make him immortal, he sends his private army to steal the formula and destroy the laboratory. During this raid Holland is accidentally covered in the formula and bursts into flames, running and screaming he dives into the swamp and is assumed to have been killed…

The release of Swamp Thing coincided with Alan Moore’s influential run on the comic book, The Saga of the Swamp Thing. With his writing aimed entirely at adults, Moore radically re-invented the character. No longer was the Swamp Thing a mutated human, ‘it’ was plant-life embedded with the memories of Holland, and was the defender of The Parliament of Trees, or The Green, an elemental force that connects all life on Earth. Moore’s was a more mystical, environmental take on Swamp Thing, twisting the tale from the typical “scientist has accident” to something more profound. Moore’s run also introduced the character John Constantine who would go off to make his own comic series called Hellblazer. Hellblazer would eventually get its own movie adaption, Constantine, where the lead would be played by the guy with the messiah complex, Keanu Reeves. But back to Craven’s version…

After the raid, Arcane discovers that one of the books containing the formula is missing, having been taken and hidden by Cable. Arcane sends his forces into the swamp once again to capture Alice and retrieve the book. While in the swamp Arcane’s forces are picked off one by one by the Swamp Thing (Dick Durok), the mutated Alec Holland, who’s busily protecting Alice from the hired goons.

Adrienne Barbeau. Or Adrienne Bar-BOOBS. Yeah? Yeah.

My memories of Swamp Thing growing up are limited almost entirely to lovely Adrienne Barbeau. Watching it when you’re ten or eleven and in the first throes of certain awakenings, it’s hard not to be. This being an Eighties film it was inevitable that boobs would make an appearance and, as you can see, Ms Barbeau’s are mightily impressive. How she manages to find the time for a nudey wash/swim while on the run from Arcane’s violent militia I’ll never know…

Anyway, Swamp Thing and Alice are captured and taken to Arcane’s mansion. There Arcane takes the formula and mutates into a strange dog/angry bear combination. Alice and Ol’ Swampy escape and end up fighting Arcane doggybear in the swamp. Or falling over and rolling around in the water. Eventually the Swamp Thing wins and walks off into the stinky water and trees to be alone. The End.

Swampy pleads that you take the time to watch his movie.

Swamp Thing was Craven’s step away from horror (The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes) and his attempt to break into action. He tries to give it a comic book feel with right-to-left and star-shaped screenwipes. It doesn’t work. The action scenes do their best to entertain, boats being flipped over, cars being trashed by the rubber-suited Swamp Thing, but they’re all tempered by what seems like endless shots of Swampy trudging around awkwardly in distance, turning at the sound of a gunshot or something similar, and then trudging in another direction. Thank Gosh for Adrienne Barbeau then. Thank her for the running, the swimming, the bouncing, and the posh low-cut frock. If I were a kid and this was shown one night in the late eighties/early nineties, Ms Barbeau alone would make me think this was the greatest film ever. Alas, I am thirty and this is the internet age where boobs are a mere Google search away. Swamp Thing isn’t an awful film, it’s just feels like it’s from an entirely different age. The swamp that was full of life years ago has now dried up and left an empty mud hole.

More Reviews:

Troll Hunter

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Captain America: The First Avenger

Tron

The Girl With Dragon Tattoo (2009)

Hackers

WarGames

Super 8

The Parallax View

Cowboys And Aliens

X-Men First Class

The Human Centipede

Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen

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