Swamp Thing

Synopsis: Get ready for excitement, adventure…and slime! From explosive start to exhilarating finish, Swamp Thing is the perfect blend of thrills, chills, “winsome humor” (Roger Ebert) and amazing special effects. It’s the ultimate in “fun and fright” (The New York Times).

Deep in Florida’s darkest everglades, a brilliant scientist, Dr. Alec Holland (Ray Wise), and a sexy government agent, Alice Cable (Adrienne Barbeau), have developed a secret formula that could end world hunger and change civilization forever. Little do they know, however, that their arch nemesis, Arcane (Louis Jourdan), is plotting to steal the serum for his own selfish schemes. Looting the alb and kidnapping Cable, arcane douses Holland with the chemicals and leaves him for dead in the swamp. Mutated by his own formula, Holland becomes Swamp Thing — a half human / half plant superhero who will stop at nothing to rescue the beautiful Cable and defeat the evil Arcane…even if it costs him his life!
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Swamp Thing 2.5

Poor DC Comics. Aside from Batman, pretty much only Superman has had some success on the big screen. And only relatively so. Meanwhile, their other creations have languished in critical and pop culture Hell.

This most certainly applies to Swamp Thing.

As a kid, I simply couldn’t get into this comic book: it was too dark, murky, and unexciting to enjoy. And yet it’s a cult favourite that has remained in print for ages and seen multiple big screen and small screen adaptations. I simply can’t figure it out.

Hot on the heels of ‘Friday the 13th (2009)’, and with the full intent of watching superhero films and TV shows in the next few weeks, I decided that ‘Swamp Thing’ would be the obvious choice: not only was it made by horror icon Wes Craven, but the music was composed by the same guy who did the original ‘Friday the 13th’ films and it features actors and bit players from various b-movies – including some I’ll be watching shortly.

So, what does one get in the cinematic triumph that is ‘Swamp Thing’?

How about a film not bad enough to be fun like ‘Troll 2’, but crummy enough that it doesn’t deserve a second chance? How about a low budget production that strains beyond the breaking point due to its limitations? How about a stream of non-actors? How about continuity errors galore? How about editing nightmares? How about witless and simple-minded dialogue? How about rubber monster suits?

Eegad! The Swamp Thing itself, the title character, looked like a poor man’s Hulk in a slimy wetsuit, for goodness’ sake!

The only thing that is worth mentioning and that actually gave me a sense of enjoyment were the transitions between some of the scenes. They were old-school wipes from left to right, corner to corner, inward to outwards, …etc. At least this gave the film a comic-booky feel that the rest of the film needed desperately.

“Winsome humor”, Roger Ebert is quoted as saying, on the back of the DVD. Well, that was the only way to sell this film: as a comedy – although it was probably never meant to be. Even the trailer plays up the outlandish, ’30s horror kitsch aspect of the film for lack of anything else to work with.

Sigh…

Word of caution: ‘Swamp Thing’ is only for the insatiably curious. And those who have a high tolerance for bad filmmaking, at that!

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