Monday, October 20, 2008

HORROR EPICS: Swamp Thing

SWAMP THING (1982)
I think just about anyone who has an affinity for comic books and monster movies has a special place in their heart for Swamp Thing. Apparently Troma is fond of claiming the Toxic Avenger as the first comic book hero immortalized on celluloid, but considering that Swamp Thing was released some four years before, I’d say they’re way off base with that one. I seem to recall the original 1970s DC Comics series being more violent than this admittedly watered-down film adaptation. But don’t let that deter you if you’ve never seen this before, because Swamp Thing really does bring the fun if you allow it to. Adrienne Barbeau is Cable, the sexy government agent who travels to an unchartered swamp to assist at a top-secret government laboratory. Dr. Alec Holland is hard at work developing formulas for plant/animal crossbreeding, and hits upon a solution that could seemingly end world hunger and change civilization as we know it. Unfortunately super-criminal Arcane wants the formula for his own nefarious use, and breaks into the lab to try to steal it. Holland gets doused with the formula in the fray, in which the last anyone sees of him is diving into the swamp while burning alive. Cable manages to get away during the chaos, taking with her Holland’s last notebook, which has the notes for this radical new formula. When Arcane realizes that he’s got an incomplete set of books, he goes to whatever end he can think of to get Cable and retrieve those notes. But standing between Arcane and Cable is a big guy in a green rubber suit...uh, I mean a half-man/half-plant mutated swamp monster with superhuman strength. Swamp Thing is disappointing to some because director Wes Craven would have been able to do so much more with the story if he had an adequate budget to work with. It probably would have been much more violent with more money for special effects. But to me, Swamp Thing is good if you look at it as a throwback to those schlocky horror and monster movies of the 1940s and ‘50s. Then this movie becomes a killer modernized big-budget take on the old style. Who knows how many different Swamp Thing re-releases exist, but I did happen to get the one that features topless swamp bathing from Adrienne Barbeau. On that note, you get no complaints on my part!

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