Swamp Thing by Wes Craven, starring Adrienne Barbeau, Louis Jourdan, Ray Wise, Dick Durock
Synopsis of Swamp Thing
Swamp Thing Deep in Floridas Everglades a brilliant scientist has developed a secret formula that could end world hunger. However, someone is plotting to steal the serum for his own selfish desires. Looting the lab and kidnapping a sexy government agent, the madman douses the scientist with the secret chemicals and leaves him for dead in the swamp. Mutated by his own formula, the scientist is transformed into a half human/half plant hybrid who will is determined to rescue the woman and defeat the villain.
Review of Swamp Thing
In short, the Swamp Thing movie is best described as a disappointment, with some very good moments. The original source material is excellent, featuring a husband and wife scientist team. Sadly, the beloved wife is killed by criminals seeking their chemical formula. The husband is burnt horribly and drenched in his chemical discovery — something to promote plant life. Running into the nearby swamp to douse the flames, he becomes mutated. He arises as a man/plant hybrid. He then takes revenge on the criminals, and mourns over his dead wife.
That’s effectively ruined here since Wes Craven wanted to use Adrienne Barbeau. I don’t have a problem with that. Adrienne Barbeau is actually a competent actress. However, she’s given little opportunity to act here and is used primarily as cleavage with legs. That’s a crying shame. They remove the role of the wife entirely and replace it with her. She serves as a potential love interest who keeps getting kidnapped. The emotional pull is a lot less. Also, it irritates me that a supposedly highly-trained agent keeps getting kidnapped so easily.
Likewise, throughout much of the film, the Swamp Thing is filmed in broad daylight. This makes it clear that its a man in a rubber suit. In the original, the artwork is beautiful, with the Swamp Thing lurking through the shadowy swamp which we don’t see here.
Despite casting the excellent Louis Jordan as the villain Arcane, he becomes a two-dimensional caricature of the movie villain. There are, however, some very good moments as well. One example is where the transformed Swamp Thing has rescued Adrienne Barbeau from the villains. She is more terrified of him than of them. She backs away into the swamp water and orders him away and the transformed man sadly goes away.
Guinea pig henchman
Another excellent moment is when Louis Jordan uses one of his henchmen as an unwitting test subject for the formula, turning him into a dwarf. When asked why the Swamp Thing explains that it magnifies essence. Since the henchman Bruno was always a small person, he literally became small. While watching the movie, I thought this was the typical silly movie science. But then Adrienne Barbeau asks him how he knew that, and he replies, I made it up — a very funny moment. Special kudos go out to Dick Durock, who played the part of the Swamp Thing. His portrayal gave the character much of the reason for enjoying the movie.
In short, Swamp Thing is an enjoyable popcorn movie, that could have been much better. I rate it two stars out of 5.
- Louis Jourdan (Julie) … Arcane. The villain, mad scientist, who wants Holland’s discovery. And he’s willing to kill for it. He’s suave, intelligent, and massively egotistical.
- Adrienne Barbeau (Escape from New York) … Alice Cable. In the source material, this is Matt Cable, one of Alec’s best friends. Here, he’s gender-swapped. I actually don’t have an issue with that. But, they treat her as a bosom with legs. Which is a crying shame, since Adrienne Barbeau is a fine actress. She’s frankly given more acting opportunity in Batman: The Animated Series.
- Ray Wise … Dr. Alec Holland. The human scientist, who’s transformed into the Swamp Thing.
- Nicholas Worth … Bruno. The guinea pig mentioned previously.
- Dick Durock (Return of the Swamp Thing) … Swamp Thing. The actor who gives the monster a soul.
- Nannette Brown … Dr. Linda Holland. Alec’s soon-to-be-dead wife.
Editorial review of Swamp Thing courtesy of Amazon.com
Horror vet Wes Craven wrote and directed this campy swamp romp adapted from the DC Comic of the same name. Adrienne Barbeau stars as cleavangelically blessed government agent Alice Cable, sent to the bayou to guard the brilliant Dr. Alec Holland. Holland is using recombinant DNA to create a plant with an animal’s aggressive power for survival. Let’s hope none of that volatile secret formula gets spilled! Swamp Thing is an unusual mix of monster movie and superhero flick, but definitely an enjoyable ride. Craven deliberately uses comic-book-style wipes and transitions to keep us from taking anything too seriously, and Louis Jourdan keeps up the tone with his camp performance as the evil Arcane. Also keep an eye out for young Reggie Batts in a terrific deadpan performance as Jude, the helpful gas station attendant. Ali Davis