Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. Boy becomes plant. It’s the same old story told in a fun, campy way in Swamp Thing. This ain’t your Momma’s Swampy. . . rather make that it ain’t your comic geek’s Swampy. But this lighthearted goofy B-movie is plain old fun in it’s own right. And hey, who doesn’t love Adrienne Barbeau?
Wes Craven helmed this peek at the big green guy in-between his Last House On The Left and the Nightmare On Elm Street Freddy-fests. It almost seems like he’s relishing the chance to go all goofy on us. The story is simple, because anything convoluted would just get in the way of the fun; it’s a “Year One” tale that takes almost nothing from the original story of Swampy in DC Comics-land except for the names and occupations of the main characters. Dr. Alec Holland and his sister Alice are working on a way to fight world hunger. They accidentally discover a way to create massive growth in plants, which does strange things to Alec when his arch-nemesis Dr. Arcane comes to steal the formula. Alec’s brand spankin’ new love interest Alice Cable (called Cable by everyone, including Alec; I’m assuming more than one Alice was unwieldy) gets in the way of Dr. Arcane, and hilarity ensues. There’s more to it than that, but that’s the gist. And that’s all you need.
Dick Durock does the honors here and in the TV series, which is a nice bit of continuity considering there’s a good ten year gap in-between. Louis Jordan lends style and class to Dr. Arcane, and though he’s got tongue firmly in cheek he plays it well. Ray Wise plays the pre-Swampy Alec, and then, of course there are the three most popular things in 80’s B-movies; Adrienne Barbeau. As Alice Cable she’s tough, tender and after the action’s all over she can rock a mean Jherri Curl. There’s even a bathing-in-the-swamp scene where her huge. . . tracts of land are briefly glimpsed. Oh how that scene must have sent fanboy hearts aflutter! Throw in Reggie Batts as Jude, the wise-cracking kid, and you’ve got your core ensemble. Everyone else? Window dressing that moves the story along, though some of the bad guys sport killer mullets and that’s always a plus.
The colors in this movie are more hyperwashed Creepshow/E.C. Comics tones than the purer colors of Bronze Age DC comics, and that gives the movie a bit of oomph. We’re not the only one’s who think this is campy — the whole cast and crew are in on it too. Scenes cut from one to another with diagonal, spinning and dripping transitions that add to the fun. Swampy himself is in a one-piece costume that had gotta have a zipper around there somewhere. It’s a more humanoid look than the TV series’ shrubbery-chic, and it made me want to shout “Man In Suit! Man In Suit!” That’s a compliment. Show me a guy in a rubber suit, and I’ll show you a good time. I don’t care what that police officer said. I’d almost say that they should remake this film, but the powers that now be would probably just cast a handful of young “actors” from the CW and suck all the life out of it. Oh well.
The only way this film could have been any better is if it had been in Aroma-Vison — John Waters resuscitated it for Polyester and dubbed it “Smell-O-Vision” so a gal can dream — or maybe if there had been a Swampy flying over the moviegoers ala House on Haunted Hill. Swamp Thing is good, clean camp with just the slightest flash of boobies. That makes it just about perfect for anyone who loves a good campy B-movie or B-movie homage.