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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Swamp Thing
Swamp Thing
MGM // PG // August 23, 2005
List Price: $14.94 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Scott Weinberg | posted August 20, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

It's Swamp Thing. It's not Swamp Hamlet or MacBeth Thing; it's a goofball action / sci-fi / horror amalgam from 1982 that Wes Craven directed after The Hills Have Eyes, but before A Nightmare on Elm Street. This is around the same time that Mr. Craven delivered Deadly Blessing and a pair of forgettable network thrillers, and it was something to keep his family fed in between the blockbusters.

Based on the classic D.C. Comics character from creators Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, Swamp Thing is about a noble scientist who gets an unwelcome dose of his own serum, falls into a swamp, morphs with the plant-life, and reawakens as a hulking semi-hero who growls, grunts, and wrestles for the side of justice.

Like I said, Macbeth it ain't.

But there's a clear, earnest and obvious respect for the comic book conventions here, and Craven plays the material with a straight face ... for the most part, anyway. Much of the film consists of our damsel / heroine (Adrienne Barbeau) as she A) escapes from the rampaging baddies who caused our plant-man's accident, B) is scared out of her wits by good ol' Swampie and runs away, and C) barely escapes from the sweaty henchmen, yet again.

Somewhere about an hour in we get a clear indication as to what the head villain wants: serum, baby, and the awesome (but hopefully non-botanical) powers that come with it. And all of it's so darn kitschy and fun that we're willing to overlook the fact that Swamp Thing's costume looks like a vine-covered green trashbag ... and I won't even mention the hilariously goofy-looking monster battle royale that occurs during the big finale. (Except that I just did.)

Swamp Thing is precisely the sort of movie that 34-year-old movie geeks remember quite fondly from, say, a grainy old VHS tape they had back in 1986. It's campy, it's corny, it's colorful and (for the most part) a good deal of B-level fun. It may not have the sophistication of a Batman or the flash of a Spider-Man, but its heart is in the right place, and the geeks (like me) tend to notice that sort of thing.

Note: This particular release of Swamp Thing contains the original 91-minute, PG-rated, theatrical version of the film. An earlier DVD release included extra footage of a topless Ms. Barbeau and a few jigglin' dancer-girls, but those frames are not present on this DVD. Sorry, boobie fans!

The DVD

Video: You get a Widescreen (1.85:1) Anamorphic transfer on side A -- and a pointless Full Screen bloat-fest on side B. The Widescreen version brings Swamp Thing home in what's probably the best quality imaginable. (Unlikely that Swamp Thing would make the Criterion Collection short-list.) Considering the age and the budget of the flick we're discussing, you'll probably be quite pleasantly surprised by how good the movie looks.

Audio: Dolby Digital Mono all the way, but the aural presentation isn't all that bad! You'll be able to enjoy Harry Manfredini's amazingly "Friday the 13th"-y score, in addition to all the swampy grunting.

Extras: You'll get the original Swamp Thing theatrical trailer in Widescreen, and you best enjoy it, because it's the only extra goodie to be found here.

Final Thoughts

It's been so long since I'd last seen Swamp Thing that all I'd remembered was Barbeau's boobies. But it's a perfectly, schlockily entertaining Saturday-afternoon monster movie, full of pulpy dialogue, goofy costumes, evil bastards, and a brunette hottie with all the right curves. Fun stuff for the pre-teen in all of us.

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