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Return Of Swamp Thing, The

MVD Entertainment Group // PG-13 // September 7, 2021
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Kurt Dahlke | posted September 15, 2021 | E-mail the Author
The Return of Swamp Thing:

Jim Wynorski has directed everything, including The Bare Wench Project and four sequels. Feel free to infer from that, if you're not familiar with his work, that his oeuvre is decidedly low-brow. It's also pretty much always a good time, such as with this sequel to Wes Craven's only-slightly-more-serious original Swamp Thing. Starring Louis Jourdan, Heather Locklear, Sarah Douglas, and the almighty Dick Durock (who escapes billing on the cover, presumably because the actor was, in essence ACTUALLY SWAMP THING) The Return of Swamp Thing is brought to you in this fairly-packed 30th Anniversary Special Collector's Edition (a couple of years late) to liven up your Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons forevermore.

The DC Comics tragic hero Swamp Thing is a scientist who became melded with the plant life of the swamp after an explosion. Part Eco-warrior, part monster, the character in this cinematic outing becomes embroiled in the nefarious doings of his nemesis Arcane, who is attempting to reverse the aging process by fusing humans with swamp animals.

This sounds 100% logical to me, and aside from Swamp Thing's status as the enemy of Arcane, he may very well have been inclined to let the matter go, if it weren't for two kids, Omar and Darryl (RonReaco Lee and Daniel Emery Taylor, respectively) who get tangled up in the mess, and also if not for Arcane's hot niece Abby, (Heather Locklear) with whom, god forbid me for spoiling it, Swamp Thing becomes enamored. The rest, as they say, is cinematic history. (Or in this case, television history, as although Swamp Thing has had a successful career on the small screen, no movies followed this one.)

As hinted at previously, The Return of Swamp Thing never rises much above something you'd love to stumble on at 11:30 some Saturday night or Sunday morning. It's amiable, mildly amusing, and moves along at a good clip, doling out explosions, fights, and weirdness at a healthy pace. Creature effects are a selling point, with several examples who remain trapped in Arcane's lab, and one disgusting, Lovecraftian thing who gives everyone plenty of trouble while drooling heavily from a blood-red orifice.

The bedrock foundation of Swamp Thing's cinematic and television existence is Dick Durock (the 2019 series being the obvious exception, as Durock passed away in 2009) and in this movie his take on the character is epitomized, cemented, and otherwise launched to the heavens. Wry, zen-like, kind-hearted and bad-assed, Durock's Swamp Thing shines like a beacon through the heavy makeup and costuming. Was there ever a swamp-creature you'd instantly want to hang out with than Durock's? And one you'd understand was actually doing you a favor by being your friend? That's Durock's Swamp Thing, a superhero who is magically there whenever he's needed; to toss half-man/half-alligators aside, rescue imperiled damsels, and pose for pictures with the kids. This fairly loaded DVD will make the kid in you cry out "Long Live Swamp Thing"! Recommended.


The DVD

Video:
MVD Visual and Lightyear entertainment present The Return of Swamp Thing in a new 2K High-Definition transfer in a 185:1 aspect ratio. The transfer looks fine representing this low-budget production. Details are OK, better in the foreground than as the depth of field increases, of course, but not as sharp as you'd expect from a major studio release. Colors are pretty good, especially greens, though skin tones tend towards the warm side. Other compression problems and/or damage from the source materials aren't an issue. In other words, it looks fine for a DVD.


Sound:
You get your choice of 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Stereo audio. Overall both sound good for their particular station in life. Though the 2.0 track is probably more true to the movie, and the 5.1 track doesn't necessarily have much to work with other than swamp-atmospherics, the more elaborate track is the one to use. It sports a wider dynamic range, whereas the 2.0 track feels a bit flat, and also adds a little more excitement to sonic placement.


Extras:
The Return of Swamp Thing enjoys a relatively robust slate of extras, including a Director's Commentary Track from 2003, in which Wynorski acquits himself nicely as a friendly and funny raconteur. He gets a second run at it with a New Commentary Track featuring himself, plus composer Chuck Cirino and editor Leslie Rosenthal. Though there is definitely overlap between the tracks, the addition of Cirino and Rosenthal help the comments to branch out in different directions with different perspectives. Four New Interviews include Wynorski, (17 minutes) producer Arnie Holland, (5 minutes) Cirino (6 minutes) and Rosenthal (9 minutes). Again, there is overlap, but there is enough new material and added depth, plus the chance to watch the interviewees, to make the interviews a nice supplement.

Also included is a 2-minute auto-navigated BTS Slideshow, a pair of Greenpeace Public Service Announcements, and slightly spoileriffic TV Spots, Promotional Tidbits, and a 5-minute 1989 Promo Reel. Slimy plants never had it so good!


Final Thoughts:
In this amiable and amusing action comedy, cult-schlockmeister Jim Wynorski delivers us the inimitable Dick Durock as Swamp Thing, a superhero who is magically there whenever he's needed; to toss half-man/half-alligators aside, rescue imperiled damsels, and pose for pictures with the kids. This fairly loaded DVD will make the kid in you cry out "Long Live Swamp Thing"! Recommended.

www.kurtdahlke.com

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