After Superman and Batman, who would have guessed Swamp Thing would be the third DC Comics superhero adapted for a feature length film? That’s exactly what happened when director Wes Craven tackled the 1982 Swamp Thing film.
Craven, known for his work on A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, wrote and directed the low-budget action flick. In 2013, Shout! Factory released a blu ray/ DVD combo pack with special features in all of its 1980s HD glory.
Director/Writer: Wes Craven
Budget: $2.5 Million
Run Time: 91 Minutes
Key Cast and Characters:
- Ray Wise as Alec Holland
- Adrienne Barbeau as Alice Cable
- Louis Jordan as Anton Arcane
- Dick Durock as Swamp Thing
The official film synopsis, from Shout! Factory:
Science Made Him A Monster!
Swamp Thing is the perfect blend of thrills, chills and “winsome humor” (Robert Ebert) from master of horror Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes).
Deep in the Florida everglades, a brilliant scientist, Dr. Alec Holland (Ray Wise), and a sexy government agent, Alice Cable (Adrienne Barbeau, The Fog), have developed a secret formula that could end world hunger. Little do they know, however, that their arch nemesis, Arcane (Louis Jourdan, Octopussy), is plotting to steal the serum for his own selfish schemes. Looting the lab and kidnapping Cable, Arcane douses Holland with the chemicals and leaves him for dead. Mutated by his own formula, Holland becomes “Swamp Thing” – a half-human/half-plant superhero who will stop at nothing to rescue Cable and defeat Arcane…even if it costs him his life!
The Swamp Thing Movie review
Watching the film for the first time 34 years after it was made, I didn’t have the highest of expectations. As a fan of DC Comics, it is one of the only films in their history I hadn’t seen. I have to say – I was presently surprised by how much I was able to enjoy this film.
Let’s get this out of the way – this is not some “classic” film that was somehow missed by mass audiences. Even by early 1980s standards, the plot to the story is very simple and some of the special effects are very limited. Still, this is an enjoyable film for what it is.
The best way to tell if you would be interested in the film is to watch the clip below. It contains what is one of the best action scenes in the movie and gives you a long look at Dick Durock as the titular hero. There are many cool, if dated, action scenes included for something with such little budget.
Swamp Thing has had many critically praised comic book runs that show him as a very complex an interesting character. However, this film was released before the majority of those comics were written. Alan Moore’s great run in particular is noted for developing the character’s backstory and personality.
Craven does attempt to include some of the conflicted aspects Alec Holland feels as he develops into the Swamp Thing. The story generally reverts to the monster vs. bad guy aspects quickly, though. Most of the character’s arc is completed when he turns green.
The cast does a fine job with what they are asked to do. Louis Jordan is notable for his portrayal of the villain Anton Arcane, as is Adrienne Barbeau as frequent damsel-in-distress Alice Cable. Ray Wise and Dick Durock provide a solid combination as Alec Holland/Swamp Thing.
It’s important to not that the version of the film is the 91 minute edited version that was originally released in the United States in 1982. The 93 minute “uncut” version of the film that was released internationally is not included on this release. The edits have nothing to do with the plot and are only done to remove brief adult content.
Shout! Factory is known for putting a lot of effort into their home video releases. It’s impressive if they are able to get any bonus features at all when releasing a film that is more that 3 decades old. Below is the list of extras you will find on the blu ray combo pack:
- Audio commentary with writer/director Wes Craven
- Audio commentary with Makeup Effects artists Bill Munn
- Interviews with actress Adrienne Barbeau, co-creator Len Wein and actor Reggie Batts
- Theatrical Trailer
- Photo Galleries
The highlights of the special features are 2 audio commentaries, including one from director Wes Craven. Craven’s commentary is filled with plenty of interesting nuggets, including insights on the struggles of filming a swap monster on a low budget in the early 80s.
Shout! also scored interviews with lead actress Adrienne Barbeau. They also have interesting interviews from actor Reggie Batts and Swamp Thing co-creator Len Wein. The original theatrical trailer and photo galleries are also included in the bonus features.
Swamp Thing developed a cult following and was successful enough to spawn a 1989 sequel titled The Return of Swamp Thing, directed by Jim Wynorski. The film, which returned Dick Durock and Louis Jordan in their roles, had an ever lower budget and was poorly received. The sequel had a more comedic tone when compared to the original.
In 1990, USA Network developed the Swamp Thing television series with Dick Durock returning in the titular role. The show lasted for 3 seasons and a total of 72 episodes. The series was developed for television by Joseph Stefano.
Swamp thing could be restored to prominence in the coming years on the big screen. There are rumors that a Justice League Dark/Dark Universe could be coming to theaters in the near future that would include the character. With today’s prosthetics and CGI technology, along with a much bigger budget, Swamp Thing stands a much better chance of being given live-action justice.
The 1982 Swamp Thing movie blu ray combo pack will be a treat to fans who grew up with the movie. The film looks great in high definition and is loaded with extra bonus features. Swamp Thing is also recommended to fans of DC Comics and 1980s low-budget films who know what they are getting into.