|Director: Wes Craven
Starring: Adrienne Barbeau, Louis Jourdan, Ray Wise
Wes Craven has made his mark in the horror world over the years and while Swamp Thing (1982) isn’t typically his most acclaimed work, some fans certainly hold it close to the heart. The film pokes fun at the mad scientist films of the 1950’s by adapting dialogue that appears to be intentionally bad, totally telegraphed action sequences, and turning viewers on to the stunning advancements in special effects since the early 1980’s. One of the things that really sets this film apart and makes it special is the beautifully shot swamp scenes. While one or more ridiculous monsters may or may not have been jumping around in the muck, cinematographer Robin Goodwin’s slow and eerie camera movements stun the viewers as the camera glides through the swamp.
This film follows a brilliant scientist, Dr. Alec Holland (Ray Wise) who is working in a lab hidden away in the Louisiana bayou. Holland is working on a top-secret formula that combines plant and animal cells. When they need to replace a mysteriously missing security guard, Alice Cable (Adrienne Barbeau) comes along, sporting a pair of high heels and a skirt, to provide a quality performance as the damsel in this superhero sci-fi film. While being attacked by rival scientist, Dr. Anton Arcane (Louis Jourdan) and his gang-for-hire, Dr. Holland gets doused with his formula and bursts into flames. To extinguish the flames, he dives into the nearby swamp and thus, The Swamp Thing (Dick Durock) is created. The story moves along at a quick but not hurried pace and tells the tale of The Swamp Thing and the battle of good vs evil.
While Wise and Jourdan both give solid performances, Adrienne Barbeau takes the cake in this film, stealing each of her scene with her natural charms and beauty. Keeping the audiences’ eyes glued to the screen seems to come easily in Swamp Thing as she draws attention from more than one of the men that are at the lab upon her arrival. While it was most likely not Barbeau’s most thought provoking work, she had a particular role to play and played it well. A tip of the cap also goes to Jude (Reggie Batts) who has terrific one-liners and gives a refreshing civilian perspective to the super-human happenings on the bayou.
The film print that Swamp Thing was mastered from seems to be in excellent shape. There is no sign of damage, except for the very occasional white specs and such. Nor is there any sign of heavy filtering, DNR, or edge enhancement. The color is reasonably stable and very natural looking, but doesn’t leap out at you. In fact, the overall presentation retains an organic, filmic look to very good effect. Grain is fully intact, but mostly not intrusive, except for a few shots, particularly process shots. Overall, this is a very good presentation.
The original DTS-HD Mono track sounds cristal clear and full throughout the entire spectrum. Dialog is clear and easy to follow and Harry Manfredini’s dramatic music is allowed to make its full effect.
What more could you really ask for from the Blu-ray extras? Two detailed audio commentaries are provided: one with Makeup Effects artist Bill Munn, and one with writer/director Wes Craven. Also provided are multiple interview segments. Len Wein provides a co-creator interview entitled, “That Swamp Thing, A Look Back with Len Wein.” Wein goes into enormous detail of his life, how his career got started and how he became a writer/artist. Adrienne Barbeau provides a segment as well, and Reggie Batts also provides an interview segment entitled, “Hey, Jude!” Inter-cut with portions from the film, Batts gets personal and describes what it was like being on a major film set at such a young age, how it was to work with professional actors and what it was like working with actors he admired. There is also a theatrical trailer and photo galleries. These all combine for a lengthy and well detailed batch of extras that give great information that viewers are sure to love.
If you are a fan of the campy horror genre, you will most likely love this film. The story zips along and the action keeps viewers interested throughout to give an entertaining story without dragging on. It may not be Craven’s smartest or most adept film, but it’s fun and unique, and it’s worthy of a recommendation if you’re looking for an easily-to-digest and humorous horror tale.
~ By Nick Hiras