During 1972 and 1981, beloved horror director had made five films. His sixth was the coic book movie “Swamp Thing”. Based on the iconic character initially brought to life by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson. It was more horror than super-hero and even though it had ended in 1976, producer Michael Uslan had purchased the rights to Swamp Thing and Batman (which would not see the screen for seven more years) out of love for those characters. Craven was more of an upstart, rather than cherished genre director.
The film tells the story of Alec Holland, a scientist, working on a powerful botanical formula with the help of his sister. Alice Cable arrives, on assignment from the government to check in on Holland. It turns out there is a rather bad guy named Arcane who is out to secure the formula for it’s properties. His henchmen try and steal it, which results in a fire that engulfs Alec after he is dowsed in his chemical. Holland runs into the swamp and dies.
Or appears to. He is resurrected as a large stuntman covered in a rubber suit meant to look like muck and plants the swamp. Eventually Arcane pursues Alice and the Swamp Thing and they acquire a sidekick (a little kid named Jude). eventually there is a big rubber suit climactic battle, as Arcane has turned himself into a monster using the formula.
The film was made on a low, low budget. Did I say low? I think it is somewhere beneath the swamp they filmed in. Using a real swamp is one of the best things in the film. Rather than looking like a cheap set, you get some downright beautiful swamp shots.
But Swamp Thing looks like a big rubber suit. Arcane’s monster is rather goofy looking. And the film makes the most of Adrienne Barbeau’s cleavage. The casting in the film is actually quite good. Barbeau’s Alice is tough and yet unsure of the world she is thrown into of monsters and henchmen. Ray Wise, known for his tough guy roles is thoughtful and kind here, giving a real soul to the character. Louis Jourdan is both suave and menacing (two things the film loses when he becomes a monster). Unfortunately the cast is not enough to save this from being a pretty bland adventure full of lifeless special effects.
It has a great poster though.