Friday, July 29, 2016

Return of Swamp Thing

The Return of Swamp Thing (1989)

In the sequel to Swamp Thing, nefarious geneticist Dr. Arcane (Louis Jourdan) survives being turned into an anteater/warthog monster and killed, and continues his genetic tampering in the Louisiana swamp. The only downside to his miraculous recovery is that he is slowly disintegrating or something, and can only stop the process by harvesting genes from his genetically perfect stepdaughter (Heather Locklear). Meanwhile, Swamp Thing (Dick Durock) patrols the bayou, protecting lost hunters and trailer park residents from Arcane's escaped experiments.

This movie was way better than Swamp Thing. From the opening credits - old school comic book covers set to "Born on the Bayou" - you just know that where the first movie took itself way too seriously and was kinda dull, this one is fun and silly.

The special effects and costumes were way cooler in this movie. There's a dude whose head is basically like a giant cockroach, that was decent. And remember how in the first movie Swamp Thing's costume was basically a green-grey jumpsuit with a couple shitty looking vines glued to it? In this movie he's all slimy and shaggy with all kinds of shit hanging off of him and a face that's reminiscent of the Creature from the Black Lagoon

There were also a bunch of goofy one-liners - for example, when Swamp Thing explains to Heather Locklear that he can't be her boyfriend because he's actually a plant, she replies with "that's okay, I'm a vegetarian". Hilarious, right?

Also, and this is a little bit nitpicky but whatever, the first movie had all these gimmicky wipes between scenes which seemed totally out of place considering that movie was pretending to be serious. This movie had them too, but they were way more appropriate.

The acting wasn't great. Heather Locklear in particular was pretty bad but it fit with the cheeziness of the movie. Swamp Thing goes from sounding tired and sort of in pain in the first one, to perky and matter-of-fact which is sort of weird but makes the movie more amusing.

The plot didn't make a whole hell of a lot of sense - Dr. Arcane for some reason needs genetic material from Heather Locklear, and Swamp Thing (I think), and his mistress (Sarah Douglas) who is also his housekeeper and a brilliant geneticist in order to not die, and the process of extracting said material will be lethal. There were a bunch of characters and subplots that serve next to no function - like the two little boys from the trailer park who are trying to get a picture of Swamp Thing, and this talking parrot who I was sure was going to give away some crucial piece of information coz why the fuck else would you have a talking parrot in a movie, but nope, it was just there - which is weird and sloppy.

Realistically, Swamp Thing is not that great of a hero because, as he demonstrates halfway through the movie, he can regenerate his entire body after being blown to pieces. Also, his ability to heal others has seemingly no limit, so neither he, nor his friends, can ever be in any real danger.

There are also some weird discrepancies between this movie and the first one. Dr. Arcane's regeneration is, surprisingly, explained. However, the magic serum in the first movie was supposed to enhance attributes the person taking it already had (which is lame), whereas in this movie it's used to make Dr. Moreau-esque animal/human hybrids (which is FUCKING DOPE AS SHIT). Also, Adrienne Barbeau's character got chucked out the window and replaced by a blonde California ditz which sucks a little bit.

But, you know, on the plus side, we find out how Swamp Thing has sex. Spoiler ahead, he doesn't have a peen so he has to get it on like Barbarella.

All in all, this is by no means a sleek piece of sophisticated filmmaking, but it's fun to watch and a better movie than Swamp Thing. It even sums up what happens in Swamp Thing so you can just skip that movie without missing a whole lot.

Directed by: Jim Wynorski.  Written by: Neil Cuthbert & Grant Morris, based on the character Swamp Thing created by Len Wein & Bernie Wrightson.  Starring: Dick Durock, Louis Jourdan, Heather Locklear, Sarah Douglas, Ace Mask.

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