Saturday, October 9, 2010

Return of the Swamp Thing 1989 ***

Dir: Jim Wynorski
Stars: Louis Jourdan, Heather Locklear, Sarah Douglas, Dick Durock

I can remember as a youngster videotaping this from late night cable and watching it over and over again, not exactly knowing what it was I was looking at. I was young and naive enough to think that, extracting the more fantastical elements, perhaps somewhere in the world people actually behaved like the people in the movie. Watching it again now, I realize what a good time the performers were having and how seriously it wasn't being taken. This a well-balanced monster comedy with many riotous elements such as bantering backwoods scumbags and porn-loving kids. At the same time, the filmmakers wisely never let the creature himself lose his dignity. There are some very capable moments of light horror film making, as an establishing shot of rained out trailer park that reminded me of an old EC Comics horror cover, appropriately enough, for surely Swamp Thing's comic book ancestors lurked in the pages of those classic Gaines stories.

This continues from the more grainy theatrical original that starred Adrienne Barbeau, but this one takes the mickey out of the concept while paying tribute to old fifties monster films like The Fly, as we are escorted early on through a mad scientist lab full of nicely made-up mutant freaks. Jourdan plays a slightly lascivious but nevertheless likable villain in Arcane, showing only a slight flagging in his enthusiasm for the part from the original film. There is even a great scene where he is shown, Captain Nemo-like, maniacally playing organ. The gorgeous Sarah Douglas plays her part as his assistant with great panache, and all his underlings are worth watching. Dick Durock as the creature, despite working in a deliberate farce - though with a more elaborate make-up job than the first time - creates a monster hero that is genuinely sympathetic and noble, inviting comparisons to the Toxic Avenger and Lou Ferrigno's Hulk.

But the film belongs to Heather Locklear. Her presence drives the plot, and she has many good lines - "I just love it when guys peel out!" As perhaps the most prominent in a generation of smart blondes, she makes it work as well as it does. It's a hilarious romp with genuine heart, and the entertainment never lets up.


  1. I as well loved this one as a youngin. The whole adding of other mutants really brought it home for me. I remember getting a fangoria with a preview of the new monsters in it. I was so excited for it to finally come out.

  2. The film is a mess in a lot of ways but it is a FUN mess. Director Jim at least keeps the show moving along. I know a lot folks hate the boy's comedy relief squad but I thought it was a nice sort of call back to the east end kids/little rascals. It's fair to say I like it.

    Lazarus Lupin
    The antimatter of taste

  3. I personally really like the comedy relief parts because it just makes the film all the more bizarre.