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Featured Blu-ray Review: The Return of the Swamp Thing

June 10th, 2018

The Return of Swamp Thing - Buy from Amazon: Blu-ray Combo Pack

The Return of Swamp Thing

The Return of Swamp Thing came out in 1988 and didn’t win over critics, nor did it find an audience in theaters. That said, it did develop a following on the home market. Now that it is coming out on Blu-ray, is it worth checking out? Or has it aged poorly?

The Movie

The film begins with a group of men trudging through the swamp at night going after moonshiners. Unbeknownst to them, they are being followed and soon their leader is dead and they are being chased by some strange monster and are running for their lives. Two of them appear to be rescued when they come across a jeep, but the female passenger, Miss Poinsettia, shoots them with a tranquilizer gun. The final member of the group, Harry Dugan, gets rescued by Swamp Thing.

Meanwhile, Abby Arcane learns her mother died and her step-father didn’t even invite her to the funeral, if he even held a funeral. She decides to head to Louisiana to confront him. That could be a major mistake, as Dr. Anton Arcane is a mad scientist trying to use generic engineering on humans and animals to create a rejuvenation formula. Dr. Lana Zurrell and Dr. Rochelle are going through subjects at an alarming rate, they even used the two people Miss Poinsettia grabbed in the prologue, but had negative results so far. Worse still, Harry Dugan’s escape has resulted in a visit from the local sheriff. Fortunately for Dr. Arcane, the sheriff is really dumb and is more interested in ogling Dr. Lana Zurrell or Miss Poinsettia than doing any investigation. Additionally, the lone survivor makes it clear that Swamp Thing is still alive, so Dr. Arcane tells his hired gun, Gunn, to search the swamp and eliminate him.

When Abby arrives at Dr. Arcane’s mansion and he sees her for the first time, he’s amazed at how much she looks like her mother. Then he has an epiphany. Her mother’s DNA was key to the rejuvenation formula, so perhaps her DNA will be just what they need. We soon learn why he is in such a hurry to complete his work. He’s dying.

That’s probably as good a place as any to stop the plot summary. Besides, I’m not sure I can properly describe what happens next.

The original Swamp Thing came out in 1982 and cost $2.5 million. That’s not a lot of money to make a movie, even back then, and it is about the same as a $20 million production budget would be today. The Return of Swamp Thing reportedly cost less to make seven years later. Because they had a smaller budget, the filmmakers decided to go with a more comedic tone. On the one hand, the intentional B-movie aesthetic adds to the campy humor and if you are looking for that type of film, it is sure to entertain. There is enough action to keep the energy up and the main cast seem to be having a blast chewing the scenery. Not only that, but Heather Locklear and Dick Durock have some on-screen chemistry. Keep in mind, I am judging this film based on its direct competition, which is other B-movies. I’m not saying this movie is good in the traditional sense of the word, but I was entertained.

On the other hand, the film doesn’t have the same quality that the original had. The production value isn’t the same, the story isn’t as well told, and the original didn’t have a pair of kids as comic relief. Yeah, having them in the movie was a mistake in my opinion. So if you were to chose just one Swamp Thing movie to watch, go with the original.

The Extras

Extras begin with two audio commentary tracks, including one that is new to this release, as well as the one from the 2003 DVD release. Both feature the director, Jim Wynorski, but the new one also includes the composer, Chuck Cirino and the editor, Leslie Rosenthal. There are also four interviews with a total running time of nearly 40 minutes. Subjects include Jim Wynorski, producer Arnie Holland, Chuck Cirino, and Leslie Rosenthal. There is a behind-the-scenes slideshow, an environmental PSA, as well as TV spots and other promotional material.

The Verdict

The Return of Swamp Thing has a following as a slice of B-movie camp. It’s not as good as the original was, but if you are in the mood for a low-budget creature feature movie that doesn’t take itself seriously, then this one delivers. The Blu-ray Combo Pack has enough extras that if you are a fan of the movie, it is worth picking up.

Filed under: Video Review, The Return of Swamp Thing, Swamp Thing, Sarah Douglas, Monique Gabrielle, Louis Jordan, Heather Locklear, Jim Wynorski, Joey Sagal, Leslie Rosenthal, Arnie Holland, Chuck Cirino, Dick Durock, Tony Sears, Ace Mask
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