Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Why can't men be more like plants?!", 14 April 2011
This review is from: The Return Of Swamp Thing [DVD] (DVD)
This sequel comes seven years after Wes Craven's low budget semi-horror Swamp Thing film. Continuity is maintained by having Dick Durant still in the role of Swamp Thing but the tone of this film is completely different. There's still a comedy-horror element, but the levels of comedy far exceed any horror and the overall feel is that of a film which doesn't take itself seriously.

The film opens at the swamp and draws our attention to the fact that there are sinister things lurking in the water when we see government officials being attacked by some strange monster. As one worker is singled out and about to become monster mashed, the first few moments feel very much like the original film. But after a large figure emerges from the bog to a fanfare of music before chasing away the monster, he shakes hands and introduces himself: "They call me, Swamp Thing". It's a cool introduction followed by ink art showing Swamp Thing's comic book roots (pardon the pun). It's very clear that in the years since becoming Swamp Thing, Doctor Holland has not become a monster, he is one of the most human characters in the film and ultimately a hero who is very well spoken and has manners any mother would be proud of.

This sequel sees Swamp Thing pitted against his nemesis Doctor Arcane (who was actually killed in the previous film!) and getting some romantic interest from Arcane's step-daughter Abby. The film is rather cheesy and some set-ups are obvious, for example Abby is established very early on as a plant lover - she strokes the leaves of her plants and insists on playing them music. It's clear where that is going to lead but the film somehow gets away with it, probably because it never takes itself seriously and feels like a fun flick which is deliberately so-bad-it's-good.

The horror element of the film mainly comes from Arcane's laboratory where a series of genetic experiments have resulted in a macabre collection of mutants, "a zoo full of misshapen monstrosities". The make-up is actually pretty good and it's clear that some effort has gone into the prosthetics. Less effort has gone into the science behind much of what goes on in the laboratory, from Arcane's regeneration since the first film to the way he steals energy from others to become younger - the science is so flimsy it is laughable! But that's part of the fun.

The film is full of convenient processes and unexplained phenomena - why is it when the mutants fight using metal sticks that bolts of electricity are generated?!! The film has one of the most bizarre love scenes in cinematic history and yet it defies any plausible logic, it's great how when asked if it was actually real, the answer given is wonderfully cryptic and leaves you no better informed: "It's as real as you want it to be".

Dick Durock gives a terrific performance as the central character. The way he portrays Swamp Thing enables the character to be an imposing figure who is capable of great tenderness. As the creature has so much facial make-up, conveying emotion is essentially down to the skill of the actor to project feelings in his voice and Durock is flawless here. If the character of Swamp Thing was as campy as the rest of the film then the whole thing would be a silly mess, but because Durock does such a good job he saves the feature and makes you want to watch on.

It's a shame there aren't any bonus features (scene selection and a weblink don't really count!) as the trailers for this film were fantastic in a purposefully cheesy way and I would have loved to have seen them included on the DVD, a commentary could have been amusing and there are enough visual and make-up effects to deserve a featurette.

In a nutshell: The last time I saw this film I was 11 and watching on VHS - this brought back memories and this film is a guilty pleasure of mine. I know this isn't exactly a quality film, and there are so many flaws that I can see why many consider it to be utter dross. But, I can't help but feel that there are enough funny moments and examples of absolute madness to salvage it and ensure it be regarded as a cult classic.
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