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"Sometimes I feel like a tree",
This review is from: Swamp Thing [DVD] (DVD)
When you watch Swamp Thing it's no surprise that Wes Craven is behind this comic-to-film translation. From the first few opening scenes the film is captured like a horror with low shot views of the forest swamp and foreboding music - there's a definite sense that there's something not-quite-human out there. As it happens there's nothing too out of the ordinary in the swamp just yet as Dr. Alec Holland is blissfully unaware that he and his sister's discovery of a wonder solution which accelerates and modifies organic growth is about to fall into the wrong hands. A violent raid by the evil Dr. Arcane leaves only 2 survivors - the romantically linked Alice Cable and Holland, who finds himself covered in the solution and severely burned before jumping into the swamp - where he transforms into the mutant man-plant, Swamp Thing.
The film then follows Dr. Arcane's attempts to re-create Holland's solution and capture the escaped Alice. It seems only one thing can stand in his way; Swamp Thing, with his incredible strength and uncanny ability to blend in with the foliage he's a formidable opponent.
This looks like many of the `80s low budget horrors which flooded the VHS market, but this is very light on horror and I would struggle to argue that this belongs to the genre. There's very little gore for a start, the main monster is a good guy, and the actual baddies seem too inept to be genuinely menacing!
Swamp Thing doesn't take itself too seriously but it's not too tongue-in-cheek to make it look like a camp parody (like the 1989 sequel!). The production values tend to be a flaky but Swampy's costume doesn't look too bad, not when compared to Arcane's mutated form which is so naff it's funny. It also seems that the mutation process causes you to lose your genitals. The film is often choppily edited so that the splices in scenes (particularly the more action orientated ones) look a bit clumsy and it's clear that you're watching different takes edited together - presumably the low budget meant few takes and even fewer cameras!
At the heart of Swamp Thing is a doomed romance which can never fully blossom (pardon the pun) and the film does have some substance. It's certainly not a rubbish film and fans of the genre will find that this is a stronger film than many others. Swamp Thing himself is an interesting character, a disfigured genius who is very much aware of his sad situation, he isn't just a green rage machine, he has depth and is a monster capable of great tenderness.
This feels quite Sam Raimi-esque, and if you want a great comedy horror then Evil Dead II has more horror and far more laughs than this, and Darkman provides a similar sort of disfigured hero.
In a nutshell: A fun, low budget, `80s comedy-horror which has more about it than other cheap straight-to-video releases of the time.
Location: Doncaster, Yorkshire, UK.
Top Reviewer Ranking: 94