Stars: 3 of 5.
Running Time: 93 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Starring Ray Wise (Leland Palmer on TWIN PEAKS), Adrienne Barbeau (ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK), Louis Jordan (LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN, GIGI), Dick Durock (RAW DEAL, ANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN). Music by Harry Manfredi (FRIDAY THE 13TH, HOUSE).
Tag-line: "Science transformed him into a monster. Love changed him even more!"
Best one-liner: "Sorry, Bruno. It's every man for himself; God against all." (Is that a reference to Werner Herzog's ENIGMA OF KASPAR HAUSER, AKA EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF AND GOD AGAINST ALL, starring the mysterious Bruno S.? Probably not.)
Probably one of the weaker 80's Wes Craven films...it's ridiculously cornball, but Craven is no dummy, and it's surely intentional: he remains true to the comic book style- the colors seem bright, but a little ugly- you can almost see the dot gain on the uncoated subpar cheap comic paper stock.
Authentic? Maybe. But entirely watchable? Not quite.
What complicates my opinion on this film is the fact that I saw it as a child and it conjured gnawing horrors and fantastical fears in my young brain. Also, I will admit to having worn SWAMP THING pajamas circa 1988-1992. But to this day, in my mind's eye, I can see what I saw as a child, the memory itself as mist-entrenched as the bayou locale. What, however, I once thought was a majestically terrifying epic battle between two mythically transformed men has turned into a dude in a rubber pig costume swinging a giant sword at a dude in a rubber tree costume.
Evidently some of the veneer has rubbed off in the intervening twenty-odd years.
Regardless, there are still things to like here, like the remarkably over-the-top transitions and wipes; Ray "Leland Palmer" Wise's incredible pathos (the man just oozes it, no matter what he's doing);
and Adrienne Barbeau as the poor man's Sigourney Weaver playing some kind of scientist or government official, which is, of course, no kind of stretch whatsoever. Consequently, when she makes some science-laden remark, you're not really buying it; but when she decides to skinny dip/bathe herself in the slimy, gunk-covered swamp water, you can (sort of) understand, so I guess it's a fair trade.
And keep your eyes peeled for the Swamp Thing's healing powers (a mind-boggling visual which I shan't reveal here)- the special effect is quite breathtaking.
2009 Halloween Countdown
31. PROM NIGHT (1980, Paul Lynch)
30. PHENOMENA (1985, Dario Argento)
29. HOUSE OF WAX (1953, André de Toth)
28. SILENT RAGE (1982, Michael Miller)
27. BASKET CASE (1982, Frank Henenlotter)
26. THE DEADLY SPAWN (1983, Douglas McKeown)
25. PELTS (2006, Dario Argento)
24. ANGEL HEART (1987, Alan Parker)
23. KILLER WORKOUT (1986, David A. Prior)
22. FREDDY'S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE (1991, Rachel Talalay)
21. THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (1971, Robert Fuest)
20. FRANKENHOOKER (1990, Frank Henenlotter)
19. HELLRAISER (1987, Clive Barker)
18. GEEK MAGGOT BINGO (1983, Nick Zedd)
17. ALLIGATOR (1980, Lewis Teague)
16. LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN (1971, Lucio Fulci)
15. THE CARD PLAYER (2004, Dario Argento)
14. SPASMO (1974, Umberto Lenzi)
13. C.H.U.D. (1984, Douglas Cheek)
12. FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III (1982, Steve Miner)
11. SWAMP THING (1982, Wes Craven)