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Swamp Thing - 1982

Swamp Thing is a 1982 American science fiction film written and directed by Wes Craven. It tells the story of scientist Alec Holland (Ray Wise) who becomes transformed into the monster Swamp Thing (Dick Durock) through laboratory sabotage orchestrated by the evil Anton Arcane (Louis Jourdan). Later, he helps out a woman named Alice (Adrienne Barbeau) and battles the man responsible for it all, the ruthless Arcane. The film was based on the DC Comics (later Vertigo Comics) character of the same name by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson.

Dr. Anton Arcane: "A man who loves, gives hostages to fortune."

In the swamps of Louisiana, Dr. Alec Holland works with his sister Linda on a top-secret bio-engineering project to create a plant/animal hybrid capable of thriving in extreme environments. Government agent Alice Cable arrives just as Holland makes a major breakthrough, and begins to develop feelings for him. However, a paramilitary group led by the evil Dr. Anton Arcane, who is obsessed with immortality, kills Linda while trying to steal the formula for their own purposes.

During the attack, Alice escapes and Alec is covered in chemicals, caught on fire, and runs screaming in the swamp, presumably to die. However, he returns as a monstrously mutated plant creature. As the Swamp Thing, Holland battles Arcane's forces to protect Cable, and eventually takes on Arcane himself, also mutated by the Holland formula.

Alice Cable: "I don't know where we are Toto, but it sure isn't Kansas."

How it ends: Arcane drinks Alec's formula, hoping that it will enhance his 'genius' as well as make him strong like it did for Alec when he turned into the Swamp Thing, but instead it turns him into a hairy monster. Meanwhile, Alec has been able to free himself from the chains and break Alice free. With the help of Little Bruno (Tommy Madden), they jump into to a well that is fed by a spring from the swamp, swimming to their freedom.

Unfortunately, the Arcane monster (Ben Bates) follows and tries to kill Swamp Thing with a sword. Alec defends himself, but Arcane manages to stab Alice in the boob. While Alec finishes off Arcane by using a tree root as a club, Alice bleeds to death. With Arcane out of commission, Alec kneels beside Alice. He places a piece of moss over her wound and heals her with his powers. She comes to just in time to warn him that Arcane is sneaking up behind him.

Jude: "Oh Shit... Here Comes Trouble!"

Alec turns on Arcane and stabs him with his own sword. Alec then carries Alice to drier ground and begins to walk back into the swamp. Alice begs him to stay, even offering to help him set up his lab again, but he refuses, telling her to take time to heal and assuring her that he'll see her again and that he'll always be with her. Jude (Reggie Batts) then comes running over, and he and Alice watch Swamp Thing as he continues to walk deeper into the swamp.

Filming occurred primarily on location in Charleston, South Carolina, and nearby Johns Island. The character of Alice Cable is a combination of two characters from the Swamp Thing comics, Matthew Cable and Abby Arcane (who in the comics married both Cable and Holland). Swamp Thing received generally average to positive reviews from critics, with the movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes giving the film a score of 64% based on 33 reviews.

Swamp Thing: "Everything's a dream when you're alone."

Author John Kenneth Muir notes that Swamp Thing differs in many respects from Craven's usual work, in that Craven's intent was to show the major Hollywood studios that he could handle action, stunts and major stars. Craven substituted his usual focus on the problems of the family and society for pure entertainment. Nevertheless, Muir points out, some of Craven's usual themes and images do appear in Swamp Thing.

For example, as in The Last House on the Left (1972), and The Hills Have Eyes (1977), Craven shows a close connection between the landscape and his characters. The film was adapted in comic form as Swamp Thing Annual #1. PopMatters journalist J.C. Maçek III wrote "As much fun as this film can be (and it often is), it's equally often difficult to ignore that Swamp Thing ultimately is, at core, a rubber-suit monster movie."

Bruno: "Where is he?"
Ferret: "What is he?"

In August of 2000, MGM released the film on DVD in the United States. Though the DVD was labeled as being the PG-rated, 91-minute cut of the film, MGM had inadvertently used the 93-minute, international cut of the film (which contained more nudity and sexual content than the US theatrical cut) for the pressing. In May of 2002, a Dallas woman rented the disc from a Blockbuster Video store for her children and reported this discrepancy. MGM recalled the disc and reissued it in August of 2005, with the US theatrical cut as originally intended.

Swamp Thing was released in a Blu-ray Disc/DVD combo pack by Shout! Factory on August 6, 2013. The set features the 91-minute cut of the film presented in high definition anamorphic widescreen format, along with bonus content including interviews with Adrienne Barbeau, Len Wein, and Reggie Batts, as well as commentary tracks with Wes Craven and makeup artist Bill Munn.

Little Bruno: "Some friend you are!"
Commando: "Sorry, Bruno. It's every man for himself; God against all."

A low-budget sequel entitled The Return of Swamp Thing was released in 1989. In 2009, Joel Silver announced plans to produce a reboot of the Swamp Thing movie franchise from a story written by Akiva Goldsman. In April 2010, Vincenzo Natali was confirmed to direct, but on May 12, 2010, Vincenzo Natali decided to delay the Swamp Thing reboot to pursue other projects.

Jude (seeing the Swamp Thing): "Oh shit. There goes the neighborhood."

Dick Durock was forced into the role of the Swamp Thing by necessity. He'd been brought on board the project as a stuntman, but the filmmakers found that it was impossible to go from Durock to Ray Wise - who had been cast as Alec Holland, Swamp Thing's former self - and back again because the two men looked so different in Swamp Thing's makeup. The Wilhelm scream can be heard as Swamp Thing throws a thug out of his speed boat.

Alice Cable: "Don't be afraid, Jude."
Jude: "You better say that to somebody whose desk you ain't hiding behind."

Besides the sequel, The Swamp Thing was also followed by followed by 1990 TV series. The film has been referenced numerous times in other works including: a poster seen at Harlan's place in the TV movie Computer Ghosts (1988); mentioned in the dialogue of Toxic Skies (2008); a poster is shown in Scream: The Inside Story (2011); and mentioned in dialogue in Shark Night 3D (2011). This is just a highlight of references, there are many more on the movie's IMDB page.

The Swamp Thing is featured with select clips in The Directors: The Films of Wes Craven (1999) and The Rotten Tomatoes Show for a "Monster's Guild of America" segment. Clips are also seen in the video Hey Jude! With Reggie Batts (2013) and Tales from the Swamp with Adrienne Barbeau (2013).

Dr. Anton Arcane: "Why doesn't Bruno have your strength?"
Swamp Thing: "Because he never had it."

There wasn't a whole lot online for this film to gather, but here are a few goofs: When Bruno drinks the formula and shrinks, his clothes shrink right along with him; The Swamp Thing performs his veggie-magic healing trick on Cable, curing her wound where she was stabbed. Remarkably, those pesky blood stains on her shirt also vanish; and in the scene after the Swamp Thing heals Jude, he walks by a very large bush that is clearly camouflage netting.

Roger Ebert review: "Swamp Thing" had already won my heart before its moment of greatness, but when that moment came, I knew I'd discovered another one of those movies that fall somewhere between buried treasures and guilty pleasures. The moment comes after Dr. Alec Holland, brilliant scientist, is attacked by thugs, is splashed with his own secret formula, catches on fire, leaps into the swamp, and turns into Swamp Thing when the formula interacts with his body and the vegetation in the swamp.

Crawling back onto dry land, Swamp Thing is not recognized by his former girlfriend, the beautiful Alice Cable. But after the thugs fill him with machine-gun bullets and hack off his left arm, Alice asks, "Does it hurt?" and Swamp Thing replies, "Only when I laugh." That was the movie's moment of greatness.

There are others that come close, as when Swamp Thing, dripping with moss and looking like a bug-eyed spinach souffle, says "There is great beauty in the swamp -- if you know where to look." And when the evil villain (Louis Jourdan) drinks the secret formula and confidently waits for it to transform him into a powerful genius, he discovers that the formula doesn't so much change you, as develop what is already latent within you.

Therefore, once a horse's ass, always a horse's ass. This is one of those movies like "Infra-Man" or "Invasion of the Bee Girls": an off-the-wall, eccentric, peculiar movie fueled by the demented obsessions of its makers. "Swamp Thing" first saw the light of day, so to speak, as a hero in a celebrated series of DC Comics.

The movie version was written and directed by Wes Craven, who made "Last House on the Left," a movie I persist in admiring even in the face of universal repugnance. Craven also made "The Hills Have Eyes," which even I found decadent, and the made-for-NBC movie "Stranger in Our House," with Linda Blair. . . . read complete review.

New York Times Review: WHEN you have a horror film in which the ''creature'' looks like John Foster Dulles permanently stuck inside a scuba diver's cast-off wet suit, a rubbery, greenish thing fitted with its own varicosities, you can be fairly sure the movie is meant to be funny. Wes Craven's ''Swamp Thing,'' which opens today at the Embassy 2 and other theaters, wants desperately to be funny and, from time to time, it is.

However, you might wish it would trust the audience to discover the humor for itself. Unlike Lewis Teague's and John Sayles's ''Alligator,'' a witty, appreciative send-up of monster movies, ''Swamp Thing'' seems afraid the audience will not get the point unassisted by outrageously jokey dialogue and exaggerated techniques.

These include old-fashioned ''wipes,'' in which one scenes is succeeded by the next as if being swept off the screen by a windshield wiper or some other identifiable instrument. ''Swamp Thing'' does have the virtue of being single-mindedly hokey, though it's a far more elaborate production than either ''Last House on the Left'' or ''The Hills Have Eyes.''

They are the two solemnly brutal, low-budget exploitation features that earned Mr. Craven, their writer-director, a fiendish reputation long before the discovery of John Carpenter (''Halloween'') and Tobe Hooper (''The Texas Chainsaw Massacre''). ''Swamp Thing,'' based on characters that originally appeared in DC Comics, is set mostly deep inside an unidentified, great Southern swamp that sometimes looks like Louisiana. . . . read complete review.

Resources: imdb.com, Wikipedia.org

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