Release Date: Dec 10, 2018
Directed by: Wes Craven
Long before superhero movies were packing out multiplex cinemas, Freddy Krueger creator Wes Craven followed-up the success of Richard Donner's SUPERMAN (1978) with this fondly remembered DC adaptation that brings a comic book favourite to livid and lunatic life! Following the success of THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977), SWAMP THING was also evidence of its director trying to adapt his style to less rough 'n' ready thrills and spills - and the result is an adventure thriller that highlights not just a mutant-monster with good intentions, but such sights as the timeless terror-star Adrienne Barbeau (THE FOG), future Twin Peaks star Ray Wise and David Hess (THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT) in one of his best-remembered villainous turns. Released in 1982 to an appreciative cult following, SWAMP THING remains one of Craven's most mesmerising achievements - with a faithful DC-comic outlay and plenty of action-packed special effects that hold their ground even today. 88 Films is delighted to present SWAMP THING in a very special edition Blu-ray release that packs a pristine punch and highlights this creature feature classic in all of its bayou-tinged brilliance!
The late Wes Craven’s only turn at the superhero genre - his loose 1982 adaptation of the DC Comics property Swamp Thing - is a charming but deeply flawed movie which stands out in his career as his first step into mainstream filmmaking, after coming up in the world of exploitation cinema.
The movie opens with Adrienne Barbeau as government agent Alice Cable flying into the Louisiana backwoods to replace a fatally injured colleague. She has come to support the breakdown of an experiment by scientists Alec and Linda Holland, who have been doing studies involving plants which they hope will solve world hunger through Alec’s - played by Twin Peaks Ray Wise - formula to provide plants with the properties to survive in the harshest of environments.
Louis Jourdan's bad guy Arcane, who sadly is sans moustache to twirl, has other plans so he sends his goons - headed up by The Last House on the Left’s David Hess - to mess shit up and grab some vital research. This goes badly wrong, with Alec turning into the titular Swamp Thing. He makes the best of the situation by being a green guardian to Cable as she tries to escape from the bad guys with the research Arcane needs. Often this involves action sequences that wouldn't look out of place in an episode of “The Incredible Hulk” TV show starring Lou Ferrigno.
In the early 1980s, when this film was released, there wasn't the glut of comic book movies that we have today. They mostly existed in serials on TV. The main big budget outing for caped crusaders and tight wearing heroes was 1978’s highly successful Superman The Movie starring Christopher Reeves. Interestingly, years later, Wes Craven was the original director of Superman IV: The Quest For Peace but left the project due to the old chestnut of “creative differences”.
Swamp Thing is a rather shambolic viewing experience - particularly the special and creature effects. Wes Craven talks about his problems with them and how bad they are on the disc’s audio commentary. However, the other production elements like the art design, the location shooting, a great burn sequence, the use of comic book wipes and dialogue that feels authentic, like it could have been ripped from the original source material, generally make up for these flaws.
If, like me, you like character actors who ply their trade in genre film and television, then the cast won't disappoint. The leads Ray Wise and Adrienne Barbeau have good chemistry in the opening scenes, even sharing a kiss, but it's sadly lost when Dick Durock takes over the reigns as the monster/hero. Thankfully Barbeau, in a role which flips between resourceful, strong female character and the clichéd damsel in distress, is excellent, balancing that core inconsistency well. For other memorable moments, It's not everyday that you see the bald, hulking Nicolas Worth - remembered for his death scene in Darkman - foaming at the mouth and then turning into a rat-like, little person, sitting at the same table as the second lead from the classic musical Gigi.
This limited edition, dual format, release from 88 Films includes reversible artwork, an A3 fold out poster of the artwork and a glossy booklet featuring rare photos from the film. The discs contains the uncut European version with Adrienne Barbeau in all her topless glory, campy theatrical trailer and finally an archival audio commentary with Wes Craven who talks about the production challenges, casting, its controversial MGM DVD release and more. It's definitely worth watching the film with the much missed director's chat track.
The highlight of this release are the two informative featurettes directed by Naomi Holwill - Production Designer Robb Wilson King talks about working with Wes Craven, the film’s shoot and going antique shopping with Adrienne Barbeau. The second, High Rising produced, extra is a 17 minute interview with dapper gent/genre expert Kim Newman who discusses the career of Wes Craven, Swamp Thing's place in comic book film history and this film’s links to exploitation cinema.
The film flopped in theatres on its original release but it slowly built up a cult following on video which lead to a sequel directed by Jim Wynorski, cartoon series and two television series - with a new live action adaptation coming this year featuring Friday 13th/Jason alum, Derek Mears playing the monster. Swamp Thing's initial box office failure had a silver lining however, as it pushed Wes Craven into writing the screenplay that would become A Nightmare on Elm Street and was a further step on the path towards the domination of the comic book movie genre with the film’s producer Michael E. Uslan doing similar duties on 1989’s Batman starring Michael Keaton.
Limited Edition O-Card slipcase [First Print Run Only]
Limited Edition Foldout A3 Poster [First Print Run Only]
Limited Edition 16 page collectable photobook with rare photos, lobby cards and production stills from the vaults of MGM [First Print Run Only]
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations of the Uncut International Version
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Audio Commentary by Director Wes Craven, Moderated by Sean Clark
Swamp Screen: Designing DC's Main monster - An Interview with Production Designer Robb Wilson King
From Krug to Comics: How the Mainstream Shaped a Radical Genre Voice - Interview with Critic Kim Newman
Original Theatrical Trailer
Region Code: B
Picture Format: HD 1080p 1.85:1
Audio Format: DTS-HA MA 2.0 Stereo
Running Time: 93 Mins Approx