Swamp Thing

Starring: Louis Jourdan, Ray Wise, Adrienne Barbeau and Don Knight
RRP: 12.99
Certificate: 15
Available now

A scientist working on plant growth deep in swamp land, makes a startling discovery. A power-mad businessman gatecrashes the celebrations, steals the formula and kills everyone involved in the project. The scientist is dumped in the swamp, but explosive reactions with the newly discovered chemical causes a metamorphosis into a creature, part plant, part human...

Although I'm certain the cast realised Swamp Thing was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, this is not so evident as it is in the sequel. The impression is given that the attempt here was to emulate a 1950s B-movie for a more modern age. The story is adapted from an old D.C. Comics series, but more closely follows the style of the horror E.C. Comics.

Just in case the viewing audience doesn't get it, the humour is occasionally exaggerated. The scientist creature stands in the swamp and gives it plenty of "Grruarghh!!" to no one in particular. There's dialogue like, "Some of the men think it's one of them abdominal snowmens." When the unscrupulous businessman tests the formula on one of his henchmen, the individual transmogrifies into a rabid version of the Doormouse from Alice in Wonderland. But he soon gets his comeuppance when he trys the potion himself and turns into a fanged furry biped. Very dangerous he is too; anyone who sees him would surely die laughing.

Adrienne Barbeau, who was great as the sultry-voiced lighthouse D.J. in John Carpenter's The Fog, Plays Cable, sent to the swamp laboratory to observe progress - although it's never quite explained in what capacity. When the others are killed, she escapes, only to be recaptured, escape, captured, escape and captured. As an encore she escapes again. Did I mention she gets captured? Well, you get the picture. The purpose of all this nonsense is so that our vegetarian hero can rear-up and throw a few men around. She spends the final scenes running around in her underwear, trying not to bubble-over - if you get my drift.

You don't exactly have to be among Mensa's elite to follow the plot; in fact, you'll be hard-pressed to find one. That's fine; the film achieves exactly what it set out to, finding its niche and pushing no boundaries.

Swamp Thing was written and directed by one Wes Craven, who moved on to better things with A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Scream, to name but two. It's probably telling that there's no interview or commentary from the man himself; he's probably trying to forget it ever happened.

Ty Power

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