(Editor’s note: The best, spookiest day of the year is just days away! We at RUE MORGUE sometimes get so wrapped up in autumn’s celebration of mind-ripping horror and stomach-churning gore that we forget that Halloween is basically for kids. In the spirit of the season, Longtime contributor Jeff Szpirglas turns his critical duties over to the next generation of genre fans)
By JEFF SZPIRGLAS and HIS KIDS
Starring Louis Jourdan, Adrienne Barbeau and Ray Wise
Written and Directed by Wes Craven
MVD Rewind Collection
From MVD Rewind comes a newly minted 4K edition of Wes Craven’s 1982 take on DC Comics’ SWAMP THING, featuring a sparkly new transfer that highlights the verdant greens of the extensive location footage shot in South Carolina. To be sure, there are bonus features, such as recent interviews with actors Adrienne Barbeau and Reggie Batts (who plays the old soul kid, Jude), as well as SWAMP THING creator Len Wein, who weighs in on his slimy savior 40 years later. Author-critic Kim Newman also provides some historical context in an informative 17-minute featurette in which he posits SWAMP THING as a fulcrum point in Craven’s career between his gritty ’70s films (The Last House On The Left, The Hills Have Eyes) to his more mainstream successes in the ’80s.
The release also includes an unrated cut that runs a few minutes longer (read more breasts), but given that the theatrical cut was rated PG, I figured it was worth testing this DC adaptation on two kids – namely my twin 11-year-olds – to see how it plays to a contemporary audience. They typed up their responses to my questions on the condition that they remain anonymous, hence the AC and DC, because, well, rock ‘n’ roll!
Overall, what did you think of SWAMP THING?
AC: It was okay, but it was not the best movie I have ever seen. They never really explained why the scientists were going to the swamp and how they made the [chemical] formula. Also, the formula “makes your essences stronger,” and when they dropped it on the floor, the floor grew plants. What does the floor have to do with plants? The formula made everyone who drank it into crazy-looking animals, and that was just super weird. When one of the bad guys cocooned, he came out as a pig man and that made no sense.
DC: Swamp Thing was not great, yet it was not that bad either. The scene with Arcane (played by Louis Jourdan) transforming into a cocoon was deeply unpleasant. However, it redeemed itself with the finished project, as he looked amazing with all of the purple skin and boar-like teeth! I wish they could have done more with the formula – like the outcome depends on the cells you put into the formula. Also, where did Jude (Reggie Batts) go for the remainder of the movie and what happens with Cable (Adrienne Barbeau) at the end? Did she take Jude (Reggie Batts) home with her? Did she ever leave? My rating for this movie on a scale of 1 to 5 is a solid 2.5.
What was your favorite part of the movie?
AC: I liked the kid named Jude. He always made jokes that were funny and was super laid back.
DC: I really enjoyed it when Arcane turned into this hog-boar creation with all of the cosmetic design.
Did you have any problems with the film?
AC: This swamp creature had almost no makeup. It looked like they just fiddled with dollar-store products. And for me, that does not cut it.
DC: The prosthetics used for the scientist, Alec (SWAMP THING), were kind of flimsy, as it looked like he was wearing a giant suit. I personally think that was a missed opportunity. Other than that, it was mediocre. Swamp Thing just wasn’t too interesting until everybody got caught.
What did you think of the monster(s)?
AC: The Swamp Thing looked really goofy. The cover poster of the movie made the Swamp Thing look way better. The monster from Creepshow was way better than the monster in this movie. They needed to add more effort to Swamp Thing and make details that stand out. (Wait, my kids seen Creepshow?! – JS)
DC: Like I said before, Alec’s design [as Swamp Thing] was wonky, but the others (Bruno and Arcane) were spot-on. That was the best highlight this show had.
The movie is rated PG. Do you think it’s appropriate for young audiences?
AC: It is okay for young audiences because there’s no swearing and no blood and gore. but there is one shot where a girl is naked.
DC: The PG rating it has mostly works, except the scene where Cable is naked in the water, as this scene might be disturbing to youth who watch it (like me). Also, why on earth was Alec looking at her from behind the tree?
How does SWAMP THING compare to monster movies or comic book movies from today?
AC: Most comic book movies [today] are about multiverses or some universe is breaking, and that never was really the plot in this movie. Swamp Thing is not really like those big DC or Marvel movies. The Swamp Thing was really, like, in the background because it really is not a big movie.
DC: Swamp Thing’s main character, Alec, was kind of like today’s Hulk, as he is entirely green and has super strength. But he was also like a doctor, saving Jude and Cable from dying.