All things Swamp Thing-related have blended together in my mind. As a child, I was certainly familiar with Swamp Thing and enjoyed him on my television set many times. A lot of that, I’m sure, was from the TV show because I watched wrestling all the time so my TV was basically on USA Network nonstop. As far as the two films are concerned I’m not certain if I watched them or not. My guess is I did, but I really don’t know. I decided to put an end to that confusion recently my watching the second film, The Return of Swamp Thing, courtesy of MVD Rewind Collection’s recent Blu-ray release.
The film picks up shortly after the events from the first movie — I actually don’t know if that’s true because like I said I can’t remember if I’ve seen the movies but I’m taking an educated guess — with Abigail Arcane (Heather Locklear) heading to the swamps of Florida to face off with her evil stepfather, Dr. Arcane (Louis Jourdan). The mad doctor is the middle of working on an experiment to prevent aging with the assistance of Dr. Lana Zurrell (Sarah Douglas) when Abigail arrives. While Dr. Arcane is caught off guard by this surprise visit, he views it as a positive because he can now use Abigail in his experiments. Unfortunately for the doctor, Swamp Thing (Dick Durock) is on hand to save the day.
It’s a pretty straightforward plot — girl gets captured and Swamp Thing is there to rescue her. What makes the film interesting are some of the subplots mixed in throughout. Two little boys encounter Swamp Thing when another swamp creature bursts through their trailer park. They then spend the rest of the movie plotting to take a picture of Swamp Thing in order to sell it to tabloids for lots of money. Then there are plenty of weird relationships going on. You’ve got Lana and Dr. Arcane, Swamp Thing and Abigail and two of Arcane’s lead goons. Plenty of romance in this schlocky bit of science-fiction fun.
The film is very campy, which leads me to believe I did not see this film as a child because I don’t remember it being campy at all. Of course, it could also mean that as a kid I didn’t really grasp the concept of camp and just associated all monsters with “scary.” Either way, watching the film now it sort of feels like a slightly less low brow version of The Toxic Crusader. All of this makes sense because it’s a Jim Wynorski movie.
A major player in the film’s camp is the use of silly practical effects. Everything looks obviously fake, but that’s okay because it fits the fun vibe and clearly winks at the audience. It’s a movie that gets by on its charm, purposely being goofy and silly while tossing in a little message on why we should take care of the environment.
The Return of Swamp Thing doesn’t take itself too seriously. The goal here is to have fun and entertain and in that respect, it more than succeeds.
The MVD Rewind Collection Blu-ray release features a brand-new 2K HD transfer that looks incredible. It’s a pristine looking transfer with plenty of detail, especially in the lab scene. It’s impressive work, particularly when you factor in the silliness of the film and its low budget.
The bonus content is pretty stacked with interviews with Wynorski, Arnie Holland, editor Leslie Rosenthal and composer Chuck Cirino. A lot of fun tidbits here on the making of the film. Additional features include behind the scenes slideshow, 2 TV spots (I love old TV spots!), 6 promotional TV clips (love these too!), promotional reel, brand-new commentary with Wynorski, Rosenthal and Cirino and old commentary with just Wynorski.
The crown jewel of bonus content resides with a pair of public service announcements. Swamp Thing partnered with Greenpeace to promote the importance of keeping Mother Nature clean. Below I’ve included one of those glorious promos — somewhat related, local Portland pizza chain Sizzle Pie uses Swamp Thing to promote their vegan pizza.
The Return of Swamp Thing is campy good fun that MVD Rewind has treated with great care in order to release this fabulous Blu-ray. Fans of the film are going to want to snag a copy.