Rental Review - The Return of Swamp Thing

The Return of Swamp Thing (1989), PG-13, 88 minutes - I have a tendency to go all out when I find something new that I enjoy.  The rabbit hole I've gone down the last few weeks in regards to Swamp Thing is just another example of that.  I blew through two highly regarded runs of the Swamp Thing comic (Moore/Bissette and Snyder/Paquette), thoroughly enjoying both.  That led me to re-watch Wes Craven's adaptation from 1982 which despite its being quite dated, I also enjoyed.  Other than a couple of nice nods to the comic, I don't think I can say the same for The Return of Swamp Thing.

Dr. Anton Arcane (Louis Jourdan) returns as the big bad, which is a bit of a double edged sword.  Jourdan plays a very believable, despicable villain just as he did in Swamp Thing.  Unfortunately, his appearance (with no explanation until half way through the film) doesn't make much sense given the events at the end of the previous film.  When we finally get the explanation for his return, it is mentioned almost as an afterthought.  Abby Arcane (Heather Locklear) is introduced as Swamp Thing's love interest (as she is in the comics), but their 'relationship' is so forced it is ridiculous.  Despite that, they did manage to slip in a scene straight out of Moore and Bissette's story 'Rite of Spring' (from The Saga of the Swamp Thing #34).  Dick Durock returned as Swamp Thing, this time around looking much more detailed, obviously a byproduct of the improvement in make up techniques in the years since the first film.  There's one other vaguely familiar face in the cast, that of Sarah Douglas (Dr. Lana Zurell).  I couldn't place her at first, but after checking out imdb.com, I found that she also played Ursa in Superman and Superman II.

The plot is pretty weak (Dr. Arcane needs Abby's blood to properly synthesize an 'antidote' that will stop his rapid aging - a result of his experimentation from the first film), and there are many characters that aren't even necessary (primarily the two kids for instance), but there are a couple of scenes that are nice little nods to the comics.  Unfortunately, those aren't cool enough to really warrant giving this film a look.  I've been on quite a Swamp Thing run recently and this was a chore even for me to get through.  I'm not sure that I can even recommend it to anyone looking for a 'it's so bad it's good' type of flick.  The first Swamp Thing film plays a bit cheesy in that it is obviously a film from the early '80s, not because it wasn't taken seriously when it was made.  This film is treated like a cheesy comedy from the get go.  It succeeds in that regard, but that overshadows the attempts at more serious or horror-centric scenes.











*****SPOILERS*****

- The opening credits role over a montage of cover images from issues of the comic book.

- The 'The End' screen plays over cover art from Alan Moore and Stephen Bissette's final issue of Swamp Thing (#64 - Return of the Good Gumbo)

- There is no nudity and very limited language (one occurrence of 'shit' that I can remember), yet this received a PG-13 rating, as opposed to Swamp Thing's PG rating in 1982.

- Other than the Abby/Swamp Thing love scene mentioned above, the portrayal of Swamp Thing's ability to travel through the earth/waterways and reform in another location was a nice nod to the comics.

- Really none of Swamp Thing's other powers are shown in this film.  He's shown in hand to hand type combat, even using a baseball bat and a hand grenade.  I know that they were limited to do the special effects technology at the time but this was pretty disappointing, it's just way off base for the character.

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