Swamp Thing (1982)

swamp thing poster 1982 movie
5.5 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 5/10

Early super-hero movie, some nice panoramic shots, Jude is kind of funny but serves little purpose

Cheesy special effects, bad script

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Swamp Thing

Studio:  Swampfilms

Genre(s):  Comic Book/Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  February 19, 1982

MPAA Rating:  PG

swamp thing adrienne barbeau dick durock

Oh Swampy…if I hadn’t just met you a day ago, this might have meant more…

Scientist Alec Holland (Ray Wise) has been betrayed.  His sister Linda (Nannette Brown) has been killed and an experimental plant chemical now has transformed him into a beast (Dick Durock).  The man responsible is named Anton Arcane (Louis Jordan), and Swamp Thing is out for revenge.  Swamp Thing, a scientist named Alice Cable (Adrienne Barbeau), and a young man named Jude (Reggie Batts) must get Holland’s notes to the military and stop Arcane forever.

Directed by Wes Craven, Swamp Thing is a comic book horror movie.  Adapting the DC Comics character, the film was released to average reviews from critics but gained a cult following due to repeat airings on cable. The film was adapted into comic book for Saga of the Swamp Thing Annual #1 (1982).

Swamp Thing was a big change from Wes Craven.  It didn’t have the scares of The Hills Have Eyes or the gore of The Last House on the LeftThis took a relatively small comic book character and threw him with a hot B-Movie director and scream star Adrianne Barbeau.  Swamp Thing was a movie that you could watch as a kid, but felt a bit more dangerous than something like Superman.

swamp thing alice cable jude reggie batts adrienne barbeau

I would have rather watched a road trip movie starring Jude and Alice

The story is part of the problem.  It feels very rushed.  Alice Cable is introduced, the camp gets attacked, Alice runs around a bit, Swamp Thing appears, and then Alice and Swamp Thing are captured.  There isn’t much room for the characters to develop and their “relationship” doesn’t feel very real since they just met (the Swamp Thing-Abigail Arcane relationship from the comic felt more natural since they were almost drawn to each other).

Adrienne Barbeau is classic, but Swamp Thing doesn’t give her as much range as her other scream titles like The Fog or Creepshow.  Ray Wise is a fun choice for Alec Holland, but he gets swapped out for Dick Durock who plays the monster pretty quickly.  Louis Jordan is a great cartoon of a super-villain, and I wish that his character got more screentime like Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor.  The scene-stealer however is Reggie Batts as the tag-a-long character Jude who says what he thinks when he thinks it.

swamp thing arcane monster costume

Oh yeah…Arcane’s raising the roof!

The special effects for Swamp Thing are kind of what you’d expect for a relatively low budget early ’80s movie.  Swamp Thing’s rubbery costume looks awful (it looks better when it is shot from afar), but as bad as Swamp Thing looks, Arcane’s transformation into a dog-wolf-like thing is even worse…it does kind of remind me of the monsters from my favorite bad movie The Pit however.

Swamp Thing was a rare superhero movie in the early ’80s so it almost gets a bit of a pass from me in that it was always exciting to see since comic book movies were few and far between.  With a bit of nostalgia attached to it, Swamp Thing is better, but people checking out Swamp Thing for the first time will probably find it quite laughable (and not in a good way).  Swamp Thing returned with more humor with The Return of Swamp Thing in 1989 (with Dick Durock playing Swamp Thing again) and then the three season series Swamp Thing (1990-1993) on USA.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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