Jarv’s Schlock Vault: The Return of Swamp Thing

There may be some side-effects.

That’s OK, we can discover them together

This comes as a genuine surprise. I am an admitted fan of the first Swamp Thing, which I reviewed here ages ago, but to be honest that had a lot of things going for it including sharp writing, excellent actors, Wes Craven, and Adrienne Barbeau’s tits  (never an unwelcome addition to any film), but I didn’t know it was a hit of any description. Needless to say it clearly did make enough for Jim Wynorski of soft porn and Chopping Mall fame to take a stab at it. This is a man with sensibilities that are best described as base, so surely, The Return of Swamp Thing should be a grimier, dirtier, more full of gratuitous skin and sleazier affair than the original. Obviously, being a sequel, the cast won’t be up to scratch, particularly since nefarious Dr. Arcane croaked after turning into a giant pig monster in the first film, but still, I’m expecting boobs, violence and a ridiculous plant man in a rubber suit.

Contains the Supervillian version of Hugh Hefner and Spoilers below.

AAARGH, I'M BEING GROPED BY CTHULHU'S BASTARD OFFSPRING

Somehow, in a way not adequately explained, Dr. Arcane (Louis Jourdan) is back! The smoothest comic book bad guy ever filmed has managed to cheat death, get himself another mansion and is up to no good monkeying around with genes to hold off the cold hand of aging. Unfortunately, he’s a moron, and has surrounded himself with morons, so some of his experiments have gone a touch awry, such as leech thing who is out causing havoc in the Swamp. Swamp Thing intervenes, and hands Leech dude a beating, and this is all before the fantastic comic-book inspired opening credits. Once they roll (excellent choice of music as well), we get introduced to the meat of the film proper in the form of Abigail (Heather Locklear), Arcane’s step daughter. She goes out to visit the sleazy old devil, incidentally, he’s reinvented himself in his mansion as a dirty old bugger surrounded by outrageously hot women (Sarah Douglas as a Gene scientist) that he’s porking. Abby wants to find out what happened to her mother, but Arcane isn’t playing ball. He’s got an outlandish theory that he needs Abby’s DNA to complete his cure for the aging process. He also, apparently, needs Swamp Thing’s DNA. Incidentally, this time round, Swampy is played by the superbly named Dick Durock (there are loads of great names in this film). Anyhoo, Swampy beats up Arcane’s security guards ( the two most important are Gunn and Poinsetta played by Joey Sagal and Monique Gabrielle respectively) and rescues Abby running off into the Swamp. There, and this is nearly indescribable, they do the nasty. Seriously, he breaks out his penis root, gives her a tasty bite then they fuck. Or they might not, because it’s all in her mind, I think, given that she sees a non-rubber suit wearing Alec. Basically, either she shags a human root vegetable, or his penis has hallucinogenic qualities. I’m not sure which is more unpleasant, actually. Anyhow, Abby is captured and returned to Arcane’s lab for evil experiments, before Swampmeister breaks in, beats everyone up and blows the place up leaving Arcane trapped under a door. Sadly, Abby didn’t survive the very, very, experimental procedure, but it doesn’t matter because he uses his magic powers of photosynthesis to turn her into plant woman and the film closes with them wandering off into the swamp to make seedlings.

Arcane hired Monique on his security detail purely because of her ability to handle a weapon.

This is, against all odds, a lot of fun. I’ve tried hard with the script but it doesn’t make a jot of sense. At one point Douglas’ Dr. Zurrell discovers that Arcane is conspiring with Dr. Rochelle (Ace Mask- another great name) to use her DNA for the other side of the formula, and instead of doing what I’d do (leg it), she decides to hang around to perform the operation on Arcane, but not before she turns Rochelle into a mutant. Oh, and she gives Abby a car to escape in as well. This just does not make sense and there’s fucking loads of this film like that. However, it doesn’t really matter, because the entertainment level here is so high- it’s almost obscenely entertaining.

The invention of Viagra couldn't come quickly enough for the residents at the Playboy Mansion.

The acting is, how shall I put this, variable. Durock is ace as Swamp Thing, and Jourdan is a dirty old bugger as Arcane. The word for Locklear is “chirpy” and she does that well, while Douglas puts in superior support. Unfortunately Gabrielle is possibly the worst actress in the history of cinema and while the script (and her dialogue in particular) isn’t a lot of help, she’s almost impossibly stilted and wooden. You see better acting in porn, frankly, which is no surprise considering her entire filmography is stuffed full of soft porn nonsense. To make matters worse, though, there are two kids cast that I can’t be bothered to look up, and it’s no exaggeration to say that both of them are actively terrible, and I mean really, really awful. They’re both trying far to hard, and are, at the very least, annoying on screen.

Swamp Thing, I think I love you...

Actually, the kids are by far the biggest problem in the film. They just keep turning up and derailing the action. Whoever decided to include them made an absolutely huge mistake, as their presence means that the boob count automatically drops to 0. Reason for this? You don’t put children center stage unless you are planning to aim the film at kids. Pah. To make matters more annoying, the pair of little fuckers contribute absolutely nothing to the storyline, and I’m at a loss as to what they’re in the film for. They can’t be comic relief, because practically every character is comic relief, they are never in any danger, and I simply wish they weren’t here.

But I wanna know for sure...

Anyhow, as much as the boys try to ruin the film, they just can’t. It’s too loopy and hilarious. Arcane has a whole freak show chained up in his basement, and, better than that, when he needs to dispose of one of Rochelle’s botched experiments, he’s installed a giant microwave in the corner to nuke the fuckers to kingdom come. It’s this sort of nuttiness that runs all the way through the film, and although totally bloodless it’s simply a blast to watch.

Come snack on my penis root, Heather.

Part of the reason it is so much fun is the little touches that Wynorski supplies. Swamp Thing, for example, has his own genius hero music that plays every time he turns up to kick some ass and  take some names. Actually, I really, really like this theme and the best scene in the film has Swamp Thing beating the snot out of Arcane’s security gang using a baseball bat while the theme belts away in the background. Unfortunately, he’s saving annoying kid 1 and 2, but you can’t have everything. Furthermore, the mutant design is both entertaining and imaginative, I particularly like that Rochelle turns into one of the Mos Eisley Cantina band before Swampy beats the fuck out of him and tosses his bubbleheaded ass into the giant microwave. Awesome.

You should never microwave failed genetic experiments. You should pan fry them with garlic.

Overall, this one’s a blast. It’s ridiculously entertaining for the most part, rocks along at a fair old clip and has plenty of intentional belly laughs. I think this may be a case of lightning in a bottle, because ordinarily I would eschew kids films directed by a schlock master such as Jim Wynorski. Simply because 99 times out of 100 they are almost certain to be absolute gash. Anyhoo, I do recommend this one, and it makes a fairly sweet double bill with the original, because it’s so much fun and am I honestly going to come down hard on a film with a villain who thinks he’s Hefner and has a cellar full of mutants?

Pity about the kids, really.

Until next time,

Jarv

 

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

79 responses to “Jarv’s Schlock Vault: The Return of Swamp Thing”

  1. Droid says :

    Never seen either of these. They don’t really make goofy horror movies like this any more. Not that often anyway. The 80’s seems riddled with them.

    • Jarv says :

      That Centurion article has really annoyed me.

      • Droid says :

        I think that same person did one of those on Black Death too.

      • Jarv says :

        Not bothered about that one.

        Why pick on the little films for this? Seriously, go and do The Patriot or something. And in the case of Centurion- nobody knows what the fuck happened to the 9th, so a bit of artistic license is fair enough.

      • Jarv says :

        Oh, and Gladiator? When did this become an actual good film? Did I miss the memo?

      • Droid says :

        Gladiators okay. It’s melodrama, and I find it reasonably entertaining.

      • Droid says :

        That person should do A Knight’s Tale. I’d like to see how they comment on the crowd drumming their feet along to the beat of We Will Rock You.

      • Droid says :

        I saw one for KoH. There’s probably a load done.

      • Jarv says :

        Having looked through- she basically mixes them up, but they’re almost all low budget and not meant to be taken seriously, or easy films to beat up.

        Apart from Munich, which she gives a fondle to.

      • Jarv says :

        I mean, fuck me, Anonymous of all films?

      • Droid says :

        I thought Anonymous was decent entertainment, but as a historical record it’s utter bollocks. Visually accurate maybe, but certainly not the content.

      • Jarv says :

        It’s a flaming Shakespeare conspiracy film, FFS.

        Anyone looking for historical accuracy there needs a booting.

      • Droid says :

        This also reminds me, I’m not sure if I mentioned it, but when I was ill last week I watched The Three Muskateers. It was absolute shit and if the tv wasn’t all the way over the other side of the room I’d have turned it off. Alas, in my weakened state I was stuck with it.

      • Jarv says :

        You must be bloody close to 100% PWSA as well. Couldn’t pay me to watch that.

      • Droid says :

        As soon as you give me the hard drive I’ll put it on for you. I haven’t seen Shopping, and don’t plan to, so I will never be 100% Anderwank.

      • Jarv says :

        What Hard Drive…

        *Walks away whistling*

        I’ve still got quite a lot to watch- except most of the one left are ones the missus refuses to put on.

      • Droid says :

        You can transfer them to the PS3. Easy peasey.

      • Jarv says :

        I know. Just sheer laziness. I need to clean out the PS3 actually and bin a lot of the stuff on it.

      • Droid says :

        Me too. I’ve got loads of rubbish on there.

      • Jarv says :

        Shopping is actually not bad. Or I remember it being not bad. But I’ve only seen it once years ago. It does have Jude “Sack of cocks” Law in it though.

      • Droid says :

        It also has Sadie Frost in it, who I dislike immensely. No, I think that one will remain unwatched.

        One flick I do need to see again is Shallow Grave. Haven’t seen that since the 90’s. Liked it a lot at the time.

      • Jarv says :

        Me too, actually. That’s a cracking film.

      • Droid says :

        It’s a shame Boyle developed a patented third act meltdown, because if his films, particularly Sunshine and 28 Days Later, finished strongly, I’d rate him as one of my favourite directors over the past 20 years.

      • Droid says :

        As long as we can forget that A Life Less Ordinary ever existed.

      • Jarv says :

        What? Never heard of it.

      • Jarv says :

        The Beach fucking sucks as well.

      • Droid says :

        Well, I liked the Beach until it also had a third act meltdown. But the pre-meltdown section of the film wasn’t as comparably good as the pre-meltdown sections of 28 Days Later and Sunshine. Sunshine especially could’ve been something fucking special. Fucking blurry KFC man. What a way to sabotage your own movie.

      • Jarv says :

        It is unbelievably bad the last third of Sunshine. Comparatively much, much worse than the last third of 28 Days.

      • Droid says :

        I hated the direction 28 Days Later took. I haven’t seen it again because I hated it so much.

      • Droid says :

        The thing about the Sunshine third act, is that it all could play out in very much the same way, but instead of a blurry chicken drumstick stalking them, it very easily could be equipment malfunctions and whatnot.

      • Jarv says :

        It would have been fine with an ordinary non vaselined lens guy stalking them as well.

        It was how it was shot as much as anything that fucked it.

      • Jarv says :

        I still think the very end of Sunshine is truly spectacular though with restarting the sun and the light shining over the snow. I love the score as they launch the nuke as well.

      • Droid says :

        The best scene in the film is Scarecrow and Tak Fujimoto repairing the solar shield. Masterfully nailbiting, and the score during that scene is stunning. It’s the section of the score that all the trailers and ads rip off now.

      • Jarv says :

        The score is really good all the way through, actually.

        That’s a superb scene as well.

      • Droid says :

        Yes, it’s a good score all the way through. Probably the best score I can think of in a recent film.

      • Droid says :

        I still love most of the movie. Just Boyle and Garland decided to insert an unnecessary element into the film and Boyle shot that unnecessary element like a moron, thus turning a 4 Chang film into a 3 Chang film.

      • Jarv says :

        The unnecessary element isn’t too bad without the idiotic shooting. You could live with it were it not practically unwatchable.

      • Droid says :

        I still think the film would be better without it.

      • Jarv says :

        Well, yes, I don’t disagree with that, but it’s true uselessness is the combination of things.

      • Jarv says :

        You want to check out some of the fuckers on that thread- one fool thinks that Ironclad and Troy are better than Centurion. Absurd.

      • Droid says :

        Never heard of what?

      • Jarv says :

        It’s interesting that Danny Boyle took such a long break between Trainspotting and 28 Days Later. You think he would have made something in that time.

    • Jarv says :

      They’re both good. Not really horror, I think the first one is better, but this is more fun.

  2. Bartleby says :

    I honestly think this is a better movie than the original, not in story and technique of course, but in pure entertainment which is what this kind of thing should be from frame one. . It’s a movie called Swamp Thing about a giant fungus that used to be a brilliant scientist. It deserves to be goofy. The montage in the beginning is cool—born on the bayou is playing right?–, and I like that the whole thing is pitched at a somewhat younger level than the sometimes unpleasant original. Love the mutant taking a puff on its inhaler before it starts beating down Swamp Thing.

    I recall Ebert giving this three stars and recognizing it for the fun schlock it was, probably one of the things that endeared me to Ebert back in the day. That and his willing embrace of Congo and Anaconda.

    • Jarv says :

      Yup, it’s Born on the Bayou.

      The first is, for me, definitely the better film- because it is actually a coherent film. This isn’t. It’s incongruous to have both nasty plant sex and Arcane sleazing about like Berlusconi at a Bunga Bunga party and then these two kids that add naff all.

      I like both, actually, for totally different reasons.

      Ebert gave the first one 3 stars as well.

      The gag with the inhaler is genius, because he’s run out when he gets his arse kicked. And he does look like one of the Cantina Band.

      • Bartleby says :

        this is true, but to be fair–the plant sex is more nasty when you are thinking of it from an adult perspective… its just dopily unhinged in the movie. I am of course going off my child memories of both films. I agree the original is more well made, but Im not sure it’s fulfilling the complete silly promise of the premise, when the sequel clearly is. They are both schlocky gems though.

      • Jarv says :

        Oh yes, for sure. I wasn’t joking about pretty sweet double bill. I particularly love how they don’t even bother explaining the return of Arcane.

        So much of it just makes me smile- in both films. The first has the better script- the “only when I smile” exchange is a gem, for example, but this one has the better monsters. The first has the tits, but this one has the hero theme.

        I don’t really have a preference between them.

      • Bartleby says :

        as a kid, I just assmed it was some kind of haullicinogen mixed with telepathy… there are no scenes of locklear and the root going at it…. Although best line in the movie ‘Are you a vegetable?’ when she first meets him.

      • Jarv says :

        I’d have missed it as a kid, but he gets it out from his groin, then rubs it on her face, before he has a bite first then she has a bite. Then you get the weird soft focus smooching.

      • Bartleby says :

        There was also a completely lame tv series on USA. Was crap.
        Man, I hope they don’t reboot this character. What a mess that would be.
        Jarv, have you gotten to Eliminators or Zone Troopers yet? Next to Trancers 1 and 2, they are some of Chuck Band’s better output.

      • Jarv says :

        Completely forgot about them. I’m racking it up at the moment due to obscenely fast broadband speed. Pity Rapidshare is throttling now.

      • Bartleby says :

        I should make a list for you of the garbage I can remember. I assume you have seen most of it, but was surprised that you hadnt with Swamp Thing and Buckaroo Banzai.
        A first pass through the brain, and no most of these aren’t intended to make you suffer—most of them;
        Rawhead Rex
        Cellar Dwellar
        Brain Damage
        Eyes of Fire
        Metal Storm: The Destruction of Jared Syn
        Spacehunter in Forbidden Zone
        Waxwork 1 and 2
        Inframan
        Deadly Spawn

      • Jarv says :
        • Rawhead Rex- Seen
        • Cellar Dwellar- Seen
        • Brain Damage- Which one? THere are about 9
        • Eyes of Fire- Not Seen
        • Metal Storm: The Destruction of Jared Syn- Can’t remember
        • Spacehunter in Forbidden Zone- Need to see
        • Waxwork 1 and 2- Seen. Was thinking about the Waxwork films for a series
        • Inframan- Not Seen
        • Deadly Spawn- Can’t find.

        To be fair to Lovefilm, I got Trancers 1 and 2 off them, and they have nearly 100% Yuzna.

        Where Lovefilm are brilliant is in non-English language. Talking about which has anyone seen Ra One? Looks like pure dumbhouse.

      • Bartleby says :

        unfortunately RaOne is mostly pure dumb.

        I need to get around to revieiwng Iron Sky..

        the brain damage with the kid who hasd the giant prehistoric leech on his back which pumps hallucinogenic drugs into his brain.

      • Droid says :

        Seen a screening of Battleship yet, Jonah?

      • Jarv says :

        Ohmigod!

        I’ve not seen that one. Must. Find. Immediately.

        Ra One is shit then? Shame.

      • Jarv says :

        Ohmidoublegod!

        It’s Hennenlotter as well!

        Must. Find.

      • Jarv says :

        Hennenlotter has basically been retired since Basket Case 3. Have you seen Bad Biology?

      • Bartleby says :

        its from the basket case guy.

      • Jarv says :

        Hennenlotter.

        Also did Frankenhooker. Why have I not seen this?

      • Bartleby says :

        Jarv, do you have an instant streaming service the way Netflix has instant video. Because they have been really bulkling up on their schlock titles there. Banzai, original swamp thing, almost all of the titles I just mentioned with exception of a few, trancers, zone troopers, most of yuzna’s filmography. Makes it a tad easier than trying to constantly locate obscure vhs rips of these things.

      • Jarv says :

        The problem is the UK license. Lovefilm stream instantly, but if it isn’t available in the UK, then it isn’t available on-line. So, for example, I can watch RATMAN tonight without any problems, or Anthrophagus for that matter (Damn you Shameless), or L’Orme, but I can’t get Buckaroo Banzai. However, Stagevu is absolute gold for this kind of nonsense, and so I tend to check Lovefilm first then Stagevu second. If I have to resort to Horror House then I’m already pretty down the list of what I’m looking for.

      • Toadkillerdog says :

        Inframan!
        Oh hell yes!
        The original power ranger-y, japanese chop socky, bionic, cybernetic, motorcycle helmet wearing, dragon lady fighting superhero!
        My childhiis is flashing before me eyes all over again.

        I have not watched that flicks in ages, i have a terrible vhs copy – that is how long it has been.

        Great review jarv, funny.
        I enjoyed swamp thing 2 as well as the original. Barbeau only broke them out on the dvd extra, but it was a well worth it!
        Valerie Perrine and Barbeau where the holy grail of 70’s chesticles

      • Jarv says :

        Au Contraire TKD. I have the UK version of this, and the Sweater Puppies make multiple appearances, including the legendary nude bathing scene.

      • Toadkillerdog says :

        You lucky so and so’s!
        The American theatrical version did not have the pups unleashed, it was not until the dvd came out that the glories were shown!
        Did we ever do a boob comparison back in the twitch days?

        A’la – Which breastises were greater, Andress’s, Barbeau’s or Guginos?
        I would actually say Sophia’s were the greatest of them all

      • Toadkillerdog says :

        Sophia Loren that is not vergara, although those aint bad

      • Jarv says :

        Monica or Salma always in with a shout.

      • Toadkillerdog says :

        Moan-nica! Oh yes! And Salma!

      • Droid says :

        Winona had a nice rack back in the day. I noted them last night in Scissorhands. A pair of delightful sweater puppies under her singlet. Same goes for Jen Connelly, before she got an eating disorder.

      • Jarv says :

        Winona loses points for never unleashing them, though.

    • tombando says :

      Yeah i think i caught both of them in the day, good hearted rubber suited fun. Born on the bayou i remember too. Both were better than they hadda right to be.

  3. Just Pillow Talk says :

    Never seen this one, saw the original of course. I’m surprised it turned out to be fun.

  4. Just Pillow Talk says :

    Since I saw Jonah mention it above…Congo is tedious to get through. It is not fun nor does enough stuff happen to keep one’s interest. I just rewatched it recently and never again I say, never again!

    • Bartleby says :

      Congo does take awhile to get going as far as plot goes, but it’s absurdly amusing even from early on, what with the martini drinking gorilla, random useless joey pants cameo, ‘great white hunter cept he’s back’, tim curry’s completely authentic Russian? accent, and the machine-gunning of an animatronic hippo. Unlike Anaconda and even ROST, where I think—given what they are working with—they make good entertainments. Congo is aiming for one thing, and achieves another—which is the ‘so bad it’s funny’ movie. I wouldn’t quite put in the camp of ‘good entertainment’ but I’ve always had fun with it. ‘Stop eating my sesame cake!’

      • Bartleby says :

        cept he’s * black’. Good ol’ Ernie Hudson, whom I last glimpsed sharing a fried onion with Candyman here in B-more.

      • tombando says :

        Congo is an episode of Speedbuggy or Johnny Quest featuring a cast from Fantasy Island. I love it, right on down to Laura Lunney’s ape phaser and Baker being cast as some media/ tech mogul. Good fun good fun.

    • Xiphos0311 says :

      Pillow when did you start smoking the crack? Congo is awesome.

  5. ThereWolf says :

    Good ‘un, Jarv.

    Always meant to watch this one, just never did. I’ll have to correct that oversight.

    ‘Sunshine’ – Underworld’s ‘To Heal’ was my ringtone – until a recent itunes update removed it and now refuses to put it back on.

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