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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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,