Comics To Film: Swamp Thing

Captain America may blow up screens this weekend, but here's a review of another comic book movie from years ago. 

"Hi. I'm swamp ass. Pleased
to meet you!"
The comic book version of Swamp Thing has had varying amounts of success over the years and has been revived and rebooted several times. Wes Craven decided to try his hand at a movie adaptation in the early 80’s but unfortunately doesn’t capture the feel of the comics.

This film came out before the acclaimed Alan Moore reboot of the comic series and is based upon the original vision of the series creator, Len Wein. Wein’s Swamp Thing has a campier feel and doesn’t have the horror elements that were introduced in Alan Moore’s version. This translates over to the film adaptation as Wes Craven basically makes a Creature from the Black Lagoon update with Swampy as the “man in the rubber suit.” It could have been a fun throwback if done right but Craven focuses too much on stunts and action set-pieces and downplays the monster aspect of the story. The action scenes are cheesy and the editing is somewhat sloppy. I think Craven is more in his element with horror films as opposed to pure action films.

There is an interesting romantic side plot between Swamp Thing (Dick Durock) and his love interest Alice Cable (Adrienne Barbeau), but they don’t spend enough time developing it and as a result it falls flat. They gloss over the origin story of Dr. Alec Holland’s transformation into Swamp Thing which seems counterproductive since this is the first film in the series.  Swamp Thing’s make-up and suit look good in wide shots but up close it looks too fake and rubbery. It’s not horrible but it could have been more convincing and makes the film even cheesier than it has to be. The main villain Arcane (Louis Jourdan) is hilariously bad and his make-up is absolutely terrible—seriously, it literally looks like they slapped a dollar store wolf mask on a guy and called it a day.

"God damn! White folks be wasting
a perfectly good breast like that?!
I wish Wes Craven had made this film after the incredible Alan Moore run of the comic because I think he would have done a much better job if he had made it a horror film. Action films just really aren’t his forte and it shows with terrible choreography in this movie. It does have a few Wes Craven touches (humorous side characters) that keep it from being completely abysmal but as a comic book adaptation it fails on almost every level.

- Michelle Kisner