How do you follow up a run of controversial, disturbing horror films?You have some goofball fun, and that’s what Wes Craven did with this silly, schlocky, boldly entertaining monster mash glancingly based on the acclaimed DC comic by Len Wein and Berni Wrightson (who were mortified when they saw the film).
Ray Wise is Alec Holland, a chemist-botanist who turns into Swamp Thing (the 6’6” Dick Durock) and tries to stop mad scientist Arcane (Louis Jourdan) from using Alec’s restorative formula for eeeevil purposes. Fairly innovative for its time, the comic book took itself relatively seriously; the movie is more of a goof, though it does offer a good deal of romantic yearning when Swampy falls in love with brave agent Alice Cable (Adrienne Barbeau) — who in the comics was named Matt.
Craven keeps the story moving at a sprint and writes some agonizingly (and probably intentionally) terrible dialogue. The actors, including horror veterans David Hess and Nicholas Worth as two of Arcane’s guerrilla henchmen, understand that the material can only be played absolutely straight, and they’re clearly having fun; wearing a variety of slick jungle gear, Jourdan seems to taste every line of diabolical dialogue before it leaves his mouth.The DVD from MGM was classified PG but accidentally contained footage from the international version with R-rated nudity; a mother complained and the disc was swiftly recalled (and later replaced with the proper PG version). I have the R-rated disc, which offers a laughably gratuitous scene featuring strippers.