The Return of Swamp Thing

October 19, 2011

Durock – Locklear – Swampy Redux

As comic-book heroes go, Swamp Thing is surely a poor cousin to Batman, especially in this summer of blockbusters. You don’t see any full-color spreads in Newsweek about Swamp Thingmania.

However, Swamp Thing also has a summer movie, and he acquits himself reasonably well, although admittedly at a lower level of ambition than the man in the cape. The Return of Swamp Thing brings us up to date on the status of the vegetative superhero, last seen in 1982’s Swamp Thing. Like that film, Return is a clever B-movie, delivered tongue-in-cheek.

Louis Jourdan returns as the evil genius whose experiments have gotten out of hand in the bayou country. (In one scene he begins reciting lyrics from Gigi, which is either an index of how far this actor’s career has fallen or a measure of his healthy sense of humor.) His laboratory in the swamp is full of experimental cross-bred creatures, such as a cockroach man.

Heather Locklear is his stepdaughter, who comes to his lab to investigate the mysterious circumstances of her mother’s death. Naturally, Jourdan takes one look at her and wants to use her for a genetics experiment.

Luckily, the Swamp Thing (Dick Durock) is around to protect her. The dialogue between these two provides the movie’s high points, as when Heather coyly asks the big man, “Is there a Mrs. Swamp Thing?”

They are meant for each other, although the Swamp Thing has his doubts: “Me—your boyfriend?” he wonders. She says, “Why not?” To which he replies, in a rare moment of self-reflective bitterness, “You said it yourself: I’m a plant.”

Director Jim Wynorski keeps things light. Locklear can’t act; when she’s called upon to sound anguished—”I seem to be haunted by things I can’t resolve”—she sounds as though she’s ordering a Diet Coke. But she can fill out an evening dress, which is the main requisite for the role.

First published in the Herald, July 6, 1989

The summer of the Tim Burton Batman—now that was a big deal, if not a great movie. That anybody even thought of putting out a Swamp Thing sequel is kind of charming, and apparently it wasn’t terrible. The question about Louis Jourdan, by the way, seems to have been answered in favor of his healthy sense of humor. Director Wynoski, according to IMDb, is an extremely hard-working gentleman, having most recently made Piranhaconda for Roger Corman’s zany series of made-for-TV monster movies.


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