The Return of Swamp Thing

For those who crave hot flora-on-fauna action
★★★
☆☆☆
Released: 
1989
Director: 
Jim Wynorski
Starring: 
Heather Locklear, Dick Durock, Louis Jordan, Joe Sagal, Sarah Douglas
The Setup: 
Humanoid lump of moss is like a superhero in the swamp, fighting the evil of Dr. Anton Arcane, and finding love with a nubile plant lover.
Discussion: 

This is the sequel to Wes Craven's Swamp Thing, which I have not yet seen, but is based on a series of comic books that are well regarded, and apparently associated with the Hellblazer comics, recently made as the amusing but cheesy Constantine. The comic book art shown under the opening credits here is really creepy and amazing, so much so that I was intrigued to buy a volume of the reprints of the series, but ultimately decided I didn't want to spend $11. The director of this film is listed on the IMDb as having 13 different aliases, including Thaddeus Wickwire, and directed the cult favorite Chopping Mall, which is on my rental list, as well as such titles as The Bare Wench Project 2: Scared Topless, Busty Cops, Scream Queen Hot Tub Party, and Big Bad Mama II.

This film has its tongue cemented in cheek, which turns out to be fine, as opposed to killing off the inadvertent fun by trying to be bad. This film just has a sense of how ludicrous it all is, and winks at its audience in an affectionate and inclusive way, rather than trying to be knowing or ironic, and I was happy to go along for the ride-though it did make me want to see a serious version of Swamp Thing produced. If done well, it could amount to a very bizarre, moving, and unsettling comic book movie. The problem with this version, and I'm assuming with the Wes Craven version, is that there's just no way to make a guy dressed up as the jolly green giant and supposedly a plant NOT ridiculous.

This film apparently follows the first movie, except that the villain, an evil doctor who is experimenting with mutating various life forms together, and was apparently irrevocably mutated himself at the close of the last film, is now back to human form with no explanation. Anyway, so we're down in some swamp where the evil doctor's mansion/lab is. Out in the swamp lurks some big evil slimy beast [possibly from the first film?] and Swamp Thing, who is a very affable superhero type who loves to laugh! In the evil doctor's lab there are a number of mutant experiments, including a not-very-successful half-man-half-elephant, but a very bizarre and somewhat creepy half-man-half-cockroach.

Heather Locklear lends her formidable thespic prowess to the role of Abigail Arcane, the stepdaughter of the evil doctor. She is introduced as being quite psychotic in a scene in which she carries on a long discussion with her plants-which turns out to provide savvy foreshadowing. She decides, for no apparent reason, to go visit her stepfather down at the swamp, believing that this will help her "figure out her life." She arrives wearing this hideous light pink suit-thing [Suit Thing! The Sequel!] with these thigh-high white stockings that make it look as though she's hoping to turn a few tricks on her way to the bayou.

But first there is some extremely dumb comedy with two kids who cannot [and are not required to] act in any way, but somehow it's charming in a sort of cable-programming-of-the-early-80s way. Upon being saved by Swamp Thing from being eaten by some random mutant, the fat kid says: "Yeah! I think that green guy's good!"

It is not long before Heather encounters studly security guard Gunn, who has a goatee, wears his orange jumpsuit open to his navel to showcase his hairy chest, and has straps around his inner thighs, giving his crotch an appealing juicy plumpness. See-it's exactly these kind of appealing touches those Queer Eye guys would try to take away. Gunn is the type of guy who, when you look at a gross mutated fish and say "Yuck, I'd rather see something else" unzips his pants and say "Yeah baby? I'll show you something else." You know, where has the charm gone? Now it's all "Oh, you have such beautiful eyes and I am so seduced by your sensitivity to the lyrics of Leonard Cohen." If you ask me, what this world needs is a lot more when-in-doubt-whip-it-out attitude such as displayed by our pal Gunn. When Gunn began his "you will serve me or I will hurt you" antics, I would be all like "Oh yeah baby, pop it in, and let me get you a beer and a cigar while we're at it," but Heather is all like "No! No!" and runs away. After Gunn threatens her with physical harm, she still runs away, and he laments "Aw, come on baby, we were just getting started!"

Somehow this escalates into TWO guys coming very close to raping Heather, before she is saved by Swamp Thing, to which she cheerily replies "Thanks!" as though he had just handed her an orange that had rolled out of her groceries. They escape in a jeep while 20 guards fire at them with machine guns, but amazingly don't hit them, while Heather, armed with a shotgun, takes out a guard with every shot. This inspires Swamp Thing to suavely comment; "Not bad!" Did I mention that the moment Swamp Thing opens his mouth to speak any thought of every taking this concept seriously is forever out the window?

They repair to Swamp Thing's lair, where their love blossoms. Heather uses the word "Boyfriend" first. Apparently Heather, who looks and acts every bit the picky and discerning Southern California girl who has spent very few days outside of the luxury mall, is not phased IN THE SLIGHTEST by giving her love to a man who essentially a big ball of leaves and slime. Perhaps I judge valley girls' adaptability too low. Heather says that when she looks at her big swamp hunk, she sees "the soul of a beautiful human being." They then HAVE SEX. That's right. Swamp Thing apparently has a tuber in his pants AND is happy to see Heather, as he breaks off a bit of a root located directly in his crotch and offers it to Heather to eat. She then conveniently hallucinates that he's a human being while she experiences the heights of female pleasure that only an overgrown houseplant can only arouse her to, so much so that when it's over she dreamily asks "Was it real?"

Their romance continues to develop, and much mirth can be had when Heather, who as I said looks like the kind of woman to shriek "Ewwwwwww!" at a fingernail clipping, looks around the humid, stinky, disgusting swamp and says "I can't imagine anyone being unhappy in a beautiful place like this!"

Anyway, so the story continues, at one point revealing that Swamp Thing can disintegrate into a streak of muck that can ooze through a faucet, only to reintegrate in the bathtub. There is also a scene in which Gunn and the female security guard show each other their scars, including a huge BITE mark on her breast, which she says she got on the 1988 Motley Crüe tour.

Anyway, it moves along, it's silly, it's fun, and it ends before it wears out its welcome. Now I want to see the first one.

Should you watch it: 

Yes! It's a total hoot!

RELATED MOVIES:
SWAMP THING is the Wes Craven original and it SUCKS ASS.