The 1980s was a decade of much change and innovation for several industries. While the first Superman (1978) was not a part of that era, it did lead to the other three sequels to come after it. It also lead to the spin off Supergirl (1984) film, and even the first Swamp Thing (1982) feature. While many of those outings were moderate to unsuccessful, Swamp Thing (1982) managed to remain a mildly entertaining hit. But like other sequels to come after their predecessors, they were met with much dissatisfaction. Yet, while this sequel has its faults, it also has a bunch good signs as well. Considering it was directed by Jim Wynorski, a man who has supervised many schlock fest features like Chopping Mall (1986), Sorority House Massacre II (1990) and Busty Cops (2004), it's surprising that it was made as well it is.
|"Not sure I should be seeing you since,....I'm a plant"|
Written by Neil Cuthbert and Grant Morris, the story sees the return of not only Alec Holland, Swamp Thing (Dick Durock), but also his nemesis, Dr. Arcane (Louis Jourdan) in human form. Dr. Arcane is back and looking for a way to remain youthful through a special serum. The serum is a mix between human and animal genes, but Arcane feels the best DNA would be from Swamp Thing and his step daughter Abby (Heather Locklear). When it comes to the narrative, it really is a disappointment. Several plot points feel similar to that of the original film. Instead of Dr. Arcane seeking unlimited power from Swamp Thing, he now wants unlimited youth. It just feels like a weak motivation for a villain who was able to get a second chance at exacting revenge on the person who defeated him initially. Dr. Arcane is fixated on Swamp Thing.
There's also similar supporting characters that mirror the first film. An example is a henchman named Gunn (Joey Sagal) who reports to Dr. Arcane. He is in a way a copy of Ferret (David Hess) from the original movie. Heather Locklear ends up being just another romance figure for Swamp Thing, which he already had from the first film. There's no need to repeat these tropes. What hurts the movie most though, is the level of camp that it's cranked up to. It's not super over the top, but all the characters except Swamp Thing seem to act as though they know they're in a movie. Where in the original, the story felt grounded in a way that was believable. Not even Louis Jourdan bothers to keep it restrained. Here he just blatantly comes out and proclaims how evil he is. I guess that's what you get when one of the writers would later pen The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002).
However, there is one positive. Cuthbert and Morris did manage to sneak in a reason for Dr. Arcane's return to normal. If that was left out, that would have also been to the film's discredit. And although the camp level is turned up, the actors still do a good job. Dick Durock as Swamp Thing gives the character more charm than before and smiles more too. Although it is weird that apparently the vocal dub isn't Durock's voice but some unknown actor. While Jourdan is much more openly evil, he too remains the same character. Locklear as Arcane's step daughter is okay, yet her falling for Swamp Thing because she loves plants is a bit silly. There's also appearances from Sarah Douglas as one of Dr. Arcane's scientists. Funny how she also played Ursa from Superman II (1980). And there's also Ace Mask who plays another scientist of Dr. Arcane.
|Sarah Douglas & Louis Jourdan|
For visuals, the practical effects look like they improved. Unlike the original film, the creature effects here are not as rubbery looking. This time they have moving parts and wet areas. The most impressive creature was the leech man. But that doesn't exclude Swamp Thing's design, which has gone from a few pieces of foliage to a literal walking mossy, heavily overgrown root bound mash. It looks way better than the first suit used and Dick Durock comes across more muscular as well. The cinematography shot by Zoran Hochstätter looked good. The swamp marsh is just believable as it was before. As for music, the underrated Chuck Cirino did a great job composing the score. Not only did he create a memorable theme for Swamp Thing, but his synths actually help create an authentic atmosphere for the film. Kudos!
Points Earned --> 5:10