Blu-Ray Review – The Return of Swamp Thing (1989)

The Return of Swamp Thing brings back stars Dick Durock as the titular character and Louis Jourdan as Dr. Anton Arcane. Newcomer Heather Locklear joins the cast as Abby Arcane. Taking over directorial duties for Wes Craven is Jim Wynorski, who is perhaps best known for his B-movie Chopping Mall.

The Return of Swamp Thing can be best described in one word: campy. There’s a scene in which a skull flashes over Dr. Arcane’s portrait as lightning strikes and sparks fly when wooden oars and metal pipes clash together. The movie meanders quite a bit and stops to have a dreamlike sex scene between Abby and Swamp Thing. Of course, this would be the scene that Dorock would want to portray Dr. Alex Holland outside the costume. This movie also uses stylized transitions like Craven’s original movie, but they are much more distracting here, despite having shown illustrations from the comic books over the opening credits.

There is no short supply of bad acting in this one. Locklear won a Razzie for her performance as Abby, and boy does she deserve it. From the start of her character’s introduction, Locklear’s stilted performance is only made worse as she rushes through her lines, which might have been her strategy to get out of this picture as quickly as possible. Similarly, child actor Daniel Taylor who plays Darryl has a limited style of acting that is just being loud. Side characters don’t have personalities so much as they do quirks such as Dr. Rochelle (Ace Mask) squeezing his inhaler and Gunn (Joey Sagal) playing the stereotypical soldier who’s both crude and obnoxious.

It is interesting that Jourdan came back for this one. He’s just as suave, but this movie shows his lack of interest in being in costume much less a part of the climactic battle. The movie addresses how Dr. Arcane survived the events of the first movie and why he’s no longer a mutated armadillo(?) with a line of dialogue. He’s also sidelined in the final battle after being pinned down by a metal door.

This movie stands above the original in one department – the costume designs. Swamp Thing looks much closer to his comic book counterpart and even the rejected specimen seems to be drawing inspiration from John Carpenter’s The Thing. With all that said though, it’s surprising the final monster is so generic.

Overall, the movie’s okay, but I can’t help but think that The Return of Swamp Thing’s biggest legacy is its influence on the 1991 animated Swamp Thing series. The series included Abby, two bickering kids, but also Weed Killer (one of Arcane’s Un-Men) wears a similar obnoxious orange jumpsuit like the compound guards.

Rating: 2/5.

The Return of Swamp Thing is available as two-disc set 4K Ultra HD & Blu-ray set February 7, 2023.

The Big Comic Page was provided a copy of The Return of Swamp Thing for this review.

The bonus features include:
· Reflection on Swamp Thing 35 Years Later with Producer Michael E. Uslan
· RiffTrax Music Video Your Ever-Lovin’ Swamp Thing

Original Special Features include
· Audio commentary with Director Jim Wynorski, composer Chuck Cirino and Editor Leslie Rosenthal
· 2 Greenpeace PSA’s
· Interviews
· Original Theatrical Trailer
· 6 promotional TV clips
· 2 TV spots
· 1989 Promo Reel
· Photo Gallery (accompanied by Chuck Cirino’s film score)

The writer of this piece is: Laurence Almalvez
Laurence tweets from @IL1511

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