swamp thing movie

Saga of the Swamp Thing – Movies (There Were Movies?)

There most certainly were movies! Back in 1982 I was as heavily into collecting comic books as I had ever been. Most of my comic dollars were being spent on such notable heroes as The Amazing Spiderman, Superman, Batman, Ghost Rider, and Daredevil.

As you can see from this list, I was pretty much company agnostic, meaning I was into both Marvel and DC Comics. If I felt it was good, I was pretty much reading and collecting it. Soon I would catch the X-Men bug and that would catapult my collecting to all new levels of garishness, but that is a tale for another time.
On a fateful Wednesday evening as the new comics were being unloaded, the owner of the shop was getting my books ready for me and he handed me my stack. Right on top was something that was surely a mistake. The owner surely had put someone else’s book in my pile.

I grabbed the title from my stack and handed it back to him. I told him, “Hey Kevin, this Swamp Thing Annual shouldn’t be in my pile”, and I set it back on the counter. Kevin grabbed it and handed it back to me and said, “This ones on me. This book is what they are basing the new movie on. The movie might be crap, but this book will hook you for sure.”

When Kevin said stuff like this, you could take it to the bank. Kevin was the undisputed king and crack dealer of comics. He would give you the first one “on him” and soon you would be running back to him for all you could get your hands on. As I mentioned, he would soon do this to me again with X-Men!
Here is the book I am speaking of:

swamp thing comic

Ok, I don’t know about you, but everything on this cover spoke directly to the 14 year old me: monster loving, spooky setting enjoying, horror movie loving, “hey that woman on the cover is hot”, boy in me! I made this the first book I read that day and needless to say I was hooked. Seeing the movie would be a no brainer for me. I grabbed my best friend and the Saturday the movie was released we were there.

The movie was rated PG and was directed by none other than Wes Craven, the horror master! It tells the tale of one Alec Holland who is in his laboratory deep in the swaps, trying to create a new hybrid of plant that would be able to grow in the harshest of environments. Ok so Alec is no Bruce Wayne or Peter Parker to the 14 year old mind.

The beginning of the film is pretty slow in setting the story up and is in desperate need of more action than Wes felt was needed. Luckily the villain, Anton Arcane is introduced about half way through. Arcane is the rich villain who apparently owns the military in the area, and has decided that he wants the work of Alec Holland and he will stop at nothing to get it. Arcane thinks Hollands work will make him immortal so he sends in his military to take it by force.

Holland is beaten about the head and shoulders often, doused in the very chemicals he created, and thrown in the swamp where he presumably dies. The lovely and shapely Adrienne Barbeau plays Alice Cable, a government agent who for no apparent reason, falls in love with Alec before he is killed. She ends up wondering the swamps after the attack looking for Alec and soon, the Sensational Swamp Thing rises from the muck and picks up Alice and walks free of the Swamp.

Note – every time Swamp Thing is on screen, you should pause it and play the game I made up. It is called “Spot The Zipper”. The goal of my game is to be the first person in the room to find the zipper in the Swamp Thing costume. You see this was not a big budget film and they spent all their money on the lab explosions, so Swamp Thing, much like Godzilla before him, is a “man in suit”, and the zipper he uses to get into said suit is always very visible. But at 14 I never noticed. He just looked cool to the younger me.

Ok long story short, battles happen, Alice is shot, Swamppy touches her breast, which we just saw in a totally gratuitous bath scene, and she comes back to life, Arcane drinks the chemicals but turns into a monster himself, then the final battle happen where……..right, like I would spoil this cinematic masterpiece for you! Rent it and see for yourself!

The film did manage to make a small profit and there was even a sequel that starred Heather Locklear. While the films were mostly a wash, Swamppy found himself with quite the cult following. Smelling the ability for a quick cash grab, a television series was quickly put into production and even starred Dick Durock, the same guy who put on the suit for both of the movies. I never saw the television series during its initial run, but I was recently in a Half Priced Books and they were selling the DVD’s brand new in a tin box for $2.00 and I happily picked them up. You should too if you enjoy campy humor in the least.

The comic book series went on to go down truly weird paths after a couple of years that saw Swamp Thing turn into a type of God and it is there that it lost me. But the movies certainly are not to be missed!

swamp thing movie

“Hello. Have you seen my zipper?”

The Doc

If it was made in the 80's it's simply better!Take Empire Strikes Back for instance!

Subscribe to the Retroist Newsletter

* indicates required

10 thoughts on “Saga of the Swamp Thing – Movies (There Were Movies?)

  1. Doug says:

    The second movie is actually enjoyable for what it is. I like the idea of this swamp monster fighting all sorts of random mutants in the unpopulated swamps of LA or wherever they were.

  2. I watched Swamp Thing in the theater and when it was in heavy rotation on HBO (never noticed the zipper as a kid).

    Not so secretly, I always hoped that they would eventually make a Man-Thing movie. Still waiting…

  3. I loved the first movie and even have it on DVD now. The sequel, well I haven’t seen it since it’s release, but I may have to get it for a re-viewing someday soon. If for nothing else but the title sequence of comic art and CCR’s ‘Born on the Bayou.’

  4. @Doug I was so excited when I heard about the Man-Thing movie. I enjoy B-Movies, heck ask Peachy…as soon as he recovers from fighting those aquatic bears that is…but I was so sure they would be doing a true Man-Thing feature that about ten minutes in I knew I had been let down. I didn’t see it on Sci-Fi, I actually bought the DVD when it came out. Sigh.

    @Retroist No, you do not want to see it. Anytime you get that urge pick up an issue of the latest incarnation of Thunderbolts, it will hold you over until that urge passes. :)

  5. There was also a killer Man-Thing/Spiderman one-shot that was released a couple of years ago that had art to die for in it. It centered around the Man-Thing being forced to go to New York to save someone he loved, meeting up with Spidey, fighting Spidey of course, then eventually teaming up with him for the save. It featured Man-Thing heavily though and as I mentioned there are a few splash pages that are pin-up worthy.

    Now if I could get a Man-Thing/Ghost Rider special! Or how about Man-Thing/Swamp Thing for an intracompany crossover!

Leave a Reply