Swamp Thing [Blu-Ray] Wes Craven

Swamp Thing [Blu-Ray] Wes Craven
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Nobody involved with the production of Wes Craven's take on Len Wein's Beauty and the Beast-indebted DC horror comic would claim Swamp Thing is a good movie. In fact, nearly the entire appeal of this Blu-Ray reissue of the not-so-classic monster film is built upon cast and crew reflections of what went so dreadfully wrong. And there's a great deal that went awry with this disjointed studio hatchet job. Shot pre-Alan Moore's masterful rebirth of the character, Craven didn't have the most to work with in the first place, but whatever his actual vision was, we'll never know. At the zero hour, the studio took an axe to the budget, forcing Craven to revise his script on the fly or leave the project. What's left to history is a wildly unbalanced B movie — at best. Before the transformation of brilliant biochemist Alec Holland into the titular swamp creature, the movie carries a sense of pulpy, romantic sci-fi fun. This is due in large part to Ray Wise's excellent turn as the dashing scientist and the steam generated between he and co-star Adrienne Barbeau, who plays fellow scientist Alice Cable. Once Dr. Holland has taken a fiery plunge off a short pier (you're welcome, Dark Man), the movie becomes dependent upon the performance of a guy in a rubber suit. Craven edits around it as much as possible, but you can't sell the pathos of a beast without letting him emote, so there are plenty of scenes of our plant-based hero in full awkward view. Try as he might to make those eyes brim with soul, the massive man in the suit, Dick Durock, can't conquer the rubber. The pressure to wrap up the shoot comes through in the rushed homestretch of the movie. Eventually the entire thing just devolves into a series of poorly cut fights and weirdly campy scenes between Alice and a young boy (Reggie Batts) as they're pursued by militant doctor Anton Arcane, who's zealously seeking Holland's horrific formula for immortality. On one of two commentary tracks, Wes Craven is interviewed about what he calls the "worst" experience of his career, where he discusses the myriad problems that plagued the production, regularly noting important lessons he learned as a filmmaker and deflecting creepy fanboy queries about Barbeau's breasts. Makeup effects artist William Munns brings his booming voice and wealth of experience to the second commentary, giving a detailed, practical rundown of technical challenges in a matter-of-fact manner. Full of on-set anecdotes is "Tales From the Swamp," an interview with the intelligent and confident Barbeau. With a wry sense of humour, she dishes fond memories and horror stories with equal verve. "Hey Jude" catches up with a fully-grown Reggie Batts, talking to the amateur actor about the excitement of getting his first gig. An obvious fan of the source material, Batts proves his geek cred by dropping a Man-Thing reference. Last but certainly not least is a conversation with Swamp Thing creator Len Wein. The comic book veteran shares his personal origin story (he's a failed artist), attempts (and fails) to articulate the origin of the character and comments on the importance of being mindful of the medium when writing a script. As much of a train wreck as this version is, it has a campy appeal that'll have to do until someone gives Swamp Thing the drastic, Moore-level cinematic makeover it deserves. (Shout! Factory)