Classic Film Review: The Return of Swamp Thing (1989)

Marvel vs. DC:

The Return of Swamp Thing, 1989

Directed by: Jim Wynorski

Starring: Louis Jourdan, Heather Locklear, Dick Durock, Sarah Douglas, Ace Mask, Monique Gabrielle, Daniel Emery Taylor


Do you remember at the end of Swamp Thing where the evil Anton Arcane (Louis Jourdan, Swamp Thing) was killed by Swamp Thing (Dick Durock, Swamp Thing) and everyone lived happily ever after? Well, forget about that, because Anton Arcane is back, without much explanation as to how. This time, though, he’s trying to find a cure for . . .  something, and his estranged niece’s, Abby’s, (Heather Locklear) blood may hold the key. He’s still after Swamp Thing, and Swamp Thing is still killing evil people rummaging around his swamp.

This film was released in early 1989, since Superman II hit the cinemas in 1980 the world has seen Superman III (terrible), Supergirl (absolutely terrible), Howard the Duck (hilariously terrible), Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (shockingly terrible) and now The Return of Swamp Thing (boringly terrible). While DC’s next film of 1989 certainly brought life back to the comic book heroes, the 1980’s were certainly not favourably kind to comic book adaptations.

I spent most of this film trying to work out how Arcane is back, and we get a tiny, tiny amount of dialogue to explain it, but that’s clearly not what they want you to focus on (nor how Arcane took the potion and became a monster but now he’s back human and looking better than ever). They seem more interested in forcing a romance between Swamp Thing (who is a plant-like creature) and Abby, which is rather odd. Even more so how she thinks it’s okay to view him, a plant, as her boyfriend because she’s a vegetarian . . . despite a) vegetarians eating plants, and b) that argument making no sense what-so-ever. And that’s the kind of amazing dialogue this film fires at us throughout its 90-minute run time. Add to that the amazing journey of the two boys whose evening looking at adult magazines is interrupted by a monster who we never see again and they set off to find a picture of Swamp Thing to sell, and this film is packed full of excitement. Sarcasm is difficult to convey in a written form, but I’m being sarcastic. Very, very sarcastic.

Four films in a row in this series have now scored a 1* for writing, with three of those four having 1* for plot. It’s a far cry from the modern era of decent superhero films we’ve become accustom to. It was clearly intended to be a much lighter and funnier version than its 1982 original, which was rather uniquely horror-like for a DC film, but their jokes fall flat, the plot is barely existent and the characters are bland. The acting is fine, and the presentation isn’t as bad as some of the DC films of the 80’s (the human-creature experiments look quite funny and Swamp Thing’s costume is somewhat impressive), but this film is just the final stop on the Poor-DC-Film-Express before DC films picked up a little.


Plot: *             Acting: * *                 Writing: *                   Presentation: * *

Overall Rating: * ½

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