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Swamp Thing
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Wes Craven
Produced by Benjamin Melniker
Michael E. Uslan
Screenplay by Wes Craven
Based on Swamp Thing
by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson
Music by Harry Manfredini
Cinematography Robbie Greenberg
Edited by Richard Bracken
Distributed by Embassy Pictures
Release date
  • February 19, 1982 (1982-02-19)
Running time
91 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2.5 million

Swamp Thing is a 1982 American superhero film written and directed by Wes Craven, based on the DC Comics character of the same name created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson. It tells the story of scientist Alec Holland (Ray Wise) who becomes transformed into the monster Swamp Thing (Dick Durock) through laboratory sabotage orchestrated by the evil Anton Arcane (Louis Jourdan). Later, he helps a woman named Alice Cable (Adrienne Barbeau) and battles the man responsible for it all, the ruthless Arcane. It was followed by a sequel, The Return of Swamp Thing in 1989.


In the swamps of Louisiana, Doctor Alec Holland works with his sister Linda on a top-secret bio-engineering project to create a plant/animal hybrid capable of thriving in extreme environments. Government agent Alice Cable arrives just as Holland makes a major breakthrough, and begins to develop feelings for him. However, a paramilitary group led by the evil Dr. Anton Arcane, who is obsessed with immortality, kills Linda while trying to steal the formula for their own purposes. During the attack, Alice escapes and Alec is covered in chemicals, caught on fire, and runs screaming in the swamp, presumably to die. However, he returns as a monstrously mutated plant creature. As the Swamp Thing, Holland battles Arcane's forces to protect Cable, and eventually takes on Arcane himself, also mutated by the Holland formula.



Filming occurred primarily on location in Charleston, South Carolina, and nearby Johns Island. Craven was very proud in delivering the movie on time and on budget at $2.5 million.[1]


Swamp Thing received generally average to positive reviews from critics. The movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes retroactively gave the film a score of 64% based on 33 reviews; its critical consensus reads, "Unabashedly campy -- often to its detriment -- Swamp Thing is not without its charms, among them Adrienne Barbeau as the damsel in distress".[2] Roger Ebert gave the film three out of a possible four stars, saying "There's beauty in this movie, if you know where to look for it."[3]

Author John Kenneth Muir notes that Swamp Thing differs in many respects from Craven's usual work, in that Craven's intent was to show the major Hollywood studios that he could handle action, stunts and major stars.[4] Craven substituted his usual focus on the problems of the family and society for pure entertainment.[5] Nevertheless, Muir points out, some of Craven's usual themes and images do appear in Swamp Thing. For example, as in The Last House on the Left (1972), and The Hills Have Eyes (1977), Craven shows a close connection between the landscape and his characters.[6] The film was adapted in comic form as Swamp Thing Annual #1.

PopMatters journalist J.C. Maçek III wrote "As much fun as this film can be (and it often is), it's equally often difficult to ignore that Swamp Thing ultimately is, at core, a rubber-suit monster movie."[7]

Home media and controversy[edit]

In August 2000, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer released the film on DVD in the United States. Though the DVD was labeled as being the PG-rated, 91-minute cut of the film, MGM had inadvertently used the 93-minute international cut of the film which contained more nudity and sexual content than the US theatrical cut. In May 2002, a Dallas woman rented the disc from a Blockbuster Video store for her children and reported this discrepancy.[8] MGM recalled the disc and reissued it in August 2005, with the US theatrical cut as originally intended.[9]

Swamp Thing was released in a Blu-ray Disc/DVD combo pack by Shout! Factory on August 6, 2013.[10] The set features the 91-minute cut of the film presented in high definition anamorphic widescreen format, along with bonus content including interviews with Adrienne Barbeau, Len Wein, and Reggie Batts, as well as commentary tracks with Wes Craven and makeup artist Bill Munn.[10][11]


A low-budget sequel entitled The Return of Swamp Thing was released in 1989.[7]

In 2009, Joel Silver announced plans to produce a reboot of the Swamp Thing film franchise from a story written by Akiva Goldsman.[12] In April 2010, Vincenzo Natali was confirmed to direct,[13] but on May 12, 2010, Vincenzo Natali decided to delay the Swamp Thing reboot to pursue other projects.[14]


  1. ^,'Wes Craven: The Art of Horror', By John Kenneth Muir, Page 17
  2. ^ "Swamp Thing". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger (January 1, 1982). "Swamp Thing". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2015-02-24. 
  4. ^ Muir, John Kenneth (1998). "Swamp Thing (1982)" in Wes Craven: The Art of Horror. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co. ISBN 0-7864-0576-7, p. 95.
  5. ^ Muir (1998), p. 90.
  6. ^ Muir (1998), p. 91.
  7. ^ a b Maçek III, J.C. (6 August 2013). "'Swamp Thing' Rises out of the Swamps for a Blu-ray that Is Better than the Sum of Its Parts". PopMatters. 
  8. ^ Blockbuster's snafu outrages Dallas Mother, "Lubbock Online", May 5, 2002.
  9. ^ Swamp Thing DVD Review, "DVD Talk", August 20, 2005.
  10. ^ a b "Shout! Factory". 
  11. ^ "Swamp Thing Blu-ray". 
  12. ^ "Swamp Thing" Makes Akiva Goldsman's Heart Sing,, October 21, 2009.
  13. ^ "Vincenzo Natali Talks Swamp Thing". 
  14. ^ Vincenzo Natali says no Swamp Thing 3D movie anytime soon, "Beyond Hollywood", May 12, 2010.

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