|The Return of Swamp Thing|
|Directed by||Jim Wynorski|
Michael E. Uslan
by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson
|Music by||Chuck Cirino|
|Edited by||Leslie Rosenthal|
|Distributed by||Millimeter Films|
The Return of Swamp Thing is a 1989 American superhero film based on the DC Comics (later Vertigo) title of the same name. Directed by Jim Wynorski, it was the second cinematic installment in the Swamp Thing media franchise and a sequel to 1982's Swamp Thing, having a lighter tone than its science fiction horror predecessor. The film has a main title montage that consists of comic book covers set to Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Born on the Bayou", and features Dick Durock and Louis Jourdan reprising their roles as Swamp Thing and Arcane respectively, along with Sarah Douglas and Heather Locklear.
After her mother's mysterious death, Abigail Arcane (Heather Locklear) travels to the Florida swamps to confront her evil stepfather Dr. Arcane (Louis Jourdan), who had been resurrected after his death in the first film. In an attempt to stave off the effects of aging, Dr. Arcane, assisted by Dr. Lana Zurrell (Sarah Douglas), combines genes from various swamp animals and human beings, creating an army of monsters known as Un-Men. Dr. Arcane tries to use his stepdaughter Abby in his genetic experiments until she is rescued by Swamp Thing (Dick Durock), a scientist previously transformed into a bog creature after a confrontation with the evil doctor.
The Return of Swamp Thing received largely poor responses from critics. Vincent Canby of The New York Times gave a negative review, proclaiming the film "is intended for people who missed the 1982 Swamp Thing and don't want the bother of renting the videocassette." He added that it "means to be funnier than it ever is" and "contains scenes of violence, most of which are so unconvincing as to be less scary than an average comic book." Another negative review came from Variety. Its summary headline read: "The Return of Swamp Thing is scientific hokum without the fun. Second attempt to film the DC Comics character will disappoint all but the youngest critters."
A writer for Time Out gave a somewhat neutral review, stating "Wynorski is well-versed in double-bluffing his audience, denying them the chance of balking at dreadful special effects by implying that the ineptitude is deliberate. He opts for cheap nostalgic laughs and camp '50s sci-fi scenery; depending on whether you find this funny, you'll either smile knowingly or gasp in disbelief." Another positive review was from Roger Ebert. He gave the movie "Thumbs Up" when Gene Siskel did not.
Before his death a year later, Dick Durock stated in a 2008 interview, "They tried in Return of Swamp Thing to make it comedy, campy, and that's tough to make that work. I think [for the TV series] they kind of gave up on that idea and got back to the darker side of the character as he was written in the comic book."
Kathleen Norris published a poem referring to this movie ("Return of Swamp Thing") in her book Journey: New and Selected Poems 1969-1999 (2001).
Peter David wrote a novelization of the film. Disappointed with the script, David rewrote large chunks of the story. To his surprise, the producers enjoyed the changes and allowed the book to see print as-is.
RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video released the film in 1989 on VHS.
The film was issued on DVD by Image Entertainment, with a commentary by Wynorski which suggests that some of the film's humor was not as intentional as it seems, and that Wynorski had a degree of contempt for the material. The DVD also includes two environmental public service announcements for television recorded with Durock in character and the two children featured in the movie. The PSAs aired in certain markets in 1989.
Warner Bros. re-released the film in April 2008 on DVD. On May 15, 2017, a Blu-ray edition was released by the British label Screenbound Pictures.
MVD Entertainment Group is set to release the film on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack May 8, 2018 as part of their MVD Rewind Collection line. The DVD extras will be ported over along with a new commentary track and interviews with Jim Wynorski, composer Chuck Cirino, and editor Leslie Rosenthal, an interview with executive of Lightyear Entertainment Arnie Holland, plus a remastered 2K HD transfer.
In July 1990, USA Network premiered the Swamp Thing television series. This saw Dick Durock reprising his role using a modified version of the Return of Swamp Thing costume. The series took a deliberate turn away from the campy themes of its 1989 film predecessor and leaned toward the darkness of Wes Craven's version. It lasted into 1993 with a total of 72 episodes.
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