“Family Orchidaceae genus Orchis. Over a hundred species.”
Alec Holland (Ray Wise) is a scientist working deep in the swamps. Alice Cable (Adrienne Barbeau) is a security person newly assigned to protect Alec and his project. Alec is trying to grow plants in areas that are barren. Anton Arcane (Louis Jourdan) is an evil paramilitary leader who is after Alec’s research. Due to sabotage, an explosion destroys the facility. The explosion covers Alec in his latest formula and sets him on fire. He jumps into the swamp. The saboteurs believe that he is dead. Alec, on the other hand, is transformed into a creature that is half plant half human. His research notebooks are stolen. All except one. Cable manages to hide it. She flees to get help, however, the bad guys are after her and the only one that can save her is The Swamp Thing.
Once Arcane gets the final notebook he is free to develop Alec’s formula. He believes it can transform people into something better, stronger. He gives it to one of his henchmen, Bruno (Nicholas Worth). The results are not what Arcane expected. It changes Bruno into a small troll like creature. Arcane confronts Alec. Alec says that the formula does not make you better it just brings out your true being. It makes you more of what you already are and amplifies it to a ridiculous form. Unfazed, probably due to hubris, Arcane takes the formula himself. With that we see what Arcane’s true self is like.
"Swamp Thing" was released in 1982 and was directed by Wes Craven. There’s great humor as well as camp. The addition of Jude (Reggie Batts) as the gas station attendant is priceless. He says it all in his first sentence when he sees Cable cross the road. “Aha, here comes trouble.” His calm demeanor and subtle humor in the face of trouble steals the movie.
The bad guys waver between vicious and bumbling. Louis Jourdan’s performance is maniacal. I half expect him to start twirling an invisible moustache. The Swamp Thing is portrayed as sad and gentle with Cable yet fierce and violent with Arcane’s men.
Yes, there is a lot of camp to this movie. And the monsters are a little silly. Especially the ill fitting rubber suits. But that doesn’t stop it from being fun. Of course how can it not be campy? The superhero is a vegetable.
There is an uncut version that had been released in 2000 that was incorrectly labeled as PG that included two quick scenes of nude breasts. One when the dancing girls are at Arcane’s party and one where Cable is bathing in the swamp. Both scenes I believe total around 2 minutes of screen time. It wasn’t caught until one outraged mother complained. Apparently she was OK with swamp monsters killing people but not with a woman’s breasts.