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Film / Swamp Thing

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Not long ago, in the unexplored reaches of an unmapped swamp, the creative genius of one man collided with another's evil dream and a monster was born. Too powerful to be destroyed, too intelligent to be captured, this thing still pursues its savage dream.
Opening text

Swamp Thing is a 1982 film directed by Wes Craven, based on the DC Comics character.

The film centers around Dr. Alec Holland (Ray Wise), who's studying a bio-restorative formula in the middle of a swamp that could possibly grow plants anywhere, and Alice Cable (Adrienne Barbeau), a Washington agent who is sent to look after the research. During an attack on the facility orchesrated by one Anton Arcane (Louis Jourdan), who seeks the formula for himself, Holland is dosed with the stuff and after taking a fiery dip in the local waters, is turned into the eponymous being. Now Alec must protect Alice, the sole survivor of the attack beside himself from Arcane's men who are searching for the remnants of the notes on his work.

In 1989 it was followed by a campier sequel The Return of Swamp Thing.

The film has:

  • Action Girl: Alice. While she is out of her element in the swamp, she still manages to hold on her own when she realizes that the research facility is under attack.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Downplayed, Ferrett lost one of the t's in his name for the big screen.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Ferrett was a somewhat overweight gangster in the comics, here he is played by the muscular David Hess.
  • Always with You: Swamp Thing's parting words to Alice in the end before he ventures into his new home.
  • An Arm and a Leg: When suddenly stopped by Swamp Thing while he is chasing Alice, Ferret manages to cut off Swampy's arm with a machete. Swamp Thing retaliates by grabbing his head and killing him.
  • Axe-Crazy: Ferret displays a measure of sadism and viciousness that seems impractical for a mercenary, such as attempting to drown Agent Cable when he could’ve easily shot her, and even keep a live poisonous snake on his person to inflict a particularly cruel death on his current victim. Oh, and he does all this with a smile you would see on a little kid in the candy shop.
  • Between My Legs: Shown when Swamp Thing creeps up on Bruno, while he and other Arcane's mooks search for him on boats.
  • The Big Easy: The film is based in Louisiana swamps.
  • Big Fancy House: Arcane's mansion is filled with works of art, and it has bookshelves covering every wall.
  • Car Fu: Ferret and the other mooks attempt to run Swamp Thing down with their Jeep, but are stopped dead on their tracks by his newfound Super-Strength. He then proceeds to rips the car's roof off and throw the men about.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Alice picks up a small propane tank in the command center from the middle of the floor and puts it aside when she goes looking for her boss in there. When Ferret jumps on her, she grabs the thing and manages to subdue him with it for a while.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: The first annual issue of the second volume of Swamp Thing adapted the movie into a comic form.
  • Composite Character:
    • Alice Cable is an amalgam of Abby Arcane and Matt Cable, being a government agent with the surname Cable, and Swamp Thing's love interest with a first name starting with "A".
    • Anton Arcane, a sorcerer/alchemist/scientist in the comics, takes the role of the Conclave gangsters who destroyed Alec's lab, leading to his transformation.
  • Description Cut: When Arcane's men ask how they're supposed to find Swamp Thing, Arcane notes that it doesn't exactly keep a low profile. We then cut to Swamp Thing roaring thunderously in the swamp.
  • Dramatic Drop: When Arcane's assistant Karen sees the early stages of his transformation, she drops the tray she's holding in shock.
  • Dramatic Slip: In spite of being a rather competent Action Girl, Cable slips a few times when running from mooks.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Swamp Thing hijacks a boat from mooks and sets it toward an another boat. Both explode in the ensuing crash.
  • Evil Makes You Monstrous: After hearing from Swamp Thing that the bio-restorative formula enhances a person's essence, Arcane becomes convinced that his intelligence will make him a demi-god if he were to drink it, and he does just that. He then turns into a hairy lizard monster, who starts angrily chasing after Swamp Thing.
  • Fanservice: Well, if you have Adrienne Barbeau in your movie, why wouldn't you have a topless scene, dammit? Later, she's forced to wear a form-fitting, low-cut dress, as seen on the film poster.
  • Fanservice Extra: Nude dancers provide entertainment for Arcane's visitors and mooks in the party in his mansion that celebrates the capture of Swamp Thing.
  • Foreshadowing: When Holland takes Cable out on a swamp date, he stretches his arms out wide, and Cable says he looks like a tree.
  • Groin Attack: After Ferret brings Alice onboard Arcane's boat, he tries to put the moves on her. Her response is to knee him in the groin and swiftly escape.
  • Halfhearted Henchman: Bruno, who shows remorse for his participation in Arcane's mooks' misdeeds by placing the late Linda Holland's necklace among the ruins of the facility as a makeshift grave marker. This foreshadows his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Healing Hands: Swamp Thing has this power, which he first demonstrates by healing Jude from the wounds caused by Arcane's mooks, and later in the climax by bringing Alice back to life after she is stabbed by Arcane.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Bruno, the only one of Arcane's thugs to have shown any redeeming qualities previously, switches sides in the last act out of self-preservation and an attack of conscience, helping Swamp Thing and Alice escape from a mutated Arcane.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Swamp Thing defeats Arcane with his own sword that he grabbed after transformation.
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: There are a variety of wipes used as scene transitions. After an explosion, a spiky star wipe is used.
  • Just Hit Him: Through the majority of the film, Swamp Thing only uses his strength to toss mooks away, allowing them to repeatedly regroup and attack him or Cable again.
  • Karmic Transformation: Bruno gets one. Even though he's implied to feel guilty about his part in murdering Alec, Linda and several others, Bruno never repents from being a mercenary thug or even thinks of switching sides. He's ultimately betrayed by Arcane and mutated by the formula without his consent.
  • Latex Perfection: Arcane's disguise as Ritter, coupled with his ability to chance voices.
  • Machete Mayhem: After Alice escapes from Arcane's boat, Ferret swims after her and starts chasing her with a machete.
  • Magic Pants: When Bruno takes the formula and shrinks to the size of a dwarf, his entire outfit shrinks to fit his new size.
  • Malaproper: Bruno tells Arcane that the other men suspect Swamp Thing being "one of those Abdominal Snowmens".
  • Man on Fire: Alec is set on fire after he is accidentally doused with his mixture, and he clumsily runs into the swamp which turns him into the eponymous big green man.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: While Bruno is shown not to be as evil as his fellow mercenaries and implied to feel some remorse over Linda's death, it's not until after Arcane betrays him and spikes his drink with the formula that he switches sides and helps Swamp Thing.
  • Mook Lieutenant: Ferret is the leader of the Hired Guns working for Arcane.
  • Murder by Mistake: While searching for Swamp Thing, the mook Tyrone calls out to Ferret and others and is accidentally shot by Danny.
  • Not in Kansas Anymore: Said by Alice when she arrives to the facility through the swamp.
    Alice: I don't know where we are Toto, but it sure isn't Kansas.
  • One-Winged Angel: Anton Arcane mutates himself with Dr. Holland's mixture into a werewolf-like monstrosity for the Final Battle.
  • Outdoor Bath Peeping: Alec peeps on Alice as she bathes then sadly turns away to angrily to throw away the notes on his work.
  • Painful Transformation: Bruno's transformation into the pig/midget creature.
  • Planimal: Alec's work is based on a combined cell of an animal an a plant.
  • The Power of the Sun: After captured by Arcane and left in his dungeon, Swamp Thing manages to regrow his arm and gain enough strenght to break his bonds thanks to a beam of sunlight.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Redemption Equals Life: Bruno (mutated into a pig-like midget) helps Swamp Thing escape Arcane's dungeon and briefly distracts the mutated Arcane for him, and manages to survive the story, albeit still mutated into a pig-midget.
  • Relative Error: When Cable meets the Hollands, she assumes that they're a married couple, so when Alec starts hitting on her shamelessly, she turns him down, telling him to "save it for his wife." Shortly thereafter, Linda Holland makes a reference to hers and Alec's father, tipping Cable off that they're actually siblings. She immediately starts treating Alec more warmly.
  • Save the Day, Turn Away: After defeating Arcane, Holland decides to stay in the swamp, but not before bidding farewell to Alice.
  • Shirtless Scene: Provided by Arcane. Courtesy of a sixty-two-year-old Louis Jourdan. Naturally, not too many ladies complained.
  • Signature Style: Harry Manfredini did the score for the film, so don't be weirded out if the scene where Ferret chases Alice with a machete in hand reminds you of something else.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Arcane has an elaborate chess set in his office. When Swamp Thing bests his men and takes out his main henchman, Arcane notes that the creature is always a move ahead of him but says that in capturing Arcane's knight, he's exposed his queen.
  • Stock Scream: One of the mooks lets out a Wilhelm scream when Swamp Thing throws him off a boat.
  • Strong as They Need to Be: Inverted. Swamp Thing is initially shown to be so strong that he can easily rip the roof off of a vehicle as if were made of paper. When the plot needs him to be captured, however, it only takes a net and a couple guys jumping on him.
  • Super-Strength: Swamp Thing is so strong he can stop a speeding car by hitting it and then tear the roof of it in an instant.
  • Sword Plant: After defeating Arcane, Swamp Thing plants his sword next to him.
  • Tagalong Kid: Jude tags along with Alice after the gas station that he was looking after is swarmed with Arcane's men.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: After finding out how to create Dr. Holland's mixture, Arcane tests it by tricking Bruno into drinking it during a toast.
  • Title Drop: When Arcane's men describe how they were attacked by a living plant creature in the swamp, Arcane orders his men to capture "that swamp... thing."
  • Touch of the Monster: Used on the posters and video releases, which show Swamp Thing carrying Alice on his arms in various states of consciousness.
  • Voice Changeling: Arcane is capable of imitating other people's voices.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Little Bruno escapes from Arcane and is never seen again. There's no indication of what he'll do or how he'll survive as a tiny monster.
  • Wicked Cultured: Arcane, who even recites Nietzche to Alec before he is caught on fire.