Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Swamp Thing (1982)

"Some of the men say it was one of those abdominal snowmen or something."

I came to this film, in spite of Wes Craven helming it, expecting a so-bad-it's-good B movie. Instead I find a film that's genuinely brilliant- pacy, stylishly shot and very well acted.  I really wasn't expecting that.

The South Carolina location looks amazing; it may not be Louisiana, but the swampy landscape certainly looks like it and fills the production with a great deal of atmosphere throughout. At the start it feels like an early '80s horror film, but it isn't; it's very much its own beast. We're introduced to Alice, the genius Alec Holland and the rest of the crew who will shortly die. We quickly get to know the witty, driven, flirty Holland and his invention, a plant/animal hybrid formula. And then, suddenly, they are all shockingly killed, aside from the captured Alice, by the thugs of the sinister Arcane. Already the characterisation, dialogue and direction are far above B movie standard.

There are little oddities- why is the bloke in charge of Alec and his mates a Yorkshireman? And yes, the Swamp Thing costume indeed looks very obviously latex, as such costumes always do and as is always priced in. I'm also inevitably reminded of The Creature from the Black Lagoon. None of this is a problem.Nor is Arcane's delightful moustache-twirling evil. Sometimes it's fun for a baddie just to be bad for the sake of it, and Louis Jourdan is brilliant; fun but stopping short of being hammy.

I think the moment I fell in love with this film was the slow-motion boat attack, which felt completely A-Team. It's a genuine classic that rises far above B movie status.

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