As Alice Cable’s snub-nosed motorboat glides through the swamp towards her next assignment, two nearby water birds squeal and take flight, giving her a mild startle.
“Weird, isn’t it?” says her colleague. “Local fishermen say this place is haunted.” By birds?
Handing her new hostile work environment a desultory glower, Cable misquotes a movie. “I don’t know where we are, Toto,” she mutters, “but it sure isn’t Kansas.”
Her colleague leans forward. “What?”
“Nothing,” she says, and bats at a passing gnat. And that, strangely enough, is another step in Alice Cable’s full-on charm offensive, which takes up the first twelve minutes of the movie.
Continue reading Swamp Thing 3.5: Premium Cable
So the first thing that Swamp Thing wants you to know about swamps is that swamps are terrible.
Coptering into the movie on a super shitty afternoon, which communicates to me that they could only afford to rent the helicopter for one day and couldn’t wait for the rain to stop, here comes Ms. Adrienne Barbeau, all dressed up in a suit and a disdainful expression.
She’s flying in from Washington as part of a government operation that’s so secret, they won’t even tell the audience which branch they work for. There’s a scientist around here somewhere, under all the cloud cover, who insists on doing top-secret voodoo science in a rusty old whack shack out on the far edge of the forbidden zone, surrounded by two feet of water as far as the eye can see, and a lot of drippy, decaying junk that apparently we’re supposed to think of as “the environment” these days.
As far as I can tell, the scientist is supposed to stay locked up in the house all the time and recombine DNA or whatever; the one time we see him go outside for a minute, he gets screamed at for breaking protocol. So why does he need to have his lab in the middle of the least convenient location in the continental US? People say that remote work is the new normal but look what happens.
Continue reading Swamp Thing 3.4: Love and Death
“So what were your feelings about the film, once it was finished?” the friendly voice on the DVD asks director Wes Craven. “Did you have any, you know… expectations?”
“No,” Wes sighs. “And, you know, I didn’t work for two years after that. I felt like I’d had my chance and kind of blown it, and would probably never work again.”
Now, this is my third time approaching a movie like this, and what I’ve learned so far is that the DVD commentary helps me to define what the genre of this story is going to be. When I was talking about the making of Superman and Superman II, the story was a true crime podcast. For Swamp Thing, it’s a comedy of errors.
Continue reading Swamp Thing 3.3: It Wasn’t Wes’ Fault
It wasn’t supposed to be Swamp Thing, of course; Swamp Thing isn’t a “supposed to be” type character.
After Superman was a huge hit, the next superhero character to line up for a feature film was supposed to be Batman. The character had been around for almost as long as Superman, and was easily the second most popular DC character. It was Superman and Batman headlining World’s Finest Comics, and the Super Friends cartoon, plus there was that TV show that everybody liked.
Everyone in the world knew that if DC was going to make any more superhero movies, then the next character in line was Batman — except, of course, for every movie executive at every studio in Hollywood.
Continue reading Swamp Thing 3.2: Dark Genesis
We’re not in the North Pole, anymore. The scene has shifted from Superman’s pristine frozen hideaway in the Arctic, as we travel all the way south to the humid marshlands of Louisiana. The noonday sun hangs heavy in the cypress trees, and the air is alive with the susurration of insects, birds and reptilian mire dwellers going about their business, the sounds and smells of an endless tangled web of life, death and decay.
Slowly, from where you least expect it, a muck-encrusted mockery of a movie rises from the blog, a misshapen and misunderstood monstrosity that can only be called… Swamp Thing!
It is an ugly creature, unsteady and unkempt, but when you look into its eyes, you see the spark of intelligence and ambition buried within. It is strange, and it is alive, and it is the most important superhero movie ever made.
Continue reading Swamp Thing 3.1: The Birth of Modern Comics, But Not Yet