Tag Archives: sexism

Swamp Thing 3.40: The Unconcluded Caramel Kane

Snuggled up to a half-caff carafe of magic Jekyll juice, the mad wizard Arcane has found his petard and is busily hoisting himself. And then who should saunter by, but the incomparable Caramel Kane?

This bright young thing is listed in the credits as Arcane’s Secretary, but you and I and the other avid readers of the Swamp Thing novelization know her true identity. It’s Caramel Kane, the missing daughter of Senator Michael Kane, which is an intriguing bit of backstory that the novel mentions once, and then forgets about it completely.

Of course, it’s the prerogative of the author of a movie novelization to add some splashes of local color, giving the minor players a name and, if we’re lucky, something of an interior life. They generally do this pretty haphazardly, because they have to write fifteen pages a day, and going back to edit a previous passage cuts into their drinking time.

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Swamp Thing 3.38: Party at Arcane’s Place

The well-known and presumed-dead international criminal Arcane is throwing a dinner party for both his well-heeled investors and his smelly contagious henchmen, although everyone seems to be getting along fine, as long as they don’t ask too many questions about the contents of their cocktails. Swamp Thing and Cable have been captured, and now the monster’s being held downstairs in the castle dungeon, with the federal agent trussed up and on display at the party. The only way out is through, Alec said, and this is a particularly unsettling through.

But this is exactly the right point in the movie to land the lead characters in a terrible jam, according to the classic three-act movie structure. Say what you like about Wes Craven’s script — and I have, and will continue to — the man knew his Syd Field.

I’ll do a quick review, if you’re not familiar. According to Field’s 1979 book Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting, which I have decided to use on this blog like it’s the Ten Commandments, a movie should have three distinct acts.

Act 1 should take up the first 25% of the screenplay, introducing the premise and the main character, and it should end with the first plot point — an inciting incident that changes the character’s situation, and drives the film. For Swamp Thing, the first plot point is obviously the flaming Alec Holland jumping into the mire, and it shows up at minute 25, which is only about a minute late.

Act 2 takes up the middle two quarters of the movie, and features the rising action, as the main character deals with the fallout from the first plot point, usually by making boats explode. The second act often ends with the main character at their lowest point, with the second plot point putting them in a situation where they need to experience character growth.

For Swamp Thing, that second plot point was Arcane capturing Swamp Thing and Cable, and getting his hands on the notebook, which makes this party the beginning of Act 3 — and it’s happening 24 minutes before the end of the film, exactly on time.

I mean, the rest of the movie frankly sucks; from here on, there’s practically nothing in the film that is of any value to the audience. But at least the structure of the movie is sound; it’s got that going for it.

Continue reading Swamp Thing 3.38: Party at Arcane’s Place

Swamp Thing 3.36: The Anatomy Lesson

After a tough day of being chased and caught and kidnapped and assaulted and chased again, around and around in a trackless swamp with no exit signs or toilet facilities, it makes sense that Agent Alice Cable would want to take a moment to relax, and refresh herself.

Still, I don’t get why she’s choosing to relax in the gross tannic-acid parasite-ridden swamp water. This is the same water that she just swam in; it doesn’t get cleaner because you’re standing still. This is the thing you’re trying to wash off.

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Swamp Thing 3.31: A Tale of Two Kisses

At this point in the movie, we know that eccentric millionaire Arcane wants three things: the girl, the notebook and the creature. His current high score is one out of three, and she’s probably not thrilled about being called “the girl” as often as she has, so far.

Agent Alice Cable is currently involved in a high-stakes game of keep-away involving the notebook, which is full of important secrets. The notebook is now in the care of the creature, who should be but is not currently destroying it by chucking it into the swamp water. I mean, if it’s vital for the world that Arcane doesn’t get his hands on the notebook — and I am not entirely convinced that it is — then why don’t they tear it up, dunk it in the water, and let the tannic acid take it from there?

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Swamp Thing 3.23: A Time of Running

“In this sequence,” director Wes Craven said, “Adrienne Barbeau falls down twice, and my daughter, who at that time was about 14 when she was watching it, turned and looked at me very sternly and said, ‘Dad, girls don’t fall down when they run.’

“And I never forgot that, you know? Especially twice. [I said], you know, yeah, you’re right, and I think after this I did a lot of films with female protagonists that were very competent.”

I like that story, partly because it’s an appealing moment of self-reflection, and partly because it’s a good example of the redemptive power of 14-year-old daughters in American life.

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