Updated: Aug 29
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
Move over, Jean Cocteau: Adrienne Barbeau is government agent Alice Cable and stuntman Dick Durock is the guy in the rubber suit in Wes Craven’s campy spin on “Beauty and the Beast.”
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4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray, 1982, rated PG, mostly cartoonish violence and mild language, and unrated, same plus nekkidness
Best extra: “Tales from the Swamp,” an interview with star Adrienne Barbeau
HAVE YOU noticed that when some folks prattle on about some movies they suck the fun right out of them? “Swamp Thing” is one of those movies, and your mindful friends at High Def Watch aren’t about to spoil anyone’s fun. So, here’s what you need to know:
• Created by writer Len Wein and horror artist icon Berni Wrightson, Swamp Thing’s comic-book roots stretch back to the early-1970s.
• The green guy’s big-screen debut was written and directed by none other than Wes Craven, who punched his ticket two years later with “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”
• Ray Wise (“Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me”) plays Dr. Alec Holland, a dedicated scientist who concocts a formula that will end world hunger. When he’s doused with his discovery and bursts into flames, he jumps into the you-know-what and emerges as You-Know-Who.
• Adrienne Barbeau (“The Fog”) plays Alice Cable, a government agent who’s sent to the hinterlands to assist Holland.
• Louis Jourdan (“Gigi,” “Octopussy”) plays the no-good Arcane, who wants the formula and dispatches his goons to get it.
• Yes, it’s a spin on Beauty and the Beast – except this beast is an imposing guy (TV mainstay Dick Durock) in a rubber suit.
What’s not to like?
(1) Filmed in steamy Cypress Gardens in Moncks Corner, S.C., “Swamp Thing” premiered in February 1982. (2) A squad of goons roughs up a scientist near the bioengineering lab. (3&4) Cable arrives at the secret site and is later shown the sights by Dr. Alec Holland (Ray Wise). (5) The good doctor and his sister, Linda (Nannette Brown), are captured by the evil Arcane (Louis Jourdan, second from the left) and his men.
“Swamp Thing” is the first title in MVD Rewind’s LaserVision Collection, and it’s an impressive debut. The 2160p 4K UHD transfer from the original MGM/UA camera negative (1.85:1 aspect ratio) puts cinematographer Robbie Greenberg’s (“Free Willy”) boggy greens front and center while a healthy dose of Dolby Vision emphasizes every cypress knee. The daytime contrasts are defined and the detail is on point, too. The interior shots aren’t always as crisp, but hey, that’s par for the course with some early-’80s flicks.
The 4K imagery was encoded onto a 100 GB disc; the video bit rate varied from upper-50 Megabits per second to nearly 90. The peak HDR10 nit brightness was set at 7928 nits and averaged 380.
The lone audio track is a DTS-HD 2.0. It does the job, though a 5.0 option would have delivered more bang. Still, the dialogue is clear, the ambience is suitably swampy and the lush score by Harry Manfredini (“Friday the 13th”) gets a decent ride.
(1) Doused with his formula, Dr. Holland bursts into flames – the first step in his mutation. (2&3) Ferret (David Hess, right), the head goon, and a couple of other thugs look for Cable. (4) She gets away and calls for reinforcements.
All of them were picked up from Scream Factory’s 2013 release, and there isn’t a dud in the bunch. In “Tales from the Swamp,” Barbeau has a fun time recalling what it was like spending 14 hours a day in the steamy, snake-y environs of Cypress Gardens, way down south in Moncks Corner, S.C. She also says that she still isn’t a fan of horror movies, but after starring in John Carpenter’s “The Fog,” her lot was cast. Carpenter, her husband back then, was a big Craven fan and encouraged her to do the movie.
Craven shares his thoughts in a low-key commentary moderated by Sean Clark, host of the 2006 TV series “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds.” Craven wasn’t familiar with “Swamp Thing” because comic books were forbidden by his church when he was growing up. Once he got up speed, though, he jumped in. He was drawn to the Beauty and the Beast angle, but a lot of that was lost in his final draft because the bonding company insisted on making the film family-friendly and wouldn’t cut him any slack. Craven says it was his worst experience ever.
Other extras include a second commentary with makeup effects artist William Munns (“The Return of the Living Dead”), interviews with co-creator Wein and art director Robb Wilson King (“Rudy”), a lively feature with horror maven Kim Newman and four photo galleries.
People, popcorn was made for movies like “Swamp Thing.” Or is it the other way around? Whatever, kick back and prepare for a hoot.
– Craig Shapiro
(1-4) Big Green and Cable share a tender moment before he’s captured. That’s first-timer Reggie Batts in the boat with Cable. He plays Jude, a local lad who guides her through the swamp.
(1-3) Bruno (Nicholas Worth) is toasted by Arcane for his work in stealing the formula, but the no-goodnik slips some into Bruno’s drink, turning him into … Little Bruno (Tommy Madden). (4-5) They’ll always have the swamp: Cable and Swamp Thing bid adieu.