The Return of Swamp Thing (1989)

The sequel to the Wes Craven horror fantasy completely strips away all pretense of drama and horror, and completely relies on its camp potential. “The Return of Swamp Thing” is more of an action comedy this time around, with Dick Durock returning as the plant man monster who lurks the swamps to fight crime and protect humans from Arcane’s mutant men. This time around Swamp Thing is basically on his own and becomes a more sentient being as he did in his television drama. Now forced to help a new love interest, as played by Heather Locklear, Swamp Thing has an unusual lure with the ladies. Can he procreate or engage in sexual activities? Who knows?

Granted, Locklear is gorgeous, but Adrienne Barbeau she is not. This time around, the mutants are still lurking about preying on human victims while Swamp Thing still lives in the swamps, living among plant life. This time around he mopes less, and lays down the justice with his fists while flashing characters his angered eye brow lift that becomes a consistent trademark gleam throughout this installment. Meanwhile, Dr. Arcane returns from the grave for some inexplicable reason and is now looking to cure himself of the aging process. In the midst of doing so, he begins mixing human subjects with animal genes, comprising a gallery of half baked animal monsters (all with terrible make up and prosthetics) while looking for his daughter.

Locklear is his long lost daughter Abby Arcane, is a simple botanist who becomes his guinea pig when she begins seeking out an explanation for her mom’s death while Arcane realizes she could help him in his quest for immortality. Swamp Thing comes to the rescue, and the sequel becomes ever the more goofy as it progresses. Which is kind of surprising, considering the 1990 television drama is so much less camp and a lot more of a dramatic thriller. Swamp Thing is also much more of a sentient being in the television series. Save for a really fun opening montage of Swamp Thing comics with Creedence’s “Born on the Bayou” wailing over the credits, “The Return of Swamp Thing” opts more for a “Toxic Avenger” motif than a dark superhero atmosphere.

Which is very disappointing considering the comics in the opening montage are much more exciting and consisting of actual substance, while the movie is prepared to let audiences down on every level. It shows how the character has fallen in the way of cinematic credibility, when Dr. Arcane becomes a much goofier villain who almost seems to be imitating Bela Lugosi, at times. Locklear as Abby Arcane is also something of a ditz and damsel in distress where as Adrienne Barbeau’s character at least had some fight in her and wasn’t solely dependent on Swamp Thing to rescue her. One consolation is Durock, who has a very interesting and striking presence as Swamp Thing and it’s a shame this movie couldn’t have used his abilities to intimidate more often. You also have to enjoy the gorgeous Sarah Douglas who plays Arcane’s lover and often times rival to Abby Arcane. “The Return of Swamp Thing” is a definite childhood favorite, but it’s now something of an endurance test even the most forgiving audiences won’t find pleasure in.