The Return of Swamp Thing Blu Ray Review (MVD Rewind Collection)
The Return of Swamp Thing is a 1989 science fiction comedy hybrid film directed by Jim Wynorski (Chopping Mall, Deathstalker II, Big Bad Mama II, Sorority House Massacre II, Hard to Die, & Ghoulies IV). It’s based off the DC Comics character created by Len Wein. It was the sequel to Wes Craven’s 1982 film Swamp Thing. It was also followed up by a TV series. Dr. Rochelle was originally from Not of This Earth. Jim Wynorski was given 30 days to complete this sequel & he ended up finishing it in 27 days. Dick Durock’s voice was overdubbed by an unknown actor for this. Neither Wynorski or Durock knew about it until the film premiered. Dick Durock became the first actor since Christopher Reeve to reprise the role of a DC Comics hero. Heather Locklear won the Razzie Award for Worst Actress for her performance in this film.
After her mother’s mysterious death Abigail Arcane (played by: Heather Locklear from Firestarter, Money Talks, Spin City, T.J. Hooker, & Melrose Place) travels to the Florida swamps to confront her evil stepfather Dr. Arcane (played by: Louis Jourdan from Swamp Thing, Octopussy, Count Dracula, & Gigi). He was resurrected by Dr. Rochelle (played by: Ace Mask from Ghoulies IV, Munchie, Munchie Strikes Back, & Transylvania Twist) & Dr. Lana Zurrell (played by: Sarah Douglas from Superman 1/2, Conan the Destroyer, Return of the Living Dead III, & Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge). One of their monsters Leechman (played by: Christopher Doyle from Toolbox Murders 1/2, Scream 2, Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death, & Another Day in Paradise) gets loose & ends up causing problems out in public. Locals including two kids Darryl (played by: Daniel Emery Taylor from Road Trip, The Hospital 1/2, Camp Massacre , & Hell House) & Omar (RonReaco Lee from The Shield, ER, & Sister, Sister) notice the unusual behavior near their home. They want to get a picture of Swamp Thing (played by: Dick Durock from Swamp Thing, Swamp Thing TV series, Stand by Me, & Raw Deal) to make some money. Head of Security Gunn (played by: Joey Sagal from Out for Blood, The Chase, & Barb Wire) & his evil henchwoman Miss Poinsettia (played b y: Scream Queen Monique Gabrielle from Deathstalker II, Evil Toons, 976-Evil II, Chained Heat, & Emmanuelle 5) do the dirty work for Dr. Arcane. They go out hunting humans & animals for work in the lab. After many failed attempts that have created some hideous creatures, Dr. Rochelle needs Arcane’s step daughter Abigail for genetic experiments to help with his boss’s aging problem. After meeting her Swamp Thing decides to help her against his rival. All hell breaks loose & Swamp Thing has to battle more villains to save his new love interest!!!!
The Return of Swamp Thing had a much different approach compared to the original film. It was campy & very silly with more of a comedic vibe to it. It was a true live action over the top “cartoon”. It was great to see Dick Durock & Louis Jourdan return to their respected roles from the first one. Heather Locklear was always easy on the eyes so she was a great addition to the franchise. I thought Sarah Douglas, Ace Mask, & Monique Gabrielle really elevated the cast in this. Joey Sagal was fun in this sequel but he kinda came off as a poor man’s David Hess from before & I thought he could have added a unique twist to it rather than something we already seen in the original. The special effects were one of the highlights in this production. Everything looked great from it’s time. I loved how all the monsters had their own style to them. The fights between them & Swamp Thing were some of my personal favorite spots. This is one of those type of things where you just turn off your brain & enjoy all the entertainment. This sequel is so much fun & it really stands out on it’s own after all these years.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation. I am a big fan of this film so I’ve seen it on every possible format that includes the VHS from RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video & the DVD from Image Entertainment. This 1080p (1.85:1) 2K transfer looks AMAZING! It’s one of the biggest upgrades that I’ve ever seen for a older film upgraded to blu ray format. I can’t believe how much more detail is in this now, it’s kinda like seeing it for the first time. It’s a totally different experience from the past. It features two different audio options for The Return of Swamp Thing which include English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 & English: LPCM 2.0.! It’s really nice to have two choices for this. It really depends on the viewer on which one would be their favorite, they both have their strong points.
Let’s discuss the special features on this release from MVD Rewind! First off there’s the brand new Audio commentary from Director Jim Wynorski, Composer Chuck Cirino & Editor Leslie Rosenthal. They talk about meeting special effects artist Steve Neill on StarStruck. Dr. Rochelle was originally from Not of This Earth. Jim liked him so much that he included that character in this sequel. A decent amount of the actors used in this were from Dino De Laurentiis productions. They chat about the cast & crew. They included their own personal staff as extras & background characters in this. They talk about how there wasn’t that many comic book & superhero movies back then. They used stock footage from Cirio H. Santiago that was purchased from legendary producer Roger Corman. The film was edited in a hotel room & the music was scored in a bedroom. They discuss the locations of the film. A brief mention of Jim’s other Swamp movies. Chuck Cirino talks about some of the samples he used to create the music for this. Frank Welker did all the voices for the monsters. Louis Jourdan didn’t attend the wrap party of this production. They talk about various other subjects & keep it entertaining for the most part besides a quick bathroom break. lol
Audio commentary from Director Jim Wynorski from 2003 that was featured on the original Image Entertainment DVD. He mentions the difficulties of the Swamp Thing suit. He talks about the mansion that they shot in. He brings up all the other locations used in the production. He chats about the cast & crew. He mentions Heather Locklear was the reason that local police let them get away with whatever on their days off. He brings up the DVD controversy of the original film & how it got recalled quick because of the additional nudity. He brings up that Heather didn’t really want to do the love scene. He jokes about blowing up everything on this. He mentions Lethal Weapon stole the scar comparison scene from this. He brings up that he wanted Louis Jourdan to call Monique Gabrielle “Points” but he felt it was too sexual so he didn’t want to do it. He brought up the fact he was in a film called Octopussy which really pissed him off. He says the Outer Limits was the inspiration for the Dr. Rochelle monster. Jim covers all kinds of stuff on this solo track & keeps you listening until the very end.
Interview with Director Jim Wynorski runs almost 18 minutes. He says this was one of his favorite films that he made. He mentions Tonya Roberts & Traci Lords were also considered for the lead in this. He chats about Tommy Lee showing up on set during filming. He talks about the script. He chats about the producer going on to make Batman. He brings up that the Swamp Thing costume was better in this compared to the original. He says he wanted his version to be more silly than the serious first one. Interview with Lightyear Entertainment Executive Arnie Holland runs about 5 minutes. He talks a little about the business of this production. He mentions it finally getting a blu ray release here. He talks about setting up an interview with Heather Locklear & Howard Stern to promote the project. He brings up Harvey Weinstein took over the marketing for the theatrical run & Heather didn’t like it. Interview with Composer Chuck Cirino that runs almost 7 minutes. He talks about this film being the largest budget he ever had for a score. He brings up how he had to get creative for the Louis Jourdan piano scene. It was already shot & the actor didn’t know what he was doing but it was a close up so he had to make it work. He talks about working with a sampler for the music. Interview with Editor Leslie Rosenthal that runs 9 minutes. She talks about how she got the job. She mentions how she edited this in her hotel room. She chats about the hardest scenes she had to cut in this feature. All kinds promotional material which includes Original Theatrical Trailer (New HD Transfer from original 35mm materials), 6 Promotional TV Clips, 2 TV Spots, 2 Greenpeace Public Service Announcements, 5 minute 1989 Promo Reel, & 2 minute Photo Gallery (accompanied by Chuck Cirino’s film’s score). Trailers for other MVD Rewind releases are included. It also comes with a DVD copy, Reversible artwork, & Collectible Mini- Poster. Plus the slipcover looks awesome, MVD Rewind has some of the coolest designs around. I love that retro feel to it. This was one of the best releases of 2018 for me. MVD Rewind KILLED it on this & this blu ray comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me! Pick it up ASAP, let’s get more titles acquired by this label!!!!