A Haiku:

Swamp Thing fondles girls,

Monstrous "heroes" of the bog

Man-Thing sucks on toast.

Let's talk about swamps for moment.  Ecological wonderlands, filled with exotic animals, plants, and the very mystery of Mother Nature herself.  Or not.  Personally, when I think of the swamp I think of filthy inbred hillbillies, alligators, mosquitoes that carry Malaria, and all other sorts of nastiness.   Today we're going to talk about the heroes of that wrecked place.  By heroes, I simply mean guys made out of swamp fungus that ended up having movies made about them.  Of course, I'm talking about the retro-cool superheroes Swamp Thing and Man-Thing.  One was DC Comics' man-turned-into-a-swamp-monster-via-a-botanical-accident and the other was Marvel's man-turned-into-a-swamp-monster-via-a-botanical-accident.  They seem a tad similar, don't they?  There are some differences, but believe it or not:  They both debuted the same year (1971 in random comic books) about a month apart from one another...so it's hard to say which was first.  Swamp Thing's infinitely more popular...but that doesn't change the fact that the Man-Thing is JUST as old.  Geek Trivia.  :shrug:  I'm not here to argue comic book lore.  Instead, I'm just going to share the HORROR (and by horror I mean the sheer crap/awesomeness going on) of the films that they starred in. Two of these films are boring bordering on very very bad, but one of these films will enrich your life.  It will teach you laugh again.  And, it involves Heather Locklear sucking on a plant's genitalia.  You're not ready.  I promise.

Swamp Thing (1982)

Wes Craven directed the first Swamp Thing film....this isn't exactly a good thing, but at least I can say that I saw a man dressed as a giant plant fondling Adrienne Barbeau's boobs....all under the direction of Wes "Holy Crap, my middle name is Earl" Craven.  Sadly, I'm getting ahead of myself.  Even with the "king of horror's" touch, I hate to admit that this film pretty much sucks on toast.  Then again, maybe my standards are too high.  When I think of a movie based on a comic book hero, I do not think of a slow-moving, bittersweet movie where you can count the actual things that HAPPEN on one hand.  But, that's just me.  Let me break it down for you:

The Hero:

 

That's the Swamp Thing.  Dick Durock (the best named stunt man ever) covered in green latex and weeds, slowly meanders around the forest crying to himself.  Seriously.  So, it's a tragic hero.  That's not a big deal, right?  Pure drama, right?  I wish.  Maybe it's just the fact that I'm from the ADHD/MTV generation, but one fight and flipping over one car do NOT satisfy my hunger for hot mutant plant-thing action.  Hell, do you know how they end up defeating the Swamp Thing?  They throw a NET over him.   A freakin' net.  Instead of merely lifting it off of himself, he lies down and starts crying.  Damn it.  Admittedly, I'm being shallow.  Truly, this film isn't meant for me, as it paints a complex tapestry of human drama bringing the contrast of the human condition into harsh, unflinching light.  Of course, if that's true:

Why the HELL does so much revolve around Adrienne Barbeau's tits?

Here we see the Swamp Thing bringing his dead girlfriend back to life by groping her, because the bad guy stabbed her in the chest.  Earlier, we got to see Adrienne's first nude scene on the Silver Screen.....as our "hero" hides in the bushes watching her.  I'm not sure how I feel about giant green men in full-latex costumes stalking women in the swamp.  So we've got slow-moving, overly emotional swamp men and big-breasted scientists who like taking off their clothes....not a terrible formula, but something is lacking.  Maybe that missing ingredient, that magical component that can save the film is the Antagonist.  Is that the case?

The answer is "sort of."  Louis Jourdan plays Dr. Arcane, an evil scientist/multi-millionaire playboy who wants Swamp Thing's formula (technically, he wants the formula that mutated the scientist who turns into the Swamp Thing....but let's not split hairs).  He ends up capturing the Swamp Thing (and throwing a big party with lots of strippers in thongs) and recreating the formula that will "give him eternal life."  For about 95% of the film, the bad guy's this geeky old man who sends soldiers after the hero until he finally copies the magical formula.  By now the film's almost over....so in the last few minutes of the film we have Dr. Arcane turning his head guard into a pig-midget (again, I'm not joking).  Here we learn that the magic formula turns people into what they are on the inside...so apparently, the guard was a tiny pig on the inside.  Kind of an interesting idea.  It's not science, but in a pinch, goofy hippy science will have to do.  "Super-Genius" Arcane decides that he needs to drink the formula, since he's intellectually superior and generally an all-around awesome guy, so he reckons if he drinks it he'll turn into...I don't know...Jesus or something.  Instead, he turns into a giant pig monster.  Pissed about becoming "as ugly on the outside as he was on the inside" (so very deep), he grabs a nearby BROADSWORD and pretty much becomes a giant pig monster Highlander.  So after about an hour of slow-moving NOTHING (to put it simply, because watching Adrienne Barbeau's breasts flee from evil does not count as entertainment to me), the last five minutes feature two guys in rubber monster suits that would make Toho Studios (the people who brought us Godzilla) feel embarrassed.  Giant Pig Monster with a sword fighting a Giant Plant Monster with a club.  Truly a great moment in cinematic history.

Yawn.

Swamp Thing doesn't talk much, not a lot happens, and the final battle is the classic and epic confrontation between Plant and Pig.  Not the best of films.  Not the worst of films, but that's not really a compliment at all.  However, all the damage done here was completely taken care of by the rocking power of AWESOME presented in this film's sequel.  Are you ready?

The Return of Swamp Thing (1989)

It's movies like this that I live for.  This bad boy's directed by Jim Wynorski....the same guy who directed "Chopping Mall."  If you've been reading the site for a while you'll know that was the film that made me start this website back in the day and I still stand by the fact that it's a religious experience.  All I can say is that Mr. Wynorski pushes my buttons.  He's not a "good" director...but he makes me happy.  Stop judging me.

There's so much to say about why this film is so infinitely much better than the original.  First off, the hero got seriously revamped.  Dick Durock returns as the green-skinned plant monster.  Man is that a great name.  In tribute, I think if I ever become an actor, I'll have to change my name to Cock Hardstone, Chunk Cockslab, or maybe Meat Thickrod...I digress.  Durock is back, and this time he's talking, making jokes and generally 1000% more likeable than he was in the Wes Craven flick.  Maybe it's just the fact that we don't get to see the hero cry every fifteen minutes.  On that note, let's bring up the whole idea of what we expect in a superhero.  There're really two archetypes in film:  The sensitive "very human" hero who has flaws and internal struggles that help define him....his weakness makes it easer to empathize with the character.  The other type is best called the "Superman" archetype.  You usually see this in action movies...the unstoppable hero that has no weaknesses, can't be stopped, and generally wins over the audience by proving just how frickin' badass he can be.  While Swamp Thing was a latex emo crybaby in the first film, Dick Durock (as Swamp Thing again) brings a whole other kind of beast to the sequel.  Instead of me just telling you how, let me walk you through the opening scene with a couple of pictures.  You'll thank me for it.

Say hello to the Leech Thing.  The movie's title hasn't come up on the screen yet. A mere sixty seconds into the movie, a giant half-man half-leech monster is eating people lost in the swamp.  Holy Crap, is that awesome. Why this sequel is better than the original, Reason #1:  There are actual monsters that aren't just guys in rubber Pig costumes.  An animatronic, glistening, rubber leech suit is an exponential improvement over the Highlander of Swine.  I can't really communicate how happy the Leech Thing makes me.  Hell, I ended up painting him, too (the pic's somewhere below).  Leech Thing is the "main" villain of the first quarter of the movie, before the "plot" shows up...but I'll get to that later if at all.  Point is, first minute of the film, there's a giant Leech-Thing eating (or about to eat) folks in the swamp.

Get this:  The Leech-Thing has a random goofy guy pinned to a tree.  His horrible fanged maw is about to suck moist tissue right off the guy when he hears a noise.  Now instead of just turning his head to see what it is, the Leech Thing pushed the guy away and takes a step back as if he wasn't doing anything wrong.  It's a classic "Oh Crap, it's the Cops....act cool" moment.  You see, Leech Thing has obviously heard this noise before.  He knows what's coming.    (On a related note, I really wish the Leech Thing could talk.  I can just imagine it trying to pretend it wasn't just about to eat the guy: "No, everything's cool, officer.  I was....uh...just helping this guy look for his glasses.  Really.")  But what the hell could a giant Leech monster have to be afraid of?

Swamp Thing bathed in heavenly back-lighting, that's what!  The lighting is important because that's the same damn effect that you see on professional wrestling to make the Hulkster or whoever look totally huge and scary.  So, Swamp Thing comes out of the bayou like this steroid-crazed topiary wearing this angry "I'm gonna mess you up, sucka" face, and....

...proceeds to beat the ever-loving CRAP out of the Leech Thing.  Seriously, Swampy pushes poor Leech-boy to the ground and starts beating in his skull....all the while still bathed in heavenly backlighting.  The Leech Thing scuttles away so he can fight again in a later scene, but what I just walked you through is the opening moments of "Return of Swamp Thing."  By the way, that other scene I alluded to with the Leech Thing still happens in the first fifteen minutes of the film.  Here, Swamp Thing stops him from eating two children who were looking at pornography (don't ask).  What does "stopping him" mean, exactly?

They sword-fight with metal poles until lightning strikes said poles, making the cars around them explode and...um...yeah.  This movie is so very over-the-top.  The Leech Thing picks up a weapon (a sign post, used as an ax), waves it at Swamp Thing, and starts gesturing for him to "come get some."  Apparently, director Jim didn't think that was enough.  So he made them both get struck by lightning and cause a bunch of explosions, because that's what every movie needs...more explosions.  Also, the fact that we get to see our hero bludgeon the frickin' poo out of a giant leech doesn't hurt things either.

Swamp Thing in this movie just is so much more "cool" than he was before.  What I need to point out specifically is the massive upgrade the Swamp Thing costume got.  Instead of just looking like a guy in latex with some roots glued on....ok, yeah, it's still just a guy in latex with roots glued on, but compare the picture to the left with the one from the original.  So much better.  In case you haven't noticed, Swamp Thing is infinitely more powerful in this film than he was in the first one.  Instead of a net, as was used to defeat him in the first movie, the bad guys end up making him EXPLODE (using dynamite).  Still, within ten minutes, our hero pulls himself together, sneaking up the drain and into the villain's bathtub.  Hell, when he appears in the villain's bathroom he' still got the whole "heavenly backlight" thing going on.  Nothing can remove that "I'm going to snap off your arms and feed them to you" expression from Swamp Thing's face as he wades into battle, a bloodthirsty plant of war.  Well, there is ONE thing that can change his expression.

Its name is Heather Locklear.   You can tell that Swamp Thing loves her, because after he ends up saving her from evil rapist moon-shiners, they escape the evil mansion in an evil stolen jeep:  Swamp Thing drives them to freedom while Heather Locklear murders guards with a shotgun she found.

If that's not love, I don't know what is.  Didn't I tell you this film was over the top?

 Instead of Adrienne Barbeau, we do indeed have Heather Locklear as the romantic counterpoint to Mr. Swampy Green-jeans.  From the moment you see her talking to her flowers you just KNOW she's going to be metaphorically banging the Swamp Thing the moment she meets him.  That's not quite correct, but she does end up doing the nasty with the guy.  More on that later...with pictures.  :shudder:  Heather Locklear is related to the evil Dr. Arcane (as played by Jourdan AGAIN).  She ends up getting strapped to a life-sucking chiropractic chair that Arcane uses to suck out her life force.  While Heather isn't stabbed in the breast as Adrienne was, she still dies and Swamp Thing has to fondle her chest...I mean he has to "share his life energy"...to bring her back to life.  Don't worry too much about the plot.  I sure as hell didn't, and I seem to have been able to enjoy myself just fine.

  

Dr. Arcane is back and he's: getting laid with hot women all over the place (not bad for a 70-year old), creating mutants in his basement laboratory, and generally being a jolly old bastard.  Don't ask me to explain how he survived having his skull crushed after he was turned into a Pig-Monster in the first film.  Also don't ask me why he thinks mixing human beings with leeches, cockroaches, elephants, dogs, and GOD KNOWS what else is the secret to eternal life.  Arcane isn't the greatest villain, even though he does have the coolest evil-scientist prop I've seen in a while:

I'm sorry, but anyone who has a walk-in microwave to dispose of hideous genetic mutations such as a half-man half-cockroach is pretty much the MAN in my book.

I know I'm sort of rambling now, but I'll tell you the reason.  I'm dreading sharing the scariest thing in this movie:  The sex scene.  I'm going to break it down in pictures because, again, I think words will completely fail to convey how nightmarish this moment is.  Heather Locklear says something to the effect of "Damn, it's a shame I can't hump you like crazy.  I'd really like to."  Swamp Thing looks sweetly into her eyes, reaches down to his upper thigh....

...and pulls out his "Penis root".  I don't know what the hell else to call it.  Holding it gently, he pushes it into her face....

...and tells her to put it in her mouth.  Oh.  My. God.  Heather's a little confused and more than a little scared....with good reason.  I don't put phallic parts of mutant scientists in my mouth either.  Swamp thing puts Ms. Locklear at ease...

...by taking a bite of it first.  "See?  Daddy likes it.  Now you try.  Ohhhhh...yeah.  That's right.  What a good girl you are." (I paraphrase.) Besides the fact that he's showing her what to do by gnawing on his own phallus, I think the really scary thing here is the fact that Swamp Thing's making "sexy eye contact" with her as he does so.  I don't know if this is supposed to be sweet, sexy, or make me wet myself in terror.  For whatever reason, this strategy works and she ends up taking a tiny part of it into her mouth (and swallowing it).  Seconds later we learn.....

...whatever's in the dreaded "Penis root" is very hallucinogenic.  Suddenly, Heather sees Swamp Thing as a male stripper and they start making out.  Now, I think the phallic crotch herb that they both ate was supposed to let them "merge their souls" or at least metaphysically scrump (screw + hump = scrump), but it's sort of unclear.  On a related note, how the HELL did Swamp Thing realize that his crotch root had magical powers (or at least was filled with LSD)?  I guess if you're a big plant monster you eventually start thinking crazy-thoughts, such as: "I wonder what that part of me tastes like?" Even if that's true, it takes some bravery to start munching down on the closest thing you have to genitalia.  I'm going to stop talking about this because I can't afford the therapy involved if I think about it too deeply.  Point is:  This may be the scariest sex scene on the site so far, and that includes the "Giant Breast Monster" from Faust: Love of the Damned.  If anything can beat that, I'd say Heather Locklear gnawing on Penis root does.  :shudder:

  Man-Thing (2005)

After the sheer joy and horror that I found in the second Swamp Thing movie, it doesn't even seem fair to put Man-Thing on the same page.  I had the pleasure and misfortune to see this one in a theater when it played in the Fantasy Film Festival a while back.  Luckily, I didn't pay for the ticket.  If you look closely at the poster, you'll notice that this new Man-Thing movie was produced by the same people that brought us Spider-Man, Daredevil, X-Men, and Blade.  If only that meant something.  Man-Thing is similar to Swamp Thing only in that they are both made up of swamp/plant muck....and um...fight evil in the swamp.  Sort of.  In the comic books, the Man-Thing is a totally mindless monster that accidentally ends up being a hero because whenever people are afraid, it starts secreting a highly corrosive acid all over them (or at least starts wiping it on them).  For whatever reason, the only people it ends up burning are "evil," despite the fact that EVERYONE would be terrified of a giant bug-eyed swamp monster if they saw it.  With that in mind, the creators of Man-Thing made a horror movie about a monster that isn't that picky about who it kills.  The idea of "evil" is kind of flexible in the classic "horror movie morality" manner; what with the Man-Thing killing kids having sex, random hunters, as well as evil industrialists.  There's not a lot going on in this film (it is almost literally two hours of people lost in the swamp), but I do have three major points to make about the terror that is the Man-Thing.

1.  There are no American swamps in Australia.   You'd think this would be common sense, but the weird production decisions involved in the making of this film totally shot common sense in the head here.  Now this film, which is supposed to take place in an American swamp, was shot entirely in Australia.  Not a big deal, right?  My problem:  ALL of the actors have thick Australian accents.  They might as well be riding kangaroos to freedom while throwing boomerangs by the film's end, because it really is that obvious.  When I was watching the film, I thought that the director had decided to just relocate the story to Australia....but such was, sadly, not the case.  Was everyone just too polite to point out the other actor's accents?  Or is it a case of EVERYONE having the accent so they didn't realize that it comes across as mightily retarded?  :deep breath:  Just imagine if I made a film that took place in New York City called "September 11th: Never Forget 2:  The Quickening" and not only shot the entire film in Paris but only hired French actors with thick French accents.  Do you think people would find that weird at all?  It's just so lame when a movie tries to pretend to be something it isn't...or something like that.  :sigh:

2.  When you can't just call your evil industrialist a fascist, change his name to Schist (as in 'scist) and change the swastika just enough to that it's not quite the Nazi logo of evil.  Hell, the bad guys even wear little armbands with the "oil-rig swastika" on them, while they talk about herding up all the environmentalist so they can kill them.  Jesus.  Did a 9-year-old decide that Schist was a clever codename for Fascist?  Let's move on.

3.  Man-Thing is so very much a Japanese Tentacle Rape Monster.  I wish it wasn't true.  Now I haven't said much about the actual monster because it's kind of weird.  A Native American gets killed by the industrial Fascist (Schist) and magically becomes the spirit of Nature's vengeance:  The Man-Thing.  The Man-Thing is this giant plant monster (almost completely Computer-Generated) that has about a dozen tentacles coming out of its shoulders and back.  It kills people by stabbing them with the tentacles and...umm...injecting them with wood or making plants grow out of them.  I'm a little sketchy on the physiology involved, but there's definitely some sort of fluid pumping action there as, during the finale, the Man-Thing starts manually pumping hot oil into the bad guy after penetrating him (with the tentacles).  Besides the fact that it's all sorts of INCREDIBLY PHALLIC, the monster's design and kill-method is the same as every Japanese Tentacle Rape Monster ever.  If you don't know what those are...good for you.  Don't look it up.  Ever.  If, like many tainted souls of the Internet, you DO know what that is...I swear:  Man-Thing proves that someone (if they haven't already) could easily make a pornographic live-action sex film involving tentacle monsters.  Half-way through the film I made this realization and I kept getting more or more nauseous thinking about how someone out there is thinking: "Hey, I could do this...only with naked Japanese school girls.  It'd be great!"  The world is a dark place, and Man-Thing is only giving more tools to darken it with. 

That's it.  I've nothing more to say about killer plant men and how they grope women or phallically stab fat guys before ejaculating crude oil into their dying bodies.  I leave you with a painting I did while watching these films, in the sentiment that anyone who's read this far deserves to have a prize of some sort:

Personally, I think that if Swamp Thing could get over the fact that Man-Thing doesn't have boobs, they'd be a cute couple.  Though, after you've convinced Heather Locklear to suck on your phallic root...it might be hard to "settle."

Oh, and just so I don't leave you on a totally "OMG Swamp Thing is gay" note, enjoy this picture of Swamp Thing giving us a big "thumb's up" as Leech Thing burns to death in the background:

Swamp Thing:  I think I love you.

-jared (a.k.a. Cock Hardstone)

 

 

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COPYRIGHT 2005 JARED HINDMAN, SOMETIMES VON HINDMAN...EXCEPT FOR THE IMAGES FROM THE MOVIES THAT I LIKE TOTALLY USE VIA THE FAIR USE ACT.  LIKE FOR REALZ.  Um.  Dawg?  Damn it.  I so suck as slang.