The Return of Swamp Thing

1989 film by Jim Wynorski

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The Return of Swamp Thing
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJim Wynorski
Written byNeil Cuthbert
Grant Morris
Based on
Swamp Thing
Produced byBenjamin Melniker
Michael E. Uslan
CinematographyZoran Hochstätter
Edited byLeslie Rosenthal
Music byChuck Cirino
Distributed byMillimeter Films[1]
Release date
  • May 12, 1989 (1989-05-12)
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$3 million[2]
Box office$274,928[3]

The Return of Swamp Thing is a 1989 American superhero film based on the DC Comics' character of the same name. Directed by Jim Wynorski, it is a sequel to the 1982 film Swamp Thing, having a lighter tone than its predecessor. The film has a main title montage that consists of comic book covers set to Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Born on the Bayou", and features Dick Durock and Louis Jourdan reprising their roles as Swamp Thing and Anton Arcane respectively, along with Sarah Douglas and Heather Locklear.


After her mother's mysterious death, Abigail Arcane travels to the Florida swamps to confront her evil stepfather Dr. Anton Arcane, who had been resurrected after his death in the first film. In an attempt to stave off the effects of aging, Dr. Arcane, assisted by Dr. Lana Zurrell, combines genes from various swamp animals and human beings, creating an army of monsters known as Un-Men. Dr. Arcane tries to use his stepdaughter Abby in his genetic experiments until she is rescued by Swamp Thing, a scientist previously transformed into a bog creature after a confrontation with the evil doctor.



In a 2018 interview, director Jim Wynorski recalled that he wanted Louis Jourdan to refer to the character of Miss Poinsettia as "Points". Jourdan refused because he knew that the character's nickname was a sexual-innuendo referring to her breasts. Wynorski then asked Jourdan, "Weren't you just in a movie called Octopussy?" Jourdan refused to speak to Wynorski for much of the shoot afterward.[4]

In 2008, Dick Durock said to that the suit made filming difficult: "I hated the thought of having to go through the whole thing of wearing 50, 60, 70 pounds of weight in the summertime in Savannah, Georgia, but the money was there, and it's a job".[5]

According to BPA, Locklear had a hard time working with the guy who played Swamp Thing in his human form: "The model was full of himself and really rubbed Heather the wrong way. As soon as the model's scene was done, he was asked to leave the set".[6]


Home media

RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video released the film in 1989 on VHS.

The film was issued on DVD by Image Entertainment, with a commentary by Wynorski which suggests that some of the film's humor was not as intentional as it seems and that Wynorski had a degree of contempt for the material. The DVD also includes two environmental public service announcements for television recorded with Durock in character and the two children featured in the film. The PSAs aired in certain markets in 1989.

Warner Bros. re-released the film in April 2008 on DVD. A Blu-ray edition was released by the British label Screenbound Pictures in May 2017.

MVD Entertainment Group released the film on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack May 8, 2018, as part of their MVD Rewind Collection line. The DVD extras were ported over along with a new commentary track and interviews with Jim Wynorski, composer Chuck Cirino, and editor Leslie Rosenthal, an interview with executive of Lightyear Entertainment Arnie Holland, plus a remastered 2K HD transfer.[7]

An Ultra HD Blu-ray release of the film will be released on February 7, 2023.[8]


Critical response

As of October 2020, on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film had an approval rating of 44% based on 9 reviews, with an average rating of 3.92/10.[9]

Vincent Canby of The New York Times gave a negative review, proclaiming the film "is intended for people who missed the 1982 Swamp Thing and don't want the bother of renting the videocassette". He added that it "means to be funnier than it ever is" and "contains scenes of violence, most of which are so unconvincing as to be less scary than an average comic book".[10]

A writer for Time Out gave a somewhat neutral review, stating "Wynorski is well-versed in double-bluffing his audience, denying them the chance of balking at dreadful special effects by implying that the ineptitude is deliberate. He opts for cheap nostalgic laughs and camp '50s sci-fi scenery; depending on whether you find this funny, you'll either smile knowingly or gasp in disbelief".[11] Another positive review was from Roger Ebert. He gave the movie a "thumbs up" when Gene Siskel did not in the talk show Siskel & Ebert & the Movies.[12] Cinapse also gave the positive review as "The Return Of Swamp Thing is a humorous and oddly sweet action adventure that wants nothing more than to entertain you with its quirkiness from start to finish".[13]

Before his death a year later, Dick Durock stated in a 2008 interview that "they tried in Return of Swamp Thing to make it comedy, campy, and that's tough to make that work. I think [for the TV series] they kind of gave up on that idea and got back to the darker side of the character as he was written in the comic book".

Kathleen Norris published a poem referring to this film ("Return of Swamp Thing") in her book Journey: New and Selected Poems 1969-1999 (2001).

DVD Talk rated the film as 4 stars of 5 stars as "Highly Recommended".[14]


Heather Locklear won the Razzie Award for Worst Actress for her performance in the film.

Other media


Peter David wrote a novelization of the film. Disappointed with the script, David rewrote large chunks of the story. To his surprise, the producers enjoyed the changes and allowed the book to see print as is.[15]


  1. ^ a b c "The Return of Swamp Thing (1989) - Credits". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
  2. ^ "Comic Legends: The Swamp Thing Movie Novelization That Wasn't". Comic Book Resources. 9 October 2017. Retrieved October 1, 2021.
  3. ^ "The Return of Swamp Thing (1989)". The Numbers. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  4. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "THE BEST INTERVIEW EVER, with Jim Wynorski (Director)". YouTube.
  5. ^ "A Chat with Dick Durock, Dick Durock interview, Swamp Thing".
  6. ^[bare URL]
  7. ^ "Blu-ray Forum - View Single Post - the Return of Swamp Thing (1989) coming from MVD Rewind Collection!".
  8. ^ "The Return of Swamp Thing 4K UHD (1989) - Blu-ray Forum". Retrieved 2022-10-08.
  9. ^ "The Return of Swamp Thing (1989)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  10. ^ Canby, Vincent Reviews/Film; Swamp Thing, Rescuer of Damp Damsels The New York Times (May 12, 1989). Retrieved on 6-27-09.
  11. ^ The Return of the Swamp Thing Time Out (1989). Retrieved on 6-27-09.
  12. ^ Siskel & Ebert - "The Return Of Swamp Thing" (1989) YouTube. Retrieved on May 13, 2018.
  13. ^ "THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING: Self-Aware Swamp Romp". Comic Book Resources. 7 June 2018. Retrieved October 1, 2021.
  14. ^ Gross, G. Noel (February 18, 2003). "Return of Swamp Thing: SE, The". DVD Talk. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  15. ^ Hauman, Glenn (2004-11-17). " Movie adaptations". Retrieved 2011-02-02.

External links

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