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The Return of Swamp Thing
Directed by Jim Wynorski
Produced by Benjamin Melniker
Michael E. Uslan
Written by Screenplay:
Neil Cuthbert
Grant Morris
Comic Book:
Len Wein
Bernie Wrightson
Starring Louis Jourdan
Heather Locklear
Dick Durock
Sarah Douglas
Ace Mask
Monique Gabrielle
Daniel Emery Taylor
Music by Chuck Cirino
Cinematography Zoran Hochstätter
Editing by Leslie Rosenthal
Distributed by Millimeter Films
Lightyear Entertainment
Release date(s) May 12, 1989
Running time 88 min.
Language English
Budget Unknown
Gross revenue $192,816
Preceded by Swamp Thing

The Return of Swamp Thing is a low-budget sci-fi/comedy made in 1989, and was directed by Jim Wynorski. It is based on the DC Comics (later Vertigo Comics) title Swamp Thing and is a sequel to the 1982 horror film Swamp Thing directed by Wes Craven, however, it had a lighter tone then the previous film. The film's main title montage consists of comic book covers set to Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Born on the Bayou." This was Sarah Douglas' third DC Comics feature film after appearing in Superman: The Movie and Superman II.



After her mother's mysterious death, Abby Arcane (Heather Locklear) travels to the Florida swamps to confront her evil stepfather Dr. Arcane (Louis Jourdan), who somehow been resurrected without an explanation after his death in the first film. In an attempt to stave off the effects of aging, Dr. Arcane, assisted by Dr. Lana Zurrell (Sarah Douglas), combines genes from various swamp animals and human beings, creating an army of monsters. Dr. Arcane tries to use his stepdaughter Abby in his genetic experiments until she is rescued by Swamp Thing (Dick Durock), a scientist previously transformed into a bog creature after a confrontation with the evil doctor and a conscience-stricken Dr. Zurrell.


The Return of Swamp Thing acquired largely poor reception from critics. 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."[1] Another negative review came from Variety. Its summary headline read: "The Return of Swamp Thing is scientific hokum without the fun. Second attempt to film the DC Comics character will disappoint all but the youngest critters."[2]

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."[3] Another positive review was from Roger Ebert. He gave the movie "Thumbs Up" when Gene Siskel didn't.

Before his death a year later, Dick Durock stated in a 2008 interview, "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 (poet) published a poem referring to this movie ("Return of Swamp Thing") in her book Journey: New and Selected Poems 1969-1999 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburg Press, 2001).


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.[4]

Television series and sequel

In July 1990, USA Network premiered the Swamp Thing television series. This saw Dick Durock reprising his role and using a modified version of the Return of Swamp Thing costume. The series took a deliberate turn away from the campy themes of its 1989 film predecessor and leaned toward the darkness of Wes Craven's version. It lasted into 1993 with a total of 72 episodes.

VHS and DVD Release

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 movie. The PSAs aired in certain markets in 1989.

Warner Brothers re-released the film in April 2008 on DVD.


  1. ^ Canby, Vincent Reviews/Film; Swamp Thing, Rescuer of Damp Damsels The New York Times (May 12, 1989). Retrieved on 6-27-09.
  2. ^ The Return of Swamp Thing Variety (1989). Retrieved on 6-27-09.
  3. ^ The Return of the Swamp Thing Time Out (1989). Retrieved on 6-27-09.
  4. ^ Movie adaptations

External links



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