Swamp Monster Love

Swamp Thing definitely isn’t horror maestro Wes Craven’s best work but the director tackles DC Comics’ fearsome swamp dweller in a campy B-movie mostly remembered today for star Adrienne Barbeau’s formidable contributions. Far removed from the darker-tinged comic book source material drawn by artist Bernie Wrightson, the loose cinematic adaptation became fondly embraced on home video and cable as a cult classic for the awkward romantic relationship between its titular plant creature and leading lady Adrienne Barbeau.

Released in the winter of 1982, Swamp Thing is mostly harmless and cheesy fun fit into a simplistic formula. A guilty pleasure which can’t be taken that seriously, some parts of it are patently ridiculous. A product of its time, the practical special effects are quite primitive and grounded in the same hokey milieu which produced Lou Ferrigno running around in green paint for The Incredible Hulk. Craven liberally borrows from The Island of Dr. Moreau and James Bond flicks of all things in crafting his tale.

The unrated international cut from Europe with a topless scene by Adrienne Barbeau gave Swamp Thing a bit of added notoriety in the early 2000s

Starring Ray Wise, Louis Jourdan and the incomparable Adrienne Barbeau (Creepshow) at the height of her genre headlining days, Swamp Thing is clunky superhero fare from the Eighties. The enjoyable romp isn’t perfect but delivers enough action, intrigue and sex appeal for easy-to-please cinema fans.

Dr. Alec Holland (Ray Wise) is working on merging the properties of animal and plant DNA in a secret government laboratory deep in the swamps. Discovering a secret formula which could change civilization, he meets plucky government agent Alice Cable (Adrienne Barbeau). She’ll eventually serve as Swamp Thing’s love interest.

Little do they know the villainous Dr. Arcane (Louis Jordan) has his own plans for Holland’s formula. Pillaging the laboratory, Arcane’s men leave Holland to die in the swamps. Exposed to his own formula, Holland becomes more than a plant but less than a man as he is reborn into the monstrous Swamp Thing. Now with his newfound abilities Swamp Thing must rescue Alice from Arcane’s dastardly clutches.

Accidentally released on DVD by MGM, the unrated international cut from Europe with an added topless scene by Adrienne Barbeau gave Swamp Thing a bit of cheeky notoriety in the early 2000s. Thanks to her contract, the scene wasn’t supposed to be released in North America and the DVD was soon pulled. Since MVD is now releasing both the PG and unrated versions on 4K UHD in North America, it appears Barbeau finally relented.

Louis Jourdan hams it up as a Bond villain in all but name, which he would soon realize in the next year’s Octopussy. The cast make something from nothing as Craven’s dialogue is rough around the edges. Swamp Thing’s healthy set pieces and a fairly strong practical costume for stunt actor Dick Durock playing the creature remind us there were other superhero movies between Donner’s Superman and Keaton’s Batman.

Hollywood has kept returning to Swamp Thing over the years. This movie got a rather inept sequel a few years afterwards starring a ravishing Heather Locklear. A mostly unrelated cable series popped up in the 1990s on USA Network. Another television series lasting one season arrived on the scene for aborted streaming service DC Universe back in 2019. It’s a comic book property best suited for animation, not live action.


New 16-bit 4K scans of the original 35mm camera negative produce fantastic video results for both well-known cuts of Swamp Thing – the original PG-rated theatrical version released in the United States and the nearly two minutes longer unrated “international” cut made for Europe. Both cuts receive full Dolby Vision encodes, tastefully reproducing the movie’s intended grain structure and color rendition with beautifully rendered texture. The unrated cut runs 93 minutes, also presented in nearly pristine 4K beauty on a triple-layer UHD.

Taken from well-mannered film elements with little obvious wear, the 1.85:1 presentation upgrades the color saturation and intensity while dialing back the brightness of prior film transfers. Licensed from both MGM and StudioCanal, a fine balance has been struck between the brightly-lit greens of the swamp and richer, earthier tones. There may be a hint of a push towards magenta in the flesh-tones but otherwise the color correction strikes a pitch-perfect contrast with excellent shadow delineation and high clarity.

Swamp Thing probably isn’t a movie you automatically think would be a great showcase for UHD’s video potential. The colorful swamp setting however is a great match for highlighting the benefits of well-done HDR with its expanded palette. The 4K resolution definitely enhances the visible detail of Durock’s costume, pulling out better definition than earlier BDs.

MVD has themselves a real winner. Home theater owners should be quite happy with Swamp Thing’s video improvements on the format.


The mono soundtrack is heard in fine, quite serviceable 2.0 DTS-HD MA audio for both versions of the film, carried over from earlier Blu-ray releases in perfect quality. Dialogue is cleanly intelligible with modest dynamics provided for the rousing action and explosions. Fidelity is high for the punchy score, a studio-quality recording. There’s a nice depth and presence for mono fare.

Optional English subtitles play in a white font. A mono Spanish dub is included on the UHD in Dolby Digital.


MVD issues Swamp Thing in a two-disc collector’s edition offering both the theatrical PG version and unrated international cut in new transfers on 4K UHD and Blu-ray. It’s a stacked release, combining the special features previously included on BD from both Shout Factory and 88 Films.

If you are a fan of Swamp Thing, this 4K UHD set is absolutely essential. Packed with commentaries and other goodies, there’s something for everyone. It should be noted all special features are on the Blu-ray, only the first two commentaries make it to the UHD.

Arriving in a neat slipcover, included inside the package is a collectible “4K LaserVision” mini-poster. Swamp Thing is labelled as #1 in MVD’s apparently new 4K LaserVision Collection.

Audio Commentary on the PG Theatrical Version by director Wes Craven moderated by Sean Clark

Audio Commentary on the PG Theatrical Version by make-up Effects Artist William Munns moderated by Michael Felsher

Tales from the Swamp Interview with actress Adrienne Barbeau (16:09 in HD)

Hey Jude Interview with actor Reggie Batts (14:43 in HD)

That Swamp Thing: A Look Back with Swamp Thing creator Len Wein Interview (13:20 in HD)

Swamp Screen: Designing DC’s Main Monster Featurette with Art director Robb Wilson King (20:34 in HD)

From Krug to Comics: How the Mainstream Shaped a Radical Genre Voice Featurette by critic Kim Newman (17:36 in HD)

Theatrical Trailer (01:31 in HD)

Various Photo Galleries (4 in HD) – Poster/Lobby Cards, Photos From The Film, William Munns’ Behind The Scenes, Photos By Geoffrey Rayle

Full disclosure: This UHD was provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.

Swamp Thing
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  • Extras


Wes Craven’s PG superhero flick is fondly remembered for its cheesy effects and star Adrienne Barbeau as the damsel in distress

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 54 full resolution, uncompressed 4K screen shots ripped directly from the UHD:

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