Monday, July 2, 2018

ANOTHER WOLFCOP (Blu-ray Review)


Canada/2017
Directed By: Lowell Dean
Written By: Lowell Dean
Starring: Leo Fafard, Yannick Bisson, Amy Matysio
Color/79 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A
Release Date: July 3, 2018


The Film
A year after the events of the first film the town of Woodhaven is home to a new brewery being opened by a devious entrepreneur named Swallows (Yannick Bisson) who plans to use his new Chicken Milk Stout to attack the local population with stomach bursting monsters. It is up to the local police force led by the wolfcop himself Lou Garou to stop Swallows and save Woodhaven.

A few years have gone by since the release of Wolfcop but it is still fresh in the mind's of horror fans including myself and I was cautiously excited about the sequel being released. My trepidation comes from plenty of prior experiences where a successful modern indie horror movie spawns a far less successful sequel, losing the magic that the first film had created. ANOTHER WOLFCOP clocks in at only 79 minutes and upon seeing that runtime I was a bit less worried as it seemed that writer/director Lowell Dean had a tight idea for a sequel that can hit all the beats and get us in and out in a whirlwind of lycanthrope action but what I was presented was a mess of a story that only sort of comes together and more ideas that are used for laughs than to actually progress the story. The stomach monster angle only gives the character of Willie Higgins (Johnathan Cherry) a minor inconvenience to deal with and otherwise doesn't have any real point.

The special effects are a high point for the film with the wolf suit looking excellent yet again including some simple yet effective transformation scenes. There's plenty of gore including limbs getting lopped off and guts getting ripped out all of which are dripped with blood and will please the gore hounds. The effects work on the stomach monsters isn't bad either except for the one on Willie Higgins which looks like a cheap piece of rubber with a shitty face painted on it. I can see that monster design being a style choice based on how good all of the other effects were but it doesn't work either way. It's played for laughs but it's painfully unfunny which is a running theme as this is very much a horror comedy but the laughs are sporadic.

I am being rough on the movie because even though I approached the film with tempered expectations I still felt disappointed and cheated. Wolfcop had a great idea and was well thought out and executed with skill. Perhaps most importantly it felt fresh and didn't force itself to be everything else, it was happy being Wolfcop for better and for worse. ANOTHER WOLFCOP tries so hard to be everything all at once. It is bloated with references and nods to make it feel relevant to current genre trends. It has a bunch of ideas but none of them are thought through to conclusion and there's a lot of clutter in its 79 minutes. There are moments I enjoyed and I thought the use of the moon rock was ingenious but ANOTHER WOLFCOP feels more like any film that would have come out a decade ago towards the start of this "grindhouse revival" we find ourselves in than a sequel to one of the great horror comedies of the last few years.

The Audio & Video
ANOTHER WOLFCOP comes to Blu-ray courtesy of RLJE Films who previously released the first film and it looks and sounds excellent. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer features a crystal clear picture with a vibrant color palette, especially with the bloody reds. Detail is strong letting the special effects work shine and giving way to great looking surfaces and textures. There's no signs of edge enhancement or excessive DNR use. The audio is presented in a 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio mix that is crisp and mixed perfectly between the dialogue and rocking soundtrack. There's no distortions or other audio hiccups to mention.

The Extras
-"The Making Of Another Wolfcop"
-"Friends & Foes: Meet The Cast"
-"The Monster Shop" - Special FX featurette
-"Shoot Or Die: Surviving On The Set"

The Bottom Line
While there's a good bit of gore and some scattered laughs, ANOTHER WOLFCOP simply felt slapped together and a weak story with very little actual Wolfcop makes for a rather disappointing follow up.

ANOTHER WOLFCOP is available HERE

Friday, June 29, 2018

THE LODGERS (Epic Pictures Blu-ray Review)

Ireland/2017
Directed By: Brian O'Malley
Written By: David Turpin
Starring: Charlotte Vega, Bill Milner, Eugene Simon
Color/92 Minutes/R
Region Free
Release Date:
Blu-ray/DVD

The Film
Rachel (Charlotte Vega) and Edward (Bill Milner) are orphaned twins living alone in their family's crumbling estate, haunted by a family curse. As long as they obey the curse's rules of being in bed by midnight, no strangers in the house and if you try to leave the other will die, the curse will leave them alone. But now as they've grown to be adults the curse becomes more overbearing and demanding of them and Rachel sees her chance to leave it all behind when she has a romantic encounter with a local man from the village who has to deal with his own type of curse; the horrors of war.

THE LODGERS is a gothic romance horror film that feels straight out of the 1960s. It feels like a film of another time, more interested in mood, tone and characters rather than loud obnoxious scares devoid of any substance. Director Brian O'Malley is more concerned with getting an emotional response out of the audience than pandering to the lowest common denominator of fright berating them with volume. Charlotte Vega flourishes as the troubled Rachel who not only has to deal with her cursed existence but also in fighting off her brother's romantic advances and the family's accountant played by David Bradley (Argus Filch of the Harry Potter franchise). Edward's longing for his sister is an uncomfortable scenario and one that shows Edward's fractured mind. He is terrified of the curse and follows their rules to a T. His incestuous lust is almost understandable however as he has been locked in the house with his sister alone for years and knows nothing of the outside world. Rachel tends to the day to day needs including going to town for groceries every so often, it is there where she's followed home by Sean, a veteran of the war who not only lost his leg in battle but now has to face the bigoted locals who don't like that he served.


You must be patient with THE LODGERS, it is not meant to bombard you with scares and action. Instead David Turpin wrote a very deliberate script that burns slowly and builds to a crescendo with important beats along the way. Your patience will pay off with a story rich in story and mood, with characters you come to know and have real feelings for for better or worse. Enjoy the landscape of the forest and the breathtaking mansion that is dripping and crumbling around the twins and acts as a symbolic structure for their entire existence. There's plenty of imagery that will be etched into your memory for some time to come. Take note of any scene at the lake and how well composed they are.

THE LODGERS deserves to be seen and it deserves discussion. There are horror films that have been released wide in theaters over the last few years that wish they were as stylish, moody and well acted as THE LODGERS is including those with gothic backgrounds. If THE LODGERS proves anything it is that there is still plenty of life in gothic horror and that a horror film is a fine setting for a romance. It always was.


The Audio & Video
Epic Pictures delivers THE LODGERS on Blu-ray with a stunning transfer that perfectly translates the film's gothic setting to disc. The film's color palette is intentionally drab, heavy in grays and age faded hues but those tones look exceptional. Detail, including finer details is well defined and black levels are deep and inky. Skin tones are natural with no signs of excessive DNR. The 5.1 Dolby surround mix sounds excellent, balancing delicate sound effects with the dialogue and score. The track is crisp and clear and is quite pleasing to the ear from start to finish. Numerous other language and subtitle options are available including English, Spanish, French, German, Portugeuse and more for the subtitles.


The Extras
-Mini Behind The Scenes Documentary
-Deleted Scenes
-Trailers


The Bottom Line
THE LODGERS nails the gothic tone and successfully balances horror and a twisted romance and should not be overlooked by horror fans who prefer a touch of class with their scares. A definite recommendation.

THE LODGERS is available HERE

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

ABOMINABLE (MVD Rewind Collection Blu-ray Review)


USA/2005
Directed By: Ryan Schifrin
Written By: Ryan Schifrin
Starring: Matt McCoy, Haley Joel, Jeffrey Combs
Color/94 Minutes/R
Region Free
Release Date:
Blu-ray/DVD

The Film
After a climbing accident that has left him paralyzed and his wife dead, Preston Rogers returns home to his cabin and finds the girls partying at the neighboring cabin under attack by a Bigfoot. With phone lines down they must fend for themselves and fight for their lives against the giant mythological creature that is all too real.

Made in 2005, ABOMINABLE had every possibility at being a worthless Z-grade piece of junk like many Bigfoot horror films are. Thankfully ABOMINABLE is better, much better, than many similar films. Writer/director Ryan Schifrin creates a simple yet time tested story that combines elements of Hitchcock's Rear Window and every killer-in-the-woods slasher film you've ever seen and crosses them with a man-in-a-suit Bigfoot monster. Add in doses of blood and gore, supporting roles from Lance Henriksen and Jeffrey Combs who is absolutely hilarious in his limited screen time and there's a recipe for success that nobody involved with the movie would allow themselves to mess up. The cast is capable if not good and the special effects are well done including the suit which doesn't look cheap or questionable and the face is menacing. The only iffy aspect of it are the eyes which have been digitally enhanced to fix them and it works out nicely.


There's back breaking, face eating, shotgunning and needle stabbing. Nudity and blood and soy milk hunting. ABOMINABLE doesn't try to be anything it's not and knows exactly what it is but doesn't take the cheap way out in going for the intentionally bad and overly stupid route. Ryan Schifrin plays the film straight but with a light hearted attitude. It's a fun movie and is better than most creature features or slashers that have come out since but doesn't sell itself short. ABOMINABLE is a freaking blast and is pretty well put together too. If every Bigfoot horror movie was this good I'd own a lot more of them. ABOMINABLE should be one of the Bigfoot movies that other Bigfoot movies are held to the standard of. '


The Audio & Video
ABOMINABLE has receiving its high definition debut courtesy of MVD Visual as part of their MVD Rewind Collection and features a brand new 2K scan from the original negative. The anamorphic widescreen 1.78:1 transfer looks absolutely gorgeous. Colors are rich and vibrant, shining off the screen. Reds pop and black levels are deep and free of any blocking or compression issues. Detail is high and only gets better with tight shots. The audio is presented in an uncompressed PCM 5.1 surround mix that sounds crystal clear and has everything you'd ask for it in a mix and none of the damage, background noise or distracting issues in a lesser quality audio mix.


The Extras
As is usually the case for the MVD Rewind Collection, this release is jam packed with extras including a mini poster included in the case. On disc extras include:

-New Introduction From Director Ryan Schifrin
-Audio Commentary with Ryan Schifrin and stars Matt McCoy and Jeffrey Comb
-"Back To Genre: Making ABOMINABLE" - Making-of featurette
-Deleted and Extended Scenes
-Outtakes and Bloopers
-"Shadows" - Ryan Schifrin's student film from USC
-"Basil & Mobius: No Rest For The Wicked" - Short film by Ryan Schifrin
-Original 2005 Version of ABOMINABLE
-Theatrical Trailer
-Poster and Still Gallery
-Storyboard Gallery


The Bottom Line
ABOMINABLE is everything I hoped it would be; a highly entertaining Bigfoot romp that just plain gets it.

ABOMINABLE is available HERE

Friday, June 22, 2018

A TASTE OF PHOBIA (Artsploitation Films DVD Review)


UK, Italy/2017
Directed By: Various
Written By: Various
Starring: Various
Color/90 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1

The Film
A TASTE OF PHOBIA is a fourteen part anthology series with each chapter featuring a different filmmaker creating a horror short out of a different fear. Let's take a look at each short...

Chaetophobia: Fear Of Hair - An intense and visceral way to start things off. What better way to deal with hair than remove the source from which it grows? I wouldn't have picked this to start but I liked it very much.


Pharmacophobia: Fear Of Medication - An unfortunately dull attempt at psychological horror.

Parthenophobia: Fear Of Virgins - An attempt at surrealism and psychological horror that misses the mark.


Coprophobia: Fear Of Feces - Watching a grown man wrestle around the bathroom with a shit covered teddy bear is unintentionally hilarious. Otherwise this short relies on the gross out factor of poop and vomit for shocks. I'm sure I won't soon forget it even if it was short of remarkable.

Mysophobia: Fear Of Germs - Simplistic by design but executed very well. I don't think this works in a longer form but for a few minutes it features some intense self inflicted violence by a man who has reached a breaking point.

Mazeophobia: Fear Of Mazes - This has fuck all to do with mazes and everything to do with shitty American racism. It's not very good however.

Astrophobia: Fear Of Stars - This one is a bit of a head trip with a great central performance. I dig it.

Mageirocophobia: Fear Of Cooking - An interesting idea that was let down by bad CGI.

Gerascophobia: Fear Of Ageing - Simplistic but perhaps a glimpse into our future of what people will do to stay young, pretty and relevant.

Politicophobia: Fear Of Politics - I get and appreciate what they're trying to say and do here but my real fear is having to sit through that one again.

Somniphobia: Fear Of Sleep - I like the visuals and use of music. One of my favorite entries.


Oneirophobia: Fear Of Dreams - One of the best set ups that really deals with the actual fear of the and not just using the subject matter as a plot device for a horror short. Another good one.

Nyctophobia: Fear Of Dark - Almost everyone can remember being afraid fo the dark so it is very easy to relate with. Incredibly simplistic but relatable and well acted.

Hemophobia: Fear Of Blood - A gory way to wrap things up.

A TASTE OF PHOBIA is very hit and miss, as is the case with many of these collaborative types of anthology films. There was a small string toward the beginning that left me wondering if I was going to enjoy this at all but I think it gets stronger toward the end. I'm a fan of these types of anthology films because they showcase different styles, tones and voices and generally offer something for every taste. I wish more of the shorts made use of their segment to actually showcase the fear they're working with instead of using that as a plot device. Only a few actually deal with the fear of whatever it is they're dealing with otherwise this is a decent horror anthology.

The Audio & Video
Artsploitation Films brings A TASTE OF PHOBIA to home video via DVD and the overall A/V quality is very good. Of course a Blu-ray presentation would be better but the DVD features vibrant colors and good clarity with crisp audio free of any distortions. Each short was independently produced and feature different equipment used so there is some fluctuation in how each looks and sounds but the overall quality of the DVD is good.


The Extras
-Bonus Short - "Achluophobia" - Another short based on fear of the dark that perhaps best of all of the shorts shows the panic that a phobia can create. I see why this one wasn't in the main feature but it's not bad at all.
-Behind The Scenes of "Pharmacophobia"
-Behind The Scenes of "Somniphobia"
-Interviews
-Special FX of "Mageirocophobia"
-Special FX of "Parthenophobia"
-Trailer


The Bottom Line
With this many different shorts making up a project it is bound to have its ups and downs and A TASTE OF PHOBIA certainly has its highs and lows but overall it is a great concept to work around and features some really well done shorts. Recommended for horror anthology fans!

A TASTE OF PHOBIA is available HERE

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

NIGHT OF THE LEPUS (Scream Factory Blu-ray Review)


USA/1972
Directed By: William F. Claxton
Written By: Don Holliday, Gene R. Kearney, Russell Braddon
Starring: Stuart Whitman, Janet Leigh, Rory Calhoun
Color/88 Minutes/PG
Region A
Release Date: June 19, 2018

The Film
A small farming town is having trouble with their crops being devastated by the rabbit population. A pair of scientists are brought in to handle the problem without poisons that have dangerous side effects. The hormone they introduce into the population to slow the breeding cycle of the rabbits instead turns them into giant bloodthirsty beasts and the crops being eaten is the least of the town's problems!

Killer animals and nature run amok was a big theme for horror in the 70s and 80s and I love the subgenre from killer fish to giant bears and mutated this and that I do love seeing Mother Earth and her creations taking out asshole humans even if there's some collateral damage of losing some genuinely nice folks too. It's just plain entertaining watching giant or deadly versions of things we're familiar with getting down and dirty and perhaps the most unsuspecting killer beast in film history is the bunny rabbit. Yes, killer rabbits. Those cute and cuddlys that hump like crazy are usually not the cause of your nightmares unless you're named Elmer Fudd but in NIGHT OF THE LEPUS you're going to have to fight Bugs, Peter, Roger and hell, even the Velveteen Rabbit because they're out for blood.

NIGHT OF THE LEPUS is pretty much what you'd expect. It's a premise that has worked time and time again but would it work with rabbits? Sure it does. The action gets started quickly and never lets up. There's scene after scene of rabbits running around miniature farms that make them look 15 feet tall. Splash a little food coloring around their mouths and get some extreme closeups of those front teeth and you have a pretty menacing villain even if there's not much at all in the way of graphic violence. NIGHT OF THE LEPUS is campy but it is meant to scare even if it doesn't send chills down your spine it does have a message warning of the dangers of using poisons and hormones to manipulate the environment and local ecosystems and the havoc it can cause.

The film features a good cast with Rory Calhoun starring as the rancher in need of help from the scientists played by Stuart Whitman and Janet Leigh. There's a strong horror heritage in the cast with Janet Leigh starring in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and Rory Calhoun going on to star as Farmer Vincent in Motel Hell several years later. NIGHT OF THE LEPUS wouldn't be Stuart Whitman's last time battling animals as he went on to portray the sheriff in Tobe Hooper's giant alligator movie Eaten Alive. The cast is good with their long Hollywood careers on display as they capably handle the campy material to make it believable. The children actors are a bit rougher around the edges as you would expect but aside from corny writing for them they're fine. Director William Claxton spent most of his time directing television episodes including many westerns which certainly bleeds over into NIGHT OF THE LEPUS from its dusty ranch town setting to many cowboy-esq characters and shootouts. He even uses the patrons of a drive-in theater to herd the rabbits towards the train tracks for the finale so there's plenty of cowboy culture on display in this and his direction is competent. He features the rabbits in a way that would make Roger Corman happy giving the audience a constant dose of action and thrills and does his best to keep them looking like a threat even if the thought that cuddling a 15 foot rabbit would just be 15 times more fun than cuddling a normal rabbit would be lingers in the back of your mind. That's a challenge for NIGHT OF THE LEPUS and everyone involved and they do a good enough job of making it all work.

Grizzlies, sharks, snakes and dogs all make for more terrifying and frankly believable natural monsters than a rabbit ever will but NIGHT OF THE LEPUS finds a way to make it work and is an entertaining slice of nature run amok cheese even if it isn't the most thrilling of the bunch.

The Audio & Video
Scream Factory gives NIGHT OF THE LEPUS its Blu-ray debut with a nice release featuring a new 2K scan from the interpositive. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer maintaining the film's original aspect ratio. Overall picture quality is strong with good detail, particularly in close-ups. Rabbit furs, skin textures and surfaces all show finer detail in the tight shots. Colors are natural and balanced while reds pop just enough. There's a healthy grain presence and no signs of waxiness. The audio is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio mono mix and it sounds quite nice. The mix is simple but crisp and clear with no distortions or issues and balance is perfect.

The Extras
A pair of brand new audio commentary tracks with author Lee Gambin and pop culture historian Russell Dyball make up the meat and potatoes of the special features and they'e rounded out by a theatrical trailer, TV spot and still gallery.

The Bottom Line
Nature's revenge seems like a lost theme in horror movies even as we are dealing with many of the same environmental issues as we did decades ago and even though rabbits devastating ecosystems and farmlands isn't a big problem it's still a great and unexpected set up for a horror movie and it doesn't disappoint. NIGHT OF THE LEPUS is schlocky and fun with no downtime!

NIGHT OF THE LEPUS is available HERE

Saturday, June 9, 2018

TOMB RAIDER (Warner Brothers Blu-ray Review)


UK, USA/2018
Directed By: Roar Uthaug
Written By: Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Alastair Siddons, Evan Daugherty
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walter Goggins
Color/118 Minutes/PG-13
Region A
Release Date: June 12, 2018
Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD

The Film
Lara Croft is the daughter of an archaeologist adventurer who went missing seven years ago and has been presumed dead. Refusing to accept his death Lara has not accepted her inheritance including his estate or companies despite barely making ends meet as a bike courier. Lara discovers a final puzzle left for her by her father and decides to leave her world behind and follow in her father's footsteps to a dangerous mythical island near Japan to find out what happened to her father.

TOMB RAIDER is based off of a successful video game franchise that debuted in 1996 and was adapted for the silver screen in 2001 with Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and a sequel two years later both of which performed well at the box office but haven't aged particularly well in part because of dated special effects and a less than stellar performance from their star Angelina Jolie along with flat stories. This new entry into the series reboots it with a new lead (Alicia Vikander) and frankly it caught me off guard. I wasn't aware that it was being released until the advertising campaign started but I immediately thought it looked like a fun summer blockbuster in spite of its early March theatrical release. I 'm pleased to say that Roar Uthaug's TOMB RAIDER is pretty much just that- a fun summer movie.


It starts with Alicia Vikander who has become a household name in the last few years for roles in films such as Ex Machina and The Danish Girl which she won an Oscar for. While she won't be winning an Oscar for her performance in TOMB RAIDER she proves her versatility and that she can more than handle a physically demanding role such as this. Vikander is fit and beautiful but she doesn't rely on that to get her through the movie. While she could be bumbling around the jungle and arcane crypts and still look good doing it she handles the perils and pitfalls that any good adventure movie is plagued with. I make mention of this because fanboys of the Tomb Raider series have long sexualized the Lara Croft character and I wanted to make sure to point out that Alicia Vikander is not just a pretty face. Walter Goggins plays a rather vanilla villain in charge of an army of nameless workers and henchman trying to find the same tomb as Lara and her father before her. Goggins' character may not be the most original or exciting but he is good in the role and manages to be properly unlikeable. It is Dominic West in the role of Lara's father that may be the misstep in casting as I found him to be silly and inappropriately comedic at times that reminded me of Brendan Fraser's character in The Mummy franchise (which worked in those films but feels wildly out of place here).


Roar Uthaug's direction is competent without being overly flashy or relying on tired and annoying shortcuts like overly shaky camera work. He brings the screenplay to life with enough flair that I'm surprised the film didn't perform better in American box offices but this adventure of archeology and family takes more than a few pages from the Indiana Jones book and gives us the Cliff's Notes version of them. It's during the trials to enter the tomb and find the fabled queen who's crypt they are trying to reach where there's a bit of borrowing from Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade. I'm okay with that but it does lack the emotional punch that Last Crusade has and I feel that we never quite get the payoff we (or the film itself) deserves. I was really hoping for something epic and possibly not of this world to happen inside that crypt but the climax never hits that fever pitch where the film hits a real rolling boil of excitement. I feel that would have brought TOMB RAIDER from a good movie to something great.

The Audio & Video
Warner Brothers brings TOMB RAIDER to home video with an expectedly gorgeous Blu-ray release. The anamorphic widescreen transfer looks stunning with a lush and vivid color palette that really takes off once we arrive on the Island. Otherwise detail level is quite strong, skin tones are naturally healthy with no signs of excessive DNR and there's no issues with compression or blocking even in the darkest scenes. The audio on the disc is presented with a few different options including Dolby TrueHD 7.1 and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround tracks that are booming. The mix across the channels is steady and the levels are appropriately mixed. There are scenes that will definitely give your system a bit of a workout and could leave pictures rattling on the walls. Audio quality is crisp and very clear with no hiss or distortions even at its craziest. French, Spanish and Portuguese audio options and subtitles are also available.


The Extras
Four featurettes make up the special features section of the disc and they include:

-"Lara Croft: Evolution Of An Icon" - This featurette takes a look at the Lara Croft character from her original video game origins to the most recent film adaptation
-"Croft Training" - A look at the workouts and training Alicia Vikander did to prepare for her role as Lara Croft
-"Tomb Raider Uncovered"- A cast and crew look at bringing the video game to life on the big screen
-"Breaking Down The Rapids"- A look at the one of the film's most exciting and memorable action scenes.


The Bottom Line
TOMB RAIDER is what I hoped it would be- An updated take on a dated adventure film with a far more capable lead. This is a perfectly enjoyable summertime popcorn flick in the tradition of Indiana Jones.

TOMB RAIDER is available HERE

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING (MVD Rewind Collection Blu-ray Review)


USA/1989
Directed By: Jim Wynorski
Written By: Neil Cuthbert, Grant Morris
Starring: Louis Jourdan, Heather Locklear, Dick Durock
Color/88 Minutes/PG-13
Region Free
Release Date: May 15, 2018
Blu-ray/DVD

The Film
In 1982 director Wes Craven brought us the first screen adaptation of the comic book from writer Len Wein and legendary artist Bernie Wrightson. Their tale of a scientist who mutated with the swamp vegetation after a mishap and now protects people and the environment from various threats has become a classic for DC Comics and has regularly been voted as one of the best comic book characters of all time. Craven's film was a mostly serious sci-fi film with horror and action elements. Some of it was campy but it served as a solid screen debut for the character. Seven years later the reigns were turned over to Jim Wynorski, a genre film director not known for his subtlety and we were blessed with a special gift simply called THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING.


Before the X-Men franchise ushered in the modern wave of comic book films with huge budgets, big name actors and more CGI effects than you can shake a stick at and before the Marvel Cinematic Universe was seemingly breaking records with each new movie this is what comic book movies looked like and were relegated to be. These were low budget affairs with stars that were either passed their prime or hadn't hit it yet. THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING was reportedly made on a budget of four million dollars, a far cry from the hundreds of millions pumped into the newest Avengers film but the explosion was still over a decade away and comic book culture and mainstream pop culture were rarely spoken in the same breath. There was no such thing as the big budget blockbuster comic book film in 1989 but frankly I think what Jim Wynorski gave us was even better.

Heather Locklear stars as Abby Arcane who is going to meet her stepfather, the evil scientist Dr. Anton Arcance, after the death of her mother. She finds that Dr. Arcane is trying to find the source of immortality by splicing human genes with those of swamp creatures and has created a mini army of monstrous beasts who suffer endlessly from being human guinea pigs to Dr. Arcane's experiments. Abby is in trouble when Dr. Arcane plans to use her for one his newest experiments but Abby is protected by her new friend Swamp Thing who has a history with Anton Arcane and will fight to protect Abby with his life.


I have a lot of nostalgia for Swamp Thing. The big green plant man might be the first comic book character I was a fan of. I can remember playing with the action figures as a young kid growing up in the very early 90s and vividly remember moving across several states in 1991 and getting to ride in the U-Haul truck with my grandad and having a couple of toys to play with, one being a Swamp Thing that had a fist that shot out from his arm and was attached by a string. The string wound up with a knot in it so it wouldn't retract properly but that was okay by me as it just meant Swamp Thing had something to choke out the other toys with. Yeah, I was probably messed up as a kid but I've always loved the character of Swamp Thing and this is the way I remember him. We get classic Jim Wynorski here with a campy, over the top action movie chock full of all of the standard tropes; endless hordes of henchment, explosions (including a domino effect car explosion), kiddie sidekicks who are actually endearing and funny and don't make you want to smash your face into a wall, a diabolical villain and the most ludicrous love story this side of Tom Hanks and the volleyball.

The film doesn't rely on that nostalgia however and doesn't need it to be a wildly entertaining film. And to my surprise the movie is actually pretty well made. Aside from the obvious ham and cheese factor of being a loud comic book action movie that embodies everything a loud action movie from 1989 has to offer it has some really great sets, decent performances (and some not so decent performances) and really fantastic special effects makeup. Each and every creature, from our titular hero himself to the cockroach man and the weird squid face enemy that fights Swamp Thing a few times, all have been created with great skill. THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING is action packed, filled with laughs and holds up almost thirty years later and I can definitely say that I'd gladly take more movies like THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING over the current comic book movies nine times out of ten.


The Audio & Video
With spine #5 in the MVD Rewind Collection MVD Visual has given THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING its high definition debut and the transfer blew me away. Colors are vivid and rich and skin tones are fleshy and natural with no signs of DNR. There is a natural film look to the transfer and the detail level is exceptional. The creatures in the film absolutely shine in this transfer especially the main man himself. His dripping, gooey, body made of bits of everything you'd find in a bog looks incredible. I don't think I can oversell how impressed I am with this transfer. The audio features two options, a DTS-HD 5.1 surround mix and a LPCM 2.0 mix. They both have the highest quality with the surround mix giving more punch and pop to the action scenes and use of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Born On The Bayou" but the lossless 2.0 mix is a fine straight forward mix as well with no issues at all.

Plesae Note: Screenshots have been taken from the DVD version of the film.


The Extras
Do you want interviews? 'Cuz we got interviews! The special features include individual interview with director Jim Wynorski, editor Leslie Rosenthal, composer Chuck Cirino, and executive Arnie Holland.

Also included:
-Brand new audio commentary track with Jim Wynorski, Chuck Cirino and Leslie Rosenthal
-Audio commentary track with Jim Wynorski from 2003
-Original theatrical trailer
-TV spots
-Promo Reel
-Public Service Announcements
-Photo Gallery
-Mini Poster


The Bottom Line
I hadn't seen this movie in over twenty years but this is the Swamp Thing I remember loving as a kid growing up in the early 90s. THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING is tasty slice of 80s cheese and now finds itself as one of my favorite comic book movies. Now excuse me while I go hunt down that action figure on eBay.

THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING is available HERE