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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Swamp Thing [Collector’s Edition] (4K UHD Review)


The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements


A scientist transforms into a swamp creature after accidentally being doused with an experimental elixir he created and must rescue his girlfriend from a nefarious criminal mastermind trying to get his work.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

In 1982, Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street) took a break from his slasher fare to write and direct Swamp Thing, a campy sci-fi horror inspired by the classic B-level monster movies of the 1950s and based on the popular DC Comics character.

When government agent Alice Cable (Adrienne Barbeau) is sent to a secret lab in the middle of the Louisiana Bayou to replace an agent who went missing. She feels uncomfortable in the wild setting, but she soon settles in and befriends Dr. Alec Holland (Ray Wise). Holland is working on an elixir that combines plant and animal cells and can produce hybrid creatures with superhuman powers. Arcane (Louis Jourdan) is seeking to steal Holland’s work for his own nefarious purposes and sends his minions to attack the lab. Holland is accidentally dosed with his own elixir, bursts into flames, and dives into the swamp. With Holland left for dead, Cable is on the run from the criminal Arcane and his men, but a strange half-man/half-plant creature comes to her rescue. It will take Cable a while before she realizes the “Swamp Thing” (Dick Durock) is Holland, and their now-strange romance can resume.

This film could have been a much better horror film, but the ever-tightening budget constraints that producers put Craven under meant it could not be fully realized. Instead, we have some fairly pedestrian practical effects, bad makeup, and screenplay by Craven that gives us a climax that seems to contradict the very origin story of Swamp Thing.

That said, Craven manages to keep the pace quick and provide a deliciously camp villain in Arane, played to the hilt by Jourdan. The on-location shooting in South Carolina’s swamp regions is a convincing stand-in for the Louisiana bayou, especially, I assume, for anyone who has never been to the bayou. The visuals of the surroundings go a long way in helping with the atmosphere and believability of this film. The unrated European cut included in this release also contains approximately two additional minutes of scenes that include a longer topless swimming scene with Barbeau and some additional nude scenes.

  • Ray Wise, Adrienne Barbeau, and Nannette Brown in Swamp Thing (1982)
  • Adrienne Barbeau in Swamp Thing (1982)
  • Dick Durock and Adrienne Barbeau in Swamp Thing (1982)
  • Adrienne Barbeau and Reggie Batts in Swamp Thing (1982)
  • Adrienne Barbeau in Swamp Thing (1982)
  • Swamp Thing 4K Ultra HD Combo (MVD_MVD12567UHD)

The Video

MVD lists Swamp Thing as a “2023 4K Restoration (16-Bit Scan of the Original Camera Negative) of both the US Theatrical PG Version and Unrated International Version of the film presented in its original 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio in Dolby Vision / HDR.” The transfer looks as good as it can be given the low budget production. That is not to say it looks bad at all, just do not go into this expecting a pristine appearance with dazzling visual effects. The grain looks very natural but can vary in coarseness, especially in the low-lighting scenes. Detail is good and colors are where this restoration really excels. The Dolby Vision adds exceptionally verdant greens, and specular highlights in lamplights, fire, and the like have lots of ‘pop.’ The neon green of the elixir is one of the standout visual effects that looks almost three-dimensional in the 4K Dolby Vision transfer. The Blu-ray offers a solid presentation as well, with a slight reduction in the naturalness of the grain and less color variations, but still a transfer that looks very vibrant.

The Audio

Swamp Thing is presented with its original mono sound mix in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. The sound is free from clipping, pops, and clicks, and has intelligible dialogue with good dynamics.

The Supplements

There is nothing missing and no filler in this collection of bonus features, including an audio commentary featuring Wes Craven and a contemporary interview with Adrienne Barbeau.

  • Both the US Theatrical PG Version and Unrated International Version of the film presented on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray
  • Collectible “4K LaserVision” Mini-Poster of cover art
  • Limited Edition Slipcover (First Pressing Only)
  • Audio Commentary by Writer/Director Wes Craven Moderated by Sean Clark
  • Audio Commentary by Makeup Effects Artist William Munns Moderated by Michael Felsher
  • “Tales from the Swamp” with Actress Adrienne Barbeau (1080p; 00:16:09)
  • “Hey Jude” with Actor Reggie Batts (1080p; 00:14:43)
  • “That Swamp Thing” with Len Wein, Creator of Swamp Thing (1080p; 00:13:20)
  • “Swamp Screen: Designing DC’s Main Monster” featurette (1080p; 00:20:34)
  • “From Krug to Comics: How the Mainstream Shaped a Radical Genre Voice” featurette (1080p; 00:17:36) (Blu-ray Only)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 00:01:31) (Blu-ray Only)
  • Posters and Lobby Cards – Photo Gallery (1080p)
  • Photos from the Film – Photo Gallery (1080p)
  • William Munns’ Behind the Scenes Photos – Photo Gallery (1080p) (Blu-ray Only)
  • Behind the Scenes Photos by Geoffrey Rayle – Photo Gallery (1080p) (Blu-ray Only)

The Final Assessment

This film is truly for the genre horror fanatic, completist fans of Wes Craven, and anyone who wants to see just how good this low budget production can look on 4K (very good). It is one of the best-looking releases from MVD Rewind Collection, without a doubt.

Swamp Thing [Collector’s Edition] is out on 4K Ultra HD Combo August 8, 2023, from MVD Entertainment

  • Rating Certificate: PG | Unrated (European Cut)
  • Studios & Distributors: Swampfilms | MVD Entertainment
  • Director: Wes Craven
  • Written By: Wes Craven
  • Run Time: 93 Mins.
  • Street Date: 8 August 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: Dolby Vision (HDR10 Compatible)
    • MaxLL: 7928 nits
    • MaxFALL: 380 nits
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono
  • Secondary Audio: Spanish DD 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English SDH

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A scientist transforms into a swamp creature after accidentally being doused with an experimental elixir he created and must rescue his girlfriend from a nefarious criminal mastermind trying to get his work. Swamp Thing [Collector's Edition] (4K UHD Review)