August 6, 2023

SWAMP THING (4K): A Childhood Wish Fulfilled

1982 / 91 min (Theatrical Version) / 93 min (Unrated International Cut)
Review by Mr. Paws😺

This new 4K UHD release of Swamp Thing features two versions. First is obviously the original PG-rated theatrical cut that was released in the United States. As low budget sci-fi fantasies go, there’s nothing particularly remarkable about the film itself. It’s kid-friendly, sorta campy, and viewed today, undoubtedly evokes fond nostalgia for some viewers. 

In this writer’s opinion, Swamp Thing has more historic importance because it was written and directed by Wes Craven. At the time, he was mostly known for such sadistic, rapey grime as Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes. Craven still lacked the panache that distinguished later films, but this one did provide an early opportunity to try his hand in another genre…for a different audience.

Second is the International Version, aka the “Boob Cut,” which was released overseas. Running two minutes longer, it’s almost the exact same movie, save for a lengthy, hilariously gratuitous scene of Adrianne Barbeau bathing topless in the swamp, as well as a segment with strippers doin’ their thing at a swanky dinner party. These scenes - as well as a bit of video store controversy - are discussed in some of the bonus material.

But as out-of-place and voyeuristic as those scenes are (especially since the rest is practically a family film), I must admit I was happy to finally catch the Boob Cut. Dating back to the days when mom & Dad used to watch Maude on TV, the lovely Ms. Barbeau (or at least part of her) was the object of my teenage infatuation…and no small amount of curiosity. With this cut, a long-dormant childhood wish was finally fulfilled.

"That's no cucumber, my dear...I'm just happy to see you."
She They The film looks great in 4K, though having never seen previous DVD or Blu-ray version precludes any comparison. Still, both cuts of the film are remastered and the overall image is impressive enough that the title creature’s rubber suit looks even more like a rubber suit (and really, doesn’t that make the movie a little more endearing?). The DTS-HD Master 2.0 Mono track may not be immersive, but it's clear and balanced.

As far as I could ascertain, none of the bonus features are new, and many were produced for Blu-ray releases from other labels. Still, there’s some great stuff here. In many ways, the stories behind Swamp Thing are more engaging than the movie itself, especially Wes Craven’s struggles to get the film finished on an ever-decreasing budget (and Barbeau claims his original screenplay was a lot better than the finished product would indicate). 

Despite where we may have found it on video store shelves back in the day, Swamp Thing was never a horror film. As Wes Craven’s first stab at directing outside of the genre he’s known for, it isn’t his best effort (that would be Red Eye), but as nostalgia trips go, there’s some goofy fun to be found here…as well as one particular participant’s considerable visual assets.



TALES FROM THE SWAMP - Adrianne Barbeay interview.

HEY, JUDE - Interview with lil’ Raggies Batts, all grown up.

THAT SWAMP THING - Interview with the original Swamp Thing comic creator, Len Wein.


FROM KRUG TO COMICS: HOW THE MAINSTREAM SHAPED A RADICAL GENRE VOICE - Featuring writer-historian Kim Newman, who’s always worth listening to.

2 AUDIO COMMENTARIES - 1) By Wes Craven; 2) By make-up effects artist William Munn.

4 PHOTO GALLERIES - With behind-the-scenes photos, stills, posters and lobby cards.



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