After her mother’s mysterious death, Abigail Arcane (Heather Locklear) travels to the Florida swamps to confront her resurrected evil stepfather Dr. Anton Arcane (Louis Jourdan). 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 known as Un-Men. When Abby arrives, Dr. Arcane is hell-bent on taking his own stepdaughter’s life in the name of science… that is until she is rescued by SWAMP THING in this must-see sequel to the original cult classic and based on the award-winning DC Comics series!
From the executive producers of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Benjamin Melniker and Michael E. Uslan and legendary cult film director Jim Wynorski (Chopping Mall, Not of This Earth),The Return of Swamp Thing features an all-star cast that includes Heather Locklear (Melrose Place, Uptown Girls), Louis Jordan (Swamp Thing, Octopussy), Sarah Douglas (Superman II, Conan The Destroyer) and Dick Durock (Raw Deal, Stand By Me) returning as the SWAMP THING.
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Lightyear Entertainment presents The Return Of Swamp Thing with a really strong 2160p transfer in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio sourced from a 4K restoration of the original Interpositive with Dolby Vision/HDR. This film was last released on Blu-Ray five years ago through the MVD Rewind Collection, but we do not have that disc for comparison. While the included Blu-Ray is a great representation of the film, this 4K UHD presentation does stand as a fine improvement.
The Dolby Vision presentation brings a grand amount of depth and nuance to the hues that make up this comic book world. Much of this film is set in the various interiors of the Arcane compound where you can see vivid hues in the production design and within the outfits of those who populate it. The same goes for the sequences in the swamps where some of the vegetation makes an impression. There are more obvious elements such as fiery explosions which make the most out of the HDR. Moments taking place within the labs are less visually striking with the shift to more metallic sheens, but even those colors offer greater accuracy. The new presentation reaches a level of precision and color detail which likely tops the original exhibition.
This disc displays a fetching amount of natural film grain which brings out an abundance of distinct texture in the makeup design and other craft elements. This grain resolves without a hiccup as nothing ever appears unnatural, frozen or spiking throughout the changes in environment. Black levels are formidable with no blatant crush present, and white levels remain firm without blooming. This new master has eliminated nearly all print damage with hardly any specks remaining. Fans of this cult cheesefest will be blown away by the quality delivered with this one.
The 4K UHD Blu-Ray disc comes with a really amazing pair of tracks with DTS-HD 5.1 and 2.0 Master Audio tracks that capture this material quite well. The score and soundtrack are both very pleasing without any signs of damage. The full surround sound presentation packs a punch in the low end when it comes to some of the confrontations and explosions. Dialogue comes through with impeccable clarity even when sequences are getting more chaotic. Environmental noises such as the chattering of lab workers or screaming kids are given a notable place within the mix. Every aspect of the audio experience comes through with great fidelity. Lightyear Entertainment has provided a top notch audio experience for this one. English SDH subtitles are provided for those who want them.
Disc One (4K UHD Blu-Ray)
- Audio Commentary #1: A 2018 commentary track in which Director Jim Wynorski, Composer Chuck Cirino and Editor Leslie Rosenthal in which they reflect on their experiences of shooting the film, creative ways in which they rigged the camera to keep it from getting wet, the fear of alligators, the weather of the shooting locations, the background of the performers, the inspirations they took from the comic book, the production design and much more that makes this a really rewarding listen for fans.
- Audio Commentary #2: A 2003 solo commentary track in which Director Jim Wynorski covers a lot of the same material as the newer track but with some variances that make this equally worth a listen if you want to know as much as you possibly can about this film.
- Reflections on Return Of The Swamp Thing – 35 Years Later by Michael Uslan: A terrific 32-minute interview with the producer of both Swamp Thing movies who discusses the origins of comic book movies in the 1940s, his experiences producing the first film, the more audience-friendly approach to the sequel, how things got out of control during production, memories of the performers, the environmental messaging, the legacy of the project and more.
- The RiffTones – Your Ever-Lovin’ Swamp Thing: A two-and-a-half minute music video from 2022 is provided here.
Disc Two (Blu-Ray)
- Audio Commentary #1: Director Jim Wynorski, Composer Chuck Cirino and Editor Leslie Rosenthal
- Audio Commentary #2: Director Jim Wynorski
- Interview with Jim Wynorski: An 18-minute interview with Wynorski in which he discusses his career and the place that The Return of Swamp Thing occupies in it, the decision to cast Heather Locklear, his impression of the ensemble, how they accomplished certain special effects, his favorite mutant and more.
- Interview with Arnie Holland: A five-minute interview with the Executive in Charge of Production in which he discusses bringing this film into the HD age, memories of the production of the film, conflicts over the marketing and more.
- Interview with Chuck Cirino: A seven-minute interview with the composer in which he discusses the larger-than-average budget he had to work with on this picture, the unused segments of the score, the difficulties caused by the organ and more.
- Interview with Leslie Rosenthal: A nearly ten-minute interview with the editor in which she discusses how she got this job, filming in Georgia, using original comic book images in the film and more.
- Behind The Scenes Slideshow: A two-minute collection of stills from the production.
- Public Service Announcement: A minute-and-a-half long collection of Greenpeace PSA announcements.
- 2 TV Spots: A minute-and-a-half long collection of TV spots.
- 6 Promotional TV Clips: A seven-minute collection of TV clips are provided here.
- 1989 Promo Reel: A five-minute promo for the film is provided here.
- Trailers: A minute-and-a-half trailer for The Return of Swamp Thing is provided here. There are trailers provided for Black Eagle, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Savannah Smiles and D.O.A.: A Rite Of Passage.
The Return Of Swamp Thing is pure cheese, but it is the type of cheese that you cannot help taking a hit of straight from the can. The plot mechanics are familiar with the actual Swamp Thing aspect keeping things quite a bit more interesting. The makeup and special effects are really incredible even when they are trying to keep the budget small. This is obviously not high art, but if you are interested in a late ‘80s action film take on Swamp Thing, you should have a good time with it. Lightyear Entertainment has provided the film with a 4K UHD Blu-Ray release that delivers a solid A/V presentation and a pretty great array of special features. If you have a soft spot for this release, this is pretty much a dream release. Recommended
The Return Of Swamp Thing is currently available to purchase on 4K UHD + Blu-Ray Combo Pack.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the 4K UHD Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Lightyear Entertainment has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.