When kid actors stole the show from Swamp Thing movies

DC Comics character Swamp Thing comes to life in these 1980s flicks…before comic book heroes were 95 percent CGI and during a time when cute and funny kids were the key to making movies the whole family could enjoy.

SWAMP THING (1982)

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Wes Craven directs (before Elm Street) and Adrienne Barbeau stars as the leading lady. Plus, we have awesomely devilish Reaper star Ray Wise as Swamp Thing before he becomes Swamp Thing, veteran actor Dick Durock as Swamp Thing once he goes green, and veteran actor Louis Jordan as the evil Arcane. Horror fans will also recognize Nicholas Worth, the killer from Don’t Answer the Phone!

Along with a great cast, there’s plenty of action and humor as Swamp Thing tries to keep himself and Adrienne safe from the baddies while sparks fly between them, plus, evil villain Arcane turns into a monster that Swamp Thing must battle in the end.

But, the most memorable character from the original Swamp Thing is Jude. Forget Urkel. Young actor Reggie Batts RULES in his big-assed glasses as he delivers dry one-liners left and right. And this was his only major movie role! But he has garnered such a cult following that he even gets his own mini-documentary interview on the Blu-ray. He mentions thoughts of getting back into acting. I pray he starts to get cast in indie horror films. He is as adorable and sweet now as he was back then.

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Just note—the Blu-ray and newer releases of the movie are missing two minutes…and two big boobs. Indeed, a scene involving Adrienne’s bodacious ta-ta’s was edited out. You need to get the first MGM DVD release with the widescreen version on one-side and full screen version on the flip side.

THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING (1989)

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It took seven years, but I guess they needed the sequel to spawn the series that would follow. Dick Durock is back as our green hero in The Return of Swamp Thing. Louis Jordan returns as evil Arcane (it takes a while before it’s explained how that is possible, but it is eventually clarified). And this time, Heather Locklear is Swamp Thing’s love interest. She’s also Arcane’s stepdaughter—and he wants to perform awful experiments on her.

The Return of Swamp Thing has a heavier sci-fi/horror flavor to it with numerous gnarly mutated monsters in the lab, but it is also much campier and funnier. Heather Locklear is absolutely adorable, gets great one-liners, and gets down and dirty with her big plant love interest! No worries. It’s just when they’re in a plant-induced hallucinogenic state in which he becomes a real man again…a man who looks nothing like Ray Wise.

The creators clearly knew they simply had to bring back that Reggie Batts charm somehow. In fact, this time there are two funny kids running around getting embroiled in the action. It’s the little chunky one who totally steals the show. He’s amazing. His best line has to be “Good grief! I could be home watching cable.” I adore him.

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Add to that the fact that the army of soldiers protecting Arcane’s mansion are a bunch of pretty boys in sleeveless jumpsuits that show off their sexy, muscular arms, and The Return of Swamp Thing is late-80s cheesy perfection. Plus, the movie makes good use of the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic “Born On the Bayou.”

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES.

I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.

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