Jon de Vos: It’s time to break those resolutions
December 31, 2008
You will remember that last New Year, I resolved to watch every vampire movie ever made. Oddly, I came to discover that my wife was not as supportive as I had supposed. Nonetheless, I made a big dent in the list before coming to the conclusion that I was bored stiff. It was like eating ice cream all the time. You have to mix it up.
This year, I promise to venture into Swamp Creatures.
After abusing the swamps for years, we have come to realize that swamps are a fragile and exquisite environment, a pristine refuge for exotic wildlife, mutants and patchy-haired zombies thrown together into a bucket of wildly-inventive, low-budget films. I know all about swamps. Swamps are the natural habitat of skinny voodoo priestesses that jump out swinging a bloody, headless chicken at you. In terror, you turn and run, splashing through stagnant, foul-smelling water, one step ahead of her zombies poling silently behind you in those funny stand-up canoes. Wait, that’s not you, that’s me. I’m excited about my new resolution to watch every swamp movie ever made.
Some great movies have crawled out of the swamp. The totem was Frank Wisbar’s 1945 “Strangler of the Swamp”, complete with a fuzzy, low-down, low-tech, murdering ghost. The movie starred Blake Edwards, shortly before he married Julie Andrews.
Horror-master, Wes Craven’s, 1982 film, “Swamp Thing” features a rubbery-looking Dick Durock, the 6-foot, 5-inch stuntman who could do a standing back flip when he began his career. Durock was a method actor, the large thug that gets beat-up by the hero with hundreds of credits in b-movies and television, often working on two sets in the same day. He also portrayed the Thing in the TV series of the same name.
“Swamp Thing” was perhaps most notable for Adrianne Barbeau’s accomplished topless work. Miss Barbeau, of course, herself catapulted to heady heights in the 1988 classic, “Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death”. Her most recent work includes the hugely underappreciated, “Bimbo Movie Bash” in 1997.
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The success of “Swamp Thing”, inevitably led to the subsequent 1989, “Return of the Swamp Thing”. This important sequel was the defining moment in Heather Locklear’s acting career. In “Return”, Heather plays Abby Arcane, the naive and beautiful horticulturist who can be led to swampwater, but cannot be made to think. Her insane stepfather (aren’t they all), Doctor Anton Arcane, is most intent to murder and distill her into his immortality serum, much like a Blonde Balsamic Reduction Sauce.
Lurching from one narrow escape to the next, she naturally falls in love with a giant crud-encrusted swamp asparagus, played brilliantly by Dick Durock, as the former Doctor Alex Holland before his damnable genetic experiment went so horribly wrong, wrong, wrong! Of exceptional note in this classic were stellar performances by scream-queen, Monique Gabrielle who caught the essence of her role as Miss Poinsettia, as well as the dramatic portrayal by Cockroach Bob as himself.
Other highly recommended swamp movies include, “Attack of the Giant Leeches”, directed by b-movie genius, Roger Corman, who has directed, acted, produced, and written more than 400 classics like “Island of the Twilight People”, “Deathstalker IV” and “Bloodfist VII”. His career spans a half-century. He made his first movie, “Highway Dragnet” in 1954 and was executive producer in the 2008 “Road Warriors”. Not to be missed is the 1995 masterpiece, “Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfolds”.
Actually, there are no swamps in Centerfolds, but some resolutions are made to be broken.
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