Man-Thing, you make my heart sing! Now that that’s taken care of, on with the review…
“Whatever knows Fear, Burns at the Touch of the Man-Thing.”
Marvel Comics is rapidly turning any patch of ink an artist ever spilled onto some paper into a multi-million dollar movie, and this relic from the 1970’s makes it to the big screen to fill in the void left from the dearth of Swamp Thing movies. Wait? This got kicked out of theaters and is now a Sci-Fi Channel world premier? Then it’s set to follow in the footsteps of such ratings blockbusters as Curse of the Komodo and Mansquito. Luckily for us, the DVD version has the complete swearing and nudity that you just can’t get from Sci-Fi channel. I had a few of these comics growing up, my usual reaction from reading a Man-Thing comic was “I wonder if Transformers is on TV yet.” Hey, I was six, what can I say? From an older perspective, the comic is less subtle (one of the villains? F.A. Schist. Yes, fascist.)
Will you know fear from watching this movie? No, but you will probably know boredom. This is essentially an environmentalism movie, and at several points it is hammered over your head so bluntly you could cook pancakes on your skull. We start out with an American Indian narrator, because all Indians are 100% pro-environment. Teens party in the swamp in what is probably Louisiana from the bad accents. Model Imogen Bailey shows off her assets as good ol’ boy and Schist Industries Employee Billy-boy starts to get it on, Swamp Style, until the swamp comes alive and does some penetrating of it’s own.
Enter Sheriff Kyle Williams, whose name is straight from the WB, as is his age. Young for a sheriff? In case you didn’t realize that on sight, the mention it twice during the movie. Kyle is the new sheriff of Bywater, and asks Toothless Hick “Why do they call it ‘Bywater’?” Toothless Hick: “Because it’s by the watuh!” Cajun-crazy. Kyle Williams replaces the previous sheriff, who has vanished. There is also a gigantic amount of missing persons in this small town, but no one is bothering to call the FBI, and the town has one deputy besides the new Sheriff. Billy-boy’s body has been found, and is blamed on a gator, despite the weird green muck growing all over him. Swamp STDs, I say. Enough of this coronering, Sheriff has to stop a protest at the local Schist Industries Oil Drilling Thing. Schist Industries is run by Papa Schist aka Fred Schist, and Baby Schist, aka Jake Schist. No F.A. Schist, sadly. We do get to see the Schists’ logo, which looks amazingly like a Nazi swastika. Hmmmm…what could the subtext here be? I can’t quite figure it out. Papa Schist shows up to the protest driving a Hummer, as the gas guzzling car pegs him as enviro-enemy, and thus soon a fatality.
Sheriff Kyle Williams meets schoolteacher Teri Richards, a pretty blonde thing, in the protest chained to a bulldozer. He hauls her in with a “walk or ride?” quip, and “processes” her back at the station while the rest of the protest is run off. Actually, he doesn’t “process” her, though that would make this more enjoyable. Instead, he lets her go, but he shall be running into her again and again, what with her being the love interest. Now is about as good a time as any to talk about the cutscenes in this film. If you’ve ever seen the movie Spun, they seem to be entirely copied from the shots where the characters are high on meth. Fast tape speed, rapid scene changes, squealing/squeaky sounds, except this has an environmental theme.
Since we need to introduce the rest of the town, Sheriff Williams goes to a Diner, which happens to have Teri Richards in it again, as well as the Indian Narrator, Two Inbred Bayou Brothers, and Conspiracy Nutball Mike Ploug, who is accompanied by two large dogs. Sheriff runs over to see Imogen Bailey, who is now in an asylum, not talking, and there is a shot that would scare the pants off of any audience who saw it in the theaters, but is wasted on the small screen. Back at Schist-land, all the oil rigs have been sabotaged, and the blame is put on crazy Indian Guy named Rene, or Ranay, or something. He looks like Yul Brynner. The Schists have an old coot guy working for them who’s the champion of racism, though he won’t be lasting the night. Sheriff drives back home, only to stop and search for a while, running into Rene, but failing to catch him, instead finding the dead body of the old Sheriff, which is rather decomposed. Champion of Racism gets a Tree Branch through the stomach and out the mouth courtesy of Man-Thing.
Jake Schist gets the idea to get the Inbred Brothers to go looking for Rene, who is taking all the blame for the recent deaths. Sheriff gets wind of this and tries to stop it, but to no avail. That night, Sheriff and Deputy Fraser go looking for Rene, while the Bayou Brothers get Man-Thinged one by one. Deputy Fraser also wanders off and becomes plant food. Sheriff runs into Rene, who explains that there isn’t any stolen tribal money for the land, the land is sacred and being protected by a guardian, and the guardian must kill everyone because of the Schist’s oil rigs in the most sacred place of the swamp. No, not there, a place called Dark Water. There are no Pirates of Dark Water, but there are Man-Things of Dark Water. Somehow I don’t think that will be a cartoon anytime soon.
Sheriff talks to Indian Narrator, who tells him more about Man-Thing, Dark Water, and the Nexus of All Realities. Sheriff Williams then makes out with Keri, until the Schists show up and Papa Schist threatens to fire Sheriff Williams. The Schists are planning to kill Rene that night, who they blame for everything. Everyone still alive in town ends up in the swamp that night it seems. The Schists, Sheriff Williams, Indian Narrator, Crazy Conspiracy Guy, Rene, Man-Thing, Pogo the Possum….okay, maybe not Pogo, but this is a crowded swamp this night. You just know there will be a body bag shortage in this town soon.
Let’s start things off with Indian Narrator getting offed by Man-Thing. Okay, that’s done. Wait, Teri has to show up in the swamp as well, to tell Sheriff Williams that the old sheriff was shot in the back. Papa Schist kills Crazy Conspiracy Guy. Crazy Conspiracy Guy’s two big dogs which are always with him then disappear and are never seen again. Probably gator bait. Maybe Man-Thing bait. Jake Schist gets his face broken by Rene. Teri leads Sheriff Williams through the Dark Water as Man-Thing chases them, and they come out where Rene is about to blow up a Schist Oil Rig, and Papa Schist has a bead on him. Papa Schist shoots Rene and Sheriff Williams, though neither are killed. Man-Thing is immune to such gunshots, and grabs Papa Schist and rams an oil line into him until he’s secreting torrents of black oil from all his body orifices. That’s the end of the Schists. Man-Thing still has to kill, until the oil drilling is stopped. So he heads to get the Sheriff, until Rene blows up the Oil Rig and himself. Sheriff and Teri escape, and Man-Thing crumbles away, having no more need to kill for vengeance. Thus, the swamp is saved, until next time.
Did you get the environmental message? The film teaches that we must destroy oil rigs before living swamp men kill us all. Excuse me while I start building some bombs, as I quite enjoy my life, yet I am easily influenced by moving pictures. I can’t imagine why this didn’t make it to theaters, it’s much better than some of the things that have come out this year. It’s not even the worst Marvel movie, there is still the original Punisher and Captain America, complete with Italian Red Skull. Wait, Italian Red Skull? Time to track that movie down again…
Rated 4/10 (Crazy Conspiracy Guy, Schist x2, Police Boat)
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