The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
"Swamp Thing" had already won my heart before its moment of greatness, but when that moment came, I knew I'd discovered another one of those movies that fall somewhere between buried treasures and guilty pleasures. The moment comes after Dr. Alec Holland, brilliant scientist, is attacked by thugs, is splashed with his own secret formula, catches on fire, leaps into the swamp, and turns into Swamp Thing when the formula interacts with his body and the vegetation in the swamp. Crawling back onto dry land, Swamp Thing is not recognized by his former girlfriend, the beautiful Alice Cable (Adrienne Barbeau).
But after the thugs fill him with machine-gun bullets and hack off his left arm, Alice asks, "Does it hurt?" and Swamp Thing replies, "Only when I laugh." That was the movie's moment of greatness. There are others that come close, as when Swamp Thing, dripping with moss and looking like a bug-eyed spinach souffle, says "There is great beauty in the swamp -- if you know where to look." And when the evil villain (Louis Jourdan) drinks the secret formula and confidently waits for it to transform him into a powerful genius, he discovers that the formula doesn't so much change you, as develop what is already latent within you. Therefore, once a horse's ass, always a horse's ass.
This is one of those movies like "Infra-Man" or "Invasion of the Bee Girls": an off-the-wall, eccentric, peculiar movie fueled by the demented obsessions of its makers. "Swamp Thing" first saw the light of day, so to speak, as a hero in a celebrated series of DC Comics. The movie version was written and directed by Wes Craven, who made "Last House on the Left," a movie I persist in admiring even in the face of universal repugnance. Craven also made "The Hills Have Eyes," which even I found decadent, and the made-for-NBC movie "Stranger in Our House," with Linda Blair.
This time, with "Swamp Thing," he betrays a certain gentleness and poetry along with the gore; in fact, this movie is a lot less violent than many others in the same genre. Craven's inspiration seems to come from James Whale's classic "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935), and he pays tribute in scenes where his swamp monster sniffs a flower, admires a young girl's beauty from afar, and looks sadly at a photograph in a locket.
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