HORROR TV YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: SWAMP THING season 1 (2019)

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SWAMP THING season 1 (2019)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Swamp Thing was sadly canceled after it’s first episode aired and before it was even given a chance…and it’s a shame. The ten episode first season nailed so many aspects of the comics and also managed to be one of the better horror shows currently on TV. Was that the problem? Was it too edgy? Right now there are few answers to the questions of why a great first season was also it’s last.

The story takes place in Marais, Louisiana, where an outbreak of some strange illness has occurred. CDC doctor Abby Arcane (Crystal Reed) arrives on the scene to try to find some answers and a cure. She meets eccentric scientist Alec Holland (Andy Bean) who tells her the answer is in the swamps. There they find that someone has been dumping a chemical growth accelerator in the swamp that has had a bizarre effect on the plant life. Alec is murdered in the swamp one night for what he knows and his body is regenerated by the plants into a massive human/plant hybrid..The Swamp Thing (Derek Mears)! Now Holland must not only come to terms with what he’s become, but protect Abby from those who would harm her and protect himself for those who find him a curious object of study.

Written and directed by a number of talents (see list below) Swamp Thing is a fun, atmospheric and delightfully gory show, that takes itself seriously despite it’s comic book roots. The show uses the North Carolina locations very well and the production and set design is perfectly spooky and fitting of the overall tone. There is a lot of action and intrigue as Abby and Holland uncover a conspiracy led by local businessman Avery Sunderland (Will Patton), his chief scientist Jason Woodrue (Kevin Durand) and crooked sheriff Lucilia Cable (Jennifer Beals), who are trying to exploit the swamp for profit. This puts Abby in danger and makes Holland/Swamp Thing a hunted man/thing. The episodes are each slightly under an hour and with the variety of directors and writers, the show maintains a consistent look and tone. The FX are good, especially the prosthetics and the CGI ranges from good to passable with some weak spots here and there. This show had a lot of potential and whatever the reasons for it’s canceling, unfortunately there will be some loose ends that will never get tightened unless, somehow, there is a continuation either by revival or a feature film. Sad, this show had a lot of potential and a strong first season start that was thrilling and enjoyable for comic and horror fans especially.

The cast really click here. Crystal Reed makes a solid heroine in the determined and resilient Abby Arcane. The actress presents a strong, intelligent and caring young woman that makes her very likable and endearing. Andy Dean is good as Holland, thought we only see him in the first episode and a few other spots. He builds a likable character in limited time. Derek Mears shines as the plant hero. He does a very good job giving Swamp Thing some complex emotions as he tries to figure out who and what he has become. He can be fierce and dangerous and yet kind, gentle and very sympathetic. Too bad we can’t see where he could take the character. Mears and Reed also had some nice on-screen chemistry, too. Patton makes a nice villain as the scheming and greedy Avery Sunderland, He’s a man that will kill for what he wants and does. Kevin Durand’s Woodrue is a scientist blinded and made cruel by his work. The post credits scene at the end of the last episode signals a side of him we would liked to have seen more of. The rest of the supporting cast, including Jennifer Beals and Ian Ziering, all play their parts well, A very solid cast for a really well done production.

In conclusion, This is a sad example of studio chaos ending a good show before it had a chance. This had some great atmosphere, a cool horror movie tone, yet didn’t ignore it’s comic book roots. There was some great production design, some spooky visuals and settings and a healthy amount of blood, gore and creatures. One of DC’s best representations of their properties as of late and it’s canceling is as mysterious as it’s swamp setting!

-MonsterZero NJ

Photo Credit: Fred Norris / 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

EPISODE LIST

  1. Pilot – directed by Len Wiseman and written by Gary Dauberman and Mark Verheiden
  2. Worlds Apart – directed by Len Wiseman and written by Mark Verheiden and Doris Egan
  3. He Speaks – directed by Deran Sarafian and written by Rob Fresco
  4. Darkness on the Edge of Town – directed by Carol Banker and written by Erin Maher and Kay Reindl
  5. Drive All Night – directed by Greg Beeman and written by Franklin Rho
  6. The Price You Pay – directed by Toa Fraser and written by Tania Lotia
  7. Brilliant Disguise – directed by Alexis Ostrander and written by Andrew Preston and Rob Fresco
  8. Long Walk Home – directed by E. L. Katz and written by Doris Egan
  9. The Anatomy Lesson – directed by Michael Goi and written by Mark Verheiden, Noah Griffith and Daniel Stewart
  10. Loose Ends – directed by Deran Sarafian and written by Erin Maher, Kay Reindl and Rob Fresco

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-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 (out of 4 ) swamp things.

 

 

 

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (2014)

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THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (2014)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

The original The Town That Dreaded Sundown is based on a true series of murders that occurred in Texarkana, Arkansas in 1946 and were committed by a person known only as “The Phantom”… a man who was never caught. The 1976 film is considered a cult classic but, when I finally caught up with it, I wasn’t impressed with the pseudo-documentary flick. Now comes a new version which actually is a sequel of sorts that not only acknowledges the actual crimes but, the existence of the 1976 film, as well as, Texarkana’s morbid custom of screening Charles B. Pierce’s original film every Halloween… and it’s at one such screening in 2013 that the film begins…

The movie opens with pretty Jami Lerner (Addison Timlin, the scene stealing Stormy Llewellyn in Odd Thomas) and her date Corey (Spencer Treat Clark) leaving a Halloween drive-in screening of The Town That Dreaded Sundown as Jami is put-off by the film’s violence. The two retreat to a local make-out point but, much like the movie, a masked man appears and forces them out of the car, murdering Corey and letting Jami live as long as she “makes them remember Mary.” The traumatized girl makes her way back to the drive-in where the film is showing and soon the town is caught in a real grip of fear as the locals believe The Phantom has returned. Whether he is truly back or someone is imitating the killer from real life and the 1976 film, the result is the same, soon the bodies begin to gruesomely pile up. Worse for Jami, is that the killer has chosen her to be his messenger as he threatens to kill more unless she delivers his message of remembrance. But, Jami decides to fight fire with fire and begins to investigate the original case to try to find out who is the one actually stalking her and murdering innocent townsfolk and why. But, will she uncover the real killer or will he catch her first?

Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, this film takes the Blair Witch 2 concept of making a film about events inspired by the original film but, does it so much better. This is a stylish and sometimes strange… in a good way… flick that is basically a slasher that chillingly references real events and playfully references the original film, even cleverly having the director’s son Charles Pierce Jr. (Denis O’Hare) as a character. There are some brutal and disturbing sequences depicting the killer’s wrath and Gomez-Rejon gives us some nice suspense throughout, especially in the last act when Jami and the masked killer reunite. Not only does the director have a nice visual style to enhance his story and off-kilter storytelling but, gives the film a nice atmosphere of foreboding and bravely paces the film more moderately, much like the original film and the films of that era were paced. This is complemented by Michael Goi’s moody cinematography and Ludwig Göransson’s atmospheric score. The killings are also quite gruesome at times and have a lot of impact and the FX portraying them are well rendered and makes this overall a very effective slasher whether it be a remake/sequel or whatever you want to classify it.

The cast are all good with Timlin being a moody yet, resourceful heroine. She conveys the emotional trauma of a young woman who witnesses her date’s murder yet, the strength to fight back by investigating the very psychopath that may be waiting outside her door. A far different character than Odd ThomasStormy Llewellyn and proves this is a young actress to keep an eye on. Film vet Veronica Cartwright plays her grandmother who lived through the time of the original murders and gives us a woman who is pained to see her granddaughter living through similar events. Gary Cole is solid as the local sheriff, Anthony Anderson plays an updated Lone Wolf Morales echoing Ben Johnson’s character from ’76 and Travis Trope is charming as Nick, a young man who befriends Jami and helps her with her investigation. A solid cast who do good work in bringing this chiller to effective life.

Overall, I really liked this movie and was pleasantly surprised by it. It cleverly is both sequel and remake, yet, is also a film made outside the original so, it may deviously reference that film and use both the film and the actual crimes from 1946 as part of it’s story history. Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon has a bit of a quirky and offbeat storytelling style that adds to the unsettling atmosphere of the film and gives us some nice suspense and some disturbing and brutal scenes of violence to punctuate it. All in all, a solid and somewhat off-beat horror/slasher that is one of the more interesting horror flicks I have seen this year. Sad, it’s gotten too little attention, especially coming from the horror factory that is Blumhouse. It deserves more.

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) killers.

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