My beef with this craposaurus is pretty basic. When you have a title like Swamp Devil, you’d better deliver something at least on a par with Swamp Thing, a movie that was made 26 freakin’ years before this one.
In other words, I want to see a sodden, drippy, slime-covered mess of a monster—and not something that looks like one of those wacky inflatable arm-flailing tube men you see at car lots. It’s that simple.
There’s a barely-there plot about a murderer who haunts the swamps after he was killed by a vigilante mob. Nicholas Wright (a poor man’s Robert Carradine) plays the human face of the “Swamp Devil,” a carelessly CGI’d stalk of celery that’s nearly as menacing as the Little Green Sprout.
Bruce Dern is in this, for some reason, as a former lawman turned-fugitive and Cindy Sampson (who was quite good in The Shrine—scream queen in the making?) plays his daughter.
I’m really trying to come up with some justification for sitting through Swamp Devil, but I’m drawing a blank. I suppose Dern is more than adequate in his role, but really, he has the look of a man hoping he won’t miss the last bus out of town—and that his paycheck doesn’t bounce out the window.
Speaking of Dern, I seem to recall him on The Tonight Show many years ago talking to Johnny Carson about the worst film he’d ever made. Dern recounted his experiences as a young actor on the set of The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant (1971), a grimy, low-budget shocker co-starring Casey Kasem that was part of the now-extinct “Guy With An Extra Head” movement of the early 70s. (It consisted of two movies: this one and the slightly more famous The Thing With Two Heads, starring Rosie Grier and Ray Milland—recommended!)
Anyway, Dern says after the shooting wrapped, he went to get his final check from the slippery producer—and the office, set, and trailers were all gone. Not a trace of them. Perhaps the next time he’s asked that question, Bruce could share a story about Swamp Devil. I, for one, would love to hear it.