In its third season, “Swamp Thing” left much of its continuing story line behind for a wealth of stand-alone episodes that turn it into a quasi-“Tales from the Darkside” creepshow, one in which its title hero is often marginalized. This approach results in some half-hours that are either crazy, inventive, cheesy, inspired or awful.
Not knowing what you’re going to get from one week or another is what helps make it so utterly watchable. Even when it’s terrible, it’s lovable, to the point where’s nothing else I’d rather be watching at that moment.
Among this four-disc set containing 26 episodes, you’ll find a teenage vampire, a town-invading mist that recalls John Carpenter ‘s “The Fog,” a Western-set gunslinger tale, Seventies DJ Wolfman Jack as a cult leader and a most ill-advised nightmare for evil Dr. Arcane (Mark Lindsay Chapman) that plays out as comic courtroom kookiness. Trouble is, the actors aren’t skilled enough to do comedy. Heck, they’re not that skilled at all, with the exception of Dick Durock as Swamp Thing. He may be buried under all that makeup, but his performance is nuanced, grounded and heartfelt, just as it was in the two higher-budgeted “Swamp Thing” feature films.
Budgetary issues that relegate shooting to the Universal Studios backlot will turn some viewers off, while comforting others. (Case in point: Swamp Thing visits the “Psycho” house!) I fall into the latter group, and Shout! Factory can’t bring the final set out fast enough for my twisted tastes.