The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, May 17-23

nyc repertory cinema-swamp thing

Swamp Thing (1982)
Directed by Wes Craven
Craven was always innovative—though not all his films are resounding successes, they’re always filled with interesting tidbits and ambition, even in for-hire projects like this one. Though based on a DC Comics property, Swamp Thing has more to do with 50s sci-fi like The Creature from the Black Lagoon, featuring mutants who fall in love with women. Here that template is subverted quite a bit. First, the monster is the hero, a scientist who has fallen victim to his own discoveries, who must also fight the organization that wants to steal the serum that transformed him into the titular monster (he’s played by Ray Wise, famous for another yin-yang performance). Also, the classic woman in distress, played by Adrienne Barbeau, isn’t actually so: she can double-wield machine guns while running away from the bad guys. She is also, obviously, the monster’s love interest, but every time he tries to save her, he ends up ruining the whole thing and putting her in more danger than before. If anything, Swamp Thing is like a feminist reading of the creature-features of yesterday, putting us into that mindset by imitating some of the strained acting and taking a similar approach to locations—the swamp looks exactly like the river in the aforementioned 1954 Universal picture. Jaime Grijalba (May 23, 7pm at BAM’s “Peak Performances”)



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