LOS ANGELES—According to a report released Wednesday by the American Film Institute, the 1982 motion picture Swamp Thing and its 1989 sequel, The Return Of Swamp Thing, are only two of literally thousands of movies in existence.
The report, which describes a rich and varied cinematic history stretching from the late 19th century to the present, suggests that these two 90-minute features about a superhero who is half human and half plant constitute, in fact, only a mere fraction of all the movies ever produced, and that Swamp Thing franchise directors Wes Craven and Jim Wynorski are just two among many, many people to have made a film.
“Conventional wisdom tells us there are predominantly two movies out there: Swamp Thing, of course, and then its less popular but still well-known follow-up, The Return Of Swamp Thing,” AFI president Bob Gazzale told reporters. “What we’re finding, however, is that those two films are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the art of cinema has to offer.”
“And very few of these other movies, it turns out, feature what could be construed as a plant-based mutant or green humanoid vigilante as their protagonist,” Gazzale added.
Using exacting methods to divide all films into the discrete categories of “Swamp Thing related” and “not Swamp Thing related,” the authors of the report concluded that the latter group is much larger than the former, with fewer than 1 percent of titles taking place in swamps or having either Swamp Thing or a similar such figure featured in them.
The report went on to cite a number of movies in which actress Adrienne Barbeau does not play government agent and Swamp Thing love interest Alice Cable—and many in which Barbeau does not, in fact, appear at all—demonstrating that over the years, filmmakers and films in general have been far more prolific than the public may have realized.
“Through a careful examination of box-office records, we have shown that during the seven-year interim between the release of Swamp Thing and The Return Of Swamp Thing, there were actually hundreds of movies written and directed in Hollywood,” said Gazzale, also noting that the 1980s isn’t the only decade in which films have been made. “There are movies being shot at this very moment that don’t, in any way, involve a respected scientist named Alec Holland being transformed by a freak lab accident into a benevolent swamp creature.”
AFI officials stated that a frame-by-frame analysis of a random sample of films found that the overwhelming majority do not feature a plotline concerned with an army of super-soldiers genetically enhanced by plant DNA, the catchphrase “They call me…Swamp Thing,” or an extended opening sequence set to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Born On The Bayou.”
According to the report, most movies aren’t even based on DC Comics superheroes—or on comics at all, for that matter—but exist instead within completely unrelated genres that include romantic comedies, period dramas, animated features, musicals, and even documentaries.
Furthermore, despite its title and its setting in the Louisiana wetlands, 2012’s Beasts Of The Southern Wild reportedly has nothing to do with Swamp Thing or The Return Of Swamp Thing.
“These other films are out there if you look for them,” said AFI board of trustees chair Howard Stringer, showing reporters a DVD copy of Good Will Hunting. “This movie, for example, can be watched from beginning to end and you won’t see a single campy sequence in which a bog-dwelling monster transforms back into a man and makes love to Heather Locklear. And we have uncovered many, many more of which the same can be said.”
“As for the quality of these other films, however…” Stringer added. “Well, I really can’t speak to that.”