Daniel Griffith has been in the cult movie doc­u­men­tary busi­ness for a while now, stay­ing con­sis­tent­ly busy since the sec­ond half of the ‘00s doing sup­ple­ments for a vari­ety of com­pa­nies through his own pro­duc­tion shin­gle, Ballyhoo Motion Pictures.  Along the way, he’s tak­en his work into the fea­ture-length realm more and more, TCFTS-dvdinclud­ing mem­o­rable doc­u­men­taries on Dark Star, Twins Of Evil, From A Whisper To A Scream and more.

They Came From The Swamp rep­re­sents the next step in the evo­lu­tion of Griffith’s fea­ture-length work because it is the first fea­ture-length doc­u­men­tary that he has released through his Ballyhoo label.  The results show that he can not only pro­duce qual­i­ty con­tent for home video but also pack­age it as pro­fes­sion­al­ly as the home video com­pa­nies he sup­plies that con­tent to.

They Came From The Swamp mix­es dig­i­tal inter­view footage with a vari­ety of video and film ele­ments.  The anamor­phic trans­fer blends them well, with the inter­view seg­ments hav­ing a pro­fes­sion­al sheen to them and the file footage look­ing as good as the source ele­ments will allow.  It is bol­stered by a 2.0 stereo mix that keeps all the dia­logue and music blend­ed smooth­ly.

TCFTS-02Griffith has made Ballyhoo’s maid­en voy­age a 2-disc set that is load­ed with sup­ple­ments a-plen­ty…

Deleted Scenes: There are four of the­se, all in the one to three min­ute range.  Unlike a lot of a delet­ed sce­nes, the­se are all keep­ers.  Highlights include Randy Grinter giv­ing a quick look back at the career of his father Brad Grinter, the Florida exploita­tion pio­neer who gave us the amaz­ing Blood Freak, and Gary Crutcher talk­ing about his cameo in Stanley.

Crown Jewels (17:29): This is a new fea­turet­te about Crown International Pictures, a leg­endary indie/exploitation dis­tri­b­u­tion out­fit that direc­tor William Grefe worked with a few times.  Grefe talks about his work with them and the company’s his­to­ry is fur­ther sketched out by Ross Hagen, Chris TCFTS-03Poggiali and Frank Henenlotter.  It reveals how they tran­si­tioned from strict­ly dis­tri­b­u­tion to being a com­pet­i­tive pro­duc­er of dri­ve-in fare, with plen­ty of fun clips from their releas­es sup­port­ing the facts.

Whiskey Mountain (01:29:00): the heart of They Came From The Swamp’s sec­ond disc is this fea­ture film, the last direc­to­ri­al ven­ture to date for Grefe.  It’s a com­bi­na­tion of dirt-bike trav­el­ogue and sur­vival thriller in which a pair of cou­ple on vaca­tion in rural Georgia run afoul of a gang of hill­bil­lies with a secret while hunt­ing for an old fam­i­ly trea­sure.  It goes for PG-rat­ed thrills like Grefe’s oth­er films but has a sur­pris­ing­ly grim sec­ond half with some down-and-dirty action and a few sur­prise twists.  There’s even a score by the Charlie Daniels Band!  The trans­fer was tak­en from the only avail­able mate­ri­als, name­ly an old the­atri­cal print, TCFTS-04so it looks a bit worn and sounds a lit­tle muf­fled ear­ly on.  That said, this is the first-ever pre­sen­ta­tion of this long unavail­able film in its full ‘scope-for­mat ratio so dri­ve-in movie his­to­ri­ans will be hap­py it was includ­ed.

Archival Featurettes: This sec­tion of disc two digs into Grefe’s archives for some inter­est­ing mate­ri­al.  This includes a quick video intro done by Bruce Campbell for Grefe for an awards show and a pair of short pro­mo­tion­al films that Grefe made for the Bacardi com­pa­ny.  One the Bacardi films is a cute riff on the Urban Cowboy fad but b-movie fans will love the oth­er, a piece involv­ing William Shatner that opens with a swash­buck­ling fan­ta­sy sequence.  That said, the most fun inclu­sion here is a pro­mo reel for Mako: The Jaws Of Death that includes sev­er­al clips from the film set to instru­men­tal mate­ri­al by Yes and Emerson, Lake TCFTS-05And Palmer.

Animated Image Gallery (12:38):  This com­pre­hen­sive image gallery is set to sound­track cues from Grefe films and cov­ers all phas­es of his career, with a mix­ture of pro­mo­tion­al mate­ri­al, stills and can­did shots telling the tale.

Trailer Gallery:  This includes eight trail­ers and t.v. spots for var­i­ous Grefe films, includ­ing killer spots for Wild Rebels and Mako: Jaws Of Death.  There are also an addi­tion­al six trail­ers relat­ed to per­son­al­i­ties briefly men­tioned in the film or its delet­ed sce­nes, the most unique being a trail­er for King Of The Jungle, a Tarzan movie star­ring Steve Hawkes, who was also the lead in Blood Freak!

To read Schlockmania’s film review of They Came From The Swamp, click here.


THEY CAME FROM THE SWAMP: THE FILMS OF WILLIAM GREFÉ — Official Sneak Preview (Sting of Death) from Daniel Griffith on Vimeo.