The poet/philosopher Tupac once opined “a coward dies a thousand deaths… a soldier dies but once.” You know who else only dies but once in The Ghost Of Cypress Swamp? Lonny’s brave dog who got eaten by the evil panther named Weakfoot while the wimpy Lonny stood around doing nothing to save him!
As much as you hate Lonny for his inability to take any action to save his dog, you will love him when spends the next part of the movie pretending that the dog is still alive whenever his father asks about him!
“Well gosh pa! The last time I saw old Bay was when he was totally kicking this panther’s ass! He’s probably just out celebrating his big victory! It’s not like I got my dog killed and wounded Weakfoot so that he’s even more dangerous than ever or anything!”
Everything works out though when Lonny ends up getting a new, better dog after getting lost in the swamp for half the movie!
With its “country rube vs. vicious panther” storyline, The Ghost Of Cypress Swamp calls to mind the earlier Disney TV movie Menace On The Mountain where some little brat also had to kill a panther.
The Ghost Of Cypress Swamp also calls to mind that film because it is equally sucky! However, whereas Menace On The Mountain tried to get us to care about white trash fighting white trash for some crappy piece of land, The Ghost Of Cypress Swamp plunges us into the icky fetish quicksand that is boy bondage!
When Lonny goes out into the swamp to get some belated vengeance on Weakfoot, he ends up falling into the clutches of swamp denizen Tom Stone! Tom has been hiding in the swamp for the past 16 years because of some murder he’s been wrongly accused of.
Those years in the swamp have taken their toll on him as evidenced by his somehow forgetting how to speak English, his nasty long hair, and his nasty bushy beard. And also by how he ties and gags Lonny and keeps him at his camp for what must have been weeks!
And Lonny doesn’t exert much effort to get away either! Tom may have been in the swamp a long time, but he still knows a twink when he sees one!
It is at this point in time that the viewer realizes that the ghost mentioned in the movie’s title is Tom. It is also at this point in time that the viewer gives up on the movie.
I signed up for a haunted swamp! I was expecting mysterious lights, phantom boats, monstrous otherworldly gators, Indian burial grounds, and maybe even some freaking treasure! What I got instead was Lonny catching Tom up on 16 years worth of town gossip and technological advances like these newfangled contraptions called automobiles!
There’s also the intense games of tic tac toe drawn in the sand! When Weakfoot finally made his inevitable reappearance, it was probably the third greatest moment in the movie!
The second greatest moment in the movie was when Tom was trying to shoot at Weakfoot and he ended up falling into the swamp and getting himself bit by a deadly snake! You know what the means! Lonny has to suck the poison right out of Tom! Could this movie be any more gay?
Sure it could! How about the big splashing water fight that Lonny and three locals have because they don’t want Lonny sniffing around after their sister!
During all this questionable conduct there is still one unabashedly masculine presence in the movie and I’m not talking about Lonny’s mom! Lonny’s dad, Pa Bascombe, is pretty much the dad all of us wish we had what with his bear knuckled brawl with Weakfoot and all!
But there’s more! As soon as he hears that Lonny got rolled by those three dudes, he marches on over to their house and beats the piss out of them!
And he also has the greatest moment in the movie. It occurs when he believes that Lonny has perished in the swamp. Pa goes out in his canoe by himself and blows this horn in anguish over his lost son! It was like his very soul was screaming up at God! It was so awesome that I immediately went out and bought a horn just like it and began waiting for a loved one to croak!
Vic Morrow (Treasure Of Matecumbe, 1990: The Bronx Warriors) looks silly in his scraggly wig and fake beard as Tom Stone and is forced to do most of his acting with his eyes and some broken English. Jeff East as Lonny is a pretty bland presence and I was really only interested in him when he caught a dose of swamp fever and came tantalizingly close to dying!
The Ghost Of Cypress Swamp though ultimately sinks due to its minimal action. The swamp provided some great visuals and was certainly capable of generating the atmosphere necessary for an exciting thriller, but instead director Vincent McEveety (Superdad, Smoke) is content to give us scenes of Lonny bringing food to Tom and Lonny having dinner with his girlfriend in addition to those exciting tic tac toe games.
The Ghost Of Cypress Swamp doesn’t live up to its spooky title and is not worth seeking out unless you have fond memories of watching it on the old Disneyland TV show as a child. Pure swamp gas.
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