Horror, Sci-Fi, Alien Invasion
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The Deadly Spawn (1983)
18th Apr 05
Toothsome aliens arrive in small-town USA and begin munching on local people…
From the get-go, this was going to be terrific; a bad miniature landscape is always such a welcome sight. A meteor lands. Two campers decide to investigate: “Hey, let’s go look!” We know right away that they are expendable spawn-fodder.
The main group of characters in this film are everyday small-town Americans – three high school teenagers, Ellen (top of her class), Pete (science whiz-kid) and Frankie (dumb-ass). And last but not least, Charlie (Charles George Hildebrandt), a kid of about 10 who is fascinated by monsters and horror in general. The plot is really quite straightforward; the spawn nest in the basement of the house, and generally munch-to-death anyone who comes close, eventually working their way through the rest of the house, sliding up walls, under carpets, going anywhere they need to in order to satisfy their insatiable appetite!
Obviously this is a cheap film made by genre enthusiasts. It reportedly cost the mere sum of $ 20,000! It looks shoestring (even cheaper with Vipco’s crappy transfer, eugh!) but the content is rich. It has a similar feel to Sam Raimi’s first two Evil Dead films.
The characters, for example, behave like real people. For a horror film, that is so unusual. No stupid dope-smoking, drunk, sex-obsessed teenagers here – the teenagers in this film are intelligent and resourceful, apart from Frankie. They talk like real people do – this device blew me away but I didn’t notice it until the second viewing. Early in the picture, Charlie’s Uncle Herb, a psychiatrist, sits him down and asks him a series of questions about his obsession with horror and monsters. This scene is so wonderfully acted that you may forget that you are watching a film, especially a cheapo monster flick! Charlie indicates in this scene that if he was to see a real monster, it probably wouldn’t scare him too much, because he surrounds himself with that sort of thing on a daily basis.
Shortly later, Charlie dons his red magician’s cape and makes his way to the cellar where he witnesses something that would make any adult run for miles. This scene is fantastic and it made what was already a cool-as-fuck film even cooler. Charlie sees the giant spawn (huge, slimy toothsome puppet-beast) and he works out that the spawns’ primary sense is based on what they hear. He stands there in the dark, dripping wet cellar, a kid in a magicians cape, tricking the giant spawn by throwing objects around the cellar and clicking his fingers like some sort of child Paul Daniels / Van Helsing figure. He works out more about the beast than the teenagers do because he experiences it first hand, whereas the teenagers find a dead small spawn specimen, dissect it, prodding it and poking it and saying things like “It looks like some sort of nasty tadpole”. Pete is the sceptic and to be honest, he’s a bit irritating, e.g. “It’s scientifically impossible!” when its right before his eyes. What an arse.
On the other hand, Ellen is more open to new theories and ideas, the open minded one, and we like her for that; “Without supposition, there’s nothing to prove.” Ah…the voice of common sense. Pity she gets her head bitten off...
The film reaches its climax when the giant spawn makes its way though the house, munching as it goes in all its toothsome glory. This is however precipitated by a scene where a bunch of old ladies get together for a vegetarian lunch only to be attacked from under the chairs and then from EVERYWHERE, in a truly hilarious scenario. Nothing better than the sight of old ladies crawling all over the floor, with angry alien spawns gnawing them from all angles. Perhaps I forgot to mention that the elderly vegetarian enthusiasts inadvertently eat one of the spawn, which makes its way into the ‘green sauce’ just before the ‘on’ switch on the blender is activated. That’ll teach the old bints not to eat meat. Spawn Justice.
It is hard to think of anything bad to say about The Deadly Spawn. It just gets better and better. Its done for the right reason, despite any shortfallings that it may have (I couldn’t really find any – some people may take issue with bad miniatures but I find that to be part of its charm). The gore is top-notch and there’s PLENTY of it. Faces being chewed off, heads being bitten off, grannies’ ankles being munched - the works. It’s humorous, well-acted, and the spawn f/x are brilliant. They don’t look like puppets, any of them, and there are so many of the little buggers! The giant spawn is a very deadly spawn indeed and looks horrid. How many teeth does that thing have?! (Answers on a postcard to eatmybrains.com HQ, located in the cellar).
The Deadly Spawn has a bit of everything and delivers the goods. I’m disappointed I didn’t see this film when I was a kid, like so many others did. I would’ve had the shock of my life when I realised it was one of the few films that was as good as I had remembered!
(N.B. The ending wasn’t mentioned in this review for a very good reason. Magic.)
For our Zombie Club review of The Deadly Spawn and Contamination, visit Zombie Club's Alien Invasion night.
Versions Also Known As:
Alien's Deadly Spawn, The (1983) (USA)
Return of the Alien's Deadly Spawn (1983) (USA)