in 1982, The Deadly Spawn emerged at the peak
of the horror video boom, when pretty much anything and everything
was emerging through small indie labels and zero-budget efforts
like this could share shelf space with Hollywood blockbusters.
Having a brief brush as a video nasty in the UK, the film would
eventually slide in to an undeserved obscurity, failing to secure
the long-term popularity of those other 16mm cult classics of
the same era, The Evil Dead and Basket
Case. And while the film isn’t quite up to the
quality of either of those movies, it remains a lot of gory, chaotic
and frenetic fun.
The plot is pretty minimal – a meteor landing in small-town
America unleashes a strange alien presence that somehow or other
winds up in the basement of a local house, where the amazing looking
monster immediately begins spawning toothy tadpoles while rapidly
munching its way through the local inhabitants. As a group of
teens hide out in their home from the three-headed, toothsome
creature and its assorted offspring attack a group of pensioners
during a tea party, only a horror movie fixated kid seems to know
how to defeat it, McGuyvering up a weapon made from flash powder,
plasticine and a monster mask.
Very much a fan production, The Deadly Spawn
won’t win any prizes for story or acting, but certainly
deserves an award for its incredible monsters. These are some
of the wildest alien beasties you’ll see – all slime,
teeth and tentacles, with the mini versions being equally impressive.
It’s surprising just how well the effects hold up –
much better than many big budget monster movies of the time, I’d
say. The gore isn’t skimped on either, as the alien tears
off faces and bites off heads and limbs, and while some of these
gore effects do betray their low budget, on the whole they are
just as impressive as anything else from the time.
film is let down a little by the pacing – there’s
a bit too much talk from poor actors in the first half –
and a few scenes betray the home movie nature of the film –
one scene is shot out of focus, and like The Evil Dead,
the film suffers from an actor obviously getting a haircut midway
through the shoot. But on the whole, this is a lively, wildly
entertaining and old-fashioned monster mash that still packs quite
This new Blu-ray from Elite looks amazing – probably better
than it looked in theatres, with the 16mm transferring to disc
beautifully. I hadn’t expected much from this visually,
but it’s really nice, all things considered. The sound,
of course,remains pretty poor. In the interests of fairness, I
should point out that some critcis have been whining about digital
enhancement removing the grain found in the previous Synapse DVD
- I haven't seen that version so I can't compare them, but if
you are more fixated on technical issues than the film itself,
this might be a big deal for you. And there is an inexplicable
visual drop-out of one second during the film, which is an annoying
glitch, but hardly a deal-breaker.
Copious extras include a new (or rather, effects enhanced) opening
sequence, a commentary, vintage local TV interviews and archive
VHS footage, outtakes, auditions and pages from the Deadly Spawn
comic book. A nice packaging of a shamefully overlooked movie.
IT NOW (USA)
IT NOW (UK) DVD