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The Deadly Spawn – 7

Director – Douglas McKeown

Cast – Charles George Hildebrandt, Tom DeFranco, Richard Lee Porter, Jean Tafler, Karen Tighe, James Brewster, Elissa Neil, Ethel Michelson, John Schmerling

Release Year – 1983

Reviewed by John of the Dead

I sometimes find myself afraid that I will never find another 80s horror film that truly satisfies me in what I want to see in such flicks, and my worries subsided when I came across The Deadly Spawn. The name and poster had me thinking “there is no way in Hell I’m not going to like this” and sure enough I not only liked the film, I loved it. With heavy cheese and loads of gory creature action, The Deadly Spawn proved to be a low-budget mess that got things right and made for a very fun experience sure to please fans of such awfully bad yet awfully great films.

After a comet lands in the New Jersey woods two curious campers investigate the literally once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon and find themselves devoured by a slew of hungry creatures who have hitched a ride to Earth. As creatures then make their way to a nearby town four teenagers and a young boy must fight off the aliens who plan on literally eating mankind…alive.

I don’t think I’ll ever tire of films involving an alien invasion via crashed meteorite, and despite the simple and predictable story I found this one highly engaging as I knew what to expect. Right from the get-go we are thrown into the gory mess the deadly spawns provide as they chomp away at the unsuspecting campers, and after a little development they once again begin their carnage when they make their way into the nearby town and hole-up in someone’s basement. The creatures then venture out among the home and surrounding homes and dish their gory goodness on the townsfolk, erupting into a full scale invasion that focuses mainly on our protagonists but eventually ventures outside of their scope. Nearly the entire film takes place in the home the protagonists are residing in, which happens to be the same home whose basement now belongs to the spawns, and despite the film not “moving” to many locations I never once found myself bored. Why is that? Well, one reason is because it provided for a nowhere-to-run scenario for our protagonists, and the other was the fact that that we were given so much creature action I did not even feel the need for the setting to venture elsewhere. Several people contributed to Douglas McKeown’s screenplay, including horror “icon” Tim Sullivan in his first writing role, and this screenplay proves that a simplicity is never a bad thing so long as you do things right.

McKeown also serves as the film’s director, and I applaud him for doing so much with such a small budget. It is obvious from the very opening sequence that the film is of a very low budget, with grainy cinematography and a lack of showing the creatures during the opening scene. I had a feeling that we would be kept from full-frontal creature action due to the low budget and what I saw during the opening sequence, but I was dead wrong once the film got going. The creature action was insanely awesome and provided for all of the thrills and supreme kills provided in this piece, plus the look of the creatures was incredible and played heavily into my enjoyment of them. We are given live-action FX for the entire film, another thing that surprised me given the low budget, and the gore provided was strong despite there not being as much gore as I wanted (I can never stop asking for more). The acting performances were pretty poor, but I honestly did not notice them nor did they keep me from enoying this piece, an obvious nod to how keeping me engaged with other things (creatures and gore) will help me not notice the many faults the film came with.

Overall, The Deadly Spawn is a great cheezy 80s creature feature that gives us awesome action from the get-go and continues to do so until its insane climax.  The creature action is good and comes with awesome live-action FX, and the simple yet effective story makes for one of the more under-appreciated horror films of the 1980s.

Rating: 7/10

  1. March 18, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    This does sound like a fun flick, I wonder how hard it is to get a DVD copy…

    • March 18, 2012 at 9:27 pm

      I was pretty surprised to see that it was actually released on blu-ray despite its rarity. As far as buying it goes you can find it on Amazon, but rending it locally will be hard unless you’ve got a sweet family owned rental place dealing in rarities. Of course, you can rent it on Amazon too for 2 bucks or so.

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