The Deadly Spawn

The Deadly Spawn

***

Reviewed by: James Benefield

A creature feature from the depths of the Eighties bargain bin, The Deadly Spawn is, by any measure of quality, really quite ridiculous. But for horror aficionados, and B-movie die-hards, director Douglas McKeown's relentless squeezing of the $25,000 budget to produce some actually quite impressive special effects, make it worthy of some note.

One dark, murky night in the woods, something falls from the sky and lands near a pair of young campers. Soon enough they, of course, are mercilessly slaughtered. Murders begin happening all around the surrounding area – starting with a middle-aged couple being munched to death in their basement. The family of the couple then take it upon themselves to investigate the disappearance, led by intrepid young son, Charles (the impressively monikored Charles George Hildebrandt), an older sibling and a few of their friends.

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The main monster here is like Audrey II from Little Shop Of Horrors, but with a bad case of hyperdontism. We've seen the like before, and it's revealed far too early to be scary (we see the creature within 15 minutes), but it is truly grotesque. Its spawn are pretty hideous too – essentially tadpoles with fangs.

Equally as fearful are the script and the acting – there's likely to be no child actor quite as devoid of personality as Hildebrandt and some of the adults don't fare much better. It doesn't help that any attempt at characterisation is clumsy and half-hearted, with more serious scenes coming across as padding on an already slim 80 minutes of cinema.

What the movie does best is gore and ickiness. The last half an hour is a cavalcade of comic-horror gold as body parts are lopped off with a pleasingly liberal frequency. Before this, director McKeown only intermittently holds our attention but when he does it's with impressive results – from a bunch of grannies being attacked by the monster spawn to one of the little monsters hiding itself in the food processor with some unpalatable results.

More cult classic than undiscovered gem then, but when The Deadly Spawn works, it's a lot of fun, and when it doesn't, you want the monster to burst through the floor and eat everyone concerned.

Reviewed on: 28 Mar 2012
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The Deadly Spawn packshot
A toothy alien horror goes on the rampage.
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Director: Douglas McKeown

Writer: Ted A Bohus, John Dods, Douglas McKeown, Tim Sullivan

Starring: Charles George Hildebrandt, Tom DeFranco, Richard Lee Porter, Jean Tafler, Karen Tighe, James Brewster, Elissa Neil, Ethel Michelson, John Schmerling, Judith Mayes, Andrew Michaels, John Arndt, Diane Stevens, Darlene Kenley, Madeline Charanis

Year: 1983

Runtime: 78 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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