The Deadly Spawn (1983)

As you can see just one movie poster for this review wasn’t enough. If I could, I’d post EVERY movie poster I could find. Hell, maybe I did post every movie poster I could get my hands on. And why? Cause this movie is seriously awesome.

First I must say it's been on my “white whale” list for some time. I had it on my Amazon wishlist and would keep an eye out for it at flea markets before finally snagging a copy at Barnes & Noble, and I was not disappointed. I don’t know why exactly I had this movie on my list of things to get. Maybe it’s a weakness for monsters from space movies. Maybe it’s the vaguely Cronenbergian image of a human torso sort of growing out of whatever those things are. For some reason I think I may have seen this when I was really young, and maybe that’s why I wanted to own it the moment it popped up in my recommendations on Amazon. But it’s not really important why I wanted this movie. What is important is that it was there, and when I finally saw it, it was well worth it. Definitely made it into my top ten sci fi movies of all time, and for so many reasons.

The plot is simple and reliable: think such classics as The Blob, Night Of The Creeps, and Little Shop Of Horrors. Meteor lands in the woods, luckless camper goes to investigate, ends up first meal for something at first only revealed in silhouette, and it only goes uphill from there. The titular creatures go on a snacking spree, taking shelter in the basement of a house and eating everyone and –thing that comes within tentacles reach. In classic B-movie fashion, the burden of confronting and destroying the monster(s) falls on the shoulders of a young horror movie enthusiast who begins to suspect something terribly wrong is going on in the basement, and he enlists the help of some friends to stop the spawn before they reproduce and eat everything. Things go wrong, the monster stalks them throughout the house, and there is a final confrontation in which the beast is bested…or is it?

This movie is everything ‘80s horror should be and then some. It hits all the right spots for a good horror flick and suffers from none of the weaknesses and excesses that films from that era suffer from. There is no hot girl with her breasts all over the place for sex appeal. No pointless underage drinking. The Deadly Spawn doesn’t need that to be good. It confronts the viewer on fair ground and doesn’t use any dirty tricks such as the previously mentioned booze and breasts to get the job done. It harkens back to the golden age of B-movie monster flicks, a more innocent time for movies, but with a slightly serious undertone that transcends the hokey thrills of ‘50s movies and edges into something genuinely creepy. The idea of something coming from space and devouring people had even almost thirty years ago been beaten into the ground, and yet the imagery presented of some hungry and mindless thing dropping out of the sky and eating everything is utterly horrifying. The whole movie takes place largely within in a house, and this confined setting lends the film a suffocating and claustrophobic feel that is honestly frightening, something few films from this era can pull of without relying on a ton of gore. To be fair, The Deadly Spawn has it’s fair share of gore, but it’s not gore for the sake of gore; instead, it is only used because it is essentially to the story, and even then it is tasteful and within reason (well…as tasteful and within reason that such a film can be). It uses horrific imagery and creepy atmospherics to get the job done. The early basement scenes in particular are especially eerie, where a plumber is devoured in darkness by the creatures, and done so in a nearly nightmarish way. The use of shadow, whether done for budget purposes or deliberately for stylistic reasons is effective in creating a feeling of unease and uncertainty. Also worthy of mention is the scene where the monster bursts into the main characters bedrooms, an unnerving contrast from the dark and dimly lit basement where most of the scenes involving it had taken place in up until then. And, while we all know what the monster looks like seeing as it IS displayed prominently on the cover of the DVD and the movie posters (think Audrey II from the ‘80s version of Little Shop of Horrors and a tumor having a child) the first time you actually see it in the basement in the movie is rather striking. The monster effects are a bit goofy but still effective, cheesy but just convincing enough to be creepy. I wish they still made monster movies with effects like this, instead of hiring some goof on a computer to punch in the image in post-production. And as a vegan can I forget the amazing vegetarian lunch held by a group of old women that is interrupted by the creatures who end up being part of the lunch? Classic!!!

I can sum up this review in one simple phrase: buy this movie. Buy it now. It’s a ton of fun, and it packs a real punch in the creep department. It stand up there with movies like Killer Klowns From Outer Space and Night Of The Creeps when it comes to nostagliac sci fi/horror that is dripping with schlock but still has the power to be a really, really quality movie. This isn’t just another goofy ‘80s movie to watch with your friends and make fun of. It’s not so bad it’s good. It’s just good for what it is and nothing else. So please…do yourself a favor and check this out. You can thank me later. Anyway you want. Yes…even that way. Especially that way.


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