Monday, October 19, 2015

MR The Deadly Spawn

Movie: The Deadly Spawn also known as Return of the Aliens: The Deadly Spawn or also The Return of the Alien's Deadly Spawn
Directed by Douglas McKeown 
Release date 1983
Genre Science-fiction/Horror film
Country USA

Here's a cult classic from the 1980s!

Often considered one of the bloodiest goriest B-movies of the early 1980s, The Deadly Spawn has nothing to shy away from your more familiar Braindead/Dead Alive, Re-Animator or Evil Dead. Well, that is, aside from it's very tiny modest low budget and it's ridiculous creature.

But those two details might just be the reasons why I love it so much as well.

Created by screenwriter/director Douglas McKeown, The Deadly Spawn is a 1983 science-fiction horror film produced by a company with a name that smells low-budget ripoffs - "21st Century Film Corporation".

The closest we have to productions like that nowadays are probably The Asylum. But anyone of the films they put out all the time is miles away from this obscure gem, believe me.

The Deadly Spawn is also often known under its alternate title "Return of the Aliens: The Deadly Spawn" or "The Return of the Alien's Deadly Spawn". This other title openly admits the film was partially inspired by Ridley Scott's 1979 film Alien. In fact despite taking place on Earth, the film actually follows a similar structure and some cues from that film.

Our movie opens with a meteor falling from the sky one night... Some... thing kills a bunch of campers.

The next day we are introduced to this big house in the middle of nowhere during a rainstorm. Some relatives are staying with this family during their holiday vacation.

The monster found its way inside this nearby home. The mom and the father are killed by the creature hiding in the basement in the morning. An electrician comes to the house and gets eaten as well. The aunt gets attacked at a senior's party at the grandma's.

The big brother is trying to study with his friends, but they find this weird tadpole outside the street.

Quickly the monsters start soon eating everyone that comes in sight. They start multiplying and growing bigger, and bigger.

The teens try to survive. There's also this young kid obsessed with horror films and monsters - the audience's surrogate clearly.

After what appears to be the longest nightmare they've ever had, they defeat the creature and its spawn for good.

In a move that doesn't want the film to end, we are treated to a surprisingly long and slow-paced long epilogue not that far from George Romero's 1968 Night of the Living Dead... but wait for it, there's a HUUUGE twist at the end!!

The Deadly Spawn is really quite something.

The film mostly starred a bunch of unknowns. Playing your typical protagonists you see in this type of film. All the familiar archetypes, the school nerd, the smart girl, the bimbo, the dumb friend, etc. None is really that remarkable honestly.

Although I find the dialogues ring pretty true to real life. Heck, even the kid character in this film is actually bearable for once and he has a pretty natural discussion with a psy (the uncle).

The film keeps cutting to show us a lot of characters, and most don't even make it that long into the story.

But these dumb cutout character are also where Deadly Spawn surprises the most.

Playing off our usual expectations, a lot of clichés are completely ignored and whoever ends up surviving at the end of the day might not be your familiar archetypes. Catching us off guard.

The kid's really the best character in this film, where in other mature horror films they often tend to be quite annoying, here he doesn't speak that much and seems rather calm and intelligent. Through him we get a lot of references to other classic monsters and other horror films

It makes this a really fun B-movie once you get past the surface.

There's also the great alien creature, or "Spawn" as they appear to be named. Growing bigger and bigger through the film.

If anything it feels like the movie had just a great idea for a monster, and from they improvised most things in the film - including the production!

Like most 80s horror flicks, there's a lot of gratuitous shots in the film from the wife's nipples at the beginning of the film to a decapitated head's flesh being ripped off (in front of the kid no less!).

The Deadly Spawn is first and foremost a movie that knows what it wants to be, showing the audience a ton of blood and a pretty unique monster design. The creature might be kidn of goofy but it's pretty fun to look at! Even if we all know it's all puppets and a suit, the little details like all those countless teeth and saliva is a great work of art.

The film takes almost entirely place inside a single home. They had no budget but were able to make such a unique film!

Where others similar films like the cheesy Critters or Joe Dante's fantastic Gremlins shine through their quality and great cinematography, the deadly Spawn manages to be a fun B-movie with no-name actors, a non-existent budget, bad production values and only relying on its creature alone!

The best aspect is without a doubt our monsters. Despite some clearly cheap shots and animations they can also show some impressive movements for the smaller tadpole-like larvae which wiggle along the ground. And the big one has some great puppetry.

It's really fun and actually well put together.

I really like how the film played with the usual conventions of the genre and kills this film's best candidate for a "final girl".

They try avoiding showing us the creature for too long, budget and all.

There's some great silly scenes that avoid spending too much time and money on our monster like the fun attack at the senior dinner party.

The youngest character of the cast seems to stand in the basement in front of the actual monster (!!) for what seems to take half of the film's running time.

But the film can be pretty smart actually, unlike most horror films this kid quickly understands the situation and what is happening and shows some signs watching way too many horror films will probably save your life when you encounter a real one! Ha!

Also, the film ends on such a silly but unique note...

Most of the reasons the movie ended up the way it is were completely random or huge luck.

The ideas for the film were conceived between producer Ted Bohus, inspired with these tadpole-like creatures and effects director John Dods who already had some ideas for suits for the monsters. So they came up with several alternative and ended up including all these as different forms of the spawns including the giant spawn at the end of the film.

There's been some rumors the reason they killed off the girlfriend character was because she got another job, but really Douglas McKeown just wanted to detract from our traditional conventional expectations of the genre. Which, story goes, is the point that shocked and surprised most audiences in the theater.

The Deadly Spawn is probably one of the goriest films of the genre. These spawns do love to eat people's faces off.

Sure it's not super impressive and pretty cheesy at times, but it's also really infectiously fun.

The film clearly knows its audience. The kid stands in for us horror fans who grew up watching old and classic horror films like The Thing from Another World, Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and the likes. (In fact he clearly has a poster of all of those in his room). The film shows some actual respect for the genre rather than mocking or deconstructing the genre.

Michael Perilstein composed the quiet score for the film, which is very reminiscent of 1950s serials. It really works wonders for the B-movie atmosphere, it's fun and even creepy at times.

Overall, The Deadly Spawn or "Return of the Aliens: The Deadly Spawn" is a really fun B-movie. You got to wonder why they even bothered calling it that, I mean are we supposed to think Ridley Scott's Alien returned to us in the form of these "Deadly Spawns"? One has nothing to do with the other!

The story can be best summarized as "aliens eating people". It's low budget with some tacky acting, but it's also really fun. I must Recommend this if you love gory films of the 80s!

It was very much a passion project, and it shows. It's really fun despite the low budgert and cheesy nature. Douglas McKeown really wanted this to be huge at the time, there's even a whole comic book prequel that explain the background for these "spawn" things!

The film almost got a sequel. In fact, the 1990 scifi horror film Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor directed by Glenn Takajian actualy started as a direct sequel to Deadly Spawns... until they completely reworked the script into a separate different film (but it still kind of shows). It was also produced by Ted Bohus and his partner Ron Giannotto when they were trying to make a sequel to Spawn.

Actor and director Tim Sullivan who debuted in the industry working on this film as an assistant is still very much open to the idea of making a sequel now two decades later. Even as a low-budget direct-to-video home release, he apparently has some ideas were they would go beyond the original film.

I give it:
2 / 3 RebBrowns!

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