The Deadly Spawn
Sooner or later I was going to mention this one as I think it’s one of the most gratuitous indie movies ever made. Reportedly filmed for less than $25.000 in 1983, The Deadly Spawn is basically about a nasty alien resembling a carnivorous plant (Little Shop Of Horrors inspiration!) that crashes on earth inside a meteor and seeks shelter in the cellar of a suburban house. As it eats poor defenseless passers-by, since there’s like a really big family in that place, it grows up to astronomical proportions until our mandatory teenager hero stands up against it. And that’s it really — if I was a serious film reviewer (which I’m certainly not) that’s about everything I’d have to say and would probably end bashing the movie for its insipid plot, nonsensical script and godawful acting. But luckily for you people, I don’t take anything seriously (not even me) and really tend to enjoy this sort of stuff. Believe me when I tell you that The Deadly Spawn is truly mindless and gory, and outdoes most similar efforts of the era.
From the first death occurring 90 seconds into the movie to the introductory music sounding like 50’s sci-fi tunes, you know this is going to be a romp. The movie really works in the first place because of the terrific creature design, devised by John Dods who is credited in Spookies and the first X-Files movie. It’s tremendously well done with natural movements and textures that producers achieved and is very memorable. It has in fact become a sort of icon in recent years. You have likely seen the creature somewhere, maybe in a video store that still rents VHS or as an avatar in a web forum. Heck, even the poster is famous. Needless to say, the design rivals some of the very best movie monsters out there — which certainly shows since you’re going to see it for about half the film (yeah, they liked it too).
Even though the whole deal does feel a bit flaky, The Deadly Spawn has great moments: most deaths are surprisingly violent and the first time our hero faces the monster is a very tense and effective sequence. Also, the direction is quite daring in a few places, with fancy camera movements and angles, as are the special effects. Many times throughout the movie you’re bound to think “now look at that” as you wasn’t expecting anything too remarkable from the get go. All in all, much larger productions like TerrorVision and Night Of The Creeps probably owe to this little film, which shows just how important indies can be both to movies and games. Maybe one of the funniest trivia facts ever can be credited to this one as well, since apparently some folks intended to cash in on the success of Alien – the Ridley Scott’s ALIEN – and rename this to Return Of The Aliens. Sometimes human beings honestly leave me speechless. In their defense though, I must say that some sort of parasites the creature expels (I won’t get into further details) do bring to mind Scott’s baby Alien. Overall, this fine little movie is certainly worth your time, especially if you enjoy weird monsters like me — and yes, the wordplay there was intentional.
The Deadly Spawn can be acquired from Synapse Films.