THE DEADLY SPAWN (1983)
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The Deadly Spawn is an 80s low budget Sci-fi/horror with it’s heart firmly planted in the 50s. The story opens with two campers in the woods seeing a meteorite crash-land nearby a la The Blob. They go to investigate, but are soon attacked and killed by the meteorite’s passenger. This venus flytrap on steroids crawls into the basement of a nearby house and not only begins to snack on the house occupants, but grows and multiplies, it’s spawn spreading out into the neighborhood, during a fierce rain storm. The house survivors desperately try to find a way to fend off the alien creatures, while the rest of the neighborhood is slowly being added to the menu.
It’s difficult to be too hard on a film that is basically an ambitious home movie. The flick was made in my home state of New Jersey for just $25,000, which was dirt cheap even in the early 80s and has developed a cult following. The film is a strictly bargain basement but fun movie written and directed by Douglas McKeown from a story by he and Special FX man John Dods and producer Ted A. Bohus. There is a lot of heart here, but it is still very amateurish on a production level. The film is directed rather by-the-numbers by McKeown and there are some scenes that are obvious filler and seem to go on and on and not accomplish much. A lot of the sequences are also clumsily staged, especially the laughable neighborhood clean-up in the last act where people are obviously just wandering around without much purpose or direction. What makes this work is some impressive monster and gore effects done with far more ingenuity than cash and while the budget doesn’t afford us too much monster on the loose stuff, what it does gives us is rubbery and bloody fun. There is plentiful gore and while the acting is wooden across the board and the dialog downright terrible at times, there is still fun from watching the effort by cast and crew to give us a 50s monster flick 80s style. There is a very 80s electronic score by Michael Perilstein to add nostalgia and atmosphere and the film looks pretty good for such a low budget shoot under Harvey M. Birnbaum’s cinematography. A cheesy labor of love from a group of Jersey monster movie fans that may be strictly amateur, but has a lot of heart and some delightfully rubbery critters to go along with it’s cliché characters and table top miniatures.
This is an ultra low budget flick that looks and feels it, too. The makers did have a love for what they were doing and obviously, for the films that inspired them and that makes up for a good deal of the cheesy, low budget badness the film carries. Sure the dialog is terrible, the acting awful and the directing very-by-the-numbers, but it has charm and is a noble effort with some entertainingly rubber monsters and surprisingly effective gore. A cult favorite flick that deserves it status and shows what you can accomplish with very little when you give it your heart into it.