Saturday 10 November 2007

The Deadly Spawn (1983) Douglas McKeown

I remember picking up The Deadly Spawn on VHS about twenty years ago, watching it at a friend's house and loving it to bits. It was outrageously low budget, looking like it was financed, filmed and acted by a couple of families and shot in their actual houses. Of course the acting is poor but it's honest, the effects are a number of levels above the budget, the plot nonsensical but fun and the logic gaps and plot holes numerous.

What it has is a great monster, way too big to believably a) get into the cellar, b) move around, c) get out of the cellar etc, but gloriously betoothed. It also has associated little leech like things that are obvious ripoffs of the creature from Alien. In fact this film was officially titled The Return of the Aliens: The Deadly Spawn, even though it technically has nothing to do with the Alien franchise whatsoever.

The monster comes down to earth in a meteorite, kills a couple of nosy campers, then finds its way to the basement of a house with a well stocked human food supply that it starts working through, before sending the little leech things off to attack another house just for variety. The parents are wiped out quickly, of course, leaving a couple of scientist type teenagers and a kid who lives for horror movies and obviously compiles his Christmas list from the inside cover of Fangoria magazine.

This kid can't act to save his life, but somehow he manages to depict a kid who knows monsters aren't real, can deal with one that appears in his basement and eats his parents, and yet seem completely natural in a red cape and gorilla mask. The actor is Charles George Hildebrandt, son of the fantasy artist Tim Hildebrandt who was one of the Brothers Hildebrandt. They painted the first Star Wars poster, among many other achievements. This was Charles's only film credit.

His elder brother is played by Tom DeFranco, who did return to the big screen for Alien Nation, Dr Alien and a couple of others. You can imagine who he is just by looking at the plot keywords on his IMDb page: 'Alien', 'Hit In Crotch', 'Teen'. Oh, the 80s! I lost track of everyone else, because really this is entirely about the aliens themselves and the effects. I remembered the scene at grandma's house with the little leech thing running riot, but how could I have forgotten the pizza face ripping scene early on? For me, this is nostalgia and it was welcome fun for a Friday night big screen round midnight presentation.

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