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The Deadly Spawn: Millennium Edition - Blu-ray Review

{2jtab: Movie Review}

The Deadly Spawn - Blu-ray

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4 stars

B-movie enthusiasts and cult film fanatics can rest easy now.  The darling no-budget creature feature from 1983 finally has found a welcomed home in dazzling high definition.  Released by Elite Entertainment, The Deadly Spawn finally completes many a freak’s quest in the sacred collection of quintessential cult films.  It is a film beloved by many creature-feature gorehounds and grislettes and certainly the only to feature slimy penis-looking mutant muthas from outer space that munch on human flesh for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The film has its origins as a sort of weekend backyard project designed to honor the 50s alien-invasion popcorn flicks that writer/director Douglas McKeown and producers Ted Bohus and Tim Hildebrandt grew up on.  They greased the film’s mechanics with 80s-styled blood syrup and some gnarly face-chomping make-up effects and, with the aid of a very, very limiting budget, were able to make a name for themselves and for The Deadly Spawn on VHS in video stores across the nation.

Yes, I was one of those pimply nerds who rented and rented again the only VHS copy I was able to come across in the single video store in my hometown.  It, like the Cheetos that stained my fat fingers orange, was my drug of choice.  Of course, back then it was distributed as Return of the Aliens: The Deadly Spawn in a Roger Corman-like move to capitalize on the popularity and success of Ridley Scott’s Alien.  Of course, with a shoestring budget and an acting pool that can’t pull itself out of the shallow end, there’s no confusing the two films.

Essentially, The Deadly Spawn is a mutant combination of The Blob’s matinee antics and the National Geographic article about scientists finding seed pods in the Arctic that originally inspired Bohus to create this alien invasion.  Here, the seed pods arrive via a meteor and multiply like crazy and have a thing for human heads.  Discovered by two good-for-nothing campers, the spawn makes quick work of their dumb asses and slithers toward a nearby farmhouse and, eventually, a small town to wreak havoc.

Of course the foolish tenants of the farmhouse are clueless to our space invaders (who have already taken their first victims down into the cellar) and, before long, spend the rest of the movie trapped in the attic…trying to outsmart and outrun the three-rowed sharp teeth of our alien invaders as they slither through the house.  Chomp, chomp, chomp.

Outside, the rain won’t stop and the basement is flooding.  Why?  Well, our alien invaders love the moisture and – surprise, surprise, surprise – multiply when exposed to water.  (For all you fact checkers out there, The Deadly Spawn was made in 1983.  Gremlins happened a year later.  It seems screenwriter Chris Columbus totally swiped this idea.  Ahem.)  Anyway, lots of people are maimed, killed, beheaded and, of course, the mother of all the creatures grows and grows and grows and eventually pukes up one mommy’s head at the feet of her horror movie obsessed boy.

Cue the laughter and the good times.  It’s sick flick but never all that slick.  B-movie heaven, in other words.  The acting is clunky, stale and largely hit-and-miss, but the gore is nonstop and ridiculous.  It might seem tame by today’s standards of schlock and shock filmmaking, but The Deadly Spawn has its moments where it absolutely finds its footing when held next to the like.

The Deadly Spawn is the ultimate example of guerrilla filmmaking; it was shot on 16mm and contains so many flubs, dropouts, and herky jerky behind-the-scenes mayhem that one cannot help but fall for this perfect imperfect example of ultimate science fiction freakdom.

{2jtab: Film Details}

The Deadly Spawn - Blu-rayMPAA Rating: R.
Director
: Douglas McKeown
Writer: Douglas McKeown
Cast: Charles George Hildebrandt; Tom DeFranco; Richard Lee Porter; Jean Tafler; James Brewster
Genre: Horror
Tagline:
They Came To Earth To Feed On Human Flesh!
Memorable Movie Quote: "The gorilla! No eating the flesh for him, no sir. He's peace-loving, and adorable!"
Theatrical Distributor:
21st Century Film Corporation
Home Video Distributor: Elite Entertainment
Official Site:
Theatrical Release Date:
April 22, 1983
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
February 7, 2012

Synopsis: Alien creatures invade a small town and a group of four teenagers, plus one little boy, try to escape from them.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

The Deadly Spawn - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

5 Stars



Blu-ray Experience
4.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - February 7, 2012
Screen Formats: 1.33:1
Subtitles
: None
Audio:
English: LPCM 2.0
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Coding:  A

Ah, the Bolex wind-up camera.  I had one of those.  Shot my first film on it in 16mm, in fact which, if I am not mistaken, is exactly what happened with the filming here. Using a variety of 16mm filmstock – borrowed, stolen, or given – The Deadly Spawn’s 1080p transfer is the best it will ever look.  The colors shift from sequence to sequence and the film quality changes over the course of its running time.  Keep in mind that the film was shot over a three-year period by friends and family.  Lack of focus is the norm. There is a bit of tweaking to some of the effects (no CGI), but the retooling seems very natural and help smooth some of the harsh transitions.  The sound – presented in a remastered mono audio track – is another retooling that makes this Millennium Edition of The Deadly Spawn a must own.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Bravo!  Elite Entertainment has seen fit to provide two commentary tracks from Tim and Charles Hildebrandt, producer Ted Bohus, Director Doug McKeown, co-writer Tim Sullivan, and FX creator John Dods that are as fun as they are informative.  They discuss how the effects were made, the challenges they faced when filming with no money, and, among other fun facts, how exactly to get ripe red blood stains out of a Persian rug.  This was a labor of love and there’s no doubt that these folks absolutely love the end result.

Special Features:

Introducing audiences to the film is Bohus who manages to goof around with a puppet from the original shoot.  With this as the opening, Elite Entertainment has provided the goods in supplemental material concerning The Deadly Spawn.  There is an alternate opening, rehearsal scenes, goofy flubs, and deleted scenes.  It’s amazing that these items still remain considering the long and amateur shoot.  B&W VHS footage from the production's improvised rehearsals provide a few hammy actors and a lot of laughs.  Local news footage adds depth to the screenplay and story and are included here to further show the rampant carnage that festers throughout the town on account of these no good wiener-looking aliens.

  • Introduction with Ted A. Bohus (2 min)
  • Alternate Opening (5 min)
  • Casting and Gags (36 min)
  • Bloopers and Outtakes (5 min)

{2jtab: Trailer}

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