Luke Owen counts down to Halloween by reviewing horror movies from the last 60 years; next up is The Deadly Spawn (1983)…
Well the 80s certainly had a lot to choose from when it came to picking horror movies – and it was hard to pin down a choice! I wanted to review The Thing and The Fly – two of my favourite horror movies, which are both proof that remakes can surpass their originals – but instead I landed on The Deadly Spawn. Don’t ask me how.
With a budget that could barely afford a multi-pack of Monster Munch, The Deadly Spawn (originally titled Return of the Aliens: The Deadly Spawn) is a colourful little horror film about alien creatures who attack a small town after a meteorite crashes nearby. While the film is fun, it can be summed up really quickly – it’s awesome when the aliens attack and it’s boring when they’re not. There really isn’t much more to say.
The effects work and models of the aliens are very creative and when they’re on screen they do genuinely look threatening. And while they look good, the actual human death scenes themselves look awesome. The effects shots of people losing their heads, losing their faces and losing their body parts all look superb; it’s really fun to watch and doesn’t get old quick. There is a real sense of danger whenever the aliens are attacking or nearby which makes the movie quite suspenseful.
But sadly, the characters are really, really dull and the scenes where they interact with one and other and extremely boring and almost sleep inducing. Several scenes and conversations ultimately lead to nothing and act more as filler until the aliens return to chow down. The Deadly Spawn often feels like a 20 minute movie badly stretched out to 90.
On top of that, the survival choices seem really bizarre. We’re introduced to 6 characters in the opening 20 minutes (excluding the 2 campers right at the start) and, unsurprisingly, not all of them survive – but the ones that do are more or less in a catatonic state. The only real survivors who come out fine are two characters that show up halfway through the second act – one of which only really shows up by the third! You’d expect these two to be nothing more than blood donors but instead they become the protagonists and eventual winners. Perhaps this was done to shock the audience into thinking that not everyone can survive, and in a way that does work as I was genuinely shocked and saddened by one of the deaths (as cool looking as it was), but it also means that we never connect with any of the characters, which in turn means we don’t care who lives and dies. We spend an agonising amount of time setting up a relationship with two of the characters only for one of them to bet bumped off in the next scene.
You may have noticed at the start of this review I said the title was originally Return of the Aliens: The Deadly Spawn and you may also wonder why a movie that isn’t a sequel has a “return” in the title. Well, this movie was so cheap that in order to get people to see it, they tried to trick their audience into thinking this was a sequel to Ridley Scott’s Alien, as there was a rumour during the movies production that a sequel was in the works. To be honest, I don’t think it fooled anyone and while I kind of like The Deadly Spawn, it’s certainly no Aliens.
If you see a cheap copy of The Deadly Spawn, I highly recommend picking it up. It’s not a bad film and when the aliens are attacking it’s an awesome one. But it does drag in places and the dialogue scenes are horrendously dull. The gore factor is high which adds a lot to the movie‘s gravitas, but overall it’s nothing but an average-at-best monster flick.
Gore: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / Scares: ★ ★ / Entertainment: ★ ★ ★
Luke Owen is a freelance copywriter working for Europe’s biggest golf holiday provider as their web content executive.