We all know that the news channels prefer stories about death, destruction and bad things headed your way, but absent from much of the fear mongering are stories pinpointing legitimate sources of concern. I’m speaking of course, about slug-like aliens from outer space.
Thankfully filmmakers have been far less afraid to expose the slimy and deadly threats from the stars. From Night of the Creeps to Slither, the movies are clearly the place to go if you want the truth about the dangers of intergalactic gastropods.
1983’s The Deadly Spawn exists on a far lower profile than those two, but it follows a similar pattern. Space slugs land on Earth and quickly begin offing humans in grotesque ways. The action here is centered almost exclusively in a single house as a trio of nerdy high-schoolers and a horror-loving pre-teen find themselves trapped with the mutating and multiplying monster. Cue the face munching.
People start dropping fairly quickly with four of them dying mostly offscreen. A few more die later in the film in much more satisfying fashions.
Lots of post-death blood is splattered against the walls, but once the onscreen mayhem starts we see a great face rip via monster teeth, a bloody feast with baby slugs munching away, some foot and leg nibbling, slugs writhing around in eye sockets, and a headless body flying through the air.
We’re teased early on with a pair of dark nipples saying hello from behind a sheer nightie, but that’s pretty much the extent of the T&A on display. Unless you count the G-rated hug and kiss between our supposed hero and an eighties-hot geek girl.
Has anything good ever come from approaching a meteorite crash site? No. The answer’s no. So if you take nothing else from this movie make it the simple lesson that flaming space debris is to be avoided. Oh, and overalls never look cool.
“It’s going to be a bad day.”
A meteorite crash in the woods draws the attention of two campers who almost immediately fall victim to a large shadow puppet. The creature quickly sets up camp in a nearby basement where it chows down on an unsuspecting couple. It’s worth noting that the first three deaths are almost completely offscreen, and we get little more than blood thrown against a wall or spilling across the floor. But the last of the four?
A very enjoyable and messy face rip thank you very much.
Things settle down after that as we’re introduced to a trio of science geeks arranging a study session, a young boy whose love of monster movies has led to him crafting his own creature masks, and a gaggle of older ladies gathering for tea and canasta. Unbeknownst to all of them the creature is multiplying in the basement as it feasts on human flesh. Small slugs wiggle their way around and quickly grow into little Alien-inspired baldies unafraid to take a bite out of anything with a pulse. Soon everyone’s fighting for their lives, and while some succeed others fail in gloriously gory ways.
There’s no hiding the fact that The Deadly Spawn is a cheap as hell movie. The cast and crew were clearly amateurs, but many of them were also clearly fans of the genre. That love for horror along with some brief glimpses of real talent make this a far more entertaining flick than its budget and reputation would have you believe.
The script and acting are mostly forgettable, but there’s some good and smart filmmaking still to be found here. In particular, there’s a scene past the midway point of the film that feels out of place for all the right reasons. While the rest of the movie is directed amateurishly, with love, but still amateurishly, the scene where young Charlie first sees the creature in the basement is pretty fantastic. It’s doled out slowly and deliberately with a strong and grisly reveal, but neither Charlie nor the camera ever waver or panic. It’s actually a suspenseful and fun scene shot surprisingly well.
But how’s the gore and monster effects you ask? They’re a mixed bag and include more than one shot where the fishing line is clearly visible, but horror fans won’t be disappointed overall. The creature itself is a pretty unique design that resembles a cross between Audrey the killer plant from Little Shop of Horrors and the chest-bursters from Alien. The mouths are loaded with rows and rows of teeth that are responsible for much of the carnage on display, and that’s where the real meat of the effects come into play. Folks are decapitated, their heads are munched on, skin is peeled from their skulls… it’s good stuff.
The Deadly Spawn is ultra low budget and probably won’t appeal to most viewers, but if you have a high tolerance for low quality than it’s definitely worth a watch. And the film’s last few seconds will bring a smile to your face for both its simplicity and awesomeness.