The Deadly Spawn (1983)
By: Devon B. on October 15, 2012 | Comments
Elite Entertainment (USA) | Region Free | 4:3, 1080i | English: LPCM 2.0 | 82 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Douglas McKeown
Starring: Michael Robert Coleman, Charles George Hildebrandt, James Brewster, Elissa Neil, Karen Tighe
Screenplay: Ted A Bohus, Douglas McKeown
Country: USA
External Links
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I bet a lot of lives would be saved if more people watched The Blob. They wouldn't even need to watch the whole thing, just the beginning. There is a life lesson there that clearly most people haven't learned: If something falls from the sky, leave it the fuck alone because it probably has brought a dangerous alien with it.

The Deadly Spawn has recently been given the High-Def treatment by Elite, and this was my first time viewing the film. Sometimes these 80s masterpieces just slip by me, which is sad, but on the plus side, I occasionally get a new favourite movie from the decade where movies peaked. The Blu-ray starts with an intro by writer/producer Ted Bohus, and it's even sillier than a Troma intro. Yeah, I didn't think it could be done, either.

In the film, a meteorite crashes to Earth, spawning something deadly. This deadly spawn makes its way to a house and eats some people good. While the movie has been awesome so far, it can't sustain this level for the whole run time, so moves on to the story of an aunt and uncle and their two nephews, and the viewer is stuck watching family nonsense for the next half hour. The younger nephew is a horror fan who has lots of cool posters in his room, and the uncle is evidently some sort of therapist who is trying to use their time together to assess if the boy is fucked up. I think it's safe to say that anyone with a King Kong poster is of good mental health. The deadly spawn eventually makes its presence known, providing goofy, toothy fun. Stick with the film through the lull, because once the story picks up again it's a blast.

The Deadly Spawn is a nifty 50s throwback updated with 80s sensibilities. Sometimes the movie doesn't make sense, like when the family openly advertise that they're not home but the house is unlocked 'round the back, but other times the nonsense is funny, like a woman with a nightie so thin it's virtually see through. The little deadly spawns look like penis slug monsters, perhaps an inspiration for the beasties in James Gunn's Slither, and the bigger monster is always great whenever it gets a chance to appear on screen. The film does take awhile to get going, and the viewer has to put up with acting quality that's typical of a backyard production, but these are small prices to pay for the cheesy mayhem The Deadly Spawn ultimately provides. The deadly spawn isn't always the tidiest of eaters so there is a good dose of gore, some of which is very impressive, particularly given the film's tiny budget.

It may not have won an Oscar, but it won my heart. Only a jerkface wouldn't love this endearing tale of an alien struggling to survive on a terrifying new world.
Video
Okay, I'm not expecting a no-budget film from the 80s to look brilliant on Blu-ray, but the video on this release is a travesty, and not because of the source material. The image of this 1080i transfer is really mediocre because all the grain has been removed, making the movie look like it was filmed through a sheen of Vaseline. On top of that there's some edge enhancement and a total drop out towards the end of the film. I can accept the spots and the print damage because of the low budget of the film, and I can even understand why some black crush might be unavoidable, but the DNR is inexcusable.
Audio
The audio isn't a wow, either, but the flaws here can be attributed to the source material, which is pretty rough. There's distortion and some more clean up could've been done for pops, but honestly I was too distracted by the look of the film to have any big problems with the audio.
Extra Features
The Blu-ray comes with liner notes which apologise for the graininess of the film. Clearly they were written before the Blu-ray was mastered. The disc itself has a lot of extras, which may justify the purchase for fans even though the film itself looks shocking.

There's a fun commentary with Bohus and editor Marc Harwood, plus a plethora of local news spots on the movie that run about 40 minutes combined. Some of the presenters are just surprised a local guy has made a movie, but know nothing about the movie itself.

Along similar lines is an episode of Take One which interviews Harwood and runs about 25 minutes.

An alternate opening of the film is provided, with grain intact. I know this looks ugly, too, but I'd prefer it to the ethereal look of the film itself.

The castings tapes run about 35 minutes, and feature rehearsals, screen tests and goofing off. This is black and white footage, brimming with people mugging for the camera and also featuring a glimpse of a Super Bowl ad.

If the mugging wasn't enough, there's also a bloopers and outtakes reel, but this contains no sound.

Also included is an 8 minute tongue-in-cheek interview focused on FX, the trailer, the TV spot, a slideshow and a preview of an upcoming comic book.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Yay movie, boo transfer! Die hard fans would no doubt want this Blu for the unique extras, except there's a Synapse DVD with better visual quality that also has a bunch of unique extras, and the extras on the Synapse DVD sound better than the ones on this Blu. Given the lazy and shoddy presentation of the film itself, I have to give the Blu a minimal score because the film is the most important bit, regardless of how many extras are included.

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