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March 1, 2012

Movie Review: The Deadly Spawn (1983, Blu-ray)

I first discovered Douglas McKeown’s The Deadly Spawn more than two decades ago when I rented the Continental Video horror compilation VHS of Terror on Tape. The Deadly Spawn had several of its goriest scenes featured throughout the running time. It was love at first sight. Not long after I got a hold of the porn box VHS of the feature under the title Return of The Aliens: The Deadly Spawn. John Dods’ awesome gore FX and creature design and the playful schlockiness of the production delighted my wacky monster movie tastes. In 2004 Synapse Films re-mastered The Deadly Spawn and put together one of the best releases in their existence. Now it’s here, on Blu-ray from the folks at Elite Entertainment.

Buy The Deadly Spawn on Blu-ray or DVD

The premise involves a meteorite that crash-lands into the woods just near the home of a monster movie loving kid named Charles (Charles George Hildebrandt). In this meteorite there’s a toothy alien and her "spawn" that seem to grow every time it munches on anyone. The alien quickly retreats to the houses basement where it begins to feed on members of Charles’ family.

As the film progresses and after being introduced to much of the family we find that Charles isn’t quite as stupid as everyone else in the household. He has an edge because of his knowledge monster flicks. There are a ton of nods to classic horror films here as well as Famous Monsters magazine, so you may find yourself gazing at the different posters and other knick knacks while watching the film. As mentioned earlier, the creature design by John Dods is pretty remarkable for such a low budget film. The story by Dods and Ted Bohus is pretty simple, as is the dialogue, but the love for creature features is very noticeable.

When I heard that The Deadly Spawn was coming to Blu-ray, like many, I was thrilled. After watching the Blu-ray I have to say I’m quite disappointed with the over use of DNR (Digital Noise Reduction). Characters look like they belong in a wax museum; colors are off and even blurry in spots. It’s as if someone took a loofa to scrub the grain out.

The majority of the awesome extras on the Synapse release have been ported over to the Elite Blu-ray. A couple notable deletions and inclusions: The two commentaries on the Synapse version are swapped for a brand-new one with producer Bohus and editor Marc Harwood. Additionally, a new intro has been added with Bohus showing off some memorabilia from the film and doing his best Edgar Bergen impression with a Spawn puppet.

The Deadly Spawn is an awesome, gory piece of low budget 80’s sci-fi horror; I really wish that more care was taken in creating this “High Definition” representation.

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