Review: The Deadly Spawn (DVD)

Synapse Films brings the 80's creature feature classic The Deadly Spawn to DVD with out of this world results. Feast on my review!

  • Director: Douglas McKeown
  • Starring: Tom DeFranco, Charles Hildebrandt, James Brewster
  • Year: 1983
  • Runtime: 80 Minutes
  • Company: Synapse Films
  • Format: DVD
  • Discs: 1
  • Video: 1.33:1 - 4:3 - Full Frame
  • Audio: English 2.0 Dolby Digital 
  • Region: 0 - NTSC
  • Released: 10/26/2004

A meteorite crashes down to Earth next to two unsuspecting campers in the forest. The campers learn the fallen space rock is much more than that when the contents of the meteor reveal itself and devour them. The human hungry worm creatures with rows of razor sharp teeth hide out in the dark, cool basement of a family's nearby house. The parents of the home meet gory deaths themselves after taking a early morning stroll through the basement.We're then introduced to their sons. Science geek Pete (Tom DeFranco) and his younger, horror film loving brother Charles (Charles Hildebrandt). Thinking their parents are gone on their planned day trip, Charles soon learns otherwise as he sees the carnivorous aliens for himself. Growing bigger by the minute and producing multiple offspring, Charles has to somehow escape the overrun basement to warn Pete before the spawn of monsters break out for a human feast.
The Deadly Spawn is honestly one of the most fun and low budget monster flicks I have ever seen, despite it's shortcomings. Deadly Spawn fully embodies the spirit of independent filmmaking and is in truest form a homemade horror. Made for around $18,000 by people who loved movies and simply wanted to make one themselves. They even shot the film on location in illustrator Ted Hildebrandt's home and made it even more of a family affair by using Ted's son Charles to act as the young, monster loving Charles.
Unsurprisingly much of the film's budget went into creating the titular alien spawn. Every time the monstrous species carves up the screen you can't help but grin. They look fucking awesome thanks to creature designer John Dods and are truly memorable cinematic beasts. The gruesome chow down provided by the evil galactic beings are some of the goriest and hilarious kills ever to grace the screen. Face flesh rips, multiple head devouring and a blood soaked elderly gathering scene are just a taste of the carnage within.
Only downfall is when the aliens aren't chewing up the scenery, things get pretty boring and stale. Most of the characters are forgettable, assholes or grade-a monster food. Just a tiny annoyance but if I watched flicks of this kind for story, acting, etc I'd be in the wrong genre. The Deadly Spawn is perfect for late nights or a rainy, lazy day. It's a blast to watch and a strong reminder of what we're missing in today's mundane and bloated horror market.

  • Video
Digitally remastered from the original 16mm negative and presented in it's original 1.33:1 ratio, Deadly Spawn looks superb. Thanks to Synapse's pain staking hard work you can know fully see the bloody carnage clearly. Sure the production roots hinder it from looking like a recent production but that's part of the nostalgic charm. No blurry, dark or grainy mess to sit through here. The boost of image clarity is super fine and put's previous abused releases to shame. Synapse truly delivers the AV goods as usual.
  • Audio
The Mono track provided is serviceable. It's definitely calm and low but nowhere near inaudible. It does just fine, alien mayhem can still be heard regardless.

Bonus Features
  • Audio Commentary - Producer Ted Bohus
  • Audio Commentary - Cast & Crew
This is a packed tracked filled with many players involved with the making of the film. Tim Sullivan (he was a PA on this film and is now a director himself), Doug McKeown, John Dods, Tim Hildebrandt & Charles Hildebrandt. There is an abundance of great info given throughout detailing every aspect of production. Even a fun anecdote about being on the same street as Sam Raimi & co when Evil Dead and Deadly Spawn premiered together.
  • Featurette -  "A Visit with the Deadly Spawn"
An behind the scenes home video shot back around when the film was being made with creature designer John Dods.
  • Comic Style Prequel
A motion comic prequel story telling the Deadly Spawn's origin and how they crash landed on Earth. Actually pretty cool and answers the question of where the aliens were from/what they were doing before the film.
  • Still Gallery
A truly extensive photo gallery with behind the scenes, FX, marketing and the film's premiere pictures.
  • Alternate Opening
  • Outtake Reel & Audition Tapes
  • Cast & Crew Bio's
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Insert Card
An excellent illustration of the spawn by Tim Hildebrandt, with chapter stops on the flip side. Synapse always includes these with their releases and it's a great added bonus.