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The Deadly Spawn: Millennium Edition


It’s ‘Deadly’ fun.

Rod Lott February 20th, 2012

From 1983, “Deadly Spawn” clearly is rooted in the style of the 1950s sci-fi monster movies whose posters bedeck one of the character’s walls, from Bert I. Gordon's "The Spider" to Jack Arnold’s “Monster on the Campus” — films in which severe deficiencies in budget are mitigated by ingenuity and charm.

thedeadlyspawn

In this New Jersey-lensed low-budgeter, a meteor (or something like it) crashing into the woods unleashes an alien menace in the single most hideously decorated house in film history, where the tables, walls and chairs are painted Pepto-Bismol pink. Among the seemingly infinite family members inside the multistory home are a monster-obsessed kid (Charles George Hildebrandt), his science-minded older brother (Tom DeFranco, “Alien Nation”) and their Aunt Millie (Ethel Michelson), who’s a dead ringer for “Saturday Night Live” character Debbie Downer.

The mother creature is a triple-headed, Audrey II-esque thing that takes root in the the dank, dark depths of the family basement; its spawn resemble giant sperm fashioned from cuts of raw meat. While the bulk of the movie tracks the aliens’ attempted takeover of this home, a wonderful subplot ensues in which they crash a luncheon of a bunch of old biddies attended by Aunt Millie.

While “The Deadly Spawn” admittedly begins slow as its establishes its paper-thin story, it picks up considerable steam the more cast members it picks off. If you can get past the amateur performances — and you can — you may find yourself close to enchanted by the filmmakers’ sincerity, even if half of it comes off as camp. I’m unsure how much the film cost — the insert reads $20,000; a piece of bonus footage estimates $250,000 — all the money went into the effects, which are practical, imaginative and first-rate.

Truly earning Elite Entertainment’s “Millennium Edition” designation, the Blu-ray is packed with more extras than viewers would expect from such an effort, including:  
• a four-minute alternate opening that makes the camping prologue far longer than it needed to be;
• 35 minutes of casting footage shot on a black-and-white VHS camcorder;
• a reel of "bloopers," more accurately described as behind-the-scenes footage that offers a closer look at the effects team at work;
• a commentary that sounds recorded via phone; and, best of all,
• 40 minutes of local TV news reports and interviews on the movie’s making. One misidentifies the film as "The Deadly Span" and inexplicably uses Hank Mancini's "Pink Panther" score. Another focuses on the "horruh" film "Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor," which is an unofficial sequel, and mentions the producer’s next "will hopefully star Erik Estrada.” (It didn’t.) —Rod Lott


 
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