MEMORY MOVIES: My "Unofficial" HTF Review Thread (SPOILER WARNING)

SWFF

Screenwriter
Joined
Jan 14, 2010
Messages
1,920
Location
USA
Real Name
Shawn Francis
I've decided to turn this into a review thread, for I've got some other flicks I'd like to talk extensively about. Perhaps, one, or two, a month. And they won't all be within the horror and/or science fiction genre. Now, what is a "memory movie" you might ask? Well, we all got 'em. Simply put, it's any film that has a vivid memory connected to it, good or bad, and the best ones, generally those with good memories, are from you childhood, when you first saw it. All the movies in my collection are memory movies, but, some resonate more than others. That's just natural. If you guys have any serious memory movies in you collection, I'd love to hear about them, and the memory, or memories, connected to them. Any genre.





http://www.hometheaterforum.com/image/id/405441/width/1000/height/800 I became aware of this movie back in 1988, through a magazine called, SLAUGHTERHOUSE MAGAZINE. It was a new horror magazine that had just started coming out, and the first two issues have articles on this movie. After that I heard nothing—nada, zilch, zero—until Lionsgate put it out on DVD at the end of 2003.





I bought it based on all those cool monster pics SLAUGHTERHOUSE MAG ran, and I was not disappointed. I tend to watch this flick from time to time, and just recently had another urge to put this underrated gem on. When I went in search of some photos and general info about on IMDB, in preparation for this review, I learned some things I hadn’t known before.



In their trivia section on IMDB’s METAMORPHOSIS page, I learned that even though the film started production in 1987, it was years before it was ever completed thanks to the heavy amounts of special effects and stop motion animation the filmmakers decided to put into it, and it goes on to mention that afterwards it went through some legal red tape, before Vidmark picked it up and finally distributed it in 1993 to a few film festivals before it landed on tape.



It also goes on to say, something which I already knew, thanks to SLAUGHTERHOUSE, that it initially started filming under the title, DEADLY SPAWN 2: THE METAMORPHOSIS, for it was originally set to be a direct sequel to THE DEADLY SPAWN, which I will eventually be doing a review on soon.



The moment the opening credits end we start on a long shot of the TALOS Corporation’s building. It’s night, all looks serene, and there’s nobody around but the security guard, who later on we learn is John Griffen. He’s alive and well, and in one piece at the moment, but all that’s about to change once his computer alerts him to a problem in one of the labs. A quick scan of the security camera shows him something’s wrong with the lab’s high tech door. It looks like it wants to open, but can’t.



Like the efficient security guard he is he heads down to get a better grasp of the problem. But, now, there’s an enormous pool of blood in front of the door. After some fiddling with the lock, it didn’t seem to want to accept his security card, the door slides open, alarms go off, and a man, whose face is mangled beyond all recognition, save for his left eyeball, stumbles out and falls into John’s arms.





John lays him out on the floor, wipes his badge free of blood, and utters, “Oh, my God, Elliot . . .” This poor security guard would still be alive if he had just ran back to his post and called in some back-up, or whomever he’s instructed to call when things like this happen. Instead, he draws his gun, enters the lab and is instantly set upon by an unearthly horror that tears him to shreds.



Good-bye, John Griffen, wish we knew you better.



Once Dr. Viallini, the oily suit in charge of TALOS, and semi-hot, Dr. Nancy Kane discover Elliot and John’s bodies, and the demolished lab, they retire to Viallini’s office where we learn terrible things have already come to pass, and that Viallini has an idea—a really shitty one—on how to cover it all up. He calls into the office two corporate assassins—what I took them to be—and fills them in on what has happened thus far. This is where the movie turns into a flashback, but it returns intermittently to that briefing for dramatic moments between Kane and Viallini.





During our flashback we’re introduced to a Dr. Michael Foster, who with the already introduced Dr. Kane, are hard at work in that soon-to-be demolished lab experimenting with alien life forms. Specifically, a little critter they have affectionately called, Spot. The camera pans around the lab, as it does we see some unearthly sights that we eventually learn are mutant-hybrids, various animals inserted with alien DNA.





One of the more memorable mutants is a very cool looking dog-creature named, Checkers.





We also learn in this early scene that Foster and Kane are an item, and had she not been trying to kiss him during his extraction of cells from Spot, none of this movie would have happened. The needle goes into the wrong place, pissing Spot off, which results in the expected toothy bite retaliation.





Kane is infected with alien DNA, and soon, like, within nanoseconds, he’s beginning to mutate into something deadly. These flashback scenes are where I learned how annoying and useless semi-hot Dr. Kane really is. Eventually, we’re introduced to Dr. Elliot Stein, who, at times, sort of acts as the movie’s comic relief.



This is where the impressive creature effects really start to show themselves off, as you can see from the photos I have interspersed this review with below. God, how I miss good old fashioned practical animatronic effects. If you’re into these kinds of movies, certain names among the Special Effects crew will stand out, like John Dods (MONSTERS TV Series, THE DEADLY SPAWN, NIGHTBEAST), and Vincent J. Gaustini (MONSTERS TV Series, SPOOKIES, MIND KILLER).



For his initial transformation, Foster is confined to a writhing, indescribable form strapped to a bed. Most of this time he’s crying out in pain in an alien tinged voice, and coupled with his animated head effects, actually, gave me the willies, still does, too.












One of the more creepy results of his transformation is the little toothy maws he’s able to shoot from various cavities on his mutating form. Just check out the picture below. In the middle of this maw, what Kane describes as a quill, will jut out and secret a caustic venom. This is a cool plot point that gets woefully unused throughout the flick. As most of the cast, and I do mean most, get these things attached to their bodies, no one really succumbs to anything I could pinpoint as alien venom. If it had, I suppose, the movie would have been a lot shorter.










Viallini’s eventually death scene is a doozy, for he takes one of these maws right in the face, like an eye patch. Ouch! When the cast starts to get widdled down, it starts with poor Elliot who is the first victim of the now transformed Dr. Foster. A three-pronged tentacle latches onto his guts and tosses him around the room. He visibly breaks his arm in the scene, but if you go back and rewatch that opening scene with John Griffen, his arm is suddenly working pretty well.



It’s about time I introduced you to this movies heroes, Griffen’s two daughters, Sherry (Tara Leigh) and Kim (Dianna Flaherty), and Sherry’s still-in-the-closet boyfriend, Brian. Seeing that their father never came home from work, they get a little worried, and realize that something may have happened to him at TALOS. That’s when Sherry decides to play Scooby-Doo one night, (she’s the Alpha Male in that relationship), and sneaks into the building, armed with the security pass her Father forgot to bring the night he was chewed on, but this ain’t no cartoon and things turn bloody real fuckin’ fast for the naïve three. Sherry drags Brian along but won’t let younger sis, Kim, come, so, she stows away in the car, and gets into the building later on using a method no respectable security would fall for unless he was Moe, Curly, or Shemp.



The movie has a nice 80s vibe, you can see it in Kim’s garb, and hairstyle. Not to mention music and out of place song that runs over the credits. Hell, they still do that today. Just stick to the moody instrumentals, I say.



There are two moments, well, three actually, that don’t work for me, simply because they’re implausible. I’ve seen them all done in other movies, too. There are two scenes where characters are walking down the hall, and are suddenly taken by surprise by something they should have seen in the first place given the line of sight. One moment concerns Brain and alien slime on the floor that he slips in, and the other is when Kim, lost in the labyrinthine hallways, stops for a smoke. She leans against the wall, goes to light up, then turns her head slightly, and is horrified by Checker’s dead body. I’m thinking, how did she not see that unholy mess as she walked up to it, in fairly well lit conditions!? Incidentally, Checkers got free after his lab was demolished, one of the assassins happened upon him, and gunned the poor fucker down with his concealed UZI.



The third is a major character being seemingly killed off by our alien/hybrid menace, but shows up minutes before the movie ends in one piece.



“How did you survive?” Sherry asks him.



“Just lucky, I guess,” he replies.



Oh, please . . . dude, you should be deader than a doornail.



Actually, this is one of those movies where all three of the principal cast should have ended up dead, due mostly in part to that unused caustic venom plot point.



Back to the movie . . . let’s see, where did I leave off? Oh, right, Sherry and Brian are snooping around Viallini’s office, Kim is roaming the halls, and getting freaked out by Checkers, who’s splattered all over the floor, Dr. Kane and Viallini are somewhere in the facility, too.



Since I have mentioned very little about the corporate assassins, let me rectify that right now. They do have names: Mitchell and Jarrett, and like Viallini, they both come off as oily scumbags. So much so that when Jarrett encounters Sherry and Brian in the office, going through Viallini’s computer, he beats up Brian, and later when he finds Sherry in the hall, he beats her up, too. Have no fear, scientist-turned-mutant, Dr. Foster, bumps into Jarrett and eats the fucker.





As we near the end of the film (this is where the glorious stop-motion begins to take over) the only survivors are the daughters, her boyfriend, and one lone assassin, Mitchell, who aligns himself temporarily with them as they are cornered at a very critical place in the building. Earlier, when everything was fairly okay, and no one had yet to succumb to any kind of bloody death, Elliot came up with a cure for Foster. It entailed hitting him with a major blast of electricity, that when done on a low-key basis, killed the alien cells. Though the kind of blast Foster would need required a special lab that looks like the loading bay of the Sulaco from James Cameron’s ALIENS, and a device code named, the Atomic Shotgun, which extends down from the ceiling. A very impressive set for an ambitious film like this one, I must say.













The finale of the film takes place here, where the Atomic Shotgun actually does succeed in turning Foster back to his human form, unfortunately a moment later he’s back in his mutant-alien form, and swallowing Mitchell whole.



Oh, Mitchell, we knew you all too well. And, good riddance. Though, you were fun to watch.



When all is said and done, Sherry, Kim and Brian stagger out of the lab and towards the front doors looking like bloody death warmed over. This is where, like the end of THE DEADLY SPAWN, the movie hits you with that one last punch. Remember Spot, well, he’s mutated into something that’s going to present a lot of people with a lot of problems later on. (See below).





Then we cut to the outside of TALOS, as Spot comes crashing through the roof in a form big enough to take on Godzilla.



Aside from those “problems” I mentioned, this movie kicks some serious ass. If you like monster flicks, and practical effects, and stop-motion, you need to see this.



Now the DVD.



As I mentioned earlier Lionsgate put it out back in 2003, barebones, save for the trailer, and to add insult to injury they released it full frame. Considering the problems this flick went through in getting made and released, and the extensive effects employed, to wondrous end, I say, this movie deserves a special edition. Whether we’ll ever get to see that special edition is another story altogether.



The transfer, however, is quite vivid and clear. More clear now that I’ve gone from a component hook-up to an HDMI one. Audio is Dolby Digital 2/0, and it comes with subtitles and a scene selection screen.
 

SWFF

Screenwriter
Joined
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Messages
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Real Name
Shawn Francis
THE DEADLY SPAWN review is coming. Still gotta proof read it. End of the week, perhaps.
 

SWFF

Screenwriter
Joined
Jan 14, 2010
Messages
1,920
Location
USA
Real Name
Shawn Francis




[SIZE= 12px] I can’t recall a specific moment when I became aware of this movie. I know it was early on, and I seem to recall seeing a photo, possibly a publicity shot, of the Spawn in the cellar, looking all bloody, with body parts strewn around it on the floor. I don’t even remember where I first saw that photo. I can only imagine it was in Fangoria. I do, however, recall my reaction to that photo: I thought the monster was cool looking, but I was thoroughly taken aback by how bloody it looked and even more grossed out by those body parts.[/SIZE]


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[SIZE= 12px] My first real memory starts with the VHS. I bought it in the spring of 1996, when I was 27, from a small business called S&J Productions in New Jersey. The catalog I always used to get from them was called, Science Fiction Continuum, and they sold all kids of science fiction and horror movies and a big selection of anime. When that spring catalog arrived, with THE DEADLY SPAWN in it, I whipped out my checkbook and bought it on the spot. [/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] I will admit that when I finally saw it I was just as disturbed by it as I was when I first became aware of it through that aforementioned photo. What is it about low-budget gore; it always seems more real than anything you might see in a big budget flick. I don’t know, maybe, that’s just me. Anyhow, when I was done with the movie that night, and even though I thought the monster effects were amazing, I vowed never to watch it again, and shelved the VHS for good in my cabinet.[/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px]I even recall the night I watched it, THE MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS: THE MOVIE had just debuted on cable, so, that would mean it was a Saturday, and I watched some of it just so I could get that awful taste of the Spawn out of my mouth. [/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] A few years later, I eventually got rid of it because I got sick of being reminded of all the gruesome carnage I had to witness every time I opened up the video cabinet and saw it sitting there. Then, like always, some years after that, I was thinking about the movie one day, and thought, ‘Damn, why did I throw that out? I could go for that movie right now.’ Another odd thing about horror movies that end up unsettling you, they always seem to end up being some of you favorite flicks later on in life. [/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] So, you all can imagine my absurd enthusiasm when I learned from the Internet in 2003 that THE DEADLY SPAWN was finally hitting DVD, in special edition form, no less. That’s right, I bought that mother, and never looked back, but more on that glorious DVD later.[/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] First, let’s get into the movie. [/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] It opens up on a long, scenic shot of the countryside, done in miniature, and looking rather moody. Lightening strikes, and then what appears to be a meteor crashes into the mountainside. Suddenly, in the next scene, it’s the dead of night and two campers go off to investigate. It indeed was a meteor, and it still looks hot and fresh. [/SIZE]


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[SIZE= 12px] One guy runs back to the tent to get a camera, and runs smack dab into one of the hungry occupants of the downed space rock. It’s small, goes unseen in that initial scene and the carnage it delves out is nicely orchestrated through the sound effects of ripping flesh and clothing. When we do finally see the “space traveler” it’s in shadow and the goddamn thing is growing! [/SIZE]


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[SIZE= 12px] After the credits we are introduced to Sam and Barb, who, as the scene plays out, are waking up one rainy Saturday. These two characters don’t stick around long because they’re destined for the mall for some weekend shopping, plus, they’re gonna be dead real soon thanks to that alien life form we just saw, for it’s now holed up in their cellar. [/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] God, don’t ya just hate it when that happens? Aliens . . . they never cut you any slack. [/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] The reason given for Sam’s encounter with the Spawn is while he’s in the bathroom, he apparently doesn’t get enough hot water from the faucet, and decides to head down to the basement to check the water heater. This basement reminds me of the one I had when I was a kid, that one flooded, too, when it rained a lot, and so does the one I have now. What also adds to he eeriness of this particular basement is the medieval arched doorway that leads into the area where the Spawn has holed up.[/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] While Sam ventures into this darkened area he’s knocked down. The next time we see him, he’s lying in the water, and blood covers his chest and mouth. He’s then dragged off into the hungry darkness and fed upon. Meanwhile, Barb is in the kitchen writing a note on a blotter on the wall notifying the rest of the family of their trip into town; a very clever plot point to explain their absence without alarming the rest of the family to their insidious demises. It’s not long before she’s wondering why hubby is taking so long, and goes down to see what’s up. With her demise we see more of the Spawn; specifically, how big it has gotten. We also learn how expertly it can tear the side of someone’s face off like you and I would skin a piece of succulent chicken off a well-cooked chicken leg with our teeth. Though, like the previous demises, most of what’s disturbing about it is transmitted through gruesome sound effects and a spasming arm, as poor Barb is eaten alive in a standing position by the far wall.[/SIZE]


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[SIZE= 12px] Ugh![/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] Next, we’re introduced to the rest of the family, with ten-year old Charles kicking off things as his blaring TV wakes up his visiting Aunt Millie and Uncle Herb. What’s he watching? Well, from what you can hear of the movie and from what you can see of how is room is decorated—Forrest J. Ackerman must have had a hand in that—you get the clear impression it’s one of those science fiction masterpieces from the 50s. [/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] We also meet his older brother, Pete, he looks of college age, but it’s never mentioned whether he’s a high schooler, or a collegian. Just for the record, he struck me as a freshman in college. From the banter we hear over the phone with one of this friends, and at the breakfast table with his Aunt and Uncle, we learn he’s pragmatic thinker and heavy into the science field, and doesn’t go for any of those monster movies Charles is into.[/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] This section of the movie ends with a peak through a window at the garage outside. The heavy wind has blown open one of the doors and we see the parents’ car still sitting there, all the while you can hear the weatherman stating over the radio, which has been running in the background in some of those previous character building scenes, that “ . . . it’s gonna be a bad day . . .”[/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] Yeah, no shit, most likely the single worst day of these character’s lives.[/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] It’s not until the electrician and two of Pete’s friends arrive that the movie finally shows its teeth. See, the Spawn is putting the kybosh on the electrical box downstairs, but, naturally, everyone assumes the storm is responsible, and thus calls the appropriate “fix-it man” to save the day. As the electrician is diverted down to the basement by a note attached to the front door, Charles decides he wants to put a right old scare into the poor man, so he puts on a red cap and a monster mask and creeps down.[/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] At the same time, Pete’s friends, Ellen and Frankie, show up, and they come bearing a bizarre gift, something they found lying on the ground during their rain-soaked walk over to the house. When they dump it in the bathroom sink for Peter to have a look, he, and we the viewer, see it’s an infantile spawn, which at this early stage could pass as some kind of weird eel.[/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] Both of these scenes are unfolding at the same time, and while Charles is taking an unwanted crash course in Spawn biology, so is his brother, Pete, except at this juncture in the movie, I would rather be in the middle of Pete’s skull session rather than down in the bloody trenches with Charles. But, don’t you fret for the borders of Charles’ bloody trenches will eventually branch out to encompass the upstairs, and transform Pete’s world into one of pure tragedy and terror, too. [/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] As Charles ventures into the basement, he soon learns something’s amiss. There’s no sign of the electrician and he’s starting to find splashes of blood everywhere, well, everywhere, he happens to point his flashlight. Suddenly, wiggling through the water, like a salamander, he sees something that looks an awful lot like what’s sitting dead upstairs on the sink. Intrigued, he follows it, and unknowingly ventures into the Spawn’s lair, where the electrician is discovered dead and half eaten at the feet, or tentacles, of the Spawn, and, just as it’s eating his mother’s head.[/SIZE]


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[SIZE= 12px] This is where I got seriously unsettled, as I said before, there’s something more real about low-budget gore than there this is about the stuff you would see in any high budget flick. More gory revelations ensue, the spawn has three, sightless heads, and it has quite a few offspring slithering around than just that one Charles was tracking. [/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] Meanwhile, Barb’s head falls out of one of it’s mouths, and the moment it goes plop in the water and rolls around to look at Charles, he is traumatized for life. Rarely do I see a horror movie where the “extreme horror” visibly traumatizes the characters, where you can see the toll the encounter has taken, and how it will affect their actions and interactions for the rest of the film. I applaud the film for trying to show, somewhat, the reality of what it must be like to gaze into a Gorgon’s face. [/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] I myself was a bit traumatized by this scene, too. Especially, when it came to all those smaller spawns converging on the head and slowly tearing it to shreds. Charles closes his eyes tight, probably wishing to God he didn’t have to see this mother like that. At the time, I could sympathize. But no sooner has his psyche taken the mother of all bitch slaps when, in the next instant, he’s suddenly back in lucid action glaring at the best with murderous revenge in his eyes. Here, we learn sight is not important to the extraterrestrial, for it tracks its prey through sound. [/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] Hmmm, do you think this might be something he’ll be able to use later on in the movie? [/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] Back upstairs, Pete, Ellen and Frankie are cranking out theory after theory as to what that thing in the sink might be. [/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px]Interspersed into these scenes is a very brief subplot involving Pete and Ellen and the fact that Pete seems to be smitten with her. It’s even punctuated with a nice kiss. The horror of the Spawn doesn’t hit these three until they pay a visit to Pete’s uncle who has decided to take a nap in the other room after interviewing Charles. Uncle Herb is a psychologist, and he was fascinated with Charles’ fascination with movie monsters, and thus was bred a very weird interview, in my opinion anyway.[/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] But before I get into Uncle Herb’s death, the movie cuts away to Aunt Millie’s visit to her mother, and the get-together she’s having with some of her friends at her house. Even though it’s eventually interrupted by the onslaught of the infantile Spawn, this is the only part of the movie that drags. [/SIZE]


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[SIZE= 12px] Now, back to Herb . . . Pete, Ellen and Frankie decide they want to mention this biological find to him, and when they enter the room, they find his body overrun with hungry spawn. This never made any sense to me. He’s still in the same position he was in when he went to sleep, so, he didn’t feel anything weird, like, parts of his body getting munched on? Well, it is remotely possible he may have suffered a fatal heart attack and was dead before the spawn got to him, or the young spawns have a paralyzing toxin. Which now that I think about it, isn’t possible, for they would have shown it in the attack at Millie’s mother. There were a few people that got bit and nothing happened to them that would indicate paralysis, or unconsciousness. So, that only leaves the theory that poor old Herb, or lucky old Herb, as the case may be, died before he was eaten. And, man, was he ever eaten.[/SIZE]


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[SIZE= 12px] There were eating his eyes from the inside out and one even bursts from his chest as the kids come on. Nice touch to see Frankie veer off to the side and puke at the sight of it all.[/SIZE]


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[SIZE= 12px] As all three kids race out of the room, they’re instantly confronted by the adult Spawn, that suddenly looks smaller than it was down in the basement. In the upstairs onslaught it looks no more than five feet tall, and in one scene, maybe, even four.[/SIZE]


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[SIZE= 12px] The kids barricade themselves in Charles’ room. As everyone is freaking out, the appearance of another guest puts them all back on the clock. Kathy, another friend of theirs—I think, it’s Frankie’s girlfriend—suddenly enters the house. Oddly, she makes it upstairs without incident, that is, until Pete goes to pull her into the room and ---BAM! --- the Spawn appears, and Kathy narrowly escapes. She loses her jacket in the process, though, to the alien’s insatiable appetite. Nice way to get her to show off her body, for Kathy is very well endowed. [/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] This actress was supposed to show her tits, I assume, in that scene, but she refused to do the nude scene at the last minute. [/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] Too bad.[/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] Now, we come to the part of the movie where Pete loses his would-have-been girlfriend. In the Trivia part of THE DEADLY SPAWN’s IMDB page, it indicates Ellen was supposed to live, but the actress had gotten another job, which would make her continued involvement in the movie an impossibility, so the filmmakers just wrote her out. I assume this bit of trivia is also covered in one of the two, maybe, even both, commentaries, but since I only watched the movie recently, and not with the commentary, I can’t exactly say for sure. [/SIZE]


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[SIZE= 12px] Pete’s hatches a plan. [/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] He plans to run to his room and call for help on the phone, and everyone else is welcome to follow. Simple right? Well, once everyone exits, the Spawn attacks, dividing the group. Frankie and Kathy panic and race up to the attic, while Ellen is too slow and stays in Charles’ room. Bad move. The Spawn breaks down the door, slithers in and chomps her head off as her body goes whizzing out the window. Pete witnesses this, screams bloody murder and flees to his room. But he doesn’t make the call; instead he goes out the window and scales the roof, in the rain. [/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] The finale takes place in the attic, after Pete reaches it and Frankie pulls him in. Unfortunately, Pete has been even more traumatized than his little brother. He still thinks Ellen is alive and intends to go down and get her. Frankie tries to stop him and Pete flips out, and in his hysterical tirade, you get the notion it was a combination of Ellen’s death, and the sight of that creature, that’s made the poor boy lose his marbles. [/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] Charles is the one who ultimately saves the day as he concocts a plan, one that would make even MacGyver proud, that results in the Spawn losing it’s main head in a very controlled explosion using electricity and some flash powder from a magicians kit.[/SIZE]


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[SIZE= 12px] Apparently, someone got to a phone, ‘cause after the storm is over Pete and Charles’ home is flooded with emergency service personnel and concerned neighbors. Pete, looking even more shell shocked than before, is helped out of the house and into a nearby ambulance. Frankie is seen comforting his girl, Kathy, who looks more out of it than he does, and, well, as for Charles, he’s taken away by ambulance too.[/SIZE]


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[SIZE= 12px] The townsfolk are all hip to the Spawn now and are seen in the last few reels rounding them all up and burning them. [/SIZE]


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[SIZE= 12px] Well, someone certainly dropped the ball during the Spawn round-up, just before the movie ends it cuts to a long, miniature shot of the house and the surrounding mountainside, and before you can say, ‘Hey, I think you guys missed one.’ the enormous head of a Spawn comes rising out of the mountain! [/SIZE]


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[SIZE= 12px] Thank God it was Synapse that got a hold of this gory masterpiece, ‘cause they done gone and gave us a special edition worthy of a ticker tape parade. To start off, there’s a nice insert of the poster used for its theatrical release, and in one of the commentaries a story will be relayed about someone looking at the poster and commenting on how the Spawn looks like three dicks with teeth, which is what I thought, too, when I first saw the creature all those years ago. The other side of the insert is a Scene Selection listings over a gory shot of Barb’s face coming apart. I prefer to have the poster art showing when I open the case.[/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] The transfer is a full frame one, and as it states under the Scene Selection on the insert, “This DVD contains a new, digitally mastered transfer of THE DEADLY SPAWN in the “windowboxed” format, exposing more picture image than the standard “widescreen” framing . . .” [/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] The special features are as follows: two commentaries, one with Producer, Ted A. Bohus, and one with Tim Sullivan, Writer/Director Doug Mckeown, Actor Charles Hilderbrandt (who played young Charles), Special Effects Director John Dods, and Executive Producer Tim Hilderbrandt (who died in 2006). It goes without saying the best one to listen to is the group commentary.[/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] Other features Synapse included is the Theatrical Trailer, Blooper and Outtake Reel (no audio), a Still Photo Gallery, (which covers Advertising and Promotion, Behind The Scenes, Cast Photos, Original Concept Art, Publicity Photos and The Movie Unleashed), a Comic Prequel, Filmmakers’ Biographies, and an Alternate Opening Sequence (which is basically only different in that some very minimal CGI-ish effects have been inserted to beef up the meteor crashing down and how it looks smoking on the ground), A Visit With The Deadly Spawn 1982, and last, but, not least, Audition Tapes, where you can see the different actors they went through to find just the right Pete, Ellen, Frankie and Kathy. [/SIZE]


[SIZE= 12px] Incidentally, you’d never know it by the film, but the actress who played Ellen, (Jean Tafler), has a pretty rockin’ body, where as the actress who played Kathy, (Karen Tighe), decided to cover up her entire body in her audition. [/SIZE]


[SIZE= 18px][COLOR= #b22222]THE DEADLY SPAWN [/COLOR][/SIZE]​



 

SWFF

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I know it's not out on "legitimate" DVD, but either at the end of this month, or January, I think, I'm gonna review the VHS of THE BOOGENS. I tend to watch it every winter, so, only natural that it be the next one to be critiqued.
 

TravisR

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Originally Posted by SWFF

I became aware of this movie back in 1988, through a magazine called, SLAUGHTERHOUSE MAGAZINE. It was a new horror magazine that had just started coming out, and the first two issues have articles on this movie.


Man, I remember Slaughterhouse. I went through my old Fangorias recently and it was funny to see an article on a movie that was then seemingly forgotten but now, 10 or 20 years later, has a fanbase and a DVD release.
 

SWFF

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I'm shocked Fangoria never covered it. They reviewed it, but not one extensive, or even brief, article on its making. Slaughterhouse, though, did a mighty nice job on it, excellent photos, too. I saw some guy on Ebay a month ago selling all his Slaughterhouse mags.
 

SWFF

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Prior to my DEADLY SPAWN review I emailed producer, Ted Bohus, regarding some news I had heard many years ago about him wanting to either get a prequel or a sequel off the ground. Well, he finally responded to me a few hours ago, saying, yes, he'd like to get "something" off the ground, whether it's a prequel or a follow-up, he still wasn't sure about. He also mentioned they're doing a DEADLY SPAWN comic book that he'd like to someday turn into a movie. And, as an added piece of trivia he threw in the fact that over in Japan they think there are three Spawn movies, the third being SPAWN 3: THE REGENERATED MAN.
 

SWFF

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Well, THE BOOGENS review has fallen by the wayside. It got too long, to unwieldy, and I spent so much time on it, that I suddenly lost interest in completing it. I did, though, have the ending of it done, which is basically a transcription of what Charles E. Sellier had to say about the movie in a Fangoria article. The article wasn't solely about THE BOOGENS, but about most the movies Sellier worked on in his career. What you're about to read is everything from that article that's related to THE BOOGENS:


Here’s what Charles E. Sellier, producer of THE BOOGENS, had to say about the movie in Fangoria Magazine, 1995, Issue #147, from the article titled, “Stranger Than Fiction.”


“ . . . The texture of reality is what intrigues me about anything supernatural or horrific.”


The mixing of that texture with a horror story resulted in The Boogens, a film that was supposed to be, in Sellier’s words, “Journey to the Center of the Earth for the 1980s.” But a buyout of Sunn by Taft Broadcasting in the late 1980 changed all that, and The Boogens became a preview for Sellier as to how Taft would—and wouldn’t—do business. “Boogens was based on stories about miners and explorers who kept running into strange things; anybody who has spent a lot of time in a mine just gets fear in their eyes when they tell you about these happenings,” he says. “ ‘Boogens’ was what the miners called these things. The picture was in preproduction at Sunn when Taft bought us out, and hey beefed up the sex and violence to reflect the change in ownership and viewpoint.


“I had lost control since I no longer had any say in the company, and was kind of there in name only,” continues Sellier, who stayed on to fulfill a seven-year contract, signed just prior to the Taft takeover. “Boogens was already booked into theaters [for fall 1981] and had to be delivered, but since Taft didn’t want to follow through with the distribution arrangements, it was released through Ray and Clair’s company Jensen-Farley, which was the old Sunn distributorship. Fortunately, they cared enough to make the film a success.”


The Boogens was first written as a novel by Sellier and Robert Weverka from a story by Tom Chapman, who also wrote the first draft screenplay. Chapman was subsequently rewritten by David O’Malley, whose script was in turn revised at Taft’s behest by Jim Kouf, who took credit under the pseudonym “Bob Hunt” (as he would in his subsequent genre film The Hidden). Needles to say, with five writers involved, things got a little jumbled and the original scenario was altered. “The plan was to give the film a realistic tone, so that it felt like it had actually happened and the camera was there to record it,” says Sellier of the movie, which was directed by Hangar 18’s James L. Conway. “but it ended up as more of a dramatic piece because of the additional interplay between the kids. It also lost some of the backstory about the miners’ experience.”


A major change was likewise made to the ending. The book concludes with everyone but a greedy landowner dead and the boogens about to pour out of the mountain, but Sellier decided that wouldn’t work on screen. “I knew that would be a very dissatisfying ending for the audience, so it was changed to a chase through the mine that ends with an explosion, stopping the boogens from getting out and allowing some of the characters to survive.”


But the harrowing experiences of the film’s protagonists were nothing compared to events behind the scenes, as Sellier reveals. “We started filming he cave scenes on a soundstage in Park City, Utah that used to be a supermarket, where we built huge sets and used spray foam. We didn’t know how flammable that stuff was and while we were shooting, the foam caught on fire. All our cave sets were destroyed. We were only half done, and if you look closely, you’ll notice some discrepancies, because we to actually go down into the mines in Park City to finish the picture.”


Examining the boogens themselves—as created by William Munns and Ken Horn—proved a bit more difficult, as they are not clearly seen until the picture’s climax. “Since the budget was around $600,000, that obviously influenced our approach,” says Sellier. “But I’ve always felt that less is more—just like in the old monster movies where seeing only part of the creature let your imagination run wild. The boogens definitely work, though—they scare he hell out of me every time I see the film.”


Most viewers have been unable to share in the fright for over ten 10 years, as The Boogens remains unavailable on video despite being in the library of Aaron Spelling’s Worldvision Enterprises. However, one man who owns a copy is Stephen King, a confessed fan of the movie whose contact with Sellier went beyond discussing The Boogens . . .”


After reading that about Stephen King I did some web-research and learned he did a review of the movie in the July 1982 issue of Twilight Zone Magazine called, “Digging The Boogens.”


Now, when it comes to the VHS full screen and the widescreen of the bootleg and the version TCM occasionally airs, I have compared them, and noticed there is no extra picture gained, on the sides, through the LBX versions. You do, however, get extra picture on the top and bottom of the VHS full screen version. By the way, the TCM/bootleg version has much better picture quality, with a clearer picture overall when it comes to the scenes shot in the dark cellar and the mine.

The differences in the movie and the novel are many. Let me see if I can recall some of them, since I read it a few years ago. I was curious about it and located a used copy through ABEBooks.com.


To start off, the seasons in which both of them take place are significantly different. The novel takes place in spring, while as you all know, movie occurs in the dead of winter. There are three kids—Trish, Rodger and Jessica—that rent the house in the novel. Mark, if I recall correctly, is actually one of the miners, or a miner that is investigating the mine. And, I seem to recall his partner is a woman, but I’m not sure if Dan and Brian are their movie counterparts, or not. Might be.


I also recall the old man from the movie is a rich, old guy who may, or may not be, confined to a wheelchair, and the Sheriff is his corrupt right hand man. I also remember someone, perhaps, Mark, and this woman, in town investigating what happened to some other dude who was exploring the mine and vanished, but his truck was found a few counties, or a state away. I remember something along the lines of them speculating that the sheriff may have killed him, and planted his car that far away so as to not connect him to the mine’s location, or something like that.


The boogens from the novel are very different. Again, going on memory here, I think they were described as being part octopus and part spider, and that once one of their tentacles latched on to you, you were pretty much as good as dead, for their grip was like an iron clamp. And, yes, the ending was a major downer with all the kids, and Mark, being killed. I also recall a scene where Mark is rushing back to the house to save Trish, and that’s where the both of them die.

I may read the book again some time in the future, it’s quite short running only 182 pages. Oh, and the girl who opened up the house for the kids, in the movie, and who ended up getting killed, was actually a guy in the book, but I don’t remember how the boogen got him.


I can see how the went with a turtle-like Lovecraftian monstrosity in the movie, pulling off a critter that’s part spider, part octopus, for early 80s FX tech would have been pretty tricky. Regardless, I still think the movie versions are cool.
 

SWFF

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aley I taped this movie off of cable a few months ago. It's an excellent tale of a guy (Tim Daly), who's pretty much a died in the wool athiest, who suddenly inherits his aunts house after she dies. It's haunted, of course, but what comes out is a tale about repressed memories, childhood abuse, and ghosts who either can't let go, or need to continue their torment. Best acting I think I have ever seen Daly do. Some of his breakdown scenes, where he's finally remembering the abuse are hard to watch at times. But, it's a movie, with one of those endings that has you going, 'Wait, what happened?' I recommend zooming in on Daly at the end, which I did last night, and it helped to learn what I learned. The DVD could certainly use a commentary, and the movie could certainly use an epilogue. Seek it out. I think it's still showing on cable.
 

SWFF

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I taped this movie off of cable a few months ago. It's an excellent tale of a guy (Tim Daly), who's pretty much a died in the wool athiest, who suddenly inherits his aunts house after she dies. It's haunted, of course, but what comes out is a tale about repressed memories, childhood abuse, and ghosts who either can't let go, or need to continue their torment. Best acting I think I have ever seen Daly do. Some of his breakdown scenes, where he's finally remembering the abuse are hard to watch at times. But, it's a movie, with one of those endings that has you going, 'Wait, what happened?' I recommend zooming in on Daly at the end, which I did last night, and it helped to learn what I learned. The DVD could certainly use a commentary, and the movie could certainly use an epilogue. Seek it out. I think it's still showing on cable.
 

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