The Deadly Spawn was made in the early 80s on a very low budget and is essentially a homemade horror movie. I believe the total budget for everything was under $25,000 and this is shot on film with multiple effects sequences.
I had waited for years to see this, and the DVD was finally released in 2012. The reputation of the film has grown over the years but I found it to be surprising slow, and the acting (apart from a few isolated scenes) is pretty ropey.
The film (in between the effects sequences) just seems to be killing time to make it feature length, there’s little for the actors to do (which is probably a good thing) and I had a tendency to lose interest in between the scares.
However, while I have previously defended Rawhead Rex I will say that The Deadly Spawn is worth watching as a ‘how to’ guide on making a low budget horror. Firstly, it’s set in essentially one location, it uses a small cast and it spends the real money in the budget on the homemade special effects. There’s blood, gore and the monster is pretty impressive for the budget.
Many low budget filmmakers extend themselves too far with too many locations, too many costumes and too big a cast. The Deadly Spawn delivers plenty of thrills, scares and action in one location, and it doesn’t stretch the limited budget. It often needs a lot of imagination to think of a worthwhile story that only contains one location and a few characters, but this film almost pulls it off.
It’s worth watching…
So, 12 films to go…
Matthew Cooper has written for nearly all of the UK soaps, including Emmerdale, Eastenders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs. He was winner of the first ever Lloyds Bank Channel Four Film Challenge and the Oscar Moore Screenplay Prize. He’s been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated. His first short film ‘Family Style’ starred Ewan McGregor and was picked up by Channel Four in 1994. He’s been a script consultant, script writer for hire for over 20 years. You can find a partial list of his broadcast credits on the IMDb.