The Deadly Spawn – USA, 1983 – overview and reviews

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‘Earth vs. the ultimate eating machine!’

The Deadly Spawn is a 1983 American science fiction comedy horror feature film written and directed by Douglas McKeown from a story conceived with Ted A. Bohus and John Dods. The movie stars Charles George Hildebrandt, Tom DeFranco and Richard Lee Porter.



A crash-landed alien finds refuge in the basement of a house and grows to monstrous proportions, eating those unlucky enough to venture down. A handful of teenagers try to survive the onslaught of the creature and its young…


The mother spawn was constructed in the basement of effects artist John Dods. However, no-one took the creature’s size into consideration, so when they had to have it on set, they had to cut off one of the creature’s heads to get it through a doorway and reassemble it on set.

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Gene Simmons, the lead singer of rock band KISS, currently owns the prop severed head of the kid’s mother. It was given to him by Tim Sullivan – who also supplied additional dialogue for the movie  – when he interviewed Simmons for Fangoria in 1983. Sullivan – who was a PA on this film – went on to produce Detroit Rock City and write and direct 2001 Maniacs and its sequel 2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams.

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Reviews [click links to read more]:

“Despite a minuscule budget and grainy 16mm photography, the action moves quickly and the special effects are surprising. The alien mother, with three heads and endless rows of teeth, is one of the most unholy creatures ever seen on the screen, and though some of the spawn are obviously hand puppets, they still inspire squeamishness.” All Movie

“A thoroughly enjoyable low budget monster fest, The Deadly Spawn is one of those love letters to the horror genre like Phantasm, The Evil Dead and Basket Case, albeit nowhere remotely as polished. Still, its sincerity and overwhelming desire to please the audience easily gets the film past a few rough spots, and the limited funds were wisely dumped almost entirely into the effects budget.” Mondo Digital 

“The humor doesn’t come in the form of canned one-liners or slapstick, but in just the absurdity and grotesqueness of what unfolds. It’s not an overtly comedic movie, but when the movie did get me laughing, it was intended. The special effects are the best part, though. The creature design is fantastic — very original and extremely memorable.” DVD Talk


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The Deadly Spawn 21st Century Distribution promo still



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Cast and characters:

  • Charles George Hildebrandt … Charles
  • Tom DeFranco … Pete
  • Richard Lee Porter … Frankie
  • Jean Tafler … Ellen
  • Karen Tighe … Kathy
  • James L. Brewster … Sam (as James Brewster)
  • Elissa Neil … Barb
  • Ethel Michelson … Aunt Millie
  • John Schmerling … Uncle Herb
  • Judith Mayes … Bunny
  • Andrew Michaels … Camper #1
  • John Arndt … Camper #2
  • Diane Stevens … Nibbs
  • Darlene Kenley … Hilde
  • Madeline Charanis … Ju Ju


The film’s promotional title was changed in some territories to Return of the Aliens: The Deadly Spawn and Return of the Alien’s Deadly Spawn as attempts to cash-in on the success of Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien

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One Comment on “The Deadly Spawn – USA, 1983 – overview and reviews”

  1. Ahh man, this might be my favourite “no budget” movie.
    I guess they had a problem reaching a sufficient runtime, ’cause there are a few scenes with drab, inane conversation which are longer than they should be, but other than that, it’s very enjoyable, and likeable.
    And the monster just looks way, way cooler than anything with that budget should!

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