Evil Spawn (1987) Review

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Judging by the poster/ VHV art and trailer for Evil Spawn, one would assume that it’s yet another Alien Invasion movie, harking back to stuff like The Alien Factor, Nightbeast, and The Deadly Spawn. In reality it’s not that film and as strange as it sounds Evil Spawn is closer to being a really low budget version of Death Becomes Her, made several years before that film with a monster, a lot more blood, and a whole lot more nudity. Anyway it’s about an aging actress, Lynn Roman who is offered a product that will stop the aging process. Desperate to get here career back on track she takes it, only to discover that the serum is made from microbes from Venus that transform her into a bug-alien monster that goes on the rampage killing folks. She does transform back after killing people, so the serum almost serves the same purpose a full moon does in a Werewolf film.

To be sure, Evil Spawn is not a great film. The acting is purely Z-grade, the plot is all over the place, the script is stupid and contains tons of groaner lines, and the direction is static. And this film is really padded as well, as in while this movie barely clocks in at 70 minutes, the opening credits are drawn out by going for the white text on black screen, one at a time technique just so the film can be as long as it is. Needless to say, this movie is awesome. Perhaps what I love most about this movie is the dialogue. One of the aspects of Ed Wood’s films that is perhaps the most infamous is his wooden ear for dialogue, and with lines like “Modern women, they’ve been this way since the beginning of time.”, it can be easy to see why Wood is frequently seen as the worst writer of dialogue of all time. However, like most aspects of Wood’s filmmaking, those that declare him the “worst of all time” really need to watch more movies because Wood’s writing is fantastic compared to this, with lines like “this girl is all natural, no preservatives added”  being one of the least terrible lines. In addition, the direction is uninspired, and yet also all over the place in terms of focus, it’s quite easy to see that this film is the product of more than one first time director. Yet, one thing that does stay constant is that this film takes itself absolutely seriously, there is not the slightest hint the filmmakers are “in on the joke” and that’s really important as it allows the film’s badness to be more entertaining, and shows why so many “so bad it’s good” classics were made before the early 1990’s as directors back then had no real concept of people watching a bad movie because it’s bad, whereas now far too many bad directors are in on the joke, a move that takes away some of the wonder of these true blue anti-classics. Oh and the acting is horrible, the as all the characters look like they were former 1970’s porn stars (with the exception of Lynn Roman’s assistant, she’s too young) and have the acting skills you would expect from washed up 1970’s porn stars. One of the actors in this movie does look like Troma boss Lloyd Kauffman, which is a huge plus and further adds to this film’s unique and totally awesome B-movie feel.

This being an Exploitation film from the 1980’s, Evil Spawn is loaded with cheap gore effects. The blood looks pretty fake, but again that just made the movie all the more awesome and it is plentiful. Because this is an Alien Invasion movie and not a Slasher film in the vein of The Burning, the kills aren’t very creative, but they are done well and pretty much deliver what one could hope with a film like this. This film is also loaded with a lot of nudity, and I mean a lot of nudity. Now I’m not one of those that think that just because a film has a lot of nudity it qualifies as “porn” for some reason, but yeah this is “bluer” than I expected as this contains several very drawn out nude scenes. Also, the monster’s design looks cool, especially for the budget (it’s pretty clear the money went for the special effects in this one) and reminded me a bit of The Guyver, even though this came out several years before the film version came out, though the manga was already about two years old at that point. So with that this film has great gore, ample amounts of nudity, and a killer creature design. In other words this film has the three B’s of any great Exploitation flick- blood, breasts, and beasts.

And then there’s the fact that this film actually tries to contain a message about the effects of vanity on individuals and how society at large tends to encourage this sort of behavior. It feels as tacked on and out of place as one of Jerry Springer’s final thoughts; a venture into a morality play in hopes of bringing some sort of meaning into what otherwise is complete trash. Yet, it adds to the fun because the filmmakers take this film’s supposed “meaning” so seriously, it really does feel like they were actually trying to make some statement about modern standards of beauty and how the cosmetics industry drives people to do outlandish things in order to maintain some idealized form of beauty. Now don’t get me wrong, it fails in this endeavor, this is Evil Spawn and is nowhere near having the legitimately profound anti-colonial message of Cannibal Holocaust or the civil rights themes prevenient in Night of the Living Dead, but it still helps make this film even more entertaining because despite the best intentions of those involved, it comes across as absolutely moronic and laughable. To the filmmakers though, this is some sort of profound point that needs to be said.

Though I expected Evil Spawn to be a bad film, it still ended up catching me by surprise not necessarily because it’s worse than I expected, but rather why it’s as bad as it is. I fully expected a mere paint by numbers Alien Invasion film a la Nightbeast, albeit with worse acting, directing. and writing. That film though is not what Evil Spawn is, instead it’s a strange mashup of movie with werewolf themes, riffs on the cult of beauty, and a giant bug monster with really bad acting, directing, and writing. Yes, worse than Nightbeast, and all presented in a glorious package of 1980’s schlock. This film delivers on its promise and then some and should satisfy fans of bad 1980’s Sci-Fi Horror. This is the best movie about cosmetics turning an aging actress into a giant bug monster that kills people ever made, and I stand by that. Check it out!

8.5/10

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