29 May 2009
United States - 1987
Director- Kenneth Hall
Camp Motion Pictures, 1987, VHS
Run Time – VHS: 1 hour, 30 min., (DVD: 1 hour, 40 min.)
Evil Spawn comes in several versions, on the VHS tape, and the credits on the DVD as well claim that Kenneth J. Hall directed this trash-splat classic. IMDB adds a second name, Ted Newsome, but, on the DVD (cover art featured below) in the special features, Fred Olen Ray also claims to have directed it.
In any case, the story is a classic self-referential B-movie from the 80’s. Low budget and crude, it relies on the base exploitation draws (girls, and gore) and plays them to the hilt. Plus the entire movie is scored by a two-bar knockoff of one single track from Ennio Morricone’s The Thing soundtrack (Humanity, Part II), which actually works out pretty well.
In a janitorial closet/laboratory a woman with an awe-inspiring pompadour mullet releases an insectoid hand puppet from its storage crate. The insect attacks a guy in the lab who staggers into an alley and attacks a young couple. Ripping the man’s arm off in a geyser of blood just before the woman is able to crush the attacker against the wall with her jeep.
Pompadour (Dawn Wildsmith, an F.O. Ray regular) visits her boss, a drunk, or at the very least incredibly near death John Carradine. Just before dying he mutters something about his work at which Pompadour scoffs and returns home to stroke a gun, wear a wig and act insane. She has an unexplained stalker fetish for Lynn Roman, an aging Hollywood starlet trying to land the lead role in a movie called “The Savage Goddess”. Unfortunately Lynn (Bobbie Bresee) is considered too old and instead is offered a role in “The She Demon”. Doesn’t sound like a big difference to you and me, but to Lynn, this is a hearty portion of shit soup, so she goes into a downward spiral of vanity depression. In an attempt to recapture the youth she thinks will land her the lead. She’ll do anything, sunbathing, drinking cocktails, injecting alien serums peddled by sinister women with giant pompadours who break into her home. After a nightmare in which she becomes a rotten zombie while accepting an Oscar, this last option begins to sound pretty appealing.
The serum does make Lynn more attractive, at least to her sleazy biographer who intermittently narrates portions of the film while smoking and banging on his typewriter like a noir detective. Lynn confirms the results by checking herself out in the mirror and taking a shower, which is nice, but a bit ironic since Bresee herself is aging, yet she is the lead, and her lady parts are prominently featured. Nudge nudge.
But the side effects, oh yeah, the “hell hath no fury” side effects. Whenever Lynn finds herself getting brushed off for younger women she mutates into a giant clawed insectoid alien, with a vanity problem.
Which is plenty more excuse to deliver the goods, first with her own assistant Elaine (the gorgeous Pamela Gilbert who vanished from the films shortly hereafter) who takes a very generous skinny-dip in the pool before getting devoured by bug/Lynn, and of course the adulterous husband, the biographer, the agent…
One of my heroes Richard Harrison was listed as a star in several places, including IMDB which had him top billed. After watching the VHS with nary a sign of ol’ Richard, I bought a DVD which promised an extra 10 minutes of runtime. Unfortunately, still no Dick Harrison, that 10 minutes was entirely Fred Olen Ray being a self absorbed douchebag. But, there are a few special features that did make the DVD a worthwhile investment. The cover art on the VHS is waaaayyyy better and comes from Camp Motion Pictures who have released a good deal of super low budget 80’s fare on DVD that is well worth tracking down. So you win some, you lose some.