The action begins when two male campers are surprised by a crashed meteor, from which an alien hatches and promptly eats them. Cut to a family living in a toy house (yes it’s an obvious miniature set, but trust me, it comes into its own later). Seventies decor is rampant inside, and a woman walks around in a completely see-through nightie, while her husband goes into the cellar and gets viciously attacked by a Little Shop of Horrors shaped shadow puppet. His bloody demise takes place just out of view, and just when you assume the film is going to be coy about showing gore, the nylon-clad lady gets her face ripped off in surprisingly grisly detail.
The proper reveal of the alien is great fun, the ‘spawn’ tadpole things are pretty creepy, and the woman’s disembodied head being pulled apart by aliens is wonderfully gruesome. There are several gory set-pieces as the monster gets bigger from eating more people, and I particularly enjoyed the tonsil-cam alien p.o.v. shots (are its eyes meant to be inside its mouth?). A group of old ladies get attacked by a swarm of razor-toothed slug puppets in one of the film's campiest scenes. And as the film nears its end, everything seems to be headed for a particular cliche ending – but the final twist was not what I had expected, and it did make me laugh.
Overall this is a very low budget sci-fi monster movie, which owes a lot to other films (it even has a baby alien bursting out of someone’s stomach) and has a classic b-movie feel. It looks more 70s than 80s, and most of the actors never appeared in any other films (unless you count the bloke who apparently went on to a prolific career in gay porn). However The Deadly Spawn does feel like there’s a real love for sci-fi horror behind it. The alien puppets are lots of fun, and the gore is surprisingly effective. It would never have won any Oscars, but I found it great entertainment in a cheesy, drive-in, b-movie kind of way. 4.5/5
Edited version of a review originally written for badfilmfriday.com.