Director(s) – Kenneth J. Hall (Ghost Writer, Linnea Quigley’s Horror Workout), Ted Newsom (A Century of Black Cinema, Whispers from a Shallow Grave), and Fred Olen Ray (Evil Toons, Scalps)
Starring – Bobbie Bresee (Ghoulies, Mausoleum), Drew Godderis (Blood Diner, Deep Space), and Dawn Wildsmith (Cyclone, Surf Nazis Must Die)
Release Date – 1987
Rating – 3/5
Blu Release – 3.5/5
Fred Olen Ray had a bigger part of my childhood than I really remembered. Scalps is a movie that is close to me when I was in high school but I never realized how many of his movies I had watched as a kid or teenager either on cable or renting from the local video store.
In 1987 Ray co-directed Evil Spawn which has a modest cult following but a few years later the movie was recut with additional scenes added and released under the title The Alien Within. The Alien Within is the version I had seen when I was younger so I was pretty excited to check out the original Evil Spawn cut of the film which I had recently picked up on blu from Makeflix. I figured now was the best time to dig into them with my Ray marathon.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows an aging actress who is often over looked by directors and producers that used to cast her in major roles. In order to appear younger to land more roles she agrees to try a new serum. What she doesn’t know is that the serum is made with microbes that were brought back from space that mutates the person injected with it. It doesn’t take long before she mutates into a giant bug and begins feeding on those that turned their back on her in the movie business. **Spoiler Alert**
I remember watching The Alien Within but I don’t remember what my impression of the movie was. I’m sure I didn’t care for it because it would have stuck with me if I did. I didn’t realize this was a different cut at the time or I probably would have skipped it but after seeing Evil Spawn I would have to say that this is the better version. I couldn’t imagine that additional scenes and recutting it would improve it. I really liked it the way it is in all it’s cheesy goodness.
The acting in this one is actually pretty solid. Most of the other films from Ray are experienced men and beautiful women. However, Bobbie Bresee carries this one. She absolutely gorgeous and absolutely phenomenal in her role. This entire character almost feels like it was written for her exclusively. She was absolutely phenomenal and I loved watching her character change as the film progressed. The supporting cast is pretty great as well. The characters are not written as detailed as Bressee’s but they are still just as fun to watch.
The story for this one is a throwback to the golden age of drive-in cinema with the classic creature features. It does have that late 80s look but it plays out like a traditional sci-fi creature feature. I really enjoyed the story of the aging actress trying something to revitalize her career only to turn into a literal monster. It was fun and I loved the build up.
Finally, the film has some fun effects. The kills are very bloody with some decent practical effects and I love the look of the creature who is portrayed by a young Chris Olen Ray from what I hear. I loved the look of the bug and the kills are the icing on the cake. Overall, Evil Spawn is another cheap and rushed Fred Olen Ray production that somehow works. Fans of 80s monster movies will really appreciate this one and the blu from makeflix.com looks great. I highly suggest snagging this one.
New Audio Commentary Track with Producer Fred Olen Ray
New 2K HD Transfer from the Original Camera Negatives
“Making Of” Video
John Carradine Out-take Reel
Nite Owl Theater
Behind The Scenes Video
Bonus 2nd Creature Feature: “The Alien Within”
Bonus Trading Card