Gifford Sighting #2
The book which indecently obsesses me, Denis Gifford’s big green A Pictorial History of Horror Movies, turns up again! I’m always interested in what books movie characters have on their shelves.
I first spotted the movie book in an actual movie when I watched Obayashi’s HAUSU, an everything-including-the-kitchen-sink horror romp in which the book is prominently placed in a train sequence ~
Now it rears its big green Glenn Strange head again, in THE DEADLY SPAWN, a prosthetics effects wallow from 1983. I was just admiring the fact that the boy hero has the same KING KONG poster on his wall that I had as a boy, when I found myself thinking, “I bet he has the Gifford book too” — and then I noticed it in the very same frame ~
KONG poster: top left. Gifford book: centre frame, to left of kid’s head.
The preponderance of gleeful gore and rubber creatures makes the amateurish DEADLY SPAWN just about watchable, with the main source of horror being the interior design ~
All those squiggly clashing patterns: it makes THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG look minimalist. This must be what Mary Poppins sees when she rubs her eyes really hard.
Asides from the literary guest star, what HAUSU and SPAWN have in common is a rather Giffordian impetus: they don’t draw inspiration from any one image in the Big Book, rather they seek to make a movie so full of messed-up images that watching it is akin to leafing through the book itself, with each crazy monster/disfiguration following hard on the heels of the last. Obayashi does this with a lot more cinematic invention, needless to say, making his film just about the loopiest thing ever. THE DEADLY SPAWN is basically an amateur movie with a few production values and a lot of enthusiasm — tolerable in itself and no doubt a dream for gorehounds.