Hello, and welcome to The Best Of Number Two here at The Liberal Dead. We haven’t done any kind of theme for a long time, so I thought I would reach out to some some talented people from other sites, and see if we can put something together. I decided it would be a theme about the best second films in a franchise/series. Expect discussion about Metamorhosis: The Alien Factor, The Devil’s Rejects, C.H.U.D. II, Blade II, Sleepaway Camp II, Amityville 2, Island of the Fishmen, The Dark Knight, Final Destination 2, House II and more.
METAMORPHOSIS: THE ALIEN FACTOR (1990)
Before I begin I want to preface this article by saying when I get the opportunity to talk about a specific “memory movie” from either my childhood, teens or early 20s I like to try and seek out participation from someone who was involved in the film be it an actor, an FX artist, the director or even the producer and see if I can get them to add some icing to my cake. I was lucky enough to find producer Ted A. Bohus had a website (http://www.thedeadlyspawn.com/) and a contact email and got even luckier when he was gracious enough to add some icing to this metamorphic cake you’re about to gorge your sweet tooth on.
I wrote the article before I contacted him not sure if he’d be game to contribute, but once he did I simply decided to intercut his comments into at the applicable junctures rather than rewrite the whole thing.
Now, let’s begin…
I’m aware Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor (1990) is not a sequel to The Deadly Spawn (1983), well, not a direct sequel, but if you look really, really close and read between the lines, you can establish a connection. In Metamorphosis it’s stated that the Defense Department gave the Talos Corporation these samples of alien DNA, it’s easy to then surmise the giant spawn that burst from the mountain at the end of The Deadly Spawn was defeated by the military, hauled off to a “genetic chop shop” with the samples going out from there to various “research facilities” (Talos being one of them) thus resulting in the bloody series of events on display in this movie.
I can’t remember when I first caught on to the existence of this flick. I know I read a review of it in Fangoria #132 (isn’t it crazy that Fangoria never covered either movie during it’s production?) but I can’t recall if that was the first time I had heard about it or if there was some moment before then.
The only magazine I discovered back in the day that did any kind of extensive coverage was Slaughterhouse Magazine, a horrorzine from the late 80s that ran like only 5 issues, I think. I bought three and two of them covered Metamorphosis. From issue #1, here’s what Ted A. Bohus, producer of The Deadly Spawn and Metamorphosis had to say back then about its sequel origins:
“…The original DEADLY SPAWN released in 1983 is the springboard for this long awaited sequel. Did I say sequel? Well, not exactly, as producer Ted A. Bohus explains, “This is going to be a far superior film. I know that everybody says that very few sequels are as good as the original, which is true. That doesn’t apply with this film, as it’s not really a sequel. Going from DEADLY SPAWN to DEADLY SPAWN II: METAMOPPHOSIS is a QUANTUM leap in quality.”
This begs the question then why, if it’s not a sequel, was it shot under a title that clearly implies it is a sequel? It’s quite clear once the movie gets going there isn’t one direct link to The Deadly Spawn. This always bothered me for some reason. Even a vague reference to the first would have been great to see/and or hear.
TED A. BOHUS: “As far as the title goes, Metamorphosis was always supposed to be a sequel to Deadly Spawn. The original title WAS Deadly Spawn II. (Your comments about HOW the pieces of Spawn material got to labs was correct) As the budget went up and up there was some grumbling from my partners. “Maybe we don’t want this bigger film associated with the ultra low-budget Deadly Spawn.” What it REALLY was was that my partners didn’t want the film to have Deadly Spawn in the title because that film was so closely connected to ME. They didn’t want this bigger film to be looked at as only a “Ted A. Bohus Film.”
The title was then called Deadly Spawn 2: Metamorphosis as a half way measure. Eventually we just settled on Metamorphosis. When we were getting ready to bring the film to the American Film Market in LA, we found out there was another cheapie film there called Metamorphosis. We then changed the title to Metamorphosis: The Alien Factor.”
Those two issues of Slaughterhouse also come equipped with some really nifty black and white and color FX shots. It’s in issue #2 that the final Spawn is revealed; in color, I might add.
Metamorphosis is a step up from Deadly Spawn, but, hey, I still love that first movie despite the scant budget they made it for. They still managed to pull of some primo FX and fairly decent story. When I first saw Deadly Spawn in 1996, just as it was hitting VHS for the first time, I was thoroughly creeped out by all those scenes in the cellar, so it’s still a very effective film.
Metamorphosis starts out with a bloody bang as security guard John Griffen (Matt Kulis) checking on an alarm in one of the labs inside the Talos Corporation is greeted by the mangled body of a scientist buddy and then gets gobbled up by some kind of “thing” lurking within the trashed lab itself.
Griffen has daughters though, Sherry (Tara Leigh) and Kim (Diane Flaherty), and Sherry has boyfriend Brian (Patrick Barnes), when Griffen fails to come home daughters and boyfriend sneak into the Talos Corporation. Cut into this subplot is a briefing head of Talos, Dr. Viallini (Marcus Powell), has with scientist, Nancy Kane (Katherine Romaine), and two corporate goons he calls in to “fix things” after this “thing” gets out and goes lurking around the building. This is where we go flashbacking and see how this whole fiasco started and it was all Nancy’s fault. She and boyfriend scientist, Dr. Michael Foster (George G. Colucci), were going about their usual day in the lab studying and experimenting on the mutants they had created when in a moment of distraction (Nancy pulls back Michael’s head for a kiss) one of the mutant’s Foster had his hand near bites him after he accidentally jabbed it with a syringe.
The alien genes coursing through his system begin to mutate him and over a period of several weeks he becomes unrecognizable, huge and alien looking. He escapes one night, killing Dr. Eliot Stein (Allen Lewis Rickman), a fellow scientist Nancy called in for help, a security guard and escapes.
Now we’re all caught up to the present.
The entire movie plays out in the Talos building with the three kids looking for father; mutant-Foster looking to eat anyone he/it comes into contact with; Viallini and Kane playing damage control; and the two corporate thugs on a mission to “clean things up”—all these subplots overlapping at various points with results that are violent, bloody and full of expert practical effects with the final act showcasing some equally fine stop-motion.
The capper to the movie is in the same vein as The Deadly Spawn with one, final, gigantic mutant erupting out of the top of the building.
I only have two minor complaints; the first being the movie doesn’t quite adhere to its own rules when it comes to the weird mouths the creature shoots at its victims. Early on when it first happens a squirting quill comes out with Eliot postulating it’s some kind of venom. Later on just about everyone gets hit with at least one of these fleshy weapons but other than the obvious physical damage no one seems to suffer any kind of ill effects one might associate with someone who’s been injected with “alien venom,” which I assumed is meant to incapacitate victims so they can be easily caught and devoured.
And secondly without giving anything away by the time the movie is over the body count should have also been a lot higher. One character even shows up from out of nowhere when it was more than obvious early on that death was his only and logical fate.
Ted is writing a book titled, ‘Making Low-Budget Science-Fiction Films: A REAL Horror Story,’ and this segment here he gave me from it addresses my second minor complaint: ‘At one point we had to shut down production to raise more money. We explained to the cast what was happening and nobody had a problem with it. We told them we would continue in about a few weeks.
We finally got back into principal photography and guess what? The lead female doctor (Nancy) wanted back pay for all her weeks out of work or she was not sure she could continue. Can you say extortion boys and girls? Everyone went into a panic. We tried to reason with her, but she thought she had us over a barrel. OK, she did have us over a barrel. This is where I learned about the shifting possession of power in the film world.
When you’re just starting out you need the money and all the power lies with the investors. You beg and scrape and will do anything to get the money. Then when you get the money, you inherit the power. Now crews and labs are taking you to lunch to get your business.
Actors are agreeable to just about anything to get a role in your picture. Once you start shooting, that power shifts to the people handling your negative and those very same actors that were so cute and cuddly a month before, now have the power to ruin your film.
That’s why science-fiction films are so nice, you can just “morph” the troublemaker into someone else. Anyway, we have our big meeting. I said we should not let anyone think they could do this to the film and get away with it. I said we should fire her on the spot. My partners asked, “Well, what will we do then?” I said we could put my girlfriend in a wig to double for her, shoot from behind and kill her off. One of the corporate thugs, Mitchell, gets killed off camera. He could be brought back to orchestrate the final showdown in the Atomic Shotgun Room, and meet his doom in the jaws of the mutated creature. I outlined how this could all work and actually make sense.’
Occasionally with my DVD reviews and movie articles I’ll hit up IMDB to see if whatever movie I’m reminiscing about has any interesting trivia; this movie does indeed have some: ‘Production started in 1987, but due to the abundant stop-motion creations and special effects, production took years longer than planned and after several lawsuits involved with the distributors, Vidmark entertainment was given distribution rights. The film was released in 1993 to film festivals and shortly after onto video.’
TED A. BOHUS: “The film was a nightmare to get finished as I picked the wrong partners. Toward the end, I even had a meeting with the investors and they said to “fire them.” I said that would only open up another can of worms and probably delay the film even farther, so let’s just get it done!”
This movie is indeed out on DVD, and DVD only, having been released by Lionsgate in 2003. The downside is it was a full frame transfer with no extras aside from the trailer. I say it’s about time Lionsgate gave this gem the blu-ray special edition treatment it deserves, but I’m not going to hold my breath for the studio is notorious for keeping a lot of their genre fare confined to mediocre releases (i.e. those 6-8 movie pack sets) and some they own haven’t even seen the light of day on DVD ever.
TED A. BOHUS: “…Lionsgate owns the DOMESTIC rights only…. in perpetuity!!…in Japan, they have 3 Deadly Spawn films! There is the original The Deadly Spawn. They kept the name Deadly Spawn 2: Metamorphosis…and my other film they call Deadly Spawn 3: The Regenerated Man….so when they interview me from Japan, they always ask when the forth film is coming out!”
I hope you all enjoyed this walk down Memory Lane with Ted and me.