There are great movie soundtracks, ones that resonate with your soul, invigorate your blood flow, and generally kick ass. This is not one of those albums, but it is a very amusing album, and one that fans of 1980s “B movie” horror flicks should enjoy, if not outright love.
The Deadly Spawn (Amazon) was one of those gore-filled, low-budget horror flicks that dominated the back racks of 1980s video stores. Inspired by big budget monster movies like Alien and the low-budget splatter fests of Halloween and Friday the 13th the films of the era sought to kill as many people with the most lethal gut-wrenching effects possible (well, as long as it didn’t exceed the $20,000 budget line).
The movie was no different in plot and them than B-Monster flick Critters (save that in Critters (Amazon) it was flesh-eating furballs from outer space, rather than giant worms) but lacked its high profile. Filmed on a shoe-string, it told the familiar story of alien monstrosities who fall to Earth near a rural farmhouse and proceed to massacre every teenager they could find. The “swarm” in question was comprised of giant worms with way, way too many teeth.
You only have to hear a few bars of the The Deadly Spawn’s soundtrack to know exactly when it was released. In many ways it is the epitome of that 1980s horror sound, featuring an electronic keyboard run happily amok, striking terror in the hearts of pre-teens everywhere with notes that sound like they exploded from the chest of Colecovision.
Composed by Michael Perilstein and newly re-released by Perseverance Records, the soundtrack consists of 11 tracks with classically corny names like “Spawn with the Wind”, “Let’s Spawn”, “Here Today, Spawn Tomorrow”, and, well you get the idea. This special “deadly deluxe edition” includes a newly-created 12th track — “Spawn, But Not Forgotten” — created by Perilstein which combines several of the older tracks into one massive “super-Spawn” presentation.
The music is entirely synthetic keyboard based (but then again, so was just about every other sci-fi soundtrack from the early 1980s), and largely sounds like a demonic lounge act, as the music runs from friendly, light-hearted notes to fast-paced, pieces undoubtedly matching the spawns’ attempts to catch their lunch.
I’ve never been a huge fan of synthetic keyboards, and nothing here really leapt out at me as something I’d want to listen to again and again. That said, there are few instrumental movie soundtracks from the 1980s that I would listen to that frequently (even The Terminator has its moments of neon awkwardness), so I won’t judge The Deadly Spawn too harshly there.
Paranoid? Who’s Paranoid?
The Deadly Spawn’s music can be as cheesy as its song titles, but it’s a Cheeze Whiz kind of cheese. It’s utterly synthetic and not something you’d want to eat often or even infrequently, but man, does it ever go great with waffle fries!
In this case, I think this sort of soundtrack would be perfect for a game of Paranoia.
For those unfamiliar with Paranoia, it’s set in a far-future, dystopia in which a hyper-intelligent artificial intelligence–known as “Friend Computer”–rules over an underground city populated by clones. Everyone in the city is in constant fear of the commie bastard traitors who are–of course–hellbent on destroying the city. Except, you see, that all of these clones also happen to be traitors of one type or another themselves, and the goal of our heroes is to uncover their fellow conspirators without being revealed themselves.
It’s a hilarious game, and listening to this CD, it immediately leapt to mind. It’s got that same maniac energy that the dark science fiction satire has, and it would nicely complement many of its scenarios. I can easily see sending my Troubleshooters into the middle of a Big 80s-inspired monstermash, with buckets of bile, floods of blood, and more rotting intestines that an 1800s sausage factory.
This is, admittedly, a highly-specialized use for the soundtrack, but I think that Game Masters who are looking to add that weird 80s synthetic sound to their games will find this disc fits the bill.
The Deadly Spawn is not a musical marvel, and it’s nothing I’d want to listen to for hours on end (unlike, say, the 2010 soundtrack). It has its uses for gamers, but ultimately whether or not its worth while to pick up this disc will be a matter of personal taste. If you enjoyed the movie or any of its contemporary horror kin, you should check it out. If the 80s are something you think should remain dead, then this is a disc you can easily pass on.