Trailer Terrors: Spontaneous Combustion (1990)

The cleanest kill on Earth.

Who remembers that urban legend that was so popular in the 90s? While it can still be considered a popular debate, the concept of spontaneous human combustion (SHC) has always fascinated our culture.

Coming off the tail end of a horror films successes that included The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), The Funhouse (1981) and Poltergeist (1982), Spontaneous Combustion (1990) is a film directed by Tobe Hooper that stars Brad Dourif (voice of Chucky). While the film doesn't altogether fail, it does seem to miss the mark a bit in terms of story.

Don't get me wrong, its a solid cinematic experience. All the characters are in place and all the ordinary genre tropes are there (a shadowy government cover-up, genetic manipulation, violent deaths and the "man turned monster"), but it seems as though all they did was show up. Unlike Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Poltergeist, there's no over-the-top characterizations or creepy little ladies to give the film any real style. It does however feature a cameo by none other than Hooper's horror peer John Landis in a pretty cool death scene, but there's really no further nods for genre fans.

I was able to find this film "used" for $5 at my local F.Y.E. retailer and, given the fact that I knew little to nothing about it beforehand, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the effects and cinematography. Plus, let's admit it, there's not many other horror films in which Brad Dourif headlines where he's not taken the form of a 2" talking doll.


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