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      Spontaneous Combustion

      R Released Feb 23, 1990 1h 38m Horror List
      Reviews 19% Audience Score 250+ Ratings The son of parents who were tested with an anti-radiation vaccine develops the ability to incinerate others. Read More Read Less

      Critics Reviews

      View All (2) Critics Reviews
      Emanuel Levy EmanuelLevy.Com Rated: 2/5 Aug 11, 2005 Full Review Ken Hanke Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC) Pretty silly, but rather entertaining. Rated: 3/5 Aug 11, 2003 Full Review Read all reviews

      Audience Reviews

      View All (40) audience reviews
      Matthew D Tobe Hooper sets the world ablaze with his deadly barnburner of a horror film! Director Tobe Hooper's incendiary science-fiction body horror thriller Spontaneous Combustion (1990) has the most fiery premise aside from the similar Firestarter. Hooper's fearsome direction provides a spooky sci-fi atmosphere and explosive horror as people are set on fire after someone is radiated from lethal nuclear experiments. Hooper delights in setting people on fire and melting his cast down to cinders. Hooper's sizzling practical effects for all the flame explosions and fire spouts look as horrifying as the body horror from David Cronenberg's Scanners. It's all about the worries of contemporary nuclear threats of nearby power plants, power lines, and nuclear tests. Spontaneous Combustion has a striking poster, classic premise, cool effects, and killer horror sequences. Even the tagline for Spontaneous Combustion is chilling, "The cleanest kill on Earth." Writers Tobe Hooper and Howard Goldberg satirize atomic research, government overreach, military oversight, scientific ethics, radiation dangers, and dire consequences. Spontaneous Combustion is an anti-nuclear power movie as far as the government cluelessly testing nuclear power on unsuspecting people. It feels like Tobe Hooper's reaction to the Chernobyl disaster. As usual, Hooper provides quite a bit of humor alongside his horror as he spoofs federal government testing with nuclear power and all sorts of social satire along the way. Spontaneous Combustion in humans occurring from seemingly static sparks from the hero David Bell's fingers is haunting. I love the sarcastic sense of humor from Hooper with a sheer pleasure in his chaotic action sequences of horrifying flames engulfing victim after victim. Opening with high temperatures for the mother and baby as foreshadowing for the impending inferno is brilliant. Brad Dourif seeing his parents' memories in a fireplace flame is shocking, eerie, and touching. Casting director Carol Lewis got awesome actors and actresses like Brad Dourif and Melinda Dillon. Brad Dourif is sullen and sarcastic as the anti-nuclear power student David Bell, who was radiated at birth, and raised as Sam Kramer. He has such a strange actor with a concerned face and depressed personality. His deep blue eyes stare intently for a captivating glare. His frustrated manner gets worse like his flame powers. As he gets stressed or angry, flames are emitted forth from his fingers and body. His performance is gripping as you feel sorry that he's burning up, but also fascinated at the flaming visions he sees. His incredulous voice at shocking new reveals is super funny, but he's also excellent once combusting. Cynthia Bain is pleasant and cute as David's pretty blonde girlfriend Lisa Wilcox. Her shocked expressions and loud screams at David's instant inferno state is hilarious. She brings a vibrant personality that's so friendly. Bain really helps sell that Lisa knows Lew from the government. Jon Cypher is cautious as ever vigilant Dr. Marsh, observing David for any signs of fire damage. William Prince is shady as the suspicious government man in the shadows Lew Orlander. Melinda Dillon is gorgeous and lovable as ever as Nina. I will always love seeing Melinda Dillon appear ever since I saw her in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, A Christmas Story, and Slap Shot. Dey Young is excellent as the beautiful blonde lady Rachel, who has no real concern or love for David. Stacy Edwards's sweet Peggy Bell and Brian Bremer's eager Brian Bell are the literal nuclear family definition, complete with a radiated baby. Their chipper, caring performances open the movie on a high note as loving parents. Barbara Leary is sympathetic as Amy Whitaker. Joe Mays is entertaining as the psychic Dr. Persons from the radio. American Werewolf in London director John Landis cameos as the dour and belligerent Radio Technician getting blown up in the radio backroom. You get to see a real life monster burn to death. House of Wax and Ramrod director André de Toth cameos as the chilling and excited incendiary expert Vandenmeer. His big smile is just sublime. Mark Roberts is funny as the skeptical Dr. Simpson, who thinks David is smoking or has a fever. Editor David Kern's sharp cuts for the sudden spontaneous combustion scenes are all startling. He makes 97 minutes fly by with searing hard cus. Cinematographer Levie Isaacks uses dark shadows and ambient lighting to make the piercing flame effects look extra cool. I'm impressed by all the different perspectives and angles of the fire stunts shown in camera. It's all practical effects for fire that look outstanding with huge balls of flame combusting or flamethrowers spewing out an inferno. Production designer Gene Abel's neon lights and glass sets of furniture are awesome. Stunt person Glory Fioramonti pulls off unbelievable fire stunts that look incredibly dangerous. The Crow composer Graeme Revell contributes a fiery score for Spontaneous Combustion. I like his heavy synths and eerie xylophone parts alongside a dark symphony. Graeme Revell is an underrated film composer and always excels at horror and moody atmospheric music. Hairstylist Kerry Mendenhall gives Brad Dourif wild brunette curls and all the ladies' lovely blonde haircuts. In all, Tobe Hooper's blazing horror picture Spontaneous Combustion is an underrated cult classic. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 09/11/23 Full Review Steve D Absolutely ridiculous. Rated 0.5 out of 5 stars 09/10/23 Full Review Francisco L I feel the strengths of this movie were the special effects, brads acting and the dark tone. The plot was ok but not very compelling but it's one of Toby's good films . Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 12/17/22 Full Review delysid d i enjoyed this movie i thought it was pretty cool Rated 3 out of 5 stars 11/14/18 Full Review Audience Member ...What the heck did I just watch?! Rated 1 out of 5 stars 02/19/23 Full Review Audience Member Spontaneous Combustion doesn't have much going for it. A jumbled plot with messy twists and confusing science. The effects aren't terribly great, and the ending is rather meh. It does, however, have Brad Dourif in a big role who plays it greatly. Plus, it does get interesting at times. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/02/23 Full Review Read all reviews
      Spontaneous Combustion

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      Cast & Crew

      Movie Info

      Synopsis The son of parents who were tested with an anti-radiation vaccine develops the ability to incinerate others.
      Tobe Hooper
      Jim Rogers
      Media Home Entertainment, Anchor Bay Entertainment
      Production Co
      VOSC, Project Samson, Black Owl Productions
      Original Language
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Feb 23, 1990, Original
      Release Date (Streaming)
      Apr 30, 2018
      1h 38m
      Sound Mix