Spontaneous Combustion (1990)
PLOT - A young man learns that his parents were part of a secret atomic weapons experiment shortly before he was born. Just hours after his birth both mysteriously died in the hospital when they suddenly burst into flames, leaving nothing but bones and ash. After the government covered up the incident, the man grew up never knowing the exact detail of their death and went on to live a pretty normal life. Until now.
LOWDOWN - I'm quite a Tobe Hooper fan. (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist, The Funhouse, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.) I've admired this man's work for some time since he was able to play off such opposite ends of filmmaking. Fine case example are the first two Texas Chainsaw movies. The first was down right terrifying, gritty, and realistic. The sequel was colorful, and a black comedy, yet still completely worked. Hooper's work as bounced around for a bit, but one of his most underrated films to date has to be Spontaneous Combustion.
I had always heard about this movie and honestly never really took any further interest with it. Finally this past summer while tape hunting I stumbled upon a copy and decided to say fuck it and pick it up for two bucks. Long story short, the following day I seriously spent one of my most perfect days this summer. I sat in the A.C with an iced coffee, blogged, and had a whole line of VHS tapes I hadn't watched yet to view. Spontaneous Combustion was my first choice. Yet again, another blind buy ended up paying off ten fold.
The story starts off with rich backstory and a very smartly written plot. In fact I found the beginning taking place in the 1950's one of the best parts of the movie! The characters Peggy and Brian were likable, sweet, and great as David's parents. In fact Hooper was able to capture these two so well it makes their deaths so much more heart breaking.
Now I hate to say it but I feel the casting of Brad Dourif as David was a little off. I love the guy, but I think finding a younger actor at the time would have seemed right. Mind you Brad was around the real character's age, but his intense line delivery and acting seemed out of place in this part and some lines came off cringe worthy. Sorry Brad!
I can see why this movie wasn't successful at the time of it's release. The plot is a little muddy in the present, and we're shown a good handful of characters with backstory that links them that isn't fully developed. Still, the overall idea of the movie is wonderful. I still think that with a name like Spontaneous Combustion, we could have been treated to a little more of this. Would have been interesting to find out that there was a handful of children that were a result of their parents being part of that experiment via Firestarter. Again I think it would have worked better with a younger actor playing along side the Lisa character for better chemistry. (Also anyone notice Lisa's name has a connection to A Nightmare On Elm Street 4?) Maybe it's just me but I think Michael Biehn would have played a great David. Seeing him and Lisa now out of control/in pain with their bodies would have been awesome to see.
Speaking of, that's what I really love, the fact that the pills set off these reactions from happening. Love the one that happens in the car, or the big show down at the end with Lisa on the balcony with the lighting storm before she starts bursting into flames. In fact the final ten or so minutes are down right bad ass and I actually really loved the ending shot. A great movie, with some flaws, but over all a good time and a must to watch!