3 April 2010 | BA_Harrison
Tobe Hooper plays with fire.
I really wanted to love Spontaneous Combustion: I like the basic idea, Brad Dourif is a cool actor, Tobe Hooper is the legendary director responsible for my favourite horror film, and some of the flame effects are pretty intense (I repeat: 'some'). Hell, there's even a fun cameo from John Landis. The problem is that the film just doesn't make a lot of sense.
Dourif plays Sam, a young man who discovers that the anti-radiation experiment which caused his parents to spontaneously combust in the 1950s is now responsible for some equally strange side effects in his own body. As Sam tries to prevent himself turning into a small pile of smouldering ash, he realises that his whole life has been a lie perpetrated by sinister industrialist Lew Orlander (William Prince).
With some incomprehensible cobblers about an evangelist who preaches to Sam over the radio, a puzzling sub-plot involving a nuclear power station, a killer who inexplicably uses glowing green goop in a syringe to bump people off, and the never-adequately explained presence of a continually growing birthmark on Sam's hand, I lost the plot about half-way through and had to content myself with the occasionally impressive body burn stunts and a modicum of manky make-up effects.
The first movie made by Hooper after his unsuccessful three film deal with Cannon, Spontaneous Combustion unsurprisingly didn't set the box-office on fire either, and the director's career has failed to reignite ever since.