4.7/10
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Spontaneous Combustion (1990)

A young man finds out that his parents had been used in an atomic-weapons experiment shortly before he was born, and that the results have had some unexpected effects on him.

Director:

Tobe Hooper

Writers:

Tobe Hooper (story), Tobe Hooper (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Brad Dourif ... Sam
Cynthia Bain ... Lisa Wilcox
Jon Cypher ... Dr. Marsh
William Prince ... Lew Orlander
Melinda Dillon ... Nina
Dey Young ... Rachel
Tegan West Tegan West ... Springer
Michael Keys Hall Michael Keys Hall ... Dr. Cagney
Dale Dye ... General
Dick Butkus ... Lt. General
Joe Mays ... Dr. Persons
Stacy Edwards ... Peggy Bell
Brian Bremer ... Brian Bell
Frank Whiteman Frank Whiteman ... Young Orlander
Judy Prescott ... Student Director
Edit

Storyline

A young man finds out that his parents had been used in an atomic-weapons experiment shortly before he was born, and that the results have had some unexpected effects on him.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 February 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Combustión espontánea See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$50,367, 25 February 1990

Gross USA:

$50,367

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$50,367
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first draft of the script was written in three weeks. See more »

Goofs

The position of the syringe stuck in Lisa, changes. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Angry Video Game Nerd: Spawn Games (2019) See more »

Soundtracks

HOW COULD I'VE KNOWN
Written and Performed by The Word
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Tobe Hooper plays with fire.
3 April 2010 | by BA_HarrisonSee all my reviews

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.


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