4.7/10
2,124
40 user 35 critic

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 car that Sam drives throughout the film is a 1951 Studebaker Champion Starlight Coupe. See more »

Goofs

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

Connections

Referenced in The Ring (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

I DON'T WANT TO SET THE WORLD ON FIRE
Written by Eddie Durham (uncredited), Eddie Seiler (uncredited), Sol Marcus (uncredited) and Bennie Benjamin (uncredited)
Performed by The Ink Spots
Courtesy of MCA Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Loses Its Way
12 November 2007 | by ReelCheeseSee all my reviews

It's not so much that SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION had little potential. Indeed the under-explored title phenomenon is quite intriguing and, for at least the opening half, this Tobe Hooper effort promises to entertain in a way only cheesy '90s horror can. But somewhere between Brad Dourif's on-again-off-again performance and the overly intricate plot, this would-be thriller loses its way.

Dourif, featured here before his built-in horror fan base had accumulated, is average guy Sam. Of course average guys don't stay average for long in horror movies, so after a well-done origin outline, we see Sam's various body parts start to ignite. Soon he's igniting other people, too, much to the consternation of gal pal Lisa, played unmemorably by Cynthia Bain.

While the title of the film implies a fire-happy monster on the loose, director Hooper opted to make Sam an unwilling killer. This approach gives the film an added human depth it would otherwise lack, but it also prevents us from truly fearing the human flamethrower. We're left wondering whether this would have worked better as a straight-up villain-versus-everyone effort ala NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET.

SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION is a pretty nominal effort when all is said and done. It will carry added appeal for Dourif's fans and those who can't get enough 1990s horror, be it good, bad or in between, but only on a slow night.


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