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Re: Spawn of Satan

Posted by Pamela on February 13, 2008 at 00:57:

In Reply to: Re: Spawn of Satan posted by Smokey Stover on February 12, 2008 at 14:53:

: : When and where did the phrase 'Spawn of Satan' originate?

: THe word spawn was originally used mostly for the eggs of fish and other aquatic egg-layers, typically tiny eggs in a huge quantity. The word can also be used for the brood resulting from a quantity of eggs. In its proper meaning, "spawn" is familiar in the U.S. particularly in regard to salmon, which have to find their way back to the upper reaches of rivers in which they were originally spawned. It becomes a problem for salmon to spawn if the river is made unnavigable by dams.

: It's an easy step for spawn to be used for any offspring, especially in large broods, and for it to be used contemptuously or pejoratively. The OED mentions an example of "spawn of Beelebub" from 1865.

: However, since both the literal and the extended meaning of spawn have long since been part of the language, as has "Satan," the question becomes: When did this phrase become popular? Is there a particular person's use of it that precipitated the vogue that it now enjoys? I can't answer the question, but it seems to me that the phrase meets one of the needs of horror movies, both realistically and humorously. I say humorously because an element of facetious humor underlies many horror films. But I can't guarantee that the phrase is actually found in any horror films, as I don't watch that genre.

: The principle use of "spawn of Satan" nowadays seems to be as an exaggerated and facetious characterization of someone, or some group, that can be described as "evil," also usually used facetiously. My Internet search program tells me that Ann Coulter described the attendees at the 2004 Democratic National Convention as "spawn of Satan." The phrase was soon used to described Ann Coulter. One person so describes his cat. There is a series of flash cartoons with this title.

: In short, I can't answer the question.
: SS

I was confident that there would have been a movie by the title "Spawn of Satan". Here's some trivia that I came accross during my ad hoc search. No, there is no film "Spawn of Satan" listed on IMDB or elsewhere that I could see. The earliest somewhat-related listing is "The Devil's Spawn" (AKA "The hired Gun") from 1961 - but it's a western, not horror. In books, there's also a "Devil's Spawn" (AKA "They called her Charity") in 1952, and another "Devil's Spawn" in 1956 (Robert Carse). These aren't horror, either.

As for recent use of the quote in movies and TV - it's pretty much being used with a comic (sometimes comic-horror) twist: Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ace Ventura ("When Nature Calls"), Fright Night and Porky's II are among the 6 hits where "spawn of Satan" was in the script.

As for book titles, there was (finally) a Charles Birkin novel "Spawn of Satan" published in 1970, and the Church of Satan had a magazine "Satan's Spawn" which was already at vol.3, no.3 in 1975. There's also a "Spawn of the Dark one" (1958 Fantastic Magazine - this appears to have been horror). "Spawn" is also popular in science fiction titles from the 1930s onwards - - "Spawn of the Comet" (Astounding Magazine" 1937) - with asteriods, planets, ships and aliens all spawning from that time forward.

Urban dictionary suggests a definition for "spawn of satan" as "evil animals, like little dogs and really annoying children". Works for me. Pamela