The Intruder Within
To a distant oil rig, trapped on the edge of the world, something comes. Something indestructible. Something unspeakable.
Year of Release: 1981
Also Known As: The Lucifer Rig
Genre: Horror/Science Fiction
Running Time: 91 minutes (1:31)
Director: Peter Carter
Chad Everett ... Jake Nevins
Joseph Bottoms ... Scott
Jennifer Warren ... Colette Beaudroux
Rockne Tarkington ... Mark
Lynda Mason Green ... Robyn
Paul Larsson ... Sam
James Hayden ... Harry Colman
Michael Hogan ... Chili
Mary Ann McDonald ... Wilma
Matt Craven ... Phil
Ed LaPlante ... Ed
Mickey Gilbert ... Mickey
Joe Finnegan ... The Intruder
Alone and adrift in the icy waters of Antarctica, members of the crew of an offshore drilling station mysteriously begin to die, one by one. Their drilling has unearthed an ancient embryonic life form. Freed from its past, the small primitive creature grows out of control and suddenly develops into a monster bent on murder and destruction. Working against time and nature, three of the survivors risk their lives to destroy the monster before it can multiply and threaten the very safety of the world.
The Intruder Within... ick, they sure knew how to pick titles back in the day. Now it just kinda sounds like a biography of Jerry Sandusky made by the Lifetime network, don't it? All the cable networks love a story that comes full circle these days, an that'd certainly be the case there, what with 'im goin' from intruder to intrudee once he got introduced to alla those friendly guys in the communal prison shower. An speakin' of people you wouldn't wanna sit next to on an eight hour bus ride, the "I told you so" crowd is absolutely in love with this one. You know who I'm talkin' 'bout, right? These jerkoffs who're always sayin' "I've got a bad feeling about this," even though 99.3% of the time nothin' happens at all an they still feel compelled to make a huge deal outta that one time when you blew out a tire in your Chevy Impala an missed the first six minutes of the high school football game? As though that *one* time that they were right makes up for the 347 times when they weren't. An so you end up takin' the bait an try explainin' to 'em that their lifetime battin' average looks about like Stevie Wonder at the plate with Nolan Ryan on the mound til they get this look on their face like you've had about 27 Keystone Lights an just passed out in the bean dip with your underpants on your head. Then they take this real deep breath an sigh like you've said somethin' completely preposterous before foldin' their hands in their lap an leanin' towards you like your mama always did when she knew you were lyin' about decapitatin' your little sister's Barbie doll with a hacksaw, an remind you that not only did they take a class on psychic readin' over at Madam Carolla's Spiritual Enlightenment Center an Marijuana Dispensary, but that they were also right about your eight year old white walls givin' out when you hit that porcupine drivin' back from your fishin' hole on Outhouse Creek three years ago. So by now you're pretty P.O.'d about gettin' talked down to by Annoya Jackson an so you ask 'em how it is that if they're so good at this fortune tellin' stuff that they've managed to be wrong more often than Jenny McCarthy on celebrity Jeopardy! an they try claimin' they weren't wrong about anything an that they were just on the wrong psychic frequency band at that time an musta been seein' things that *will* happen, just not on that particular day. Course at this point you've really got no choice but to throw up your hands an quit arguin' with 'em cause even after they've blown their predictions harder'n an asthmatic takin' a breathalyzer test, they're just gonna kick 'em down the road like a senator dealin' with climate change or fixin' social security. Then you get to up walk away an they give you this smug look an say "I knew this'd upset you" an you end up havin' to call into work the next mornin' tryin' to make sure your boss doesn't hear all the other inmates standin' behind you in line waitin' to use the pay phone. Like it was your fault that you had to beat the tar outta the clown from the Psychic Network with a gunny sack fulla hex bolts. But at least you got to prove your point, cause they sure didn't see that comin'.
But gettin' back on target here a little bit, The Intruder Within has to be the single greatest TV movie ever made to be filmed in Port Colbourne, Canada, to help pave the way for alla those subsequent film makers who wanted to do Alien clones, but weren't sure how to do it without havin' the budget to fly up into outer space. So as you've prolly guessed, we're talkin' serious cinematic significance on this one, an I've picked out a few especially earthshatterin' epiphanies to share with you in honor of the first Alien poser (Alien Terror don't count cause nobody ever saw it outside of a bootleg VHS tape). First, an this may shock an astound you, no matter how fast you run or how well you may juke 'n jive like Walter Payton on an end around, you'll never outrun somethin' that's attached to you. I'm thinkin' the guy that attempted this is also somebody who'd repeatedly swivel his around tryin' to get a glimpse of his ear. Second, men at sea are perfect gentlemen. It's the women you've gotta watch out for. At least on oil rigs. Women unfortunate enough to enlist in the navy would be wise to pack an extra suitcase fulla Double A batteries cause those guys're into sausage an don't want anything to do with tacos. An third, all oil rigs come standard with heat lamps. Cause the guys who work on 'em tend to be big fellas who don't take kindly to some fry bin operator lettin' their Big Macs get cold while they're out bustin' their humps suckin' corpse goo up outta the ocean floor.
But the thing I really liked about this one was how it didn't take a side in the age old debate between evolution an creationism. An actually, if you pay close attention, I'm pretty sure it proved both to be true while it was runnin' down the origin of the glopola monster. See what happened was, there used to be this dominant ape species that lived alongside us back when you could still trade your women for goats if they mouthed off atcha, an these apes were gettin' pretty clever an learnin' to do all kindsa evolved stuff like climbin' stone monoliths with a screamin' Hobbit woman in one hand while bein' buzzed by pterodactyls an such. Only then God got real P.O.'d about how ugly we turned out when we were supposed to look just like Him an decided to leave Heaven's water hose on til the Earth flooded worse'n my 1984 Mercury Topaz when it rolled down the bank into my fishin' hole out at Lake Gunkamucka. But as it turns out, that was pretty fortunate, cause durin' that time these apes were bein' slaughtered by these slimy Schlock Ness monsters an the flood ended up causin' part of the world to break off like part of a Kit Kat bar before sinkin' into the ocean where the phallus monsters got stuck havin' to take a 4000 year lease in the only hole they could find on the bottom of the ocean. So you see? Science an religion can get along just fine if people'll quit nit pickin' at each other about little things like child sexual abuse an gay marriage. An sides that, if what I'm tellin' you weren't true, we'd have never been able to invent those little bobble headed Jesus dolls that people stick on their dashboards. Cause if God hadn't created us, an evolution hadn't then honed our senses an manual dexterity enough to craft those cute little guys perfectly in the J-man's image, God woulda turned on the hose again an drowned us all like a bag fulla ugly kittens.
The movie begins on this freighter out in the ocean that's up on blocks til its parts come in where some guy's tryin' to wake up Frodo Baggins (Phil) for their shift change til he starts squealin' like an Oruk Hai orc started makin' kissie faces at 'im an once he finishes puttin' out an imaginary sheet fire he tells the guy (Mark) that they're all about to be deader'n the eyes on a Vegas showgirl. Course, Frodo's been wakin' up like this every day since Jimmy Carter lost the presidential election so nobody really pays too much attention to it an they all head out onto the rig to drill the seabed til it squirts. Everybody cept for Mark, cause he's that guy that kisses up to the boss all the time so the boss'll get distracted an forget he's supposed to be workin', an he goes up to Jake (the foreman) an tells 'im about how Frodo's bed wettin's startin' to stink up the bunkhouse an that he's also been snoopin' around in the filin' room an found out that the Zordon 101 (their rig) is supposed to be in dry dock gettin' tested for barnachlamydia. Then they get a sudden pressure change in the rigging an the ship starts spoutin' water like a Humpback whale's blowhole an pretty quick everybody's usin' the deck as a Slip 'n Slide til Jake can run downstairs an engage the emergency drain stopper. So now Jake's real P.O.'d cause he knows how bad the wet look works for 'im, an so he heads down to this laboratory to tell the hot shot oceanographer (Scott) that he don't wanna drill no more cause his men're more worn out'n sloppy than Jasmin St. Claire's hoo-ha after 'er record settin' gang bang. He also wants to know why the little punk's been put in charge, why the ship they're on isn't in the shop like it's supposed to be, an how come they're not allowed to pee over the bow of the ship no more. So Scott has to explain to 'im that ever since all the big oil executives saw Mad Max an realized how scarce oil's gotten that they hafta start goin' after it like Liam Neeson on a neighbor that swiped his mornin' paper. Then this helicopter touches down on the rig an drops some fresh meat (Harry an Colette) onto the skillet while Robyn eyeballs Harry tryin' to figure out the best way to get his dinghy into port. Once everybody's settled in, Jake an Frodo start diggin' around in the sluice box to see if they've struck any black gold when all the sudden the thing that attacked Luke Skywalker in the garbage masher latches onto Frodo's arm an he ends up runnin' off before goin' head over eels onto the deck where Jake's able to get it off of 'im an engage it in a battle of reflexes like a giant mongoose with a bad mustache fightin' a cobra til Colette puts a bullet in it an it abandons ship. So now Wilma has to come up on deck an try stickin' leeches on Frodo's bite wound while he flops around like an epileptic marlin, only he ends up dyin' on 'er like a Honda generator with sugar in its gas tank an everybody gets this look on their face like a repo man just showed up and took Tiny Tim's crutch.
Then Jake an Colette go up to the radio to try gettin' a chopper out there to take Frodo back to Hobbiton for a proper burial, only Colette can't seem to raise anybody an she's more'n a little confused since that's the first time in 'er entire life that she's been unable to raise somethin'. Meanwhile, the electrician (Sam) goes down to Scott's lab to change the fuse on his heat lamps before the the Whoppers start gettin' cold an accidentally knocks the deep sea goat heads that Scott scooped up outta the sluice box onto the floor an ends up pokin' 'imself on one of 'em. Then Jake decides he'd better plop Frodo overboard before the seagulls start pickin' at his Hobbit bits an so he gathers everybody around an asks God to take care of their little buddy an make sure that the body at least slips beneath the waves before the sharks start tearin' it apart like a soul at a Cenobite kegger. Later that evenin', Sam drops by Robyn's work station shake shake shakin' like KC an the Sunshine Band an tells 'er the light in 'er office is really hurtin' his eyes an that she aughta tear off some clothing to make 'im a blindfold, before he wanders off an climbs up the crane like King Kong an does a cannonball into the ocean. But while that's goin' on, Scott's goat heads've hatched an slobbered out these little anchovies that shriveled up an died like the sex drive of any man that's seen Jocelyn Wildenstein nekkid an so Scott holds a little Christian funeral for 'em an tells his tape recorder that the heat lamp musta burnt his fish sticks an to reduce the time for any future fish frys. Up on deck, Jake's taken this time to dive in after Sam an just about drown 'imself in the process til Colette an Mark use the crane to snag 'im with a dolphin net an haul his butt back on board where he snivels about bein' tired of losin' crew members cause the loaners he gets to replace 'em never seem to cut the muster. Then Mark goes downstairs an tells Scott about Sam goin' scuba divin' without a snorkel an Scott tells his tape recorder that the puncture from the goat head musta sent Sam off the deep end without a noodle float before stickin' the remainin' goat heads in a pizza oven. The followin' evenin', Robyn heads down into the mess hall where she finds Harry an starts tryin' to scarf down his beans 'n weenie, only he's had too much of a shake up to get his snake up an goes back to moppin' up the after effects of Wilma's tater tot casserole. Then Jake an Colette head down for some chow an Jake decides to cook 'er a four star omelette to try greasin' 'er wheels even though she carries a gun an looks uncomfortably like Ann Coulter. Unfortunately, about the time Jake's kitchen timer goes off, the pizza oven back in Scott's lab bursts open an these slimy glopola monsters fly outta there an latch onto Harry at the speed of light an by the time Jake an Colette get over there he's lyin' on the floor with these little Xenomorphs doin' the bossa nova all over his chest cavity til Jake grabs a fire extinguisher an mashes 'em all into yakaroni an sleaze.
Once they get Harry spatula'd up offa the floor they haul 'im over to the infirmary where he starts floppin' around like an Alligator Gar that got hooked through the eyeball an tells everybody that somethins inside 'im an demands a funnel an 16 bottles of Pepto Bismol. Then Scott tells everybody to keep this little incident under their hats an Jake gives Scott this look like he just caught 'im sneakin' into his daughter's bedroom window an so Scott tells 'em the origin story on the creature that I already prattled on about in the openin' paragraphs an once Jake realizes Scott's the surrogate Ash character from Alien he ends up havin' to sling 'im up against the wall so hard that he gets the Walkman logo bruised into his right buttock. But after a while, Harry wakes up with a cravin' for pickles an ice cream an heads down to the mess hall where he finds Robyn an decides to sample the cantaloupes instead an ends up turnin' what shoulda been a tender moment on toppa the leftover Spam casserole into somethin' disgustin' an reprehensible. Then he heads up on deck an runs into Wilma an starts goin' for her groceries til she turns the tables on 'im an gives him a little unsolicited penetration til he gets tired of messin' with 'er an tosses 'er overboard like Russian nuclear waste. Meanwhile, Colette's in 'er bunk dreamin' about the little glopola monsters growin' an evolvin' thumbs so they can steal alla our manual labor jobs right out from under honest, hard workin' Mexicans. Then she wakes up an goes downstairs to tell Jake about 'er dream an they go lookin' for Harry to make sure he ain't turned into sentient pig slop or anything else that might scare the middle aged women who're tunin' in an expectin' to see The Love Boat an end up runnin' into Mark before concludin' that Harry's up an vanished like an email at Lois Lerner's office. So at this point, everybody heads back up on deck where they find Robyn, who's managed to crawl 'er way outta the mess hall like Chris Christie after a moment of weakness, an she tells 'em that Wilma's been done in an that Harry's runnin' around actin' like he's on the Steubenville High School varsity squad. Then Mark an Jake attack Harry an pretty much get the tar beaten out of 'em til Harry starts goin' after Colette an sees what looks like an Adam's apple an starts clutchin' his heart like Fred Sanford til he folds up like a piece of lawn furniture an expires. But about that time, Robyn falls over an starts clutchin' 'er ovaries like somebody's twistin' 'em up into balloon animals an once they haul 'er back inside an put 'er in bed she tells 'em about what happened when Harry met Galley an that she's gonna go apeshit on 'em too if they don't do the monster mash. Will cut off here to preserve the conclusion.
Alrighty, well, this one was originally a TV movie that aired on ABC back in 1981 that was attempting to cash in on the success of Alien which'd been released two years prior. Though, despite being better made than most made for TV science fiction/horror titles being produced today, that isn't exactly a high bar, and the movie suffers from its share of problems. Although the only serious one is some fairly inept special effects, there isn't really anything else that's critically problematic about it. The real issue is that it simply isn't very memorable, and nothing about it stands out in either a positive way, or negative way that might earn it a cult status. To be fair, it does boast a fairly high body count for a made for TV title, but much of the violence never makes it onto the screen and leaves you to wonder what might have been had they had a bigger budget, and less fear of censorship. Essentially, The Intruder Within, though derivative itself of Alien, was the prototype used for several other Alien clones that would take place on or beneath the sea. Movies like DeepStar Six and Leviathan, for instance, which both outshine it by a significant margin. Budgets, of course, figure heavily into why those two movies are so much better, though the fact that it was a made for TV movie probably doesn't help. Which isn't to say that a made for TV movie has to be bad, because in the 70s and 80s there were quite a few made for TV horror titles that're pretty decent. That said, they all have that "made for TV" vibe about them that separates them from a studio release, and that forces you to fight the impulse to look upon them as inferior. Like many movies, there's a good premise here (obviously, since it's borrowed from a classic), but the execution just wasn't there. It's a decent movie, that could have been a lot better, had more resources been available, and unfortunately, that's a significantly damning thing to say about any movie. Because people tend to be more openly hostile towards things that they know *could* have been good, than they might be when the movie was completely botched. The "disappointing" designation is probably the second worst thing you can say about any movie. The worst, of course, being that it was boring. I didn't really find it boring, although most of the characters are flatter and less developed than a female figure skater. Realistically, it may have been better if they'd just reduced the number of characters in it, particularly since a body count doesn't make much difference when you can't show what happens to said victims anyway.
Okay then, lets birth this thing, take a look at it, an see if we need to lie about who the father is. The plot, as we've been over several times, is heavily influenced by Alien, but with the significant differences in its physical setting and time frame, allows for its own personal touches. That said, this one has a positively asinine speculative theory on its monster. I particularly liked the part where the biblical flood (or any other flood) could cause a significant chunk of land to break away from a continent, which would then sink to the bottom of the ocean. Or that the creatures in the movie were annihilating an ancient primate ancestor, which they'd have to be on land to do, but that it could just instantly become aquatic and survive for thousands of years under water. These were just theories the movie presented, of course, but they're presented by a man that is alleged to be a scientist, so it's still extremely dickbrained. I'm also pretty sure that the eel monster that shows up in Joseph Bottoms' fish tank later in the movie actually rolled offa the boat after it got shot, making its presence in the tank impossible. The acting is alright, nothing special, but nothing terrible. It's strange how no one in the cast would be considered a bad actor, yet, no one stands out above the rest as particularly talented, or interesting. They also got wishy washy with Joseph Bottoms' character and never would get him to repent for his mistakes, or go full on heel, which essentially reduced the character to irrelevance by the end of the movie. There's just a whole lotta "meh" to go around here with this cast. Capable, yet uninspiring.
Here's who matters and why: Chad Everett (Psycho 1998), Jennifer Warren (Shark Kill), Rockne Tarkington (The Ice Pirates, Beware! The Blob), Lynda Mason Green (The Shape of Things to Come), Paul Larsson (Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Altered States), James Hayden (The Nesting), Michael Hogan (Ice Road Terror, The Day the Earth Stood Still 2008, Deadly Eyes), Matt Craven (X-Men: First Class, Disturbia, Jacob's Ladder, Happy Birthday to Me), Mickey Gilbert (Ghost in the Machine, The Fury 1978), Joe Finnegan (The Fury 1978). As you might expect, made for TV movies tend to have a lot of TV actors, so the following is the list of credits for you people out there who only dabble in the horror genre an aughta be ashamed of yourselves. Chad Everett would likely be better known for his roles as Jimmy Katz in Mulholland Drive, Simon in Airplane II, and for playing Dr. Joe Gannon on Medical Center. Joseph Bottoms, you may recognize as Kirk Cranston on Santa Barbara, Jennifer Warren would be best known as Francine Dunlop from Slap Shot, Lynda Mason Green played Suzanne McCullough for the entire series in War of the Worlds TV show, and Matt Craven is currently working as Sheriff Fred Langston on Resurrection and was also Dusty Wright in The Life of David Gale (not that David Gale), as well as Hardware in Meatballs. And of course, the guy with the biggest reason to be embarrassed, Michael Hogan, who will be easily recognizable as Colonel Saul Tigh from Battlestar Galactica (2000s version), as well as Gerard in the Teen Wolf TV series, and Detective Tony Logozza from Cold Squad.
The special effects are hit and miss. With the exception of the monster's final form, the best way to illustrate the successes and failures would be to say that, if it moves, they should have killed it. Anytime an effect needs to move, it sucks. The eel monster in the sample bin, as well as the smaller things that bust outta the pizza oven look stiff, and the puppeteers handling them don't seem to have a clue what they're doing. Conversely, once the eel monster is dead and floatin' in a fish tank, it looks pretty decent. The rubber suit for the final incarnation of the creature is fairly respectable, though it's only on screen for a short time, during a sequence that takes place at night. Which, considering how some of the other effects looked, may have been deliberate, as it's absolutely better to conceal problems to the best of your ability than to show something full on in all it's laughable glory. There's a little blood here and there too, but nothing to write home about. On the whole, it *might* break even on the special effects, in terms of the positives they bring to the movie. The shooting location may be the high point, and that's really not something you wanna hear with regard to a horror movie, but the oil rig really is a very interesting setting for the movie, even if it is just a different variation on the standard isolated locale. The rig, perhaps more than anything else, creates an aura of claustrophobia and atmosphere that's not being generated by any other source in the movie's repertoire, save the soundtrack to a minor extent. Pretty authentic in appearance as well, its got a good looking galley, radio room, and dormitory, with many of the standard devices and props you'd expect to see on the main deck. The soundtrack, in actuality, is a pretty decent little composition. The problem has nothing to do with the soundtrack itself, but rather the fact that it gets way too much air time. This thing is overused terribly, and they never seem to allow for any suspense to build up through the use of silence. So even though the tracks themselves are enjoyable and atmospheric, they're so over exposed that it ends up detracting from the overall suspense of the movie, which was pretty slim pickins to begin with. Overall, the movie's rather forgettable. And as unmemorable as it is, it's hard to imagine it'll ever get an official DVD release. If for some reason you're really interested in seeing this one, you'll have to snag a VHS copy or a bootleg someplace. Recommended only to monster movie completionists and fans of Alien clones.