The Terror Within
The time of man is over. A new breed is born. It must mate. It must feed. It must kill.
Year of Release: 1989
Genre: Horror/Science Fiction
Running Time: 88 minutes (1:28)
Director: Thierry Notz
George Kennedy ... Hal
Andrew Stevens ... David
Starr Andreeff ... Sue
Terri Treas ... Linda
John Lafayette ... Andre
Tommy Hinkley ... Neil
Yvonne Saa ... Karen
Jack Valan ... Gargoyle
Butch Stevens ... Butch
In the aftermath of a chemically induced plague that wipes out most of the world, the only survivors are a small group of scientists trapped in a laboratory 500 feet below the ground in the Mojave Desert. But they are not alone.
The Terror Within, the movie that reminds us just what ingrates children can be. Carry 'em to term for a solid week an what do they do? They're only too quick to bust outta your uterus, spray paint the walls with your blood an try to bite off the doctor's hands. Kids these days. Betcha can't guess who this one scares the bejabbers out of. Go ahead, try to guess. Okay, Todd Akin, yes, it does scare him to death, but more on that later. No, the answer I was looking for was Charles Manson. Seriously, consider this. He an his fellow grape nuts were gonna head out into the desert while blackie killed off whitey. Once that was done, he an his cuckoo's nest were gonna emerge an rule the world cause blackie was too dumb to run the world after he killed off whitey. Now, imagine for a moment, in Chuck's scenario, you'd probably have some trigger-happy guys lobbing bunker busters every which way, eventually destroying the whole dang country. And if science fiction has taught me anything, it's that the ones who don't die turn into monsters after the radiation melts their brains into bean dip an they start tryin' to tear the pancreases outta the remaining normal people. You can imagine the horror Chuck must have felt when he realized what would have happened to him if his vision had actually played out. He now understands that getting caught was really just a blessing in disguise, because while he can't say just what a pancreas does, he knows he needs it. Anyhow, as the best Roger Corman movie to merge the plots from Alien and It's Alive to be produced in the Mojave Desert... well it was at least pretty hot out there, so lets make like this is important stuff. First thing you're gonna wanna know when in desperate need of food in a post apocalyptic future, is that the iguana is sacred. So just leave it be. You don't wanna be the guy that everyone gasps at in horror as you chomp into its midsection.
Second, in biological terms, premature ejaculation is a positive. So the next time your girlfriend gives you the eye roll an the "oh, you're done" look just before she rolls over, you remind her that you're not inept. You're EFFICIENT. You know who appreciates an efficient man? Prostitutes. An third, it's perfectly acceptable to fire a laser through the water pipes of your subterranean bunker in the dystopian future where the supply of everything is low to nonexistent, so long as you look like a badass when you do it. Those are some pretty important tidbits that you'll wanna jot down so you can snack on 'em later, but I think the stop press story that The Terror Within brings to light is this: Todd Akin was mistaken. I'm sure you've all heard about the whole "legitimate rape" story by now and like me, never understood what the big deal was. The man is well educated after all, and everybody knows you can't just go on TV an say things that aren't true, that's be un-Murican. Now my faith in Todd was not shaken for a moment. Not when the GOP started scooting their chairs away from him in the Senate, not when the tens of thousands of medical professionals facepalmed an took a big pull off a bottle of Jack, and certainly not when I started thinking back to Sophomore health class in high school. I simply repressed that knowledge. I believed in Todd, damnit. But having seen The Terror Within, I cannot stand behind him any longer. After I witnessed the big bacon-skinned monster rape Starr Andreeff and impregnate her... that was it. My world was shattered. I tried to rationalize that maybe Starr was just playing hard to get but, no... I've seen women play hard to get. If they're tryin' to kick the guy in the meatballs an claw his eyes out there's just no convincing me that they're into it. So with the knowledge that this was legitimate rape, and her body was not able to shut that whole thing down, I'm afraid Todd was wrong. I'd like to thank Roger Corman for setting me straight on this controversial issue, and anyone else that may still be confused about this? I'd advise you to watch the movie, even though you'll probably never look at the world the same way again. As for you, Todd? You let me down. You let us all down.
The movie begins with a couple sweaty guys draggin' their heavy asses through the burnin' desert lookin' for anything even remotely alive that they might be able to club on the head an take back to base for munchin'. They're able to pin down a rattler an slice it open from end to end an once that's done they triumphantly radio headquarters to report their great victory, a la Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea, to the lady scientist workin' in their underground laboratory. As you might expect, she's real impressed, but moments later the two guys start shriekin' into their radio like the rattlesnake wasn't quite dead yet an it got ahold of their trouser snakes. So the boss, Hal, sends Sue an David topside to help the two guys pry the snake off their giblets while the two engineers discuss whether the buzzards the two guys saw were circling over survivors or "gargoyles". These two guys are about as useful as tits on a hog. Andre an Neil. Andre is kinda like Neil's hero, an you get the impression that Neil's the kinda guy that if he'd been sent topside to get the rattler off the trouser snake, he wouldn't be adverse to sucking the poison out if ya get what I'm sayin'. But anyway, survivors would be a big deal cause a plague wiped out 99% of all the people on Earth an turned the majority of the remaining 1% into uglies that look like they were constructed from succulent bacon. Luckily for them, Mo'Nique didn't survive the plague. So eventually David an Sue are able to find their guys, only they look like a grizzly bear confused 'em for a rotten stump an tried to dig the grub worms outta them. Fortunately, they have Spuds MacKenzie along with 'em an Spuds has ways of dealing with the unprocessed sausage link monsters. But before anything interesting can happen they come upon some additional corpses, an these corpses do not resemble pork in any way, so they head inside a nearby cave where they can hear a baby crying. Only when they get there it's just a doll. So Sue grabs a diary she happens upon off the communal log an leaves the doll for Roddy McDowell to dig up in a few millennium. Right about that time Spuds catches sight of a lone girl out in the sage brush an starts chasin' her like she's Michael Vick with a steak tied around his neck. Or so it would appear. In reality, the girl (Karen), Sue, David, an even Spuds are bein' stalked by one of the Baconators an Spuds gets confused an starts bitin' the camera operator til the monster runs off.
So in his own way, Spuds has saved the day. Then David gets on his two-an-a-half-foot-long cell phone an tells Hal they've rescued a normal an given what-for to one of the walking Slim Jims an they're headin' back before the Slim Jim returns to snap into them. So upon returning, David starts a discussion about the merits of living topside. And while it's true that Karen did live on the topside, all the people at the meeting that aren't complete chunkheads try to explain to him that even if it's not plague ridden, it's 128 in the shade an there's no tellin' how many Jack Link's jerky beasts there are runnin' around. Only about that time the walkin' hot dogs have realized the sheet metal shack covering the entrance to their base, is covering the entrance to their base, an pretty quick the red alert sound effect from Star Trek goes off an David has to go up to the hole to try pokin' 'em with a stick til they go away. Meanwhile, Linda is pokin' Karen with all the science stuff she can find to figure out why she ain't a salami monster an figures out she's pregnant. Hal tells her not to tell Sue cause it'll get her hopes up, an cause she's been voted most likely to perform an unscheduled C-section an steal the baby cause she can hear her biological clock ticking louder than Bugs Bunny's birthday gift to Elmer Fudd. Unfortunately, Sue's a snooper. But she handles it better than expected. She's happy for Karen an decides it'd be a lot easier to just make one with David. Very business-like sex. Like you'd expect if you called a sex line an got Ben Stein on the other end. Afterwards, she goes to check on Karen to see what kinda gifts she wants for her baby shower, only Karen don't wanna talk about it an she tells Sue to bugger off so she can open up her music box that plays "Blow the Man Down". It's the only thing that cheers her up when she gets like this. Elsewhere, David is tryin' to radio the Rocky Mountain base to catch up on all the gossip, only the radio's real staticky an the Rocky Mountain guys can't talk right now cause the Porkenstein monsters are tryin' to bust in an gnaw on their spleens. Seems like that happens a lot. Once they can locate their rolled up newspapers they'll be okay, but in the meantime, Karen's pregnancy is accelerating faster than stink on haggis. So Sue an Linda figure they probably better yank the sucker outta there before he gets too attached, but when they cut her open an start reachin' around inside the bugger explodes outta there like the reactor core at Chernobyl an makes for the ventilation ducts. That tears it. Real bad actually, cause Karen looks like she got run through the wood chipper.
No monster's gonna come in these guys' house an explode their uterine walls. Well... I mean, if they had 'em. So Neil an Andre piece together a flame thrower while Linda grabs her laser. Somewhere in space, Tom Skerritt facepalms cause he knows the flame thrower isn't gonna work, but everyone else seems confident that it will. Hal an Neil take the laser while David, Spuds an Andre carry the flame thrower. They figure either they're gonna hickory cure the bastard or chase it down to a lower level where they can gas it. So after both parties trudge around for a while an work up some atmosphere, David an Andre find some placenta on the floor an sic Spuds on the pepperoni terror. Only Spuds' sense of direction isn't real hot due to his elevated blood alcohol level an while he goes in one direction, David checks out another an leaves Andre wide open to get mutilated in the stereotypical "black man dies first" fashion. David heads back when he hears Andre gurglin' up stomach bile but it's no good an now the big kielbasa wants a piece of him too. Fortunately, Spuds is able to taunt the big oaf off of David, but the big galoot pounds the tar outta Spuds while David frantically tries to call Spuds back with his dog whistle. Which is kinda hard to respond to when the big bastard has ahold of him like Homer Simpson chokin' Santa's Little Helper, an once David is finally able to summon the cajones to check on Spuds, the cured ham has already gotten away. Elsewhere, Hal has dispatched Neil (though not the laser) to go check on David, which ends about how you'd expect when he walks into the wrong part of town. Sue's been watchin' upstairs an she can't stands no more, so she runs out to "help" and is promptly captured by the Spam creature an gets drug off to the elevator. Bad news for Sue. King Salami thinks she's real cute, an he wants to play hide the sausage. There's no time to put on Barry White, what with all these guys tryin' to smoke him, but he works pretty fast and unfortunately he's already achieved dead beat Dad status by the time the help arrives. Hal tries to sizzle the bacon beast with his laser but all it does is make a delicious aroma before it grabs Hal an smashes 'im like a grape in a vice while David an Linda drag Sue back to safety. Unfortunately, Sue is now with pork roast. An despite all the abortion clinic campers that claim they'll adopt the meat pie if only she'll reconsider, she goes ahead an swallows enough poison that it wants outta that death cavern like there's no tomorrow. Cause there isn't. Unfortunately, it explodes outta her like Mount Saint Helens, but not without absorbing a lethal dosage of meat tenderizer that puts it down an out. That just leaves David an Linda to figure out a way to get the big creep ground up into dog food. Spuds gets hungry too, ya know.
Alrighty, well, as Corman movies go, this one is pretty decent. I'm not the kinda guy that's going to mislead you into thinking that Roger Corman makes great movies that are accessible to the mainstream public. He doesn't. What he does do, is make some of the best, low budget, FUN movies that you can enjoy with friends. Fact is, he probably does that better than anyone. Particularly his titles from the 80s, they're all good fun. He does borrow liberally from other people's movies, but so what. I think what a lot of people fail to consider is that any movie, regardless of subject matter, gets interpreted different ways by different people. I get the idea that Corman has a great deal of respect for the movies he emulates, but like any fan, thinks there's a few things he'd like to do different. And he does them. I never get tired of watching similar movies as long as they're bringing some change to the table. And Corman always has some variation on the idea he's working from. That's not to say he hasn't done anything truly original, he has. But you can't say that he hasn't made a lot of movies that people will refer to as "rip-offs". This particular movie follows standard horror and science fiction practices, in that, you can generally tell what's going to happen before it does. Generally. I do have to say that, when the movie starts off with Andrew Stevens and Starr Andreeff as the two main characters, an Starr gets killed off, you do not see that coming. I personally don't care if I can see what's coming or not, I don't find it offensive to watch predictable movies. I don't get upset if I'm not having my mind blown with remarkable plot twists every few minutes. I don't need that kind of thing. But, many people do, and for that reason it seemed relevant to point out that plot "twist". Anytime a character you considered to be critical dies, you'd have to consider that a twist. So they did a few things here that weren't expected. And a whole lot of things that were. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that, with Corman, you are never not entertained. Sometimes that entertainment stems from poor production values or silly concepts, but just as often, you're entertained because you genuinely like what you're watching. A fact I think most people won't agree with unless they're fans of the horror and science fiction genres, but a fact nonetheless. I cannot be held responsible for their poor taste.
Okay, so lets split this one open like the Hamburger Helper monster split open Yvonne Saa in the movie an get to the heart of the matter. The plot is pretty thin, as is to be expected. But it's there, and there's enough of it to not bother harping. I rather like many of the apocalyptic future plots that movies have to offer, so even though it's pretty bare, I'm inclined to give it a few extra points, just on the basis that I like concept. The acting, for the most part, is pretty decent. Starr Andreeff as Sue is probably the only cast member I'd consider to be weighing the overall score down, but she's not weighing it down heavily. Tommy Hinkley is the only particularly amusing character. Essentially playing the part of John Lafayette's flunkie. Though he's got some funny one liners that he delivers really well. Here's the list of names of interest and why: George Kennedy (Brain Dead, Creepshow 2, Just Before Dawn, Death Ship), Andrew Stevens (Mongolian Death Worm, Venomous, The Terror Within II, The Seduction, The Fury, Day of the Animals, Massacre at Central High), Starr Andreeff (Amityville: Dollhouse, Dance of the Damned, Ghoulies II, Out of the Dark), Terri Treas (The Alien Nation TV movie series, Ladykiller, House IV, Frankenstein Unbound, Nightmare on the 13th Floor, The Nest), John Lafayette (Watchers II, Lords of the Deep, Fright Night Part II, Jaws: The Revenge), Tommy Hinkley (Buried Alive II, Silent Night Deadly Night 4, Watchers II) and Joseph Hardin (Watchers II). Pretty lengthy list of titles from the important genres. Whether they were all good titles is irrelevant. The special effects are decent. In fact, I'm gonna one up that a little and say the *special effects* are pretty good. My problem with the monster, I think, is not the suit or the design, but how the actor inside is working within it. Terror Within, indeed. Way too casual, outright silly at times. So I'm not knocking the monster suit, but the monster wasn't able to live up to its potential, due to half-assed acting. Jack Valan needs to take a look at Kevin Peter Hall or Kane Hodder an see how it's done. The rest of the effects, which are plentiful, are good. Though with the exception of bloody explosion an some abdominal shredding, you're left only with Starr Andreeff's aborted monster baby. Which isn't bad. The soundtrack, overall, is pretty good. The chase scene with Spuds MacKenzie outside in the brush, is mildly out of place, but not terribly so. All the indoor sequences inside the laboratory have good, atmosphere generating tracks. The shooting locations, by which I mean sets, for the bulk of the movie, look nice. They're standard Corman science fiction sets with lots of flashing buttons, switches, and even a reel to reel attached to a machine. It's cliched, it's hackneyed, it's perfect. Overall, no masterpiece, but a lot of fun.