The Terror Within (1989)

Yep.  Yet another Alien ripoff from Roger Corman and Concorde films.

Still, we’ve got a few interesting change-ups on this one, notably its post-Apocalyptic, post biowarfare accident setting (on Earth), and a secret underground research station which we’ll try not to notice was borrowed from The Andromeda Strain‘s Wildfire facility.  Okay, once the heroes start climbing up access shafts near the end it gets much harder not to notice, but we’ll try.

Again, while we have the usual indestructible creature, its monsters, known as “gargoyles,” are at least distinguished by the fact that they are taken for granted:  they’re out there in the wastes, the crew fears them, and even have a name for them.  Mind you, our heroes apparently don’t know about some of their nastier reproductive habits, but we’ve seen Alien so they don’t come as much of a surprise.  There’s the vaguest of references to the gargoyle’s being the product of some sort of genetic manipulation, but that’s about all we’re told about them (although they obviously have some affinity with our genetic material!).  There really aren’t any hints that they’re the product of the bioweapon release, but one does have to wonder.  Certainly we never learn much about the plague which has wiped out most of the human race.  Maybe the gargoyles are a mutated version of the dino virus in Carnosaur.  Who knows?

As E. Michael Jones pointed out some years after this film came out, the underlying subtext of the Alien movies is that pregnancy is something monstrous.  However, few movies have presented this so openly (with the Corman produced Carnosaur one of the few).  Here, not only do the gargoyles apparently impregnate their victims (whose bodies display all the normal symptoms of pregnancy, other than its rapid progress), but abortion is offered as a “cure,” presaging Ridley Scott’s own Prometheus.

George Kennedy plays the tough commander who gets picked off early.  At least — unlike his appearance in Top Line — he doesn’t have someone else’s voice dubbed in over his.

This is, admittedly, one of the better “B” Horrors of the era.  It is suspenseful and fairly well made, even if familiar (you knew that the black character was going to end up lugging a flame thrower around, right?).

But then, isn’t it true that we expect a “B” Horror to be familiar, anyway?

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