Happy Halloween everybody. I decided I'd dust off the old review typing fingers and bring you a new feature that I like to call "From the Depths of Netflix". While most of the movies that we've reviewed over the years have been hard if not impossible to come by for most people, occasionally I'll find a hidden b-movie gem on Netflix. I'm going to use this feature to bring these titles to you. This way, anyone with a Netflix account can join in on the horribleness of watching along. The first title in this series is "The Terror Within".
In an apocalyptic world resources are scarce, and life is a struggle day to day for the Mojave center for disease control. It seems that this particular apocalypse (not to be confused with all the others that happen in most of these movies) has caused some people to mutate into what are known as gargoyles - huge rubber suited alien looking beasts. Thankfully, these gargoyles have all been contained in caves and underground. One day on patrol, a couple members of the Mojave crew find meet their untimely demise while scouting for food at the hands of a new breed of gargoyle... the kind that come walk among us.
The remaining Mojave 5 (good band btw, but the real Mojave 5 don't make an appearance in the movie) send out a rescue party to retrieve the two missing members, and instead cross paths of a human woman who has just escaped the clutches of a gargoyle. They bring her back to their underground base for examination, and they find out that she's preggers. The day they found her she appeared to be about 3 months pregnant, and on the second day her pregnancy has strangely accelerated. She now appears to be about 7 months along and the crew, lead by Hal (George Kennedy) decide that drastic action needs to be taken. While she may be carrying a gargoyle baby, they should remove the fetus early so that they can study it and see what makes it tick. As you can probably guess, this is not such a great idea. At this point, I'll give the other members of the Mojave team some credit as they do argue against this. In a bit of foreshadowing, the seemingly second in command, David (Andrew Stevens) gives the ominous quote, "I hope you know what you're doing" which of course they don't - so proverbial shit will hit the fan. In an unadvised move the baby is removed and escapes into the ventilation system! Soon, with it's accelerated growth that not only occurs in the womb, but also in it's infant and adolescent stages, it's grown to the height of a very tall man. The crew is left to contend with the gargoyle, as it slowly picks them off one by one.
Most b-movies give me some strong reaction - either really falling in love with the movie or a few of its elements, or really hating somethings about it. The Terror Within is one of those movies that didn't really strike me either way. The effects were well done, there wasn't anything laughably bad about the movie. The only thing I really reacted to was the gargoyle baby extraction scene, where clearly a modified baby doll burst from the woman's stomach a la Alien, and then crawled off the surgery table and jumped up into the ventilation system. They also had an early scene where they went to explain how this weapon was pretty badass, but only had four shots. When it's used against the monster, he shrugs it off like a horse using it's tail to swat away a few flies. Don't build this weapon to be a nuke when it's really a nerf gun.
One of the things I would have loved to have seen expanded on was the idea of these gargoyles needing the human women for insemination. They mention that they are only really after the women, and once inside the base the gargoyle does exactly what you'd expect to one of the female crew, but then it's just thrown away and they're left running away from the monster again. I realize that when you're running for you life, you don't really give a shit about why a monster wants to put a baby in your belly, but as far as the story went, some hokey 30 second explanation probably would have satisfied me.
There was a fair amount of tension in the early stages of the movie. I'd say if this film had anything going for it, it was the way the tension and suspense built up as it progressed up to the that pregnancy scene. Unfortunately, once the gargoyle fetus grew to be a full grown monster and the big reveal of what the gargoyle actually looked like took place, there was no reason to hide it anymore and it just stalked the crew unabashedly. Because of that the movie did seem to drag on a bit. It's one of those movies where just when you're sure you're at the end, there's another 10 minutes to get through until the actual final confrontation.
While this isn't a bad movie, there were a lot of other ones I could have been occupying my time with. If you're a apocalyptic movie completionist, maybe you should see this. If not, maybe The Terror Within II is more your thing. At least that one has R. Lee Ermey in it. The Terror Within bursts out 2 mutant monster babies out of 5.
As of this writing The Terror Within is currently available on Netflix here.