The Terror Within (1989) Review

On post apocalyptic earth, supplies are running low for a group of survivors living deep underground in a military research bunker. Trips to the surface are fraught with danger thanks to “Gargoyles” – monstrous humanoid creatures which now roam the earth. When the team rescue the sole survivor of a camp of humans, who have somehow, until recently, survived above ground, they unwittingly let a Gargoyle into their bunker.

Galaxy of Terror is often referred to as Corman’s Alien ripoff, but having watched The Terror Within I’ve come to the conclusion that it wasn’t the only time he turned to Ridley Scott’s classic for inspiration.

Despite its terrestrial (or even subterranean) setting, with its metal corridors, ventilation systems, heavy sliding doors, and banks of computers, the underground bunker is for the most part indistinguishable from a spacecraft. Hell, we even get a dialogue nod to Star Trek, as though to put us in mind of galactic travel. It may be set on earth, and the creatures may be mutants rather than extraterrestrial beings, but to all intents and purposes, this is a space movie.

The wardrobe, industrial jumpsuits with a few badges and insignias, bears more than a passing resemblance to the uniform of the crew of Alien’s Nostromo. Think I’m grasping at straws with the Alien comparisons?


That right there is a baby creature bursting unexpectedly from someone’s torso!

On the subject of babies, this movie contains no fewer than 2 separate pregnancies, which may or may not be suspect. You’d expect these pregnancies to be the focus of the movie, what with the title and all, yet both are resolved one way or the other within minutes of their discovery, which I can’t help but feel is a bit of a wasted opportunity.

All that said, the creature looks great, the pacing is solid enough, and if anyone can produce a low budget Alien and make it worth watching, it’s Roger Corman and sure enough, despite slightly flat direction from first timer Thierry Notz, The Terror Within remains an enjoyable movie; never going to win oscars, or even a viewers choice award, it’s never the less a fun way to spend an hour and a half.

I’m a doctor not an engineer.

Every October, regular Cinephiliacs contributor Will Tingle tries to review as many movies as he can squeeze in; the last two years he’s managed to do one a day for the whole month (and so far this year he’s 3 for 3). The rest of his October reviews, along with a petty gripe about The Terror Within, can be found here.


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