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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

The Alien Within (1995)

There were a ton of Alien knock off movies set in the deep sea that came out in the late eighties and thru most of the nineties. The best of them is probably Deep Star Six but there were a lot of lower budget efforts as well. The Alien Within is one of those and has the added bonus of being made under the Roger Corman Presents banner. If you aren’t familiar with that it was Showtime’s attempt to get into the low budget cheesy movie business. These lower budgeted flicks were made to go directly to the cable channel’s lineup. I should cover more of these as a few of them are a lot of fun. And as a double bonus this also checks another off my Roddy McDowall movie list. I will watch everything he did in his career damn it! But enough of that lets get to the good stuff here.

The movie opens with the crew of an underwater mining operation talking about being behind schedule and having to pull double shifts to meet their quota. This leads to an accident where one of the miners, Louis, gets hurt and suffers Uranium poisoning. Before that can settle in they get a distress call from a nearby Russian mining facility and go to help. When the arrive the crew is mostly dead, one of them that is alive tries to kill the other survivor before being gunned down, and there is evidence of a spaceship being found. Sound familiar? I think someone watched The Thing before writing this script.

McDowall is awesome as always!
The crew takes some of the bodies and the survivor back to their ship. Another crewmember breaks quarantine letting the Alien hiding inside out to infect others. This leads the crew to grab improvised weapons like flamethrowers and cobble together motion sensors to go on a bug hunt. Okay maybe they also watched the first couple Alien movies as well. There is also a lot of paranoia as they bicker over who is infected and dangerous. Which goes back to The Thing. Damn movie do you have an original idea? Spoilers… the answer to that is no! This all leads to a twist ending that I didn’t like all that much but also wasn’t too invested to be that annoyed by.

The Alien Within is exactly what I thought it would be. A completely derivative cheapie made to fill seventy five minutes. When you see the Concorde-New Horizons logo and realize that Roger Corman is involved then be assured that this isn’t going to be groundbreaking. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. While I’ve seen everything here done better in other movies this one isn’t too bad. The story moves along quickly and checks all the boxes you would expect. We get some over the top acting and goofy dialogue. This is delivered by the expected cast of “B” actors such as Melanie Shatner (Cthulhu Mansion), Don Stroud (too many to mention), Richard Biggs (Babylon 5), and my personal favorite Roddy McDowall (Planet of the Apes, Fright Night Franchise, The Legend of Hell House, and so many more). McDowall in particular is clearly having some fun playing the scientist that wants to save the “scientific find of the century” regardless of the danger.

The monster is an appropriately weird looking bit of latex that crawls in and out of the cast members. This allows you to see the monster without them having to create a giant creature effect. Instead, much of the big action sequences are left up to the cast members who are possessed. Leave it up to an old pro like Corman to keep his costs down. Along those lines it was also amusing that I recognized the sub and exterior footage from an earlier movie Lords of the Deep. Yeah, I’m a huge Corman nerd so I noticed things like this.

You get all the tropes in this one but packaged in a way that it gets to the fun and keeps it going until the end credits. Clearly this isn’t the kind of movie that you will want or need to rewatch like those it “borrows” from are. But if you grab a few friends and a couple adult beverages it can make for a nice evening. As of the writing of this review the movie is a bit hard to find but I did notice that is seems to show up now and again on various streaming services. If you see it give The Alien Within a chance.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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