The Terror Within (1989)

R | 86 mins | Horror | February 1989

Producer:

Roger Corman

Cinematographer:

Ronn Schmidt

Production Designer:

Kathleen B. Cooper

Production Company:

Concorde-New Horizons
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HISTORY

The Terror Within was the American theatrical debut of Swedish-born director Thierry Notz.
       In a 4 Mar 2007 West article, screenwriter Thomas M. Cleaver stated that he was contacted by producer Roger Corman to write a script that could utilize a home Corman had just used for a previous movie and turn it into an underground laboratory. While driving to Corman’s office, Cheever came up with an idea in which a world was ravaged by a biological disaster that produced mutants similar to the aliens in Alien (1979, see entry). Development was interrupted by the 1988 Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) strike.
       A 14 Sept 1988 Var news item reported that principal photography was underway.
       The West article noted the film was shot over eighteen days at the Corman Studio, a former lumberyard, in Venice, CA.
       Reviews consistently stated that the film was meant as a “pro-choice” parable about abortion. However, in a letter appearing in 16 Jun 1989 LA Reader, Cleaver stated the abortion storyline in the film was merely a plot device to advance the story and frighten the audience.
       The film debuted in Jan 1989 at a special showing for the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. It was then released in Feb 1989 in four southeastern theaters before its national release in May 1989.
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The Terror Within was the American theatrical debut of Swedish-born director Thierry Notz.
       In a 4 Mar 2007 West article, screenwriter Thomas M. Cleaver stated that he was contacted by producer Roger Corman to write a script that could utilize a home Corman had just used for a previous movie and turn it into an underground laboratory. While driving to Corman’s office, Cheever came up with an idea in which a world was ravaged by a biological disaster that produced mutants similar to the aliens in Alien (1979, see entry). Development was interrupted by the 1988 Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) strike.
       A 14 Sept 1988 Var news item reported that principal photography was underway.
       The West article noted the film was shot over eighteen days at the Corman Studio, a former lumberyard, in Venice, CA.
       Reviews consistently stated that the film was meant as a “pro-choice” parable about abortion. However, in a letter appearing in 16 Jun 1989 LA Reader, Cleaver stated the abortion storyline in the film was merely a plot device to advance the story and frighten the audience.
       The film debuted in Jan 1989 at a special showing for the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. It was then released in Feb 1989 in four southeastern theaters before its national release in May 1989.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Hollywood Reporter
31 May 1989
p. 4, 10
LA Reader
16 Jun 1989
---
Variety
14 Sep 1988
---
Variety
10 May 1989
p. 50
West
4 Mar 2007
p. 12
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Concorde presents
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Prod mgr, 2d unit
Dir, 2d unit
Asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Co-prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Gaffer
Key grip
Swing grip
Addl photog
Still photog
Steady cam op
Steady cam op
Dir of photog, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
Gaffer, 2d unit
Grip, 2d unit
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Graphic artist
Art dept driver/swing
Story boards
FILM EDITORS
Post prod supv
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Lead person
Prop master
Set dresser
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Const coord
Set const foreman
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Vertical blinds
Set dresser, 2d unit
COSTUMES
Ward asst
MUSIC
Mus comp
SOUND
Bill Robbins
Prod sd mixer
Supv sd des ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
A. D. R. supv
Foley mixer
Foley artist
Foley artist
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Post prod sd services
VISUAL EFFECTS
Creatures des and created by
Spec eff
Spec eff
Miniatures
Titles, opticals, and roto eff
Eff anim
MAKEUP
Key makeup and hair
Makeup asst
Makeup eff
Makeup eff
Makeup eff
Makeup eff
Makeup eff
Makeup eff
Makeup eff
Makeup eff
Makeup eff
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod coord
Casting dir
Animal wrangler
Loc mgr
Transport coord
Video tech
Extra's casting
Extra's casting
Prod controller
Prod accountant
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Craft services
Driver
Prod asst, 2d unit
Scr supv, 2d unit
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timing
DETAILS
Release Date:
February 1989
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 12 May 1989
Production Date:
began Sep 1988
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Concorde-New Horizons Corporation
13 February 1989
PA416487
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
86
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29544
SYNOPSIS

After a biological disaster destroys civilization, a lone scientific outpost buried under the Mojave Desert struggles to survive. Their food supply is dwindling, forcing scientists, John and Michael, to hunt for food. At the base, David and Sue attempt to convince their superior, Hal, that they must abandon the station and walk eighteen hundred miles to their sister base in the Rocky Mountains, when they receive a distress call from John saying he and Michael are being attack by mutant humans with heads resembling crocodiles, known as “Gargoyles.” Hal orders Sue and David to assist the hunting team. Taking Buster, the outpost’s dog, they find the two men lying dead near a human encampment. David radios that he found the team, as well as another ten bodies with their intestines ripped out. Linda, the station doctor, convinces Hal they must study the bodies as they have lived exposed to the disease and must have developed a resistance to it. Hal orders Andre, a maintenance man, to accompany Linda to collect samples, but he refuses to go. David hears a rockslide and he and Buster go to investigate. When Buster spots Karen, a young survivor of the human settlement, running away from a gargoyle, he gives chase, until David blows a dog whistle. The gargoyle screams and runs off. David and Sue bring Karen back to the base, unaware they are being followed by gargoyles. Not long after sealing the outer hatch, the mutants destroy all the surface security cameras. Below ground, Linda announces to Hal that Karen is three months pregnant. Hal ...

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After a biological disaster destroys civilization, a lone scientific outpost buried under the Mojave Desert struggles to survive. Their food supply is dwindling, forcing scientists, John and Michael, to hunt for food. At the base, David and Sue attempt to convince their superior, Hal, that they must abandon the station and walk eighteen hundred miles to their sister base in the Rocky Mountains, when they receive a distress call from John saying he and Michael are being attack by mutant humans with heads resembling crocodiles, known as “Gargoyles.” Hal orders Sue and David to assist the hunting team. Taking Buster, the outpost’s dog, they find the two men lying dead near a human encampment. David radios that he found the team, as well as another ten bodies with their intestines ripped out. Linda, the station doctor, convinces Hal they must study the bodies as they have lived exposed to the disease and must have developed a resistance to it. Hal orders Andre, a maintenance man, to accompany Linda to collect samples, but he refuses to go. David hears a rockslide and he and Buster go to investigate. When Buster spots Karen, a young survivor of the human settlement, running away from a gargoyle, he gives chase, until David blows a dog whistle. The gargoyle screams and runs off. David and Sue bring Karen back to the base, unaware they are being followed by gargoyles. Not long after sealing the outer hatch, the mutants destroy all the surface security cameras. Below ground, Linda announces to Hal that Karen is three months pregnant. Hal orders her to keep this a secret in case they have to terminate the pregnancy if the fetus shows signs that it is a mutant. The next day, David gets a rare radio message from the Rocky Mountain laboratory stating they are under gargoyle attack, then the signal goes dead. Linda informs Hal that Karen has gone from being three months pregnant to eight months overnight. After briefing the crew, Hal orders the fetus removed, but, if possible, kept alive so it can be studied. During the operation, Linda reaches into the uterus only to have the fetus grab her hand. It then tears through Karen’s abdomen, scurries across the floor, and escapes into an air vent. Sue calculates that if the creature maintains the growth rate of the gestation period, it will be full-sized in twenty-four hours. Needing more weapons, Neil rigs up a portable power pack to turn the surgical lasers into a ray gun. However, it uses so much energy it can only fire four times before it is out of power. Andre turns welding equipment into a flame thrower. Hal splits the men into two teams. The women protest at being left behind, but Hal fears they will be raped, like Karen. David, Buster and Andre head for the second level with the flame thrower and a crossbow. As David turns a corner, the gargoyle attacks Andre from behind, slitting his throat with its claws. David runs back to find the creature gone. As he bends over Andre’s body, the monster leaps from the air vent and attacks. Buster leaps on the gargoyle, forcing it to run away with the dog chasing it. David blows the dog whistle, causing the gargoyle to scream and leap into a vent. David finds Buster seriously injured. Watching the monitors, Sue sees the attack and runs out of the room before Linda can stop her. On the floor below, Hal and Neil receive a radio transmission from Linda stating she is in trouble and they rush to an elevator. When it opens, they find the creature. Before Hal can react, it grabs Neil and the elevator doors slam shut. Sue and David call for the elevator, but when it arrives they find Neil’s dead body and the gargoyle. Before they can react, the creature grabs Sue and the elevator doors slam shut. Linda rushes down to help and they meet up with Hal. The three go down another level and find the creature raping Sue. Hal empties his ray gun into the creature as Linda and David drag Sue to safety. The wounded creature charges Hal and rips him to pieces. After patching up Sue and Butch, Linda tells David that Sue is pregnant and asks if it could be his. David admits it could be, but Sue insists she was not pregnant before the gargoyle raped her and insists on an abortion. Linda refuses to abort the pregnancy until they are sure it is not human. Later, Linda and David return to sickbay to find Sue dead from performing an abortion on herself. An autopsy proves a gargoyle fetus was growing inside her. After examining the fetus, Linda declares that its hearing range is higher than humans and realizes David’s dog whistle must cause them pain. They make a tape of the whistle and play it over the intercom as David hunts him on the lower levels. The whistle noise causes the creature unbearable pain and as it thrashes about, it tears off an electric wire that starts a fire. Linda attempts to activate the sprinklers, not noticing the dog whistle tape has broken. David finds the fire and uses a fire extinguisher to fight it. The creature attacks him, so David drops the extinguisher and shoots the gargoyle with a crossbow. The monster yanks the arrow from its chest, then leaps on David. Hearing David’s screams over her headset, Linda sees the whistle tape broken, splices it, re-threads it, and gets it playing again. David crawls into a supply room where he fashions a spear with his knife, duct tape and a length of pipe. He stabs the creature as it attacks, but it rips out the knife and knocks him across the room. Linda appears and distracts the creature by hitting it with a pipe, allowing David to get Andre’s welding flame thrower and to set the monster ablaze. Convinced the gargoyle is dead, Linda helps the wounded David down the hall to the elevators. However, the creature regenerates its broken and burned body and goes after them. They barricade themselves in a closet and David hands Linda his whistle. She crawls through an air vent back into the hall, yells at the creature and jumps back into the vent. She leads the creature into an air shaft, but drops the whistle. As the creature crawls up to her, she strips two wires, but there is no electricity. Meanwhile, David crawls into the elevator, gets to the control room, and activates the electricity to the lower levels. Linda zaps the monster with wires. It falls down the shaft onto a fiber air filter suspended above a huge fan. The creature panics and its toes tear the fiber, causing it to fall into the slashing blades of the fan and get dismembered. Linda returns to the control room in time to hear a radio message from the Rocky Mountain Laboratory saying they are alive. The next day, Linda, David and Buster emerge from the underground laboratory armed with a tape machine playing the dog whistle. From a safe distance, they watch as gargoyles enter the shelter. David uses a remote control to blow it up. They begin the long walk to the Rocky Mountain outpost.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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