Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Terror Within II (USA, 1991)

"A mutant sperm of some sort, forcing its way into the embryo, fusing with it, battling for genetic dominance!"
Kara (Stella Stevens)

Once upon a time there was a sexy lass named Estelle Caro Eggleston who changed her name to Stella Stevens and tried to make it as an actress but whose career really didn't go so hotly; then she demurely posed as the January 1960 Playmate of the Month for Playboy magazine and her career took off – according to Wikipedia, she also became one of the ten most photographed women in the world during the 1960s. Her acting career included a number of memorable films of progressively less note, including Jerry Lewis's The Nutty Professor (1963 / trailer), The Silencers (1966 / main title), The Poseidon Adventure (1972 / trailer), Slaughter (1972 / trailer), Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold (1975 / main title), The Manitou (1978 / trailer) and Chained Heat (1983 / trailer), but by the time she had her superfluous nude shower scene in Monster in the Closet (1986 / trailer), her heyday and drawing power were long gone.
Prior to Playboy, however, she found the time to have a hunky son named Andrew Stevens – anyone remember Massacre at Central High (1976 / trailer), Day of the Animals (1977 / trailer) or The Fury (1978 / trailer)? – who, before becoming a B-film producer to be reckoned with, acted in a lot of bad B-films. One of the more memorable (or less memorable, depending on your tastes) was the 1989 Roger Corman cheapie The Terror Within (trailer), yet another Alien (1979 / trailer) rip-off but set in an underground laboratory in a decimated post-apocalyptic future. It did well enough to warrant a sequel, and Andrew, as David, the only surviving character, was not only back on board as actor but was even given a shot at directing and scriptwriting. (Leave to Roger Corman to save where he can – besides, Andrew had already proven his mettle as a screenwriter the previous year with the erotic thriller Night Eyes [trailer].) So, two years after The Terror Within, part two hit the screens – or at least the lowest shelf at the video store. And was it any good? As if you really have to ask.
The Terror Within II is bad as a low budget, post apocalyptic film shot in the Mojave Desert can be, though in all truth it is less crappy, cheesy, exploitive or laughable than it is simply unbelievably cheap – hell, it almost makes David DeCoteau's Creepoziods (1987 / trailer) look like a Hollywood A-production. Not only does everything about part two – sets, monsters, locations, costumes, effects – look cheaper than the cheap first film, but the script is so cheap creatively that it basically recycles whole aspects of the first film. The result is that if you have seen the first film, you not only suffer from an extreme case of déjà vu but also get the feeling that the character David (Andrew Stevens) must either have the worst memory in the world or be suffering some form of amnesia, for he walks straight into some of the exact same mistakes as in the first film – the result: if you've seen one, you've seen both.Worse, perhaps, is that the budget for blood in part two was obviously lower than in part one, so the gore factor is more ketchup than stage blood, with all other effects being of a similar quality. And although we do get two gratuitous female nude-torso scenes – the modest mounds of Ariel (Clare Hoak of the laughable Corman version of Masque of the Red Death [1989 / trailer]) and the much more impressive love pillows of Sharon (Barbara Alyn Woods of Delusion [1991 / trailer] and Ghoulies IV [1994 / trailer]) – when it comes to skin, The Terror Within II is almost puritanical in comparison to, say, prime Roger Corman Alien rip-offs such as Forbidden World (1982 / trailer).
The Terror Within II opens at two locations: an underground lab somewhere in Colorado where the inhabitants are dying one-by-one of the plague that decimated mankind many a year earlier because the needed plant for the vaccine is in short supply, and somewhere in the middle of the desert where David and his dog are making their way to Colorado as they gather the plant materials. In Colorado, an above-ground confrontation with a mutant results in an amputated mutant finger finding its way into the lab, while in the desert David manages to save a delectable dish named Ariel (but not her bother) from a mutant attack. With her now in tow, he continues on his way – and one night of unprotected sex later she happily announces her pregnancy. But during their travels they hook up briefly with a duplicitous tribe of survivors and by the time David catches on and kills all the duplicitous tricksters, he is too late to stop Ariel from being raped doggy-style by an invisible-dicked mutant. Less than a week later, in the safety of the underground lab, Ariel looks 8 months pregger and ready to drop – but David still acts as if it's just another day in the neighborhood. Before long, the baby is born and within hours it is an adult mutant-human crossbreed that looks exactly like the now-grown mutant finger, which has evolved into a second full-grown mutant-human crossbreed (because it ate a human while growing). Needless to say, though the humans know that guns have no effect on the monsters, they go a-hunting for the critters with pistols and other common weapons and one-by-one get cheaply decimated until (apparently) only Ariel and David and their offspring are left and they all get together for some family time – as Ariel tells their critter kid when he goes after his half-daddy: "Stop! Stop right there! Don't hurt him! You're part of him! You're part of me!"The Terror Within II is cheap and cheesy and pretty funny, but not funny enough to make it a truly enjoyable and fun turkey. If you've seen part one, there is really no reason to see this rehash – not that you would probably want to. And even if you haven't seen part one, there really isn't any reason to see part two. Andrew Stevens was nice enough to give his aged mother work by putting her in the film, but neither her presence nor that of R. Lee Ermey (as Von Demming, the compound head) do much to make the film any more palatable – though they are the two best actors on screen.If absolutely nothing else is available to watch, there are more painful films out there than The Terror Within II – but on the other hand, you could also do something fun with your time like, dunno, take the in-laws shopping at Wal-Mart or for dinner at McDonald's...

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