Within the Rock

Film review by Thomas M. Sipos




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Within the Rock (1996, dir: Gary J. Tunnicliffe; cast: Xander Berkeley, Caroline Barclay, Bradford Tatum, Brian Krause, Barbara Patrick, Michael Zelniker, Duane Whitaker)





If you want Within the Rock, don't buy the individual DVD -- you can buy it much cheaper as part of the Fright Fest DVD package of 8 horror films.

That said, Within the Rock is a low-low-budget Alien ripoff. It seems to be a made-for-cable TV movie, with cheap studio sets and cheesy CGI effects.

It seems there's this moon-sized asteroid headed for Earth. So this crew of miners is sent to land on it, and bore rockets deep into this asteroid so as to divert its path.

The miners are typical Alien carbon copies. They're cynical, greedy, slovenly, horny, and don't trust "the corporation." You'd think that with Earth's survival at stake, the authorities would send a crack team of military or NASA types. But no. They sent a ragtag bunch of space misfits to save humanity.

It's stated that the military will send their boys to blow up the moon -- if the miners fail. Which makes the miners all the more cynical about their mission. And make the audience wonder, why not sent the military in the first place?

Anyway, the miners unearth some alien bones in a platinum tomb. No one, except the lead scientist (a beautiful woman, and obvious Sigorney Weaver ripoff), seems to care that this is Man's first encounter with alien artifacts. The miners only want to strip the tomb of its platinum.

But opening the tomb allows oxygen into it, which regenerates the alien bones into a ferocious alien. Naturally, this alien begins killing the miners.

Despite that, this is a slow-moving film. We're 50 minutes into the story before the killings really start. And because the crew is few in number, the body count is low.



The science is real bad. The film is set in 2019, and by then, science can create "oxygen walls" -- a breathable atmosphere which can be turned on and off, expanded or contracted, and which surrounds any area, so you don't need a spacesuit. There's no physical "wall" -- it's just that the oxygen stops at a certain point. Yet it doesn't leak past this "wall." Not that anything's holding it back. A person can easily walk past this wall, but then they can't breathe without a spacesuit.

The spacesuits (for when the oxygen wall is turned off) are real crappy. These suits aren't sealed. One miner's dreadlocks are hanging out from under his helmet, into the dangerous atmosphere. And the faceplates are small, providing a limited range of visibility.

The computer screens look like something from the 1980s, though this film was shot in the 1990s -- never mind 2019.

And what's with the gravity? This is a small, moon-sized asteroid, yet the miners walk around like it's normal Earth gravity.


Even overlooking the bad science, the story is crappy. One of the miners turns psycho and starts killing his fellow miners for no reason. Seriously, his murder spree has nothing to do with the alien or contamination or the atmosphere. He's just a bad dude.

One of the best Alien ripoffs remains Galaxy of Terror. I also recommend Inseminoid (aka Horror Planet) -- which also had a chainsaw-wielding mad astronaut amid the alien mayhem. But at least there, it was because the alien infected the mad astronaut. Other good Alien ripoffs are Forbidden World and Creature.

Within the Rock is slow moving. Its horror is tepid. Its characters are clichéd, silly, and poorly motivated. This film is for Alien ripoff completists only.


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