Roger Corman’s Cult Classics Double Feature: The Terror Within / Dead Space – DVD Review

Roger Corman woke up with a film title stuck in his head. He called his assistant in the middle of the night with a directive to go through his studio library to find a script that fit the new title. Six months later, the remake with the new title was at your local videostore. Why waste money to hire a screenwriter to develop a new script? Sure Corman could have used the same title for the remake. But that would cut into the ability to sell two films with the same script to an unsuspecting videostore. They wouldn’t realize the old version was already on the shelf. Roger Corman’s Cult Classics Double Feature: The Terror Within / Dead Space might seem familiar for those collecting the DVD sets. This twin bill represents Corman’s constant cloning of Alien.

The Terror Within (1989 – 87 minutes) is a subterranean take on Alien. A small pack of scientists hide deep inside an underground laboratory. Seems a biological or chemical attack has wiped out most of humanity. They’re led by George Kennedy as the cranky old man. The young stud of the group is Andrew Stevens (Munchie). They think the only other real human settlement is another lab located far away in the Rocky Mountains. They don’t have enough supplies for such a major journey. They’re barely surviving inside their high tech rabbit hole. They hunt small critters for dinner. During one food search, they stumble across a group of humans that have been slaughtered by a wild creature. Luckily they find a single pregnant woman and bring her down to the lab to assist in the birth. This turns out not to be a good move since the baby’s daddy isn’t the woman’s husband. Thrill to another great chest bursting moment in the operating room. This leads to a fight between the scientists and the uninvited creature. The creature is perfectly disgusting looking. Stevens gets his hero look down as faces off in a battle that will determine humanity’s future.

Dead Space (1991- 71 minutes) is a shot for shot remake of Forbidden World except without the slightly altered sets of Galaxy of Terror. The biggest difference between the two versions is the stars (in future tense) that shine in the remake. Marc Singer (BeastMaster and the original V) is an intergalactic lawman who lands on a planet with a remote laboratory that needs help. Turns out one of their experiments in new food supplies is eating the scientists. Things are completely out of control as the creature keeps evolving, changing and devouring. The maddest of the scientists is Bryan Cranston (Seinfeld, Malcolm in the Middle and Breaking Bad). It’s just shame that they couldn’t have mixed the actors from Dead Space with the sets and creature creations from Forbidden World. The monster this time around doesn’t have a chance of being more scary than Cranston.

Roger Corman’s Cult Classics Double Feature: The Terror Within / Dead Space works well as a tag team as it gives us two evil mutants for the price of one concept of paying homage to Alien. Both films feature a duo of Hollywood stars without either actor resorting to the rubber suit role. It’s amazing how many different ways you can stick smart people in a confined space with a mutating creature out to eat them. Ultimately these two films show that Roger Corman had an instinct for great B-movie titles.

The video for The Terror Within is 1.78:1 anamorphic. Dead Space is 1.33:1 full frame. This makes sense since it was released straight to video. Both look fine for low budget productions. The audio for both films is Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. The sound mixes don’t feel cheap on the ears. The sound balances right so the monsters and humans don’t eat their lines.

Audio Commentary from director Fred Gallo on Dead Space. This is interesting as he addresses remaking for Roger Corman. Jeff McKay keeps peppering him with questions to get the complete view of the film.

Roger Corman’s Cult Classics Double Feature: The Terror Within / Dead Space must be watched with the Grindhouse Experience which tosses in trailers and other theater promo reels. These are two fun low budget movies that remind us how much can be done by sticking people in a restricted space with an evil beast.

Shout! Factory presents Roger Corman’s Cult Classics Double Feature: The Terror Within / Dead Space. Directed by: Thierry Notz & Fred Gallo. Starring: George Kennedy, Andrew Stevens, Marc Singer and Bryan Cranston. Running Time: 158 Minutes. Rated: R. Released on DVD: October 12, 2010.

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