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The Terror Within/Dead Space


None November 13th, 2010

Leave it to skinflint producer Roger Corman to remake his own films, themselves rip-offs of massive hits. Whereas 1979's now-classic "Alien" prompted him to follow with 1982's "Forbidden World," he couldn't settle for the small fortune it brought in, and remade "World" as "Dead Space" in 1990, at the height of the VHS rental age.

Wonder how many renters demanded their money back.

If you're in the right frame of mind "” meaning that "Corman" is a word that excites you "” "Dead Space" qualifies as one hour and a few minutes of stupid fun, even with "” or is that because of? "” former "Beastmaster" Marc Singer starring alongside a sidekick robot named Tinpan. They answer a distress call that takes them to a space lab where the inhabitants "” one of whom is "Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston, rocking some spectacles that make him look like '70s sitcom star Ray Buktenica "” wear blue spandex things to bed as futuristic PJs.

Oh, they've also been playing God in the lab, resulting in a "metamorphic mutant," meaning it changes at it grows. That results in a monster "” or monsters, plural, as its mutating state allows for several incarnations to be dragged out from the plop closet "” to quickly thin out the cast. It's all over and done with in a pretty painless 80 minutes.

The disc also includes "The Terror Within." Although a year older than "Dead Space," it's no wiser. In fact, let's call a turd a turd: It's a turd.

Also set in a dire future, it concerns a group of scientists who are the lone survivors of an apocalyptic virus, because they live and work underground in the desert. Andrew Stevens is among them, which is funny, because one of the last things you'd associate with him is "science." Oscar winner George Kennedy is down there, and that makes more sense, because he's old, and in the movies, gray hair equals smarts.

Too bad Kennedy couldn't turn this one down. It also rips off "Alien," but not in a fun way. Its money shot, so to speak, arrives when a woman "gives birth" to a bloody little booger that soon grows into a man in a rubber suit that walks on his legs when he's not crawling through ducts to chase our good guys. That sequence seems like a lift of "Aliens." Then there's a near-rape-by-monster scene that seems like a lift of Corman's "Galaxy Of Terror," which recently was paired on a DVD with the aforementioned "Forbidden World," which means I just brought this review full-circle. Bam!

Bottom line: This is one of the weaker entries in the "Roger Corman's Cult Classics" twofers, but at the price, fans will want to hang on to it just for "Dead Space." "”Rod Lott

 
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