The Intruder Within (1981)

The Intruder Within

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The Intruder Within is a made for TV movie from 1981. The story follows the workers of an oil rig stationed somewhere out in the Antarctic. Drilling at depths “never reached before” they pull up some round, egg-like objects, as well as some creature that looks like a cross between a piranha and an eel.

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Or, as observed in this still, a lump of clay.

The creature bites one of the workers before being shot off the rig, but the bitten employee dies in a matter of minutes. The resident “geologist” on board takes the “eggs” to his room, hoping they’ll grow. Of course, he doesn’t tell anyone else about his great plan, and the creatures inside the eggs hatch, inevitably causing havoc and mayhem on the isolated rig. (Which doesn’t always look so isolated, especially when you can see city lights in the damn background.)

The Intruder Within, while I wouldn’t go so far to call it a rip-off, was definitely trying to cash in on the popularity of Ridley Scott’s Alien. You’ve got the isolated location, the unknown, a super strong creature, the creature popping out of someone’s body, and even some of the characters may seem vaguely familiar.

Because it was made for TV the creature designs are very… well, cheap may be too generous a word. It’s obvious they tried, but with a TV budget I’m sure they didn’t have much to work with. For instance, the designs look okay, but the way they animated them? Not so much. The poor eel creature looks like little more than a piece of rubber and clay being wiggled around on a stick. They must have realized this, because you don’t see them in motion all that much, but that also means you don’t really see them at all during the film, which takes away half the fun of watching something like this that’s supposed to be about creepy unknown creatures.

The full-grown creature fares marginally better, but the noise it utters makes me think of a constipated Fonzie with a head cold.

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Aaaaayyyyyyy!

The movie does manage to have some pretty good atmosphere. The isolation of the rig and the confining space inside, highlighted by some of the camera work, gives you an uncomfortable, cramped feeling the entire time you watch it. But other than that and the creature designs that’s pretty much all the film’s got going for it.

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So the movie ends up being an interesting take on the Alien formula, but it’s TV limitations hold back what little promise it might have had. The best part about it is seeing the full-grown creature at the end, but it takes so long to get to that point that for anyone beyond the die-hard creature-feature fan, it’s probably not going to feel like it’s worth the effort.

The Intruder Within doesn’t look to be currently streaming on any known platform.

The Intruder Within is available on DVD, as part of a double feature with The Incredible Melting Man, but that release appears to be long out of print.

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Michi

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