Every since he was expelled from Mother Superior’s Dungeon of Heathen Delights, Big Gay Horror Fan has been short on inspiration.
Thankfully, televison writer Ed Waters and skilled director Peter Carter (whom also helmed the 1977 backwoods horror and Hal Holbrook starrer Rituals) had plenty of guidance from 1979’s Alien when creating 1981 television film The Intruder Within. Interestingly, this tale of an oil rig crew facing down a toothy, skeletal creature, also, has many elements of John Carpenter’s The Thing remake (a stranded group of blue collar workers being possessed by an unknown creature) which wasn’t released until 1982.
Being a television flick there isn’t a ton of grue, here, and the explanation of the creature’s origins is never quite clear (something about man’s primitive ape form being trapped beneath the sea centuries ago) – but Carter truly has a way with the character actors who decorate this piece. Their grizzled charm along with the crude animatronics and monster suits employed give this enterprise a fun, retro charm of it’s own.
As the head of the rig, television maverick Chad Everett gives this damp and mouthy outing his all. Tears well up in his eyes when contemplating the fate of a female member of the crew, impregnated by the beast. His eulogy for the young man played by Matt Craven (who would face an even nastier demise as ‘shishkebob’ Steve in Happy Birthday to Me the next year) is, also, filled with heart and sorrow, yet Everett is always believable as a man capable of taking on a foreign beast.
Meanwhile, television regular Jennifer Warren brings strength and sass as Everett’s capable partner in crime. Tragically, co-star James Hayden whom plays Harry, the infected crew member who causes the most damage, died not long after making this drilling gem from a heroin overdose. An acolyte of Al Pacino, Hayden was an accomplished stage actor with a bright future. He had just completed a role in Once Upon A Time in America and Pacino (with whom Hayden appeared, in ultimately cut scenes, in notorious gay thriller Cruising) was reportedly devastated by this loss.
Balancing out future tragedy, though, this piece is rife with silly moments. The funniest just may be when the creature emerges fully grown from the above mentioned victim (portrayed with quiet strength by Lynda Mason Green who would go on to headline the War of the Worlds television series)not with blood ripping wails and flesh torn mayhem, but as a gracefully rising spirit.
So, tip your hats to television censors and budget constraints and check out The Intruder Within trailer, below:
And until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!