WITHIN THE ROCK (1996) Reviews and overview of Alien rip-off

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‘The ultimate predator… unleashed.’
Within the Rock is a 1996 science fiction horror film about a mining crew on an asteroid being stalked and killed by an alien creature. Also known as Terror Moon.

Written and directed by special makeup effects expert Gary J. Tunnicliffe (Hellraiser: Judgment; Hansel & Gretel 2002). Produced by Stanley Isaacs, Scott McGinnis and Robert Patrick.

The Le Monde Entertainment-Prism Entertainment-360 Entertainment movie stars Xander Berkeley, Caroline Barclay, Bradford Tatum, Brian Krause, Barbara Patrick, Michael Zelniker, Duane Whitaker, Calvin Levels, Earl Boen and Dale Dye.

“Perhaps the most enjoyable thing about Within the Rock is that it is, ultimately, a film without a hero. While there are survivors at the end, you won’t necessarily be able to pick them on the way through. There is a satisfying absence of contrivance here. Instead of the usual post-Alien – and post-slasher film – kill ’em one-by-one mentality, Within the Rock disposes of most of its characters in two swift flurries of bloodshed.” And You Call Yourself a Scientist!

“It’s an awesome popcorn bucket full ‘o fun for the low-budget, sci-fi guilty teen inside your still VHS-loving adult. I love this movie: it’s a pure ’80s VHS-retro tale o’ yore, just like Mr Corman used to make.” B&S About Movies

“The monster might not go down in any history book, but I liked it and thought the look of it was appropriate for this film. Within the Rock is decent, but nothing more […] I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, but if it were to come on one night on TV and there’s nothing else on, then give it a shot.” Cinema Terror

“Even overlooking the bad science, the story is crappy. One of the miners turns psycho and starts killing his fellow miners for no reason […] 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.” Communist Vampires

“I’ve seen so many of these types of movies, and really the only way to distinguish them is how cool the alien monster costume looks. The one in Within the Rock is actually pretty well-made, and they don’t show it all that much, so it doesn’t lose it’s effectiveness, so that’s cool […] Too bad the rest of the movie is full of dull, cookie-cutter characters and it has the most generic space-horror plot ever.” Films in Boxes

“Unfortunately, once its monster is unleashed, Within the Rock travels down all too familiar grounds. The potentially interesting premise had given hope that it might be more than a run through the familiar cliches but the creature effects, the suspense set-ups and twists are all too familiar. Eventually, the film emerges as nothing more than another routine B-budget Alien copy.” Moria

“It remains true to its roots as a straight-to-video cheapie. It offers us instead clichés piled upon clichés, an interchangeable cast, kills off the vaguely interesting characters early on in the movie, has two characters in a fistfight (for no obvious reason) during the final confrontation with the monster. And so forth…” Sci-Fi Movie Page

“First-time writer-director Gary J. Tunnicliffe, a makeup effects veteran (the Hellraiser films, among others), clearly devoted as much attention to his characters as to his monster and works in some diverting details. But the general story development is all too predictable, and the action and horror setpieces have a perfunctory feel.” TV Guide


Plot (contains spoilers):
A mining crew, supervised by Doctor Dana Shaw (Caroline Barclay), land on the “Son of Galileo” (a large spherical asteroid about to hit the Earth), to pierce and undermine its structure in order to divert its trajectory.

During the excavation in the rock, the body of a humanoid alien, apparently fossilized, was found in a mortuary on the wall of which a platinum plate weighing 130 kg is fixed.

Ryan (Xander Berkeley), the head of drilling jobs, is thrilled with the payoff he and his team can make. The doctor, who rejects Ryan’s advances, is instead interested only in the scientific aspect of the discovery and in the success of the operation.


The unexpected awakening of the alien, which begins to claim victims among the crew, generates panic among the survivors, who organize themselves to be able to eliminate him. The most powerful explosive weapons don’t seem to scratch it. However, in the end, thanks to common fire extinguishers and the large boring drill head, the mission is completed and the Earth saved.


Cast and characters:
Xander Berkeley … Ryan
Caroline Barclay … Doctor Dana Shaw
Bradford Tatum … Cody Harrison
Brian Krause … Luke Harrison
Barbara Patrick … Samantha ‘Nuke em’ Rogers
Michael Zelniker … Archer
Duane Whitaker … Potter
Calvin Levels … Banton
Earl Boen … Michael Isaacs
Dale Dye … General Hurst

Filming locations:
Los Angeles, California

Technical details:
1 hour 28 minutes


Within the Rock premiered on the Sci-Fi (now Syfy) channel on June 8th 1996.

The film was released on DVD by Image Entertainment on August 17th 1999. It was later released by Mill Creek Entertainment on May 10th 2011 as a part of a triple-feature with Phantom of the Opera (2004), and The Fear 2.


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