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Unknown Origin – 3

Director – Scott P. Levy

Cast – Roddy McDowall, Alex Hyde-White, Melanie Shatner, Don Stroud, Rodger Halston, Emile Levisetti, Richard Biggs, Sha-Ri Pendleton

Release Year – 1995

Reviewed by John of the Dead

After viewing The Crater Lake Monster I continued my quest for creature horror with Unknown Origin – a film I figured would suck after seeing its low ratings. Later renamed The Alien Within, this TV movie (I didn’t know it was a TV movie when I saw it) came with Roddy McDowell’s name gracing the top-billed credits, and it being less than 80 minutes in length meant I wouldn’t suffer for too long. Unknown Origin lets the viewer know from the get-go that it is going to be a very low-budget and poorly shot piece, and even with that previous knowledge I left this experience knowing that I wasted 74 minutes of my life.

The crew of an deep-sea mining vessel falls prey to an unknown mind-controlling prehistoric alien. The initial terror soon turns to paranoia when the scientists turn on one another, unsure of who is friend or foe.

It may not seem like it so far, but this film borrows heavily from Alien and The Thing. Things start off quickly, with the crew coming across the wreckage of a previous ship after coming across its distress beacon (Alien) and then bringing the apparently “fossilized” remains of an alien creature onboard their ship (The Thing). All is well at first, but soon enough the creature escapes and begins possessing those whom it enters via their mouth (in hilarious fashion), moving from host to host and leaving a deadly mess in the process (The Thing). Story-wise the film was decent albiet borrowing from some of horror’s greatest stories, and it even went so far as to include a litmus test to determine who was infected with the alien and who was not, very reminiscent of the memorable petri dish sequence in The Thing. As far as the screenplay goes it is an utter piece of crap. The dialogue is horrendous and the character play is cliché as ever. There are thankfully quite a few sequences involving the alien and several deaths too, but those scenes fell victim to another horrible element of the film…it’s direction.

Director Scott P. Levy did little to improve the horrible screenplay, instead giving us poor cinematography and horrendous acting from everyone but Roddy McDowell. His execution of nearly every element was absolutely piss poor, however I give him props on using a live-action creature as the alien instead of something much worse like CGI or a literal puppet like we see in Carnosaur. There is not much as far as gore goes but we do see the awesome mummified remains of the aliens former hosts, but despite his decent execution of the horror everything else brought it down and left me saddened that I spent my time on this.

Overall, Unknown Origin is a pretty horrible TV movie that gets pretty much everything wrong except for the horror at times, but even then it was nothing amazing. Not recommended.

Rating: 3/10

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