I saw part of this when I was a kid on TV, not cable, when I was a kid, probably late 70s/early 80s, I imagine. I can’t remember if I liked it or not, but some scenes stayed with me like the giant octahedron machine the movie’s renegade computer creates to menace, kill and impregnate, in that order. I have not seen this in its entirety until this review and it’s an all right movie. I didn’t hate it, nor did I totally love it either.
This is yet another Warner Archive blu-ray I’m reviewing that’s connected to another Archive title I just recently reviewed. It has a small connection to S.O.B. (1981) in the form of actor Robert Vaughn. In this flick he’s the voice of the computer menacing the heroine.
If you didn’t know what this movie was based on its title alone you’d rightly assume it was a horror movie about demonic possession and impregnation. Half that description is correct. It’s mainly a science fiction movie with shades of horror as Dr. Alex Harris (Fritz Weaver) and his scientist pals create the world’s first artificial intelligence they dub Proteus IV (voiced by Vaughn) in an unspecified future time, and the future depicted in 1977 is “quaint.” But then again all science fiction movies about the future pre-1977 were always “quaint,” so quaint they at times become laughable by actual 21st century standards. The tip-off that it’s supposed to be set in the future is the “high tech” car Harris drives and the “smart-house” he and his wife, Susan (Julie Christie) live in that reminded me on one level of The Jetsons cartoon, but, hey, it’s 1977, I’ll give the movie a break.
A year before we learn their daughter died of leukemia and it has pretty much destroyed their marriage. Alex is getting ready to go off for three months and live at the complex where Proteus IV has just been born to help with its education, while Susan remains in the house. Weaver only has a small part in the movie, being seen at the beginning, intermittently in the middle and at the end. Susan and Proteus IV are the main characters and from the brief time we get to know Proteus in the beginning we quickly learn he’s going to be a problem. He’s not doing what his makers want him to do, plus he wants “out of this box.” He wants a private terminal where he can talk with Alex, but Alex won’t give to him. In Proteus’ defense he does acquire some “principles” I can get behind like not wanting to help this company dig up ore in the ocean and pollute the world. There is a brief moment where it’s we humans who appear to be the bad guys, and Proteus is just a product of “bad programming.” And before he takes over the Harris’ smart-house we already get the feeling he has something sinister in mind.
As the movie reveals he wants to knock up Susan and have her give birth to a child that his half him and half human so he can touch and feel and do all those things humans can and computers can’t. Susan expectedly, and rightly, resists, so Proteus torments her until she comes around to seeing it his way and gets impregnated. Only twenty-eight days before she gives birth, then Proteus will transfer it to this strange looking incubator he created so he can educate it. In reality he’s downloading himself into it.
He performs all these manual tasks and the tormenting of Susan by way of this primitive robot that looks like a robotic arm connected to a wheelchair, and a really memorable gold colored octahedron the size of a small car he creates in the basement. It’s responsible for the decapitation of fellow scientist Walter Gabler (a young and nerdy looking Gerrit Graham) when he comes to check on Susan. His death is a plot hole. He’s killed in the basement, but we never see what Proteus did with the body, or what happened to the car he came in that was parked right out in front of the house and his gone for the rest of the film afterwards. Also no one at the facility seems to miss him.
Alex finally catches on and races home to find Susan perfectly fine and this hybrid baby gestating in this cylinder in the basement. Susan wants to kill it, Alex wants to keep it alive, and the movie meets the two in the middle. It’s important earlier that we know what their daughter looks like for when the incubation is disturbed and out pops this mechanical looking humanoid, it’s revealed this mechanized look is merely a shell and underneath is a little girl who looks just like their daughter, but the twist is when she speaks, “I’m alive,” it’s Proteus’ voice.
The movie reminded me of other “unnatural rape movies,” like Inseminoid (1981), The Entity (1982) and Breeders (1986), but compared to those Demon Seed isn’t as exploitative, and before I forget this films is an adaptation of a novel written by Dean Koontz.
Warner released this movie for the first time on DVD back in 2005, then re-released as an MOD through their Warner Archive banner in 2011. Back on march 14th Warner finally gave it a blu-ray release. As of this review those previous two editions are still in print, for those who haven’t gone blu yet. You can buy all three of them at Amazon!
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 2.40:1 high definition widescreen—2.0 English DTS-HD Master Audio (Mono)—English SDH subs only
Transfer looked great!
Extras included . . .