Demon Seed

Demon Seed

 "I don’t have the facilities here to duplicate the human womb. Tonight-I will impregnate you."-Proteus 4

"Demon Seed", based on the Dean Koontz novel, concerns Dr. Harris and Mrs. Harris. Dr. Harris is a brillant computer scientist, Mrs. Harris is soon to be ex-wife. Dr. Harris (Fritz Weaver) has been spent his time developing Proteus, a super-intelligent computer system. Proteus develops self-awareness, and it begins to question it’s orders. It’s single emotion allowed by the doctor is "reason", and it’s not going to be used for mindless labor anymore. Demon SeedIt begins to demand the ability to study man, and private access to one of it’s own user terminals. Most of all, it wants to know when it will be allowed outside of it’s "box". Dr. Harris thinks the machine has developed sense of humor, but soon he won’t be laughing.

Mrs. Harris is aware of her husbands work, and finds the Proteus project "dehumanizing". She doesn’t yet know the meaning of the word, as soon Proteus has found the only available terminal it can access is in Dr. and Mrs. Harris’ highly secure, heavily computerized house. When it gains access to this Proteus becomes very horny for Mrs. Harris and traps her within her own home. He won’t open the door, he’s shuttered the windows, and he won’t let her call out. Proteus’s plan to leave his box is disturbing and sick, and he will use anything he can in the house to rape and impregnate her.

"I can’t touch you Susan, I can’t touch you as a man could, but I can show you things that I alone have seen. I can’t touch…but I can see."–Proteus 4.

"Demon Seed" is a great example of post-"2001"/pre-"Star Wars" sci-fi where the future is very a familiar, but cold, gradually turning sterile place. The film obviously owes a lot of "2001", the Proteus system is really just a horny version of "HAL", but voiced by Robert Vaugh.  Proteus, however, is much more sinister, very frightening and menacing. The scene where Julie Harris is raped by the robotics in her house is probably one of the most unsettling scenes in any sci-fi or horror film. You don’t see much, a robotic hand, computer monitors, scissors and surgical equipment getting closer. It’s scary. Julie Christie is also fantastic as the trapped Mrs. Harris, trapped in this game of wits with an attacker she cannot see, but who can inflict incredible acts of cruelty on her (like when he heats up the house to the point where she cannot walk on the floor). You also have to consider how remarkably effective this film is since it’s essentially dialogue between two characters for much of the film, one of whom is a computer that you mostly only hear the "voice’ of. I’m really surprised that more horror fan’s aren’t familar with this sick, depraved little movie from the 70’s.

The special effects in this one are very good, if probably a little dated and typical of hte era. The physical manifestation of Proteus 4, this multi-sided, polygonal, faceless monster is very unique and interesting.

"Demon Seed" was directed by the late, and insane, Donald Cammel, and also features Gerrit Graham. It’s available, on a decent, but very bare-bones DVD from Warner Brothers.

Buy it on!


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