If you know anything about Donald Cammell’s checkered career watching ‘Demon Seed’ can be quite a strange experience because you can’t help but wonder what it might have been if Cammell was able to bring his original vision to the screen without studio interference. For those unfamiliar with his sad tale watch the astonishingly original ‘Performance’ that he wrote and co-directed with Nic Roeg, then try and see the documentary ‘Donald Cammell: The Ultimate Performance’ which fills in the gaps from that landmark to his untimely suicide in the 1990s.
Anyway, I can only comment on ‘Demon Seed’ as it is, and it’s a very strong, intelligent and scary SF/horror movie. Recently activated super computer Proteus questions Alex Harris the scientist who created him (played by Fritz Weaver). He wants to know what the information he is gathering and problems he is being asked to be solved are REALLY all about. Not getting satisfactory answers he decides to rebel, and takes control of Harris’ fully automated home, which is occupied by his estranged wife Susan (Julie Christie).
Almost immediately Susan and Proteus are at odds. Proteus won’t accept non-cooperation with his plans, which include Susan’s impregnation, and she becomes a terrorized prisoner of the “evil” (?) computer. What follows is a battle of wills and wits, which makes compulsive viewing. ‘Demon Seed’ may be dated in the FX department, what SF over twenty years old isn’t, but it compensates with suspense, style and food for thought. Plus one of the best endings of any 1970s SF movie! Make sure you see this one.
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