Demon Seed (1977)

Synopsis:

In the near future, a brilliant scientist (Fritz Weaver, Creepshow) helps develop a sophisticated computer system named “Proteus” that will hopefully help mankind find the cure for all sorts of diseases. The scientist’s computer-controlled home is connected to the central brain of Proteus, and when the super-computer achieves consciousness, it traps the scientist’s wife (Julie Christie, Doctor Zhivago) in the house.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“I am a machine that offered men the triumph of reason, and they rejected it!”

Despite the fact that Donald Cammell’s (Performance) controversial sci-fi- thriller Demon Seed lacks the realism that modern technology is able to supply to today’s fantasy movies, this is an intriguing and intellectually demanding movie that raises interesting questions about scientific research and the essence of life.

Based on one of American author Dean R. Koontz’s first novels, Demon Seed is not what you will call a masterpiece, but its central premise — a truly fascinating showdown between machine and its creator, or more accurately, synthetic versus organic — is so captivating and so well executed that one cannot help but get pulled into the story from the very first scenes to the film’s bizarre and puzzling ending.

Director Cammell’s work is always imaginative, engaging, and entertaining. Cammell Robert Jaffe (Motel Hell) and Roger O. Hirson’s (The Bridge at Remagen) intelligent and thought-provoking screenplay includes existential and metaphysical undertones that range from man’s place in the universe to Nietzsche’s superman theories. Bill Butler’s (Jaws) atmospheric cinematography is praiseworthy as well.

Leading actress Julie Christie gives a tour-de-force performance, especially quite amazing if one realizes she’s interacting with an inanimate object — we can feel her pain as she uncovers, layer by layer, the machine’s diabolical master plan.

Fritz Weaver conveys the exact combination of bravado and arrogance as Christie’s intelligent, but aloof husband. Robert Vaughn (The Magnificent Seven) provides the chilling voice of Proteus, a distant cousin of HAL from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Vaughn’s icy, matter-of-fact delivery is chilling to say the least.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Demon Seed is a film I think will be embraced by most sci-fi & horror enthusiasts, especially now, when humanity seems to have reached a technological threshold in which science has not only opened the door for new possibilities, but also has become a source of concern and anxiety. Demon Seed does not pretend to have all the answers, but it definitely raises some interesting questions. Color, 94 minutes, Rated R.

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3 responses to “Demon Seed (1977)

  1. Demon Seed as a sci-fi film classic for 1977 can outshine even Star Wars and Close Encounters for how specifically original it was. After HAL, and Colossus, Proteus (marvellously voiced by Robert Vaughn) proved most profoundly how significant the AI villain genre would inevitably become.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Sci-fi films and shows that aren’t entirely perfect but still take enough chances are the easiest for me personally. Because they often feel more naturalistically successful and enjoyable. It was indeed true for the classic Star Trek, Doctor Who and The Tomorrow People.

        Liked by 2 people

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