The Underrated: Demon Seed (1977)

Every week we review a movie that we feel is underrated or over looked. Something you need to see.

“Death is a gentleman too, he makes good losers of us all”

Over the years artificial intelligence has become an increasingly terrifying reality. As the internet slowly takes over our brains and robot assassin dogs are being built by the military, technology takes leaps and bounds toward our destruction every day. Surprisingly, even in 2013, our fear of technology has been subdued by our love of instagraming burrito’s and “likeing” dying african children. When the android Nazi’s of tomorrow rise up to engulf their creators in flames we’ll be too busy uploading it to Youtube to do anything about it. Not like in the 70’s. In the 70’s they had a healthy fear of technology. More importantly a fear of robot rape.

Demon Seed is the story of Susan a housewife whose husband Alex has just completed the first machine with artificial intelligence and the collected knowledge of man. It’s name is Proteus IV. But when Proteus takes over their fully automated home and finds Susan inside he decides he wants to make the first half robot half human baby. That’s when shit starts to get weird.

While the majority of the film from an outside perspective is a woman being tortured and held captive, it actually has a lot more to it. With incredible acting from Julie Christie and Fritz Weaver the film comes alive. Julie is not tormented by a man, as typical in most films, but a machine. An all knowing raping machine. The film doesn’t dwell too much into the mind of the machine as I would have liked but rather we see the portrait of a machine gone mad. This aspect is fascinating not only as a fresh take but also because, when you think about it, that’s probably what would happen to any artifical intelligence with all the knowledge of the world.

The script is based off the novel of the same name by famous horror novelist Dean Koontz. I haven’t read the book but I did appreciate that the film seemed to encapsulate a great story without wandering around too much as most novel-turned-films usually tend to.

What is really special about the film is the sheer rawness of it. Once the machine takes control we see a dark spiral only get darker. The madness is haunting and screams off the screen in a way that will ring in your ears for weeks after.

The director, Donald Cammell, is a truly brilliant director that no one has heard of. He is also the reason this film goes from a random horror movie to absolutely brimming with intensity. To give you a clue on how intense this guy was he only made four films. On his fourth film (The absolutely brilliant Wild Side with Christopher Walkin) he was refused final cut. After the studio’s butchered his film he shot himself in the head. As the story goes his wound was not fatal. He asked his wife for a mirror so he could watch himself die.


If that doesn’t make you run to your computer a buy all four of his films I don’t know what will (Spoiler alert: They’re all amazing).

Unfortunately the marketing for the film was horrible. They sold it as a sex torture film and kinda killed their Sci-Fi audience. Then about a month later Star Wars came out and that’s all anyone could talk about. Here’s a great little quote from Turner Movie Classics that I totally agree with.

“Today Demon Seed seems remarkably prophetic for its time because so much of the science that it advocated in 1977 has become commonplace. Organism cloning, artificial insemination and complex artificial intelligence systems are no longer science fiction and they've become science fact. What may have seemed utterly ridiculous in 1977 doesn't seem all that implausible now.”

As with all of Cammell’s films, Demon Seed is a must see. If not for it’s raw intensity then for the amazing floating puzzle box thing and the awesome robot baby.

Imdb Demon Seed HERE

Buy Demon Seed HERE