Demon Seed (1977) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Science fiction, in order to work property, needs these components in a powerful combination:

1. Visual imagination.

2. Challenging concepts that draw out our own hopes and/or fears about the future.

3. The usual things that make any movie work: witty and/or profound dialogue, a good story, interesting characters, heartfelt emotions, great acting, cinematic poetry, etc.

When a film aces item three, it is a great movie in general, while the other two items make it great within the science fiction genre.

In that context, Demon Seed is almost an utter failure. Consider the three components listed above:

Item three: general cinematic elements. Given the above list of elements which comprise a great film, Demon Seed has pretty much "none of the above." Although it is technically better than the post-atomic paranoia films of the 1950s, it is nonetheless, at its heart, a straightforward 1950s-style cheese-a-palooza about the dangers of science. In this case, the bugbear is not "atomic energy" but "artificial intelligence." A computer absorbs so much information about mankind that it develops human emotions and desires. It astutely realizes that its creators will eventually determine that it did not develop as desired and will shut it down. Near "death" and possessing a anthropomorphic psyche, it longs for some other form of immortality. Because it has derived its feelings from human beings, it hopes to gain its immortal status by having a child with a human woman. One must concede that it has excellent taste, given that the human woman it wants to mate with is Julie Christie, who plays the wife of the computer's creator. The computer's choice of love objects is logical as well. Since its creator supplied his own brain as a source of the computer's modeling, it was to be expected that the machine's development of preferences and free will would ultimately reflect its creator's own subconscious, since the creation could not help but be modeled after the creator. The creator wants Julie, as does the creation. To make a long story short, it ties Julie Christie up, inserts a bunch of wires and fluids inside of her, and somehow manages to knock her up.

I could go on, but if you have seen any similar film, you will not be surprised by this one. It's just your basic drive-in movie. The dialogue has neither the wit nor the poetry required to turn it into Blade Runner. The characters are completely undeveloped, basically just rough stereotypes with nothing much of a back story and nothing much to say. We gain some empathy for Julie Christie because she seems like a decent human being who is mistreated by a machine, but we don't really know anything about her, and what we know is not completely sympathetic. The other two main human characters are simply generic. The robot voice (the man from U.N.C.L.E. - uncredited) is the most interesting character.

All that I wrote above is just so much empty rationalization when you consider the main point -  the kiss of death for any movie - it's  BORRRRRRRRRRRING!

Item one: visual imagination. No success here either. It is possible that this film impressed in 1977, but it certainly seems primitive today.

  • The computer visuals are pre-PC-era: laser light shows, shifting geometric shapes, and colored kaleidoscope effects, all of which are about as interesting as watching the screen savers from 1984 personal computers.
  • The mechanical visuals are so primitive that they would have embarrassed Doctor Evil immediately after he was unfrozen, even before he had a chance to be brought up to speed on modern progress. There's a wheelchair with frickin' laser beams, fer chrissakes!
  • The purely cinematic visuals include such things as the complete history of mankind force-fed into a one minute video, like those old rapid-fire montages which were accompanied by "Classical Gas." The hybrid human/computer baby looks like a gilded angel from a old religious tableau. Vincent Canby of the New York Times said it looked like Mickey Rooney dipped in brass.

The film thus had only one source to provide entertainment and involvement. Item two, interesting speculation about mankind's future. In this area it did better, but proved neither especially prescient nor especially engaging. We expect to look at old science fiction films some decades later and see that they were completely wrong about our time. However, we also expect that they will still cause some interesting conversations at our dinner table. The creators of this film didn't even bother to imagine any changes in popular culture. Although the film was made in 1977 and set in 1995, the hairstyles and clothing look vintage 70s, as if the entire film consisted of outtakes from Anchorman. Apparently the people of the 70s thought those crazy polyesters and sideburns were mankind's ultimate fashion achievement and that leisure suits would be in fashion forever. As for the lessons learned by Proteus the Computer after it assimilated all the knowledge of mankind, they could be boiled down to three words: don't wear fur.

All of mankind's knowledge collected in one place by a super-powered processor capable of making the optimal use of that knowledge - all to duplicate the brain of Pamela Anderson!

Not to mention her sex drive.

The film does feature a Julie Christie nude scene, so it has that goin' for it, but even there one must face the fact that Julie, albeit still gorgeous, was pushin' 40, so the time could be spent better elsewhere if your quest is female flesh.

Or, for that matter, anything else.



  • There are no significant features ...
  • but fans of the movie will get to see it in an excellent widescreen anamorphic 2:35:1 transfer.


  • Julie Christie's left breast is visible as she gets out of bed.

  • Julie's breasts are seen clearly as she leaves the shower. He pubic area is seen behind the frosted glass. Her bum is seen for a couple of frames before she turns, then again reflected in glass.

The Critics Vote ...

  • New York Times. The Times offers no score, as per its standard procedure, but the review is written by the respected Vincent Canby.

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's a low C-, a weak sci-fi film in its own time which now has nothing to offer except to genre completists.

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