Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #408
Also known as Horror Planet, Doom Seeds
Number of Views: Two
Release Date: 22 March 1981 (UK)
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Running Time: 93 minutes
Director: Norman J. Warren
Producers: Richard Gordon, David Speechley
Screenplay: Nick Maley, Gloria Maley
Special Effects: Nick Maley
Cinematography: John Metcalfe
Score: John Scott
Editing: Peter Boyle
Studio: Jupiter Film Productions
Distributor: Butcher’s Film Service
Stars: Judy Geeson, Robin Clarke, Jennifer Ashley, Stephanie Beacham, Steven Grives, Barrie Houghton, Rosalind Lloyd, Victoria Tennant, Trevor Thomas, Heather Wright, David Baxt, Dominic Jephcott, John Segal, Kevin O’Shea, Robert Pugh
Suggested Audio Candy:
John Scott Inseminoid
With Ridley Scott’s Alien still soaring through the stratosphere and every cash-strapped film-maker Stateside clamoring to emulate its success by their shoe strings, it wasn’t going to be long before the British cashed in on the new craze and Inseminoid by Norman J. Warren (Terror, Satan’s Slave) travelled particularly well, even earning a letter of congratulation from Roger Corman, who pretty much owned the monopoly on bargain basement knock-offs around the turn of the eighties. The plaudits didn’t end there either. 20th Century Fox also offered their seal of approval although the British Academy of Film and Television Arts ironically rubbished Warren’s film, suggesting it to be commercial claptrap not worthy of flying the British flag.
Inseminoid is often referred to as a video nasty and this is entirely inaccurate. In actuality, it never made the DPP’s named and shamed list, despite Vipco incorrectly labelling it as such when re-releasing it in 1994. However, it was nothing if not controversial, not least for its phallic undertones and uncanny resemblances to Alien. Right from the opening credits he set his stool out, encouraging the viewer to step into a colossal womb and become impregnated by its cruel occupant.
Cries of sexism rang out as our subject Sandy (Judy Geeson) took one for her team, sprawled out with legs akimbo, after intravenous administration of an unknown substance by a male antagonist. I spring immediately to Karl’s defense as he just laid the tracks and, instead, a hulking space mutant was responsible for the actual insemination. Wrong place, wrong time. Actually, the whole impregnation scene was just wrong…period (which of course makes it oh so right in Keeper’s books). People read far too much into films such as Inseminoid; it was suggested to attack the notion of female sexual freedom and promote the opinion that contraception is their responsibility. What a load of bollocks; these infidels need to get out more and smell the country air. I blame menstruation.
Alas, where I feel inclined to jump to Warren’s defense over the whole sexism debate, it’s harder to shield it from criticism with regards to implementation. As is customary, we are placed in an abandoned outpost with a team of scientists, tasked with exploring the planet and reporting their findings. After making their first mistake (investigating a sprawling cave network littered with ancient inscriptions and crystallised fossils), poor Sandy takes an extraterrestrial length and spends the remainder of the film growing increasingly prone to psychotic outbursts as she protects her unborn alien twin progeny. This intriguing premise is somewhat wasted as Warren struggles to bring home the insular feel of his consistently docked craft and at times it all feels a tad half-baked.
The primarily homegrown cast, complete with requisite Americans Robin Clarke and Jennifer Ashley, do their best at remaining po-faced and both Stephanie Beacham and a young Victoria Tennant ham it up rather well but it is Geeson who shines brightest and the sole reason why Inseminoid doesn’t crash and burn as it frequently threatens to. Anyone who suggests that women are subliminally downtrodden by Warren’s movie need only take one look at her authority. She minces about, looking terrified one moment and wonderfully demented the next, and neither sex poses much of a threat once she begins to stamp her superiority on affairs. The screenplay was actually written by husband and wife duo Nick & Gloria Maley and there is plenty of estrogen coursing through the film’s veins.
Having said that, Inseminoid still struggles to compete with its cross Atlantic counterparts on account of being not nearly interesting enough. There is certainly no shortage of incident once that demonic seed has been planted but sadly Warren struggles to build any real discernible tension and any downtime between kills becomes an unnecessarily long slog. Thankfully, all is not lost, when your main brief is to disgust and appal. There can be no denying that his film is a particularly sleazy entry into the cycle and, if nothing else, it offers more than enough cannon fodder for the deconstructing to prevent it being stillborn.
Ultimately, this wacky space misfire will be best remembered for its now notorious penetration. Admittedly this scene is both wonderfully surreal and curiously unsettling but, by the time her offspring are revealed to the audience, any semblance of already tenuous credibility dissolves and it becomes cinematic blue cheese of the stankiest order. When you consider the beats that Warren’s film shares with Alien, it fritters any right to be taken seriously, but that’s where our B-movie sensibilities become its saving grace. Watch back to back with Tobe Hooper’s off-kilter (and partially British funded) wonder Lifeforce for the true double-barreled meaning of successful failure.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 6/10
Grue Factor: 3/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: In space no one can hear you ovulate. While Geeson is spread-legged on her birthing mat one gets the impression that Warren is sporting a considerable chubby in his Chinos although he is never exploitative with his lens. I would imagine he swept any surplus excrement from the cutting room floor straight into his pocket for later consumption. Nevertheless, Galaxy of Terror and Xtro, both of which featured alien molestation, pushed the envelope just as far (if not further). Inseminoid has a plethora of pulpy excess, appendage subtraction, and multiple stabbings to keep it brisk and the effects, for the most part, are sloppy in the right way.
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