Inseminoid (1981)

Author: Brett Gallman
Submitted by: Brett Gallman   Date : 2012-06-07 06:09

Written by: Nick Maley and Gloria Maley
Directed by: Norman J. Warren
Starring: Robin Clarke, Jennifer Ashley and Stephanie Beacham

Reviewed by: Brett Gallman

Somewhere in the Depth of Space ... A Horrific Nightmare is About to Become a Reality.

While the bulk of Alien resembles a haunted house stalk and slash (only with a big fucking monstrous alien instead of some off-screen maniac), its setup is one of the most squirm-inducing instances of body horror ever crafted. For all intents and purposes, John Hurtís Kane is raped and inseminated by the alien face-hugger, thus forcing him to carry a demon seed and give birth to an unholy creature. Many of Alienís imitators latched onto this schlocky goopiness, and itís no surprise that one of Britainís vanguards of sleaze, Norman J. Warren, did so with Inseminoid, a wacky knock-off that pushes Ridley Scottís film to its gory, pulpy excesses.

In the future, humanity as discovered an outpost planet that once housed intelligent life, and a crew of Xeno Project scientists have been charged with the task of exploring it. Upon arrival, they discover a network of caves with ancient inscriptions and crystals, and the scientists posit that the planet was created by a ďchemical intelligence,Ē a theory that proves to be true when one of its crew members (David Baxt) becomes possessed by unseen force that drives him mad and sends him on a rampage.

The setup and beats are obviously similar to Alien, only itís more loosely plotted and gratuitous; in fact, everything involving this possessed, homicidal scientist feels extraneous, as the actual through-line of the film comes later when a group of scientists returns to the caves (after all, what self-respecting scientist would let their own imminent death deter them). Itís at this point that Judy Geesonís character is assaulted and raped by a bug-eyed extraterrestrial in a surreal, nightmarish sequence that comes complete with a test tube phallus that injects green gunk right into her snatch. In spite of its pulpy silliness, this is one of the few genuinely eerie moments Inseminoid has to offer, as the film quickly degenerates into a procession of dismemberments, blood-drinking, and disembowelments.

And births, of course, as thatís the horror Inseminoid is inflecting by recalling the rape and unnatural pregnancies of Rosemaryís Baby, Itís Alive, and even The Omen. In this case, though, it takes the image of dear old mom and spins her into a psychotic queen bee who will protect her progeny at all costs. Geeson gives the filmís only noteworthy performance in the role, as you can slowly see the humanity seep away from her as sheís consumed by the presence growing inside of her. She would be a remarkably empathetic figure if Warren were interested in telling that sort of story, but he rarely (if ever) was interested in ever doing that, so weíre left with a junky, clunky, and dumb monster movie whose grand guignol sensibilities can hang with most of the slashers of the age, as thereís a fine assortment of gore sequences. Realized with fantastic special effects devised by Nick Maley (who co-wrote the film with his wife), Inseminoidís carnage makes for an impressive centerpiece that keeps it compulsively watchable.

Unfortunatley, Inseminoid mostly plays out like a film that was written by the effects guy as a chance to showcase his work. The plot is often nonsense despite the presence of some intriguing mythology stuff surrounding the planet thatís never really built upon; instead, itís just sort of an excuse to knock Judy Geeson up and go crazy. Geeson is surrounded by a good ensemble, complete with some requisite American actors in Robin Clarke and Jennifer Ashley, but none really bring much conviction to the dull dialogue and exposition theyíre forced to spout. Inseminoid is a ridiculous film that often looks ridiculous, as its sparse budget (some of which was provided by Run Run Shaw) makes this look like Alien re-imagined as a television movie, albeit one with some nice scope photography. Still, itís difficult not to chuckle at future civilizations using corded phones and motorcycle helmets with flashlights attached to them in an attempt to replicate space travel. Really, the space angle is underused, as thereís never a sense of claustrophobia provided by floating in a ship in the middle of nowhere; instead, the crew is docked the entire time, and thereís no compelling reason that keeps them grounded.

Actually, the most effective sets are the dusty, plasticine caves that resemble a network of birth canals when moodily lit. However, Inseminoid mostly just delivers a stillborn mass of silly, splattery madness thatís all spectacle and no nuance. In truth, this makes it pretty much the same as most of the Alien knock-offs, but itís still in the middle of that pack. Elite released Inseminoid in three different configurations, all of which came over 8 years ago; it was released on its own and in two British Horror collections that look to be identical except for their packaging. The disc is unfortunately non-anamorphic but looks otherwise serviceable for a transfer from 1999, and the only extra feature is the filmís trailer. The individual disc really isnít worth picking up, but the collection that itís a part of (which includes Tower of Evil, Horror Hospital, and Curse of the Voodoo) can be snagged for 20 bucks, which isnít bad. At any rate, make sure you grab this version, as bootlegged, cropped, and cut versions under the title Horror Planet have popped up on DVD and Netflix streaming. You donít want to miss any of Inseminoidís trashy pleasures since there's not much more to it. Rent it!

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