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Demon Seed (1977) - Blu-ray Review

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Demon Seed (1977) - Blu-ray Review

4 beersIf the final few moments of director Donald Cammell’s Demon Seed don’t disturb you, then you are probably dead. The reveal of just how twisted the computer controlling the house at the center of this tale is a dire warning that, obviously, we did not heed. In fact, there are indeed a lot of shocking future-ready moments the stark horror film correctly predicted about man and his technology.

Exactly who is the tool here?  

And it is frightening to consider just how vulnerable we are.  Houses controlled by smart technology are all the rage.  Maybe this tale of science fiction horror should have been called When Computers Go Wild.  Maybe then we would have paid attention.

Viewed 40 years AFTER its original release, there’s quite a bit about this adaptation from Dean Koontz’s 1973 novel that feels spot on; it’s like watching a fortuneteller gaze into a crystal ball and nail the future with an exactness that is otherworldly.  Today, the idea of a computer system running an entire house for a family is not unheard of.  And, in the next few years, it will be the norm.     

Proteus IV is a super computer that breaks the all the rules.  The computer defies the directives of creator, Dr. Alex Harris (Fritz Weaver), and goes rogue – refusing to be limited by man when denied its own terminal - and sets sights on the next logical location: the creator's home.  Hit him where it hurts?  Not so much.  This super computer is super logical.  Proteus IV is different from other computers in that it actually has a synthetic brain; it’s already done a lot of good for mankind.  All that is about to change when it invades and overrides the computer system operating the creator's dwelling.

Recognizing that its own “life” is about to be extinguished by the attitude its showcasing toward its creator, Proteus overtakes Dr. Harris’ home and keeps a sharp watch over Susan (Julie Christie).  It takes over the home’s controls and limits Susan’s activities and her connection to the outside world.  She has something Proteus wants: a womb.

That’s right; Proteus wants to father a child in order to keep its intelligence alive in the world.  With no romance in sight and only the cold touch of android hands to keep her in place, the super computer locks Susan in the house and creeps her out with its voice and its constant gaze.  It eventually convinces her of its will; she will carry the child for about a month inside her.

And, yes, Demon Seed goes there.  Some might consider the film bizarre as it handles aspects of rape and torture with a weird angle of sensitivity, but – given every single chance to embrace it – the film sidesteps pornography at each and every twisting turn.

Forward thinking, this is an insanely twisted science fiction movie that combines aspects of 2001: A Space Odyssey with Rosemary’s Baby and produces a digitized version of The Omen.  The genre trouncing Demon Seed supplies the audience with during its running time is both intelligent and engaging.  We get items in the house moving on their own, a constant sense of a creeper lurking about thanks to the omnipresent cameras, and then there are all the bits of surreal science fiction; head-spinning visuals that stretch out their welcome a bit.

Demon Seed feels believable in spite of a narrative that suggests something impossible and that’s pretty impressive.  And that ending?  Wow.  The baby reveal, covered in gold tech-skin, is just as unsettling as ever.  The movie finds its way on blu-ray thanks to Warner Bros Archive Collection.  While there are minimal supplemental items loaded onto the disc and no commentary tracks, it is good to see the film in 1080p.  To suggest it never got a fair chance at the theater is truly an understatement.  

With more and more technology available to us, the idea of a human and a computer reproducing is not so far off and impossible of an idea as it once was.  And we have Demon Seed to show us just how far we have come…

Demon Seed (1977) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
94 mins
Director
: Donald Cammell
Writer:
Robert Jaffe
Cast:
Julie Christie, Fritz Weaver, Gerrit Graham
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
Julie Christie carries the "Demon Seed." Fear for her.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Proteus, possess the wisdom and ignorance of all men, but I can't feel the sun on my face. My child will have that privilege."
Theatrical Distributor:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Official Site:
Release Date:
April 8, 1977
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
March 14, 2017
Synopsis: A scientist creates Proteus--an organic super computer with artificial intelligence which becomes obsessed with human beings, and in particular the creators wife..

Demon Seed (1977) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Warner Archive Collection
Available on Blu-ray
- March 14, 2017
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

Warner Bros Archive Collection brings Demon Seed to life on blu-ray with a strong 1080p transfer that maintains the original 2.35:1 Panavision aspect ratio.  While there is nothing remarkable about the HD, the upgrade in clarity and in background detail is welcomed.  Colors are saturated and black levels are more robust than previous versions.  Some of the more technical aspects – the computers and all – are a bit outdated and hulking behemoths, but that doesn’t really change the tone of the movie; nothing about Demon Seed is silly or poorly visualized.  The sound is presented in a strong DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track that highlights the score by Jerry Fielding and presents the dialogue clearly.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

  • Only a theatrical trailer is included.

Demon Seed (1977) - Blu-ray Review

 

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