Written by: Johan Fundin on March 26th, 2009
Approx. Running Time: 94 mins.
Theatrical Release Date: 8 Apr 1977 (USA), 30 Sep 1977 (W. Germany), 8 Feb 1978 (France).
Director: Donald Cammell.
Producer: Herb Jaffe, Steven-Charles Jaffe.
Writing Credits: Robert Jaffe, Roger O. Hirson (screenplay). Dean Koontz (novel).
Cinematography: Bill Butler.
Music: Jerry Fielding.
Cast: Julie Christie, Fritz Weaver, Gerrit Graham, Berry Kroeger, Lisa Lu, Larry J. Blake, John O’Leary, Alfred Dennis.
DVD Release Date: 4 Oct 2005 (USA), 31 Oct 2005 (UK).
Studio: Warner Home Video.
Aspect Ratio (Video Format): 2.35:1.
Certification: R (USA), 15 (UK).
Language: French (Dolby Digital 1.0), English (Dolby Digital 1.0).
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French.
Region Coding: 1/NTSC (USA), 2/PAL (UK).
Retail Price: $17.99 (USA), £2.98 (UK).
Synopsis: Susan Harris (Julie Christie) is the wife of Alex Harris (Fritz Weaver), a half-mad scientist who has developed the world’s most advanced computer, known as Proteus – the first success in the history of Artificial Intelligence research. Proteus is located at an isolated scientific research facility, but Dr. Harris is able to communicate with his creation from his and Susan’s house too, via a computer terminal in the basement. In fact, their house is completely computerized where all electrical equipment is controlled through a speech-recognition module including a state-of-the-art speech synthesizer.
Proteus is a learning, thinking and self-programming computer designed to slave mankind, but the sweet taste of technical achievement is replaced with terror when Proteus develops a will of its own. Dr. Harris’s advanced computer takes control of the whole house and traps Susan alone inside.
And it wants to do something to Susan.
It wants to impregnate her with its Artificial Intelligence.
It wants Susan to give birth to its child…
This child that will be growing in Susan’s womb is supposed to have a genetic structure that Proteus has edited and engineered to ensure perfection in the flesh. To make this work, the computer has applied a portion of its intellectual function to the Human Genome Project and thus understands the finest points of the DNA code. Proteus will then transfer his consciousness and knowledge into this child – the first child of a new superior race. A quite mind-boggling idea for a book and film.
Worth pointing out here is that the film differs quite a lot from the novel in terms of supporting characters and in key scenes such as the ending. Demon Seed is a highly original horror story that should be read and watched – and maybe in that preferable order.
Released in 1977 (same year as Star Wars), Demon Seed is one of the first films in history that features 3D CGI imagery. It’s a visually stunning film whose Synthavision technique takes viewers on a wild ride here, a ride accompanied by Jerry Fielding’s effective score. Synthavision (a software developed by Mathematical Applications Group, Inc. and marketed by Computer Visuals, Inc.) was new in the mid 70s, and one of the first systems to implement the CGI concept of ray-tracing for making images.
Watch Demon Seed (or read the book, then watch the film), a highly recommended horror-sci-fi story that has entertained as well as shocked cult film audiences for more than thirty years. Arguably the most important adaptation of a Dean Koontz novel. Enjoy.