In my tiny head, I think I can divide the types of movie scares that hit me hardest into three major categories. The first type of scare is PHYSICAL and it covers the fear of injury, violence, body damage and mutation. The second is SPIRITUAL and includes ghosts, demons, the supernatural and the unknown. The third is MENTAL which covers the fear of insanity head-trip movies and anything that’s just so dang weird that it leans toward madness. DEMON SEED covers all three of those bases but for me, it especially hits that last category really hard. DEMON SEED (especially its bonkers climax) freaks me out basically just because
I recently re-watched DEMON SEED to confirm the recollections that my accosted brain failed to bury after catching it on a local channel afternoon broadcast in the early eighties. It seems I remembered the insanity accurately as this movie makes me feel like CHARLES GRODIN trying to decipher MARTIN SHORT’s infuriating oddness in CLIFFORD (“Can you act like a real human boy for one minute here?”) DEMON SEED, which is somehow about a computerized house deciding to rape a woman and force her to have its impossible baby contains crazy 2001-style psychedelic strobe effects, an abundance of nutzo slow-mo dissolves and a truly bizarre score that sounds like a robot being tortured in hell. On second thought this movie is one of those rare birds that is actually more disturbing than I remember it.
I hate to spoil the ending but the crazy computer’s plan to create a hybrid robot/human baby is shockingly successful. Trapped victim Susan (the superb JULIE CHRISTIE), who has really been put through the wringer at this point, is not keen on welcoming the abomination into the world and tries to pull the plug but ultimately fails. The “baby” emerges from the machine covered in goo and insect-like metallic scales and looks a hell of a lot like the mask in the MR. ROBOTO video by STYX (and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was an inspiration). But forget the molten lava Buddha bad looks- the awful screeching sounds it makes really get under the skin. I thought the robot’s nightmarish voice was bad enough but the newborn sounds like an animal getting run over by a car and I’m not here for it. Eventually, we’ll find that the monster has a kid under its shell that seems to be a perfectly engineered clone of the daughter poor Susan had lost but before you can get sentimental, it opens its mouth and starts talking like the computer! This leads to the camera going into a close-up of the child’s eye and more drugged-out strobe effects. It’s an ordeal, folks. DEMON SEED, I don’t need to watch you again for a couple more decades.