Monday, February 4, 2008

Inseminoid (1981): or, Planet of the Rapes


Sometimes it seems like the 1981 British/American production Inseminoid aspires to be nothing more than a low-budget Alien knock-off. Early scenes with the space explorers creeping through alien catacombs are almost carbon copies of those memorable scenes just before John Hurt finds the world's worst Easter Egg stash, right down to the dust motes in the flashlight beams emanating from the crewmen's helmets. A female crew member settling in to a relaxation chamber in nothing but a sport tee and panties might as well have "I ♥ SIGOURNEY!" stencilled across her bare thighs. And a scene in the complex's mess hall goes as far as it can to emulate the chestburster sequence, but has to stop because well, Inseminoid don't burst chests. Inseminoid's anotomical area of interest is a bit further down...

But to say that Inseminoid is nothing but an Alien-wannabe is perhaps to sell the movie short. While not a masterpiece along the lines of...well, Alien...Inseminoid hits many of the right notes: it provides interesting alien mythology that I'd like to have seen more of; it contains painfully entertaining performances from the actors; it boasts some nasty puppetry and a nicely escalating gore quotient; and along the way it manages some surprisingly effective set pieces within its shoe-string budget. Throw in a little welcome extraterrestrial perversity, and what more could you want?

A group of intergalactic archaeologists lands on an uninhabited alien planet after the previous expedition inexplicably abandons the site. (And don't look for an explanation--that expedition is mentioned once and never spoken of again.) They discover a vast tomblike structure underneath the planet's surface, riddled with hieroglyphics that may contain the history of the civilization that once flourished here.

That's not all it contains, however--the crew aren't long in the catacombs before a mysterious explosion frees an alien survivor from a crystallized prison and sends two of the expedition's best men to the sick bay. The expedition's resident smart dude deciphers some of the ancient glyphs and hypothesizes that the alien civilization was somehow based on dualities and was ruled by twins. He also notes that the aliens' religion seemed to have a strong undercurrent of self-destructiveness, which presumably led to its successful destruction of itself. This was actually some pretty interesting mythology, I thought, and I was looking forward to seeing how it played out.

When some crystal samples from the cave start glowing menacingly--seemingly activated by two archaeologists' horny liaison in the storage room--blast survivor Ricky starts to go a little crazy. He leads his teammates on a frantic chase along the catacombs' silver mine-style rail system (which reminded me hilariously of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride) and threatens the atmospheric integrity of the whole station when he attempts to open the one and only airlock--an airlock that, apparently, has no automatic lock or remote override, despite the existence of a huge control room with all kinds of blinking gadgetry. Guess that was a design oversight.

Funky Cold Medea

Anyway, a couple of crew members are killed by the rampaging, self-and-everyone-else-destructive Ricky (one of whom gorily and inscrutably tries to saw off her own foot before unnecessarily freezing to death in the alien atmosphere) before the team's resident journalist (wha?) pops a cap in him with a futuristic spear gun. This is the beginning of the penetration motif that will recur throughout the film, if you don't count the initial "penetration" of the space ship "entering" the alien planet's atmosphere, effectively "raping" this other world with phallocentric technology, "inserting" the archaeologists like "sperm" into the caves which are obviously the alien world's "vajayjay." Which I don't.

Work in the catacombs continues, but the expedition seems cursed. Sandy, one of the horny crew members whose hijinx may have caused Ricky's crystal freakout, is ambushed by the shadowy alien in the catacombs and watches her digging buddy torn to pieces right before her eyes. She passes out, then wakes up in a strange laboratory-like space, tied naked to a one-layer tanning bed. The station's medical officer gives her an injection before the star of our show appears. INSEMINOID is here, and INSEMINOID NEEDS WOMAN!

Please, just try to relax.

The alien-rape is obviously the centerpiece of the entire flick, and I have to say I think it was pretty well done. Judy Geeson screams and winces believably, and the monster design is suitably gross and intriguing. Particularly of interest to film scholars is the the Inseminoid's GIANT TRANSPARENT COCK, through which we can see the little potential Inseminoids flow into Sandy's terror-stricken uterus. The mystery of the doctor's involvement is also unsettling, calling to mind The Company's nefarious purposes in the Alien movies. Sandy passes out again and wakes up Wizard-of-Oz-style in the sick bay, where she understandably resists the doctor's wish to "inject" her. She's had quite enough of that for today, thanks.

Unsurprisingly Sandy is pregnant, and soon the influence of the Inseminoid's psychoactive seed starts to make itself apparent. Most of the rest of the film has Sandy going all psycho-preggo-zombie-bitch on the rest of the crew, picking them off and eating their guts while getting more and more great with child. The highly-trained space jockeys are powerless to stop one crazy pregnant woman, and lock themselves in the control room to avoid her wrath. Finally she gives birth to two baby 'Seminoids, then decides to blow up the whole dang joint (the glyphs said the aliens were self-destructive).

The surviving crew kidnaps the baby Inseminoids, leading Mama to go even crazier and finally make the fatal mistake that brings her reign of terror to an end. But the babies are there to take up the slack...

"I do COCAINE!"

Okay, the bad stuff--the acting is all pretty terrible. None of the characters are really fleshed out enough to distinguish them from one another or explain why they do the things they do, and most of them seem to have two acting styles: "HAM AND CHEESE SUPREME" and "ASLEEP." The overacting is particularly egregious whenever a crew member is called upon to act "pain" or "death"--though these scenes are actually very entertaining in the ROFLMAO way. And Judy Geeson, bless her, often seems less an English actress than a large-mouthed bass.

The low-budget often shows through too, such as the obvious gaps in the space-helmets' visors, the extensive use of milk crates as space station furniture, and the fact that apparently Converse All-Stars has the contract to provide space boots for NASA.

The script is a bit of a mess as well. Several intriguing plot elements are introduced, only to be completely forgotten later. For instance, what happened to the original Inseminoid? Sorry, that's beyond our scope here. Why did the doctor assist in the Inseminoid rape? Unfortunately he's killed before we can ever find out. What was the deal with the glowing, mind-controlling crystals? What was the significance of the twins thing? What happened to the previous expedition and why are they never referenced? Quit asking so many questions, you.

Still, even among all these problems there's a lot to enjoy if you find the ridiculous entertaining. Blinking corpses? Check. Fun pseudoscience? Oh yeah. Jaws soundtrack shamelessly pilfered? Yup. Flashback to five minutes ago? Surely. Inexplicably shoddy security for a space base? Well, it wouldn't be much of a film without it.

And others, of course, call him the Gangster of Love.

And every now and then, the movie actually seems to almost get things right. Despite the cheap set dressing inside, scenes representing the alien planet's surface are actually quite well done, using red filters and sand dunes to neat low-budget effect. (And tipping the hat to Alien inspirer Mario Bava's Planet of the Vampires.) Despite the script and acting problems, the pacing is very tight and the story is actually fairly engaging. And the creature design of the Inseminoid, both in rubber-suit and baby-puppet forms, is excellent, as is the previously mentioned escalating gore factor throughout. (An abdomen-rip near the end is particularly juicy.) Taken together the things it gets right bought it enough good will for me to overlook the things it did wrong--like the retarded kid on the tee-ball team who somehow keeps getting base hits.

Other fun stuff to look for:

  • Effectively-filmed space funeral
  • Worst. Commander. Ever.
  • The fairly hard-to-watch birth scene
  • Donkey Kong!
  • Death by Cat-5
  • They still have steamer trunks in the future
  • BRUTAL belly-stomp!
  • The wonderful epilogue


So while it doesn't live up to its role-model, I still found myself completely entertained by Inseminoid and willing to go along with its inept craziness. 2.5 thumbs, and a lot of good will. Check it out at your next opportunity.


7 comments:

karswell said...

Ha ha, Planet of the Rapes... yeah, Inseminoid ain't too bad. It's just a shame that of all the Norman J Warren films out there though this is really the only one that most people usually have seen or even heard about. Satan's Slave is great, as is Terror (which I just used in a recent "name the film still" contest on my blog.) Prey is very underated too. Now, Bloody New Year on the other hand...

Also, thanks for stopping by The Horrors of it All and adding some comments Vicar. I'm adding you to my links list. Stay creepy...
--Karswell

The Vicar of VHS said...

I've never seen Satan's Slave nor The Terror (nor Prey nor even, to my shame, Bloody New Year), but I would be very interested in doing so. I'll have to keep my eyes open for copies. Unfortunately my limited research turns up only Region 2 PAL discs, which I'm currently unable to partake of. Guess I'll have to find another way...

And thank you, Karswell, for your wonderful blog, which I've added to the sidebar for all to enjoy. Really fantastic stuff, and I hope all my parishioners check it out!

Karswell said...

>I've never seen Satan's Slave nor The Terror (nor Prey nor even, to my shame, Bloody New Year), but I would be very interested in doing so.

If you'd like to trade DVDS let me know, and if you have a movie list of weird rare stuff email it to me at karswell@hotmail.com

The Vicar of VHS said...

Will do! I don't have just a huge collection of rare stuff, but I'll let you know what I have...

Muffy St. Bernard said...

Somehow, after I watched this movie a few years ago, I managed to COMPLETELY wipe it from my mind.

Thanks for bringing back the bad memories!

The Costuminatrix said...

Aha! Yet another movie I used to see in the vid stores in the early 80s, and never got around to seeing.

"GIANT TRANSPARENT COCK" - that needs to be a band name.

davidfullam said...

Screen history, first time a MILF and an alien hooked up!

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