Demon Seed (1977): Donald Cammell’s Sci-Fi–Horror, Starring Julie Christie and Fritz Weaver

Donald Cammell directed Demon Seed, a silly, underwhelming sci-fi–horror film, starring Julie Christie and Fritz Weaver.

Our Grade: C- (*1/2 out of *****)

Based on the novel of the same name by Dean Koontz, the film concerns the imprisonment and forced impregnation of a woman by an artificially intelligent computer.

Dr. Alex Harris (Weaver) has developed Proteus IV, an advanced autonomous artificial intelligence program, so powerful that only days after going online, it develops a groundbreaking treatment for leukemia.

A brilliant scientist, Harris has modified his home to be run by voice-activated computers.

Unfortunately, his obsession with computers has caused Harris to be estranged from his wife, Susan (Julie Christie).

The story, and its central idea, are both trashy and pretentious, and the scripters seem unable to decide who is more of a menacing villain, the humans or the computer.  No doubt the movie was influenced by Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, with the threat to motherhood recalling Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby.

Then at the prime of her career, Julie Christie is too good and too smart an actress to play such a silly, underdeveloped part; her eventual situation in the last scene lacks any credibility. It takes an especially inept director to get such a dull and unerotic performance.