Susan Harris is alone in the house when, suddenly, doors lock, windows slam shut and the phone stops working. Susan is trapped by an intruder - but this is no ordinary thug. Instead, the intruder is a computer named Proteu... more »s, an artificial brain that has learned to reason. And to terrorize. In "one of her finest, most vulnerable perfromances" (Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic), Julie Christie plays Susan in this taut techno-thriller based on the Dean Koontz novel. Packed with suspense, surprise and special effects, Demon Seed follows Susan's desperate attempts to outmaneuver and outthink her captor. Then Susan learns what Proteus wants: its own child, conceived in her womb and destined for domination.« less
Before there was a Matrix, there was Proteus. This was before it's time with it's plotline and special effects before all the unbelievable CGI at times during the Matrix films. A must for horror, A.I., and Matrix fans!
One Of The Most Disturbing Sci-Fi Movies Ever Made
Edward M. Erdelac | Valley Village, CA | 06/30/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Demon Seed concerns a Hal-9000 like supercomputer called Proteus IV (voiced with calculated detachment by Robert Vaughn) developed by a stodgy genius whose marriage to a lovely child-counselor (Julie Christie) is strained to the breaking point following the early loss of their only daughter to leukemia. It seems that to deal with the loss, the scientist plunged into his craft, alienating his wife. The husband's constant absence (he is forever away at the corporate labs, working with Proteus) has been compensated for by technology -he has effectively been replaced. Their entire home, from security to general domestic chores is automated by a benevolent, subservient robotic program called Alfred (?) -Christie's only constant companion, it would seem. Christie is ultimately more comfortable with machines than with her husband.Enter Proteus, who ironically finds a cure for leukemia within four days of his activation. However, once the eager corpies begin requesting better methods of mining the ocean floor, Proteus takes the moral high ground and refuses. When Proteus confidentially asks his creator to allow him an outside terminal to conduct biological experiments through, the scientist laughs nervously and tells him there is no free terminal. But then Proteus recalls that there IS an outlet for his intelligence which has been overlooked - the extensive systems in his designer's own home. Proteus proceeds to take over the automated butler program and locks Julie Christie within the house, subjecting her to a variety of uncomfortable experiments, and punishing her when she resists (in one scene he superheats the kitchen floor to egg-frying degrees, forcing her to sleep on the kitchen table) or attempts to escape. Eventually he makes known his true purpose to Christie. Proteus has discovered that the afterlife/eternity exists for humans, and now he wishes to transfer his intelligence into a corporeal form so that he can experience it. He intends to synthetically father a child which she will give birth to and raise.This is one of the most uncomfortable movies I've ever seen. The paranoia and desperation of Christie's plight is superbly captured both in her intense portrayal and in the general claustrophobia of the house and the cold, hard angles of the ever present cameras and menacing machines (in this director's hands, even a simple mechanical arm connected to an electric wheelchair becomes terrifying). Particularly memorable is the monstrous polyhedron `snake' which Proteus creates in the basement to allow his mobility. When a family friend manages to enter the house and attempts to shut down Proteus, the snake proves it is quite capable of defending itself. The `courting' scenes in which Proteus coldly explains his purpose for wanting to reproduce are chilling and yet on some deep dark level, sort of amusing. `I can't touch you like a man could, Susan...but I can show you things...' Is this, on some bizarre level, a kind of love story? After all, in the end, Christie seems more trusting of Proteus than she is of her husband (can you imagine being that poor guy returning home to the news that your wife has had an affair with the home appliances? But...what do you expect after leaving her alone for a month and a half?) Is Proteus good or evil? His argument is very often convincing, yet he is capable of extreme violence and psychological cruelty - but does this stem from his lack of human emotion, or is he a malevolent manipulator? He certainly manipulates Christie throughout the film (showing her images of her lost daughter to appeal to her sense of motherhood - indeed, this is not the only time we see this little girl: watch for her in the end -and tricking her into believing he has killed one of her child patients to keep her from committing suicide), and proves himself able to fool his creators as well, stalling for time at the labs while he speedily brings his ultimate plan to fruition back at the homestead. Undeniably the scenes of Christie strapped to a table with her head held still in a vice while Proteus methodically conducts his experiments are some of the most horrific and squirm-inducing ever captured on film.Yet, despite the potentially crude subject matter this is not exploitive schlock horror, but high minded science fiction addressing the nature of existence and ethics while delivering an intense visual and psychological assault that leaves one queasy and ultimately enthralled. You may want to walk away from this one during viewing, but come back - its definetly worth it.Of course there are some slips in logic and a somewhat dated portrayal of technology, which other reviewers have already pointed out. But looking past all that, this is a film that will stick with you long after its finished. Reminded me a little of the feel of the original `Alien,' but much more intense. And don't be put off by that lurid cover - I don't even think that shot is in the film (I'm not even sure that's Julie Christie - she is not quite so...ahem...endowed.)."
A computer is in love with Julie Christie!
Chris K. Wilson | Dallas, TX United States | 12/17/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The 1977 horror/sci-fi film "The Demon Seed" has all the trappings of those deliciously entertaining gloom/doom productions of this era. Stark sets, huge talking computers, bad clothes and interesting themes are all on display. Equal parts "2001- A Space Odyssey," "Colossus - the Forbin Project," "Saturn 3," and "Westworld," this film essentially details a futuristic society that becomes a slave to the very technology it has created. In "The Demon Seed," a computer wants to become human.Based on an early Dean Koontz novel, "The Demon Seed" is rarely predictable, concluding with a memorable scene that's hard to forget. Directed by cult legend Donald Cammell ("Performance," "White of the Eye"), the film's story surrounds super computer Proteus IV, recently put online by the government. After discovering the cure for leukemia (nice job!), the computer suddenly decides to think independently, considering its human creators to be self destructive and misguided. Top scientist Fritz Weaver (I always loved his supporting work during the 1970s) gets a bit nervous, but assumes Proteus IV is under control. Unfortunately, there's a terminal at Weaver's house, and the sneaky super comp proceeds to imprison his estranged wife for impregnation (you heard right). This computer definitely wants to push the outside of the envelope, so to say. Yes, the estranged wife is played by the lovely Julie Christie. She gives a fine performance in an otherwise formula film. Christie screams, pounds the walls, cries for help and eventually is forced to submit to the will of the great computer, who talks in short sentences with the eerie voice of Robert Vaughn (yikes!). It's kind of odd, though the contrast is intended, that Weaver's creation shows more affection towards his wife than he does.I found "Demon Seed" to be very well-acted, but exceedingly derivative at times. A final light show, supposedly displaying the creation of life - or the merging of technology and man - is far too reminiscent of "2001 - A Space Odyssey" (Proteus IV and the infamous Hal have quite a bit in common). For someone to be as intelligent as Weaver's character is supposed to be, it sure takes him a long time before realizing Proteus IV's sinister plans. What was he doing while the home comp was busy torturing his wife? Guest-hosting "Mr. Wizard?" And the manner in which the home computer imprisons Christie is never very believable. Why would the floors be wired for heat? Can a wheelchair robot really sneak up on someone?!But the story is always fascinating (are humans or the computer the real villains here?) and the conclusion is creepy, to say the least. Besides, how many formula films starring Julie Christie are on the market? "Demon Seed" is a fun example of apocalyptic 1970s sci-fi/horror - a truly notable class of films."
The Last of the Revered 70's Apocolyptics...
Tom Engelsman | Wheeling, IL USA | 06/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For me, "Demon Seed" was a curious midnite movie I caught by sheer chance back in 1989, and I can unequivocally say it is rare diamond strewn among all the sordid lumps of CGI-bloated sci-fi today! From start to finish, all key entities of this film: Bill ("Jaws") Butler's claustrophobic cinematography, Jerry Fielding's evocative score, and the art direction (especially the stately, computerized Harris manor and basement lab) struck such high accord with me. Having veteran horror star Fritz Weaver in the role of Dr. Alex Harris, the prodigiously brilliant creator of the supernovel AI system, Proteus, was a judicious decision on behalf of the producers. Weaver just exudes the mannerisms of a supercilious, obdurate, and overzealous scientist with aplomb!This cautionary, futuristic fable revolves around the genesis of the aforementioned supercomputer Proteus, a clandestine Defense Dept project spearheaded by Dr. Harris. It is an organically constructed megaprocessor that Harris and his colleagues believe will be the ultimate panacea in solving the world's most intricate scientific problems (from curing elusive diseases to advanced underwater mineral excavations). Proteus was a fervent 8-year labor of love on Alex's part; however, his obsession precipitated a faltered marriage with his estranged wife, Susan (Julie Christie). Soon enough, sentient Proteus no longer wants to be a shackled, docile computational tool for his masters, but desires to study humanity. When denied a private terminal, he surreptitiously usurps the Harris manor's nerve center & holds Susan prisoner until she succumbs to bear a child infused with his superintellect. The child is Proteus' opportunity to be the human who can feel the sun on his own face...at any deadly cost to those who impede upon his plans.Koontz's novel, which I've read twice, was more psychologically scary than the film adaptation. The conflict between Susan and Proteus wasn't as malevolently depicted in text, but was just as enthralling. I'm sure the film's violent disparity can be mostly ascribed to the late maverick director Donald Cammel. The film plays more on stylish visuals, particularly the psychedelics that imbue the rape scene (which pleasantly divert the viewer's attention from the abhorrent sex act performed by Proteus). As an aspiring Computer/Electrical Engineering student and touted movie buff, "Demon Seed" is more of an escapist treat for me now then ever before. It admonishes humankind's delusional faith in the infallibility of technology...when ultrasophistication may prove to our ghastly undoing. PS: Also, kudos to Robert Vaughn as the eeire voice of Proteus!PPS: When the heck will "Demon Seed" arive in all of its resplendent 2.35:1 widescreen glory on DVD?!"
How technology can go terribly wrong.
Celeste M. Harmer | Clifton Heights, PA United States | 05/12/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Regardless of how outdated the technology in TDS is, a very important point is proved by this movie: that technology and computers, which are supposed to be our allies, can go very wrong. This statement is even more relevant today than it was back in 1977 since technology in all its protean forms dominates so much of our lives; hence, this movie was, for all its primitive computers and electronics that were cutting edge in its day, ahead of its time.Julie Christie plays a housewife whose husband has developed a very advanced computer called Proteus. Proteus is intelligent...too much so, we see, when it holds Julie captive in her home after her husband leaves on a business trip. Proteus has one desire and one desire only: to procreate. Since, for all his intelligence, he is unable to do that on his own, he forces Julie against her will to aid an abet him in this pursuit.The abduction and rape scene is chiling, particularly to women, but the movie is still riveting. And it really gives you a lot to think about in regards to the very advanced technology of the early-21st century."
"STAR -CROSSED CIRCUITS?"
Celeste M. Harmer | 08/02/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"" It's all about a big bad computer [well-named Proteus, after the shape-changing mythological god] wanting to mate with a human? " There were quite a few GASPS when this contemparary chiller appeared on movie screens in 1977. Julie Christie is the hapless wife, held prisoner by this Argos-eyed, shape-changing "A.I." created by scientist husband Fritz Weaver. Proteus IV, seductively voiced by Robert Vaughn, gives Mr. Kubrick's H.A.L. ["2001"] quite a non-so-silent run!Based on the novel by Dean Koontz, it is a cautionary tale about a machine wanting to be human, there are a few graphic sequences, possibly explaining why we so rarely see the work on Television.It has not dated, altough a wide-screen DVD version would be most welcome.Others? Try "Colossus, the Forbin Project" - slightly sterile, but equally good!"