Elite Entertainment // 1983 // 93 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Dan Mancini (Retired) // May 31st, 2002
Somewhere in the depth of space...a horrific nightmare is about to become a reality.
When I first pulled this out of the envelope of newly-arrived screeners, I misread the title, thinking it was Insominoid, some sort of sleep-deprivation nightmare story, which I thought odd considering the chick tanning on the cover appears to be having snoozing just fine. Then I realized it was Inseminoid and wondered if it might be a film about the sexual exploits of failed Domino's Pizza claymation pitchman, The Noid. Nope. It's an outer space comedy -- though perhaps not by intent.
In a cautionary tale about the dangers of pregnant women in space, eleven people (including Stephanie Beacham of Sister Kate fame and former Mrs. Steve Martin, Victoria Tennant) who are either scientists or cast members on a reality TV show of the future, hang out in a research station on some planet whose location in relation to Earth is unclear. As part of their "project," they go nosing around some catacombs, finding some hieroglyphs and New Age alien crystals. When the crystals are brought back to the research station, bad mojo starts flying and a couple of the crew members end up dead (which, if this is indeed a reality show of the future, may be the next step in the whole voting-people-off routine).
Despite the mayhem, Sandy (Judy Geeson) and Mitch go back into the catacombs (as part of "the project," I'm sure). Mitch gets eaten and Sandy has the airtube pulled out of her spacesuit (which, despite the resemblance, is absolutely not a snowsuit with ski gloves). She wakes up on a tanning bed with the expedition's doctor (apparently an evil doctor) injecting her with some glowing green stuff that is probably juice from the alien crystals. An alien monster that looks like a cross between Brundlefly and democratic strategist James Carville arrives on the scene and artificially inseminates Sandy.
As a result of either hormones or resentment that the other girls on the expedition didn't throw her a shower, Sandy freaks out and starts killing everybody. In a scene so over-the-top it plays like comedy, she finally gives birth to twins. The twin girl grows up to lead a rebellion against the evil empire that's destroyed her world, while her brother redeems their father, turning him back to the good side and enabling him to fulfill his destiny by destroying the evil Emperor. Wait, I'm thinking of another movie entirely; there are twins, though, but they were both evil and hideous and I have no idea what gender each was since neither had genitalia.
Inseminoid is to Alien what Battle Beyond The Stars is to Star Wars, minus the dynamic presence of Richard Thomas (The Waltons' John Boy). There's something especially enjoyable about high-concept/low-budget movies that are rip-offs of high-concept/big-budget movies. There's a whole layer of irony added to the viewing experience that would otherwise be absent. Sure, this is a cruddy movie that offers no thrills or suspense, but it reminds you vaguely of Ridley Scott's taut little masterpiece and isn't that something?
It's also possible I'm wrong about Inseminoid, that it's an art film, toying with the kitsch of cheesy sci-fi/horror as a little jab at pop-culture coarseness. There are so many unresolved ambiguities. Was the expedition's doctor truly evil, or did Sandy dream it all? What did the crystals mean and where did their mind-controlling powers come from? Did the James Carville alien make the hieroglyphs? Why did he have to artificially inseminate Sandy; are there no Mary Matalin aliens? What sort of "project" was this the scientists were tasked with? How seriously can we take these scientists of the future when they wear deck shoes and Jordache and headbands like the preppies with whom I attended junior high? Who was the film's protagonist? Mark? Kate? Sandy? The Victoria Tennant character? (I can't remember her name because her only purpose on the expedition, besides dying bloodily by Sandy's hand, seemed to be giving other crew members neck massages.) Granted Sandy was pale and British, but who takes a tanning bed on an expedition to an alien planet? Not since Kubrick's 2001 has a film used the science fiction genre to explore our insignificance in the universe, while also demonstrating the courage, the sheer audacity, to leave so many questions unresolved.
Then again, my initial instincts are probably correct. It seems far more likely it's just a bad rip-off of Alien.
Though non-anamorphic, the transfer is pretty clean. There are specks here and there, flaws in the source print, but overall it's pleasant. The stereo soundtrack is fine, though dull. Other than a theatrical trailer, there's nada in the way of extras. We can only hope that someday, by some miracle, there will be Inseminoid: Criterion Collection. Start your petitions now. Perhaps if we're diligent, it'll lead Criterion to other works of director Norman J. Warren and we'll get deluxe versions of Alien Prey and Spaced Out. (I just like the idea of the folks at Criterion scouring the planet for every available element of Inseminoid, then working around the clock for months to create the sharpest anamorphic transfer possible; hiring film scholars to provide commentary tracks and insert-booklet essays; pulling the stars of the film away from their robust careers in infomercials to share their personal insights in talking-head segments -- if we have the will, we can make it happen.)
Yes, Inseminoid is one of those films that's spun so far into the bad portion of the good/bad continuum that it's somehow creeping into the good. Given the right group of viewing partners, watching it could be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, with a retail price of $24.95, I simply can't recommend it. If you can find it used somewhere for ten bucks and you're really into schlocky fun, go for it. Otherwise, give it a rent.
Guilty of price-gouging.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Elite Entertainment
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 1983
MPAA Rating: Rated R