Okay, so maybe last week I closed out one tradition on this site, but I still have a lot more that I can draw from!
That’s what’s up this week as, yet again, it’s time to check out a Norman J. Warren joint! This week’s movie is one that I often see a lot of negativity float about on social media sites and groups I belong to. I don’t care, I think this is a perfect example of the strangeness in one of Warren’s movies. I’m going to talk about Inseminoid.
But, here’s the deal. This movie is actually quite well liked in a few circles. First and foremost, it impressed Roger Corman who nearly hired Warren for movies he was producing. It was made on a shoestring budget, but that actually works in its favor as the cave where they filmed the scenes for the scientists doing their excavation produced the perfect effect Warren wanted. He also got a boost when the famed Shaw Brothers from Hong Kong provided half the budget. It was a little bit of a tortured set though. The cave provided little light and air, and it would often be damp and cause quite a few injuries to cast and crew. On top of that, Robin Clarke, an American actor cast as one of the more important roles, didn’t get along with Norman. The two clashed often.
Regardless, the film didn’t get immediately dismissed by every critic. Some found it to be “commercial rubbish” or bemoaned the violence and blood and guts and stuff in it. That said, some British critics did like the film for what it was. In America, the Los Angeles Times placed the film in its top 10 list of 1981. You can probably say that this movie was pretty divisive. You either buy in and like the movie quite a bit, or you immediately decide to take a diarrhea dookie on it.
Personally, I dig it a lot and will likely say lots of good things about it over the course of the next few thousand words.
Why wait around. Let’s get into the movie. I love the synthesizer score for this movie. It is most definitely a product of the early 80s sci-fi. On top of that, it also shows a lot of outer space shots and pictures. You almost get a Superman The Movie vibe out of these background images the credits are playing over. This movie has a interestingly large list of people in the movie for being so low budget and very efficient with characters. There are two people in particular I want to call attention to. First is Victoria Tennant. She was married to Steve Martin for nearly a decade and starred with him in his L.A. Story playing what else… His most heated rival. Nah, I’m fuckin’ with ya. She was his love interest in that. I think that was one of the early realizations that people who are in love in the movie I’m watching could actually be married in real life too. That seems to be such a stupid thing to not figure out until I was like 13 or 14 years old, but… Well, I’m kind of a dolt.
The other person that I want to talk about is Stephanie Beacham. She played Victoria Van Helsing in Dracula A.D. 1972. She was also in The Colbys which also transitioned into a guest starring role in a handful of episodes of Dynasty. She also had a guest starring spot on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
As the movie begins, we get a log entry from Beacham’s Kate Carson who states that the archaeological dig they are doing on a cold far out planet uncovered a tomb structure that they are going to investigate further. Interesting bit about the planet is that it orbits in a binary star system (rather common in the universe – kudos to the film writers Nick and Gloria Maley for knowing that), but despite having two suns that would seemingly make the planet very hot, it is a constant 89° below 0 at all times. The facility they are working at is fully operational, but only “tolerable” as the place is barren, cold, and depressing.
Also, if you are a Classic Doctor Who fan, you really do not want to mess around with tombs on really cold planets or you might find yourself up to your armpits in Cybermen – especially if you are British.
One of the things I really like about this movie is that it isn’t just trying to work off the popularity of Alien from a couple years before, but it is also following that somewhat realistic tone of the characters. These are people who, albeit doing a job in space, are simply just doing their job. No situation is truly ideal. The living and safety conditions are simply tolerable. Nothing more. It’s somewhat depressing to realize that maybe space ain’t so neat and cool like so many movies and cartoons and TV shows said it would be. Maybe people still have to do jobs that they “tolerate”.
Anyway, these two guys who are investigating this tomb find mostly darkness, but they do see cave drawings and etchings from the civilization that was here before. They also find this peculiar pile of rocks that glow with a reddish tint. That pile of rocks also shifted as the two men drilled their way into the cavern. What’s more, a strange icy wall is cracking and it appears that something was moving behind it. When the wall explodes open, one of the men, photographer Dean White, is badly crippled as well as injuring another man named Ricky Williams. Ricky, while being looked at by the doctor at the camp, is clutching those strange rocks.
Another group of people are sent into the tomb to retrieve Dean. Holly McKay, the head of the operation, is asked by Kate Carson (who is the records officer but conducts the logs and interviews the people at the station for purposes of getting firsthand accounts of the job) if they need to delay their leaving the facility. So, we have a bit of a ticking clock at play too. There’s a pickup scheduled and if they do not meet with it or cancel the pickup, there’s no telling how long they will be stuck at the installation.
Dean is found and returned to the base. There, he is basically comatose. He’s cut up, but he just stares blankly like he’s a vegetable. Holly asks the doc if he’s dead. He basically has her listen to his breathing which is raspy and shallow.
A xenolinguist, Mitch, figures out the planet’s old inhabitants, as best as he can tell from the intricate etchings on the tomb’s walls, were likely ruled by twins. Everything is duplicated in some way. This is likely due to the binary star system, but it reveals a bit of dualism in their thinking. He also believes there is a chemical intelligence at play here.
Ricky has to leave the lunch where everyone is discussing these very strange possibilities because he isn’t feeling too well. Now, I think we all know what that probably means.
Well… I guess that doesn’t quite happen yet, but we’re getting to some ooey gooey stuff. First, Mark (Robin Clarke), kind of a handyman around the place gets a call to go check out a strange energy fluctuation in the lab. He has Sandy (Judy Geeson) meet him there in the lab. Why? You might ask?
Bone zone. Yup, these two are lovers. And what better time to nuzzle each other than when there’s a bizarre energy fluctuation in your base located on a place with very hostile living conditions? Don’t even bother trying to answer that fucking question because the correct answer is there is no better time.
So while embracing naked like mommies and daddies do, there’s a bizarre reading coming from the strange space rocks. That also causes Ricky from waking up sweaty and freaked out in his bed.
The next day, Ricky goes nuts looking for Dean. He tries strangling the doctor and runs away putting moves on fools much like he did back in his Miami Dolphins days. They pick Ricky up on the cameras for a brief moment and it appears he’s kind of moving around directionless. He’s definitely acting delusional. Before leaves the compound to go back into the temple and has a run-in with Gail, one of the other people at the facility. He pushes her onto a pile of twisted metal that simultaneously traps her foot and damages her environmental suit.
This… This really turns out very badly for Gail. Ricky has overridden the locks on the door and the airlock for the station needs to be closed. She’s stuck outside with no assistance and her environmental controls is fucked. Her body temperature is dropping quickly. Inside the station, a friend and one of the workers, Gary, tries to instruct her but she is too out of her mind from fear and stress. Instead, she tries to cut her foot off with a chainsaw. In doing so, she also opens her mask to breathe through a tube, and the open mask and the open boot causes her to freeze to death.
Kate is nearly attacked by Ricky as he frantically searches for something in the temple. She goes back to the base and is able to close the door to seal the airlock, but Ricky comes in as it pressurizes and as he begins to approach her, she shoots him with something like a harpoon and it kills him. She gets questioned about that but she contends that she had no choice because he was out of his mind and no one would have done anything different.
Mitch is continuing his curiosity over the crystals that Ricky brought back from the temple. He believes there is some sort of energy to them that is clearly powering something or is feeding from them. He and Sandy go to the caves to collect more of the crystal. While outside, strange sounds fill the caves and shadows start appearing as if something is stalking them.
And sure enough, there is something stalking them. Mitch is attacked and decapitated. The creature then disconnects Sandy’s air hose and she passes out. She suddenly sees herself on a lighted table and is terrified. She sees the team’s doctor, Karl, there and injecting something into her. However, this is simply a fever dream she’s experiencing while being alien raped.
This sequence is bizarre, fairly visceral in the execution, and 100% somebody’s fetish. Judy Geeson is not a bad looking lady – at all. So being there on a slab, naked as a jaybird, while a an alien does weird shit to her – up to and including pumping her full of green goo through a tube that also has a slight penis tentacle look to whatever is inside the tube in the green goo… Well, that is somebody’s very specific fantasy that they get off on. Me, on the other hand, as someone not really all that much into that fantasy, I can look at this from its merits to say this is an effective scene and shot with lots of interesting angles and effects and what have you. Plus boobs.
Plus alien monster thing! Look at this guy! This is fantastic!
Sandy wakes up screaming in the compound. Karl, Mark, Holly, and Karl’s nurse Sharon are trying to calm her down and get information from her. Karl diagnoses her as being “literally scared out of her senses”. That’s pretty bad. But what’s more is that she’s pregnant! And for two months already – when she shouldn’t have been able to get pregnant!
While Sandy has continual flashbacks to that horrific date she had with that alien who probably won’t even send her child support or agree to go on the Maury show to prove that he is the father, the rest of the team watches the cave collapse shutting off access to the temple. They can get in touch with the team that will pick them up in six hours so they just have to call for a ride because the project is effectively over.
Some glowing green goo in the lab communicates with Sandy and she goes to the locker room to check herself out. There, Victoria Tennant is fresh from a shower. She goes on about how she can’t help to leave because everything here sucks. Sandy smashes the mirror and starts throwing glass at her. She then strangles and stabs her dead for talking shit about the planet. Holly comes in and sees what’s going on and Sandy screams for her to go away. Which, Holly does. She also locks her out of the operations room.
An announcement is read over the intercom instructing people to lock themselves into their rooms and not let anyone in. Holly calls Mark and tells him his girlfriend has gone loony tunes and killed that other lady. Meanwhile, Sandy is getting some sustenance by way of drinking Dean and Ricky’s blood. After that, Sandy starts knocking out the cameras all over the base. Everyone still alive and bunkered in the ops room realizes they don’t know where Kate is. She is attacked by Sandy, but Mark and Gary save Kate. The two dudes totally get cucked by the super-powered Sandy and she escapes.
So now everyone has to figure out what to do about Sandy. She’s super strong. She’s violent. She’s probably not thinking straight. Kate, apparently inflicted with a pretty bad case of bloodlust after icing Ricky earlier, says they gotta kill her. She says they need to use some explosives to do the job, but everyone decides that maybe it isn’t that great of an idea for them to kill a pregnant woman. Sandy is also thinking about explosives as she sets some off to lure everyone out of the control room.
She cries to them for help. Karl, his nurse, and Holly go to her with Karl planning on sedating her. They find her in the gym sobbing. They approach planning to quickly restrain her and then dope her up. They find her and she’s grown even more pregnant. Sandy suddenly reverts back to crazy strong Sandy and she attacks Holly and Karl killing them while Sharon, the nurse, just runs away.
Back in the gym, Sandy has guts for dinner.
She also commandeers the intercom and tells the remaining survivors that they can’t escape her. They have to come out at some point and they might as well just do it now so they can get it over with. The team decides that Mark would be a good way to distract her while Gary and Kate get the pickaxes and regular axes to arm themselves.
This whole section of the movie is where people typically praised the film. The idea of a relatively small woman who is the horror was appealing to a lot of people who saw it. On top of that, she’s pregnant and acting less like an expectant human mother, and more like a wild animal in nature protecting her brood. The movie does a good job not to have her do her kills and attacks too quickly. Instead, it opts for Sandy to become a legit monster.
The flip side of that, where some people didn’t care much for the movie comes in how they dealt with Sandy. It’s discovered that if you knee her in her pregnant bits, she is incapacitated enough for you to escape her. We saw Kate knee her there, and later Gary steps on her baby bump and she’s rendered somewhat helpless for a few minutes. Attacking a pregnant woman by way of attacking the physical representation of her fetus is… Not for everyone.
Anyway, Gary and Sandy then face off and she chases him outside. He’s got a little bit of oxygen and a suit. She does not. That does not prevent her from going outside anyway. She evolves quickly to be able to breathe the atmosphere where she then uses a nail gun to shoot Gary and then open his mask to kill him in a particularly chilling moment (no pun intended).
Oh she also disembowels him before dies. That’s cruel, Sandy.
Gary hears the attack, and then Sandy saying that Gary is here with her. He reacts and Stephanie Beacham looks him straight in the eyes and says, “Whatcha gonna do?” like she’s egging him on to go out there and kill that bitch. That’s basically what he says in response. He grabs some explosives and starts setting them up. As he does, it’s pretty clear that his lady is about to give birth to an alien baby. In fact, she gives birth to TWO alien baby hybrid things.
And oh boy do we get to see these little guys get born. We’re with Sandy the whole time as she screams through pushing these things out and we get to see one of the babies’ head pop out and gasp for air. Mark finds the babies and these little guys are not un…cute?
He also finds a sleeping Sandy who wakes up screaming at him like a fucking scary banshee. She chases him out of the little nest and then finds all those little bombs he laid. She sticks them on the door of the operations room to blow the door. While she does that, Mark circles back around to grab the babies. Sandy blows the door but no one is inside. Pissed off, she trashes the room Charles Foster Kane style. Mark finds Kate and Sharon and hides the babies with Sharon.
When Sandy discovers her babies are gone, she handles it well. And by well I mean not at all well. She cries and screams and is generally just all over the map. This is a really good performance by Judy Geeson. She’s cute and likable and pretty in the beginning and she devolves into this insanely powerful monster by the the halfway point of the movie and becomes almost demonic in the third act. She is part monster. She’s part Hannibal Lecter. She’s scary as fuck. She switches from enticing to screaming to having this psychotic expression on her face as she closes in for a kill.
Sandy takes a bite out of Mark’s knee which hobbles him. She then uses an explosive to injure Kate. While Kate is down, she approaches and I think it is implied she tears off Kate’s head.
In their final showdown, Mark and Sandy fight and he uses some wires to choke her out. This, too, is visceral and, like everything else in the movie, it’s like you have to watch the entirety of the really painful or traumatic thing. Mark goes to see how Sharon is getting on with the twins, and seemingly things are going oka….
The final scene features a search party come to check out what the hell is going on at the compound since no one has responded or radioed in 28 days. The search party finds nothing but a ruined compound and dead bodies, they leave, but don’t realize the twins have stowed away on the ship headed to parts unknown.
This is a movie I very, very much like. I think it is the best Norman J. Warren movie. Some might say that it’s really Satan’s Slave, and I don’t really disagree with that. However, with that maybe being a slightly better overall script, this has a little money and some pretty great atmosphere with the stranded exploration team trapped with a monster – a monster who happens to be one of their own. So, overall, I think the good enough script, an especially strong performance from Geeson, and the setting, this takes the cake for me with Warren’s work. This should be available for rent on Amazon Video. Check it out.
That puts a neat little bow on this week’s B-Movie Enema. Next time around, it’s Friday the 13th! You know what I haven’t talked about in a really long time? A geo-political thriller… I’m just busting your balls. I’ve not covered a movie starring everyone’s favorite hockey mask wearin’ bad guy in quite a while. But instead of doing one of those high falutin’ Paramount or New Line entries, I’m going to do something different.
You see, we will also do a special episode of Film Seizure over at that site for the occasion. We’ve made it all the way to Jason X there. So for B-Movie Enema, I want to talk about a fan film for once. I’m gonna take a look at Friday the 13th Part X: To Hell and Back so you better be right here next Friday to see what that’s all about!