Inseminoid (1981)

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Released 17-Oct-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Norman J. Warren (Director)
Featurette-Making Of-Subterranean Universe
Featurette-Inseminoid Girl
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Fiend Without A Face, Horror Hospital,Eaten Alive,The Asphyx
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1981
Running Time 91:53 (Case: 90)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Norman J. Warren
Studio
Distributor
Jupiter Film Prods
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Robin Clarke
Jennifer Ashley
Stephanie Beacham
Steven Grives
Barrie Houghton
Rosalind Lloyd
Victoria Tennant
Trevor Thomas
Heather Wright
David Baxt
Dominic Jephcott
John Segal
Kevin O'Shea
Case PUSH-1 (Opaque)
RPI $24.95 Music John Scott


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.30:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    A violent alien nightmare in blood!

    When a team of archaeological explorers poke around in some inhospitable caves on Jupiter moon Xeno, they discover a mysterious crypt-like structure. Soon, a member of the group, Sandy (Judy Geeson), is abducted and artificially inseminated with the eggs of an alien that has a head shaped like a phallus. Following a rapid gestation period, Sandy gives birth to a litter of aliens “pups” that have a hungering for human blood.

    Summarily dismissed by critics as a brazen Alien rip-off, Inseminoid is actually an intensely brooding, entertaining piece of clunky, low-budget sci-fi. The gloomy shooting location at Chislehurst Caves, a popular tourist attraction in Kent, United Kingdom, adds immensely to the unearthly atmosphere. The creepy ambience is further complemented by the whimsical use of colour-gel lighting within the dark and dank rock tunnels.

    The alien father is a grotesque creature. It’s menacingly phallic in design and a terrific showcase for the talents of Nick and Gloria Maley, who both worked as special effects artists on Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. Although the Maleys also wrote the script, their skills are definitely in design rather than writing. As Director Norman J. Warren explains in the commentary track, a lot of the script had to be adlibbed during shooting because it sounded stilted and unnatural when delivered by the actors.

    Even so, the acting is still routine and wooden, but this inadvertently allows Judy Geeson to shine brightly as the powerless maternal incubator. She shrieks and caterwauls her way through the film, only rivalling Isabelle Adjani’s exhausting performance in Possession as a woman who is in the throes of losing control of her body and mind.

    However, the real star of the film is the haunting score by John Scott, whose credits include A Study in Terror (1965), Satan's Slave (1976), The Final Countdown (1980), King Kong Lives (1986) and the upcoming Basic Instinct 2. Reminiscent of the pulsing, synthesised meanderings used throughout the entire series of Red Dwarf and those odd, ethereal sounds heard in Planet of the Apes, the music in Inseminoid spectacularly sets the mood and resonates long after the film ends.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Inseminoid is presented UNCUT in its correct 2.30:1 aspect ratio. It is also 16x9 enhanced.

    There is only a mild softness and infrequent moments of aliasing and edge-enhancement to slightly mar what is otherwise an excellent transfer. The print has an appealing film-like quality, free of grain and showing no signs of low-level noise.

    Black and contrast levels are deep and stable, while shadow detail clarity is top-notch, even in the many low-lit sequences inside the caves.

    Colours are vibrant, especially under the bright lights of the complex. I noticed no signs of macro-blocking during the saturated burnt orange scenes which represent the distinctive alien atmosphere, such as at 19:00, 23:38 and 27:21. Even when the sun sets at 26:30, the transfer handles the deep orange, mauve and blue colour-gel lighting well.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The score by John Scott is a character in itself, so it’s disappointing that this Region 4 release is only granted a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono mix.

    Although quite decent, after listening to the wonderfully immersive DTS track available on the Region 2 (UK) Anchor Bay release, this is one of those few occasions when a sound upgrade certainly enhances viewing and aural pleasure.

    The Region 2 DTS track does high justice to Scott’s creepy trumpet flourishes and canny use of minimalist high-pitched and sombre tones. While the front centre speakers channel most of the dialogue (in DTS playback), much of the incidental music and eerie effects are given discrete rear and front left-to-right separation without overwhelming the voices of the actors. There are also a number of effects that are almost inaudible in the 2.0 mono mix such as the raspy chest noises coming through the stethoscope at 10:20, but are clearly brought into the soundstage through the DTS track.

    Even the subwoofer is used to great effect to enhance the bass, like during the throbbing score over the sequence involving the mine cart chase at 16:54.

    Overall, the DTS track is quite spectacular and makes the two-channel mono mix sound flat and lifeless in comparison. Suffice to say, the surrounds and subwoofer are silent in our two-channel mono mix.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Commentary with Norman J. Warren (Director) and Gary White (Assistant Director)

    Sounding more like Mr Squiggle than the mood-master of such unsettling flicks as Satan’s Slave, Prey and Terror, the mild-mannered Warren mumbles and mutters his way through this commentary track. He offers a few tasty bits of trivia about the actors and how some effective props were made from ordinary household products. Gary White has very little to say other than agreeing with Warren.

Subterranean Universe – Making Inseminoid (Un-countered: approx 45 minutes)

    This low key but interesting feature begins with Director Norman J. Warren talking about the evolution of the film, which was originally titled Doom Seeds. A very obviously stroke-affected Richard Gordon recalls receiving the script for the first time and was keen to produce the film. Gordon offers some more history about Chislehurst Caves, which were evidently carved by human hands in the search for flint and chalk. The caves are over 8,000 years old, supposedly haunted, and were used by ancient Druidic cults to perform rituals.

    Other interviewees include Peter M. Schlesinger (Executive Producer), Hayden Pearce (Production Designer) and actor Stephanie Beacham, who all talk about their respective roles and location shooting difficulties.

Inseminoid Girl (Un-countered: approx 12 minutes)

    Focusing exclusively on Judy Geeson, this terrific interview segment has her talking about her experience of working on the film and her career. Includes a wonderful anecdote about her working with the fastidious Peter Cushing on Fear in the Night (1972).

Theatrical Trailer (widescreen approx 2 minutes) Far below the surface of a sub-zero planet, hidden in the freezing mists, something is watching…

    This downbeat trailer is a brilliant piece of marketing and is typical of how horror films were pitched during the early 80s.

Umbrella Horror trailers: Fiend without a Face, Horror Hospital, Eaten Alive, The Asphyx.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 Elite edition should be avoided. Although it’s presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, it is not 16x9 enhanced, and it only contains the theatrical trailer as a bonus feature.

    The Region 2 (UK) Anchor Bay release of Inseminoid is part of a Norman J. Warren coffin-shaped box set collection. For fans of Warren, it’s an excellent buy as it contains Satan’s Slave, Terror and Prey, and a bonus disc brimming with extras.

    In comparison to the Region 2 (UK) edition our version of Inseminoid misses out on:

    • A brilliant DTS mix

    • A 5.1 mix

    • Electronic Approach segment (13:12) where composer John Scott discusses the film’s score

    • Cast and crew biographies for Norman J. Warren, Stephanie Beacham and Judy Geeson

    • Photo gallery

    Given the DTS mix and composer John Scott featurette, the Region 2 (UK) Anchor Bay disc is clearly the version of choice.

    Note: Although the coffin-shaped packaging looks fantastic, the discs easily become dislodged during shipment. Mine arrived bouncing around loosely in the box, but were only slightly scuffed and played fine.

Summary

    Although derivative of countless other alien-on-the-loose films, Inseminoid is an intense, gruesome affair that rises above the clutter due to its hallucinogenic score, realistic gore effects, and Judy Geeson’s histrionic portrayal of a demented mother.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Robert Winter (read my dead sexy bio)
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDYamaha DVR-S200 (it came free with the plasma), using S-Video output
DisplayYamaha 106cm Plasma. Calibrated with Sound & Home Theater Tune Up. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt into amplifier. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
Amplificationget a marshall stack, and crank it up.
Speakers2 x Bose Speakers and 4 NX-S200 Yamaha mini-speakers.

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