Sunday, 1 May 2011

And Now The Screening Starts...

Inseminoid. dir. Norman J Warren, starring Judy Geeson, Steph Beacham, some guys,

As we look at "Inseminoid", the last film to bother cinemas* by Horror auteur Norman J Warren, questions crowd in around us: why is Steph Beacham interviewing everyone? Why did the costume designer think that in the future everyone would be dressed like Mike Nolan from Bucks Fizz**. Have the producers of "Alien" seen this film, or more importantly have their lawyers. And why, dear god why, does that woman cut her foot off?

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

It's the future, or at least the future of the 80s, so that even outer-space mining colonies look like the Multicoloured Swap Shop with moon-rocks; you expect to see Cheggers bouncing off an inflatable around every corner. In this future men are wiry and balding and women rangey and horse-faced; it's "Planet of the Minor Royals". They spend their time banging holes into the crust of this mysterious planet and giving each other back-rubs. It's all pretty idyllic despite what Cliff, the socio-mythologist, (all mining parties have one of those; it's normal - you're just nit-picking)intuits about the worship of dualism in the long dead society,perhaps as a consequence of the planet having two suns. None of which we actually see. Our entire experience of the savage planet consists of an early Pink Floyd light show masquerading as a credits sequence. The rest of the film is a series of violent deaths in a series of dull interlinking caves. The caves are in fact real; much of "Insemenoid" was filmed in Wookie Hole, making the shoot cold, miserable and fatiguing for the cast. The caves have been photographed and lit in such a way as to make them look like papier-mache: you'll swear they shiver when a foot falls near them.

Anyway, plot, plot, plot: Dean, one of the wiry men, goes out, comes back with a sweaty top lip and a couple of scratches. There's a bit of business with some crystals and Judy Geeson comes a cropper from a big, rapey rubber guy who promptly disappears for the rest of the film. Geeson gives a bravarra performance here. The script allows her run the gamut of emotion, below the dignity level, and she gives it everything, gnashing teeth, rolling eyes; limbs thrashing like a tickled squid. Over a punishing and seemingly endless sequence of la Geeson screaming her head off on an operating table while the ship's doctor appears to stick a lava-lamp up her. Quite why she imagines the doctor is doing this (he seems to be a perfectly affable bloke - rangey, balding; you know the type)is not clear. Is this her mind translating unspeakable, unbearable events into a understandable human experience? Is the creature clouding her thoughts with these projected images to the same end? Is it Norman J Warren realising that the least convincing rape in cinematic history was never going to play? (Though Gabriel Byrne's full-suit-of-armour-effort in "Excalibur" comes a close second.)

After this protracted and unpleasant scene the film doesn't seem to have anywhere to go. So we get a lot of running about; Geeson in her shrink-to- fit wranglers, the top-button undone because, you know, she's pregnant. She runs around with a chin-load of gore attacking everybody (though one of the main characters appears to die of a grazed shin). I won't spoil the ending but it is a deeply unsatisfying resolution; a bit like giving up booze for January. It's a Norman J Warren film, so you can expect Captain Zepp style production values, but really it must be the least of his films: there's nothing here to match "Prey's" slow-motion-pond-fight or "Terror's" Mike Yarwood impression of Dario Argento.

*He actually made three more films after this one. But none of them bothered anything but the top shelf of your local video store.

** I always want to put a possesive apostrophe in front of the "s" in Bucks as if the fizz belonged to, say, Buck Rogers. Or a tiny deer. Or a dollar.

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