AKA: Horror Planet
A group of scientists are on a distant planet doing an archaeological expedition involving the study of a long extinct species. Everything seems perfectly under control, but as with all movies like this, inevitably SOMETHING GOES HORRIBLY WRONG when an explosion of unknown origin kills one of the crew and injures excavator Ricky, while he was digging up some strange glowing crystals. Ricky’s injuries prove to be minor, but a couple hours later he starts to become delusional and violently attacks his fellow crewmates. Having no choice but to kill him, crew mates Mitch and Sandy set out to further investigate the crystals Ricky brought back with him, having concluded that they may have in some way triggered his odd behavior.
But unfortunately for Mitch and Sandy, the planet they’re exploring isn’t quite as uninhabited as they think. While out in the cave system, Mitch is brutally killed and Sandy is impregnated by an unknown alien lifeform. The rest of the crew manage to get her back to the lab, but it doesn’t take long before Sandy starts exhibiting the same violent explosions of anger that Ricky had shown. What’s more is that she seems to be a lot more proficient in her murderous rage, as she successfully manages to stalk and kill her colleagues one by one. Now the remaining survivors have to figure out a way to stop her before the company ship coming to pick them up arrives and the planet’s menace spreads to points unknown.
Inseminoid is a low budget British sci-fi/horror film from 1981. After watching the film, I’ve since read a lot of claims that call it a “knock-off” of Alien. Truth be told, I think those people are being a bit too generous with the film’s concept. Sure, the basic premise of someone being forcibly implanted and giving birth to an “alien-type” creature is essentially the same between the two films, but that particular concept had been around long before Ridley Scott ever got around to implementing it. So, the film isn’t really any different than any other movie where someone gets infected by some sort of otherworldly agent and proceeds to run amok. Lets face it, those movies are a dime a dozen, and if you’ve ever watched any kind of Sci-Fi show, you’ll know that damn near every single one of them dedicates at least one episode to that very theme. The outlier here, is that in lieu of the remaining characters being forced to fight off an actual alien or someone infected by an unknown pathogen of some kind, the crew here must instead fight the ultimate foe, one of their own who has not only been infected with an actual alien, but has also been injected with an unknown substance that makes her super strong and absolutely crazy. In other words, they have to fight a super strong, highly hormonal pregnant woman carrying alien babies. So what we have here is essentially the story of every cheesy, sleazy sci-fi film carried out to it’s most cheesy, sleazy, exploitative extreme.
I’ll say this about Inseminoid: it looks quite nice, all things considered. The most prevalent issue with low budget films, and especially low-budget sci-fi films, is that they often either look horribly cheap, or just look horrible in general due to low production values like poor lighting and equipment. Now, I’m not saying that Inseminoid looks as good as some of the A-List fare to come out of Hollywood, but I’d say it’s on par with some TV level aesthetics. But even then it’s on the lower end of “TV good”, so it’s still not perfect, mind you. There’s one scene in particular where Sandy goes on a bit of a “rampage” and flips over much of the control room equipment and you can easily see that the majority of the equipment is just cheaply painted plywood. And the scene where she gets raped is even more hokey, filled with awkward close-up shots, spinning cameras and an unusual abundance of glitter. But, a handful of moments aside, the rest of the film looks pretty decent. Shots are carefully framed, angles are considered, you can easily tell what’s going on (even in the dark) and the scope photography used adds a much needed sense of expansive scale. So while there was clearly room for improvement, considering they only had about 1 million dollars to work with, they didn’t do a half bad job.
Moments of glitter throwing aside…
But then you get to the other elements of the film and you realize, “Ah yes. That’s more like what I was expecting.” The dialogue here is just ridiculous. Sometimes I have trouble believing that a 12-year-old didn’t write some of this. There is an abundance of subtle, and in some cases just outright obvious sexism peppered throughout the film, which is bad enough. But it’s also clear that no one bothered to do any kind of scientific research for the movie, despite the fact that it’s supposed to be about an advanced scientific excavation. I mean, I get it. It’s a cheap-o, B-horror movie they made to earn a quick buck. I’m not expecting NASA levels of scientific consultation, but these guys don’t even make an attempt to explain why certain things are happening. For example, they know their crewmates strange behavior is somehow connected to the glowing crystals found in the cave, but instead of looking into it they explain the effects away as “energy fields” and then pretty much wash their hands of the whole mess because “Unknown energy fields are beyond the reach of this team.”
Pictured: Glowing Rocks – the cheap, sci-fi equivalent of a Mcguffin.
And don’t even get me started on some of the nonsensical motivations at play. I stress that the majority of the characters here are supposed to be scientists, which suggests, or at least should suggest, some level of intelligence. But I guess some of that toxic alien atmosphere was slipping through their space suits, because some of the decisions these people make are just downright moronic. When Ricky goes nuts and traps one of the crew outside and her air supply goes wonky, instead of listening to her colleagues instructions through the radio on how to fix it, she instead…opens her helmet and thus subjects herself to toxic fumes, grabs a hedge trimmer (I don’t know what they were doing with a hedge trimmer in a rocky space cave, but it was a hedge trimmer) and proceeds to try to cut her foot off. Oh, but not before whining to the guy trying to help her and telling him he needs to come out and save her (Sexism, ahoy!) I… I cannot even grasp the leaps of mental logic she used to come up with scenarios like these, much less pull them off. I think this one was just written in to have an excuse to use the hedge trimmer one of the maintenance guys had sitting in their truck.
But after watching this film, it’s clear that including a concept like common sense couldn’t be introduced, because it would have just stymied the whole damn plot. I mean, if you were going to add something as simple as basic logic, then how would you explain the crew watching Ricky go coo-coo, knowing his insanity’s cause and symptoms, recognizing the same symptoms in Sandy, and then just leaving her alone to her own devices, completely unsupervised, with the obvious potential to also run amok? I still can’t tell if everyone in this movie was just a complete moron, or tragically optimistic.
But I’m leaning towards moron.
What’s even more bizarre is that when one of the characters makes a smart decision, the other characters tend to ridicule them for it. Like, when Kate gets trapped alone with Ricky during his attempted murder spree she’s given two choices: She can either A) let him do god knows what to her, so he can open the outer door and let the resulting air vacuum suck all the oxygen out of the lab and kill everyone inside, or B) she can shoot his ass. Kate, apparently being the only one of the group with a functioning brain, chooses option B, and is immediately pounced upon for her efforts with criticisms of “You didn’t have to kill him!” Well, it was either that or you all were gonna die, so yeah, she kinda freaking did. I was incensed on her behalf. I guess since they’re British they wanted her to give Ricky a sporting chance at knocking her off first before she shot him in the chest. And I was further incensed when her insistence of “we should totally kill her” was ignored yet again, even after Sandy had already killed someone. But no, poor Kate was outvoted by a dumb, yet merciful majority who insisted on trying to save Sandy, even if it took 3 or 4 more of them to die trying first before they finally listened to her. She seemed like a slightly petty SOB, so I’m sure she got some small satisfaction in knowing she was right.
Seriously, WTF is wrong with you people!?
As far as the acting goes, it’s sort of a mixed bag. Lead Robin Clarke was about as dull as a wet noodle, and 90% of the rest of the cast are really only there to die horrible, painful deaths, so they don’t get much of a chance to shine. The standouts were likely Stephanie Beacham (And Now The Screaming Starts!) as Kate, and Judy Geeson as Sandy. Beacham’s Kate adds a firm dose of sarcastic reality to a film often filled with buffoonery, and she manages to deliver it all with absolute confidence. Geeson meanwhile, pulls off a pretty memorable performance as her character slowly goes off the deep end. She’s constantly switching between vulnerable and scared, to murderous cannibal, often within the blink of an eye. It’s actually pretty impressive. I just wish there hadn’t been so many close-ups of her screaming at odd angles. After a while I got tired of being forced to look down her throat and started counting her fillings instead.
1-2-3-….boy this woman had a lot of cavities….4-5…..
In the end, Inseminoid ends up being an interesting, though mediocre B-horror sci-fi film. The cinematography is nice, it maintains a decent creepy atmosphere, it’s got a good amount of blood and gore, and truth be told, I did find it pretty entertaining to watch a bunch of people manically run around a cave system because they’re being chased by a very pissed off pregnant woman. But at the same time the sets are cheap, the dialogue is terrible, and the characters have little to no basic survival skills. It was legitimately hard for me so sit through some of their decision making. Still, if you’re a B-movie sci-fi or horror aficionado, then you’ll likely get some enjoyment out of it. But if you’re looking for something containing higher mental reasoning or production values to its name, then you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.
Inseminoid is available on a variety of streaming services.
It is also available on Bluray.