After attending a screening of Wild Side at a Donald Cammell retrospective at LACMA several years ago, I was startled to see the divine personage of Poison Ivy Rorschach herself waiting outside the theater. She had apparently come to see the next feature, Demon Seed, about which I knew nothing. But, reckoning that Ivy must be a world-class horror movie connoisseur, I rented it at the first opportunity, and it did not disappoint. It is one bizarre hellride of a motion picture.
Demon Seed is the second movie in Cammell’s slender oeuvre, following Performance, starring Mick Jagger, which Cammell wrote and co-directed with Nicolas Roeg. His father, Charles R. Cammell, was a biographer of Aleister Crowley, and if you’ve seen Lucifer Rising, you’ll recognize Donald Cammell as the actor who plays Osiris. His singular career included a script treatment for a “swashbuckling romp” called Fan-Tan, co-authored with Marlon Brando. (There’s an interesting documentary about the director’s life on YouTube, featuring interviews with Mick Jagger and Kenneth Anger, among others who knew him.)
Fans of The Simpsons will recognize Demon Seed as the basis for “House of Whacks” from the 2001 Halloween special, in which Pierce Brosnan plays the voice of a computer that becomes obsessed with Marge. A word about the content. See on the lobby card above where it says “Never was a woman violated as profanely,” etc.? All I will tell you about the plot of this movie is that, in one deeply disturbing scene, Julie Christie is sexually assaulted by her house. Not as in “she is sexually assaulted next to her house,” but as in “the actual building that is her house sexually assaults her.” Nor is that the strangest thing that happens in Demon Seed.
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