*. Let’s be perfectly honest: I don’t think anyone in 1981, or at anytime since, has gone into this movie thinking it was going to be any good. There’s simply no way a movie with a title like Inseminoid could be anything but a joke. But might it still be one of those so-bad-it’s-good, video-basement treats?
*. I think for the most part it is. It’s a terrible movie from start to finish, but so very bad that you just have to laugh at it. The script (apparently written in a rush) is full of deadly one-liners. The action proceeds by way of huge leaps in continuity. It’s SF-horror but the effects are laughable. The monster twins are just stiff plastic puppets and the gore consists of abrupt edits and then shots of victims with blood splashed on their faces or clothes. Even the weapons, including a welder and what looks like a hedge trimmer, are a joke.
*. The acting is also terrible. Judy Geeson as Sandy, the inseminated one, is praised in some quarters but I think the only thing you can say is that she’s giving it her all, and that her efforts don’t really help. The birth scene goes on so long you have to laugh to drown out her screams. But then there are also little things like the way Mark goes running through the tunnels. This reminded me a bit of John Belushi in Animal House.
*. Released a year after Alien, most people saw it as a rip-off. This is a charge the director, Norman J. Warren, has denied, saying they had not seen Alien at the time of writing Inseminoid. This doesn’t strike me as a very convincing defence, since there’s more to being a rip-off than just a script and the script in this case likely consisted of nothing more than an outline. To me it seems like an Alien rip-off, though I suppose you could say (and there have been those who’ve said) that Alien itself borrowed from other films, like It! The Terror from Beyond Space and Planet of the Vampires. Eventually everything gets recycled.
*. Another likely source was Demon Seed, with the pregnancy angle playing out in a roughly similar fashion. In fact, the script was originally called Doomseeds and had to be changed because of the resemblance. Though here I think the connection is more generic, with both movies fitting into the then popular sub-genre of reproductive horror.
*. Of course what set Alien apart from everything that had come before were all of its iconic design elements, starting with Giger’s creature. This movie has none of that going for it, unless you consider the rape or impregnation scene to be an early instance of what would develop into the Japanese porn fetish for tentacle sex and alien breeding. Otherwise the women all look fantastically made up, the spacesuits are borrowed from the 1950s, the phones from the 1970s, and designer blue jeans are now the rage in space.
*. But does this add up to something so bad it’s good? Kim Newman is someone who enjoyed it: “Most of the rip-offs [of Alien] are dull, but Norman J. Warren’s Inseminoid (1980) aspires to hectic lunacy by having its cast (which includes a heavy feminine complement — Stephanie Beacham, Jennifer Ashley, Victorian Tennant and Judy Geeson) rush around some offworld catacombs with the enthusiasm of a crowd of schoolkids with plastic bags over their heads playing spacemen.”
*. Surprisingly, some reviews, at least in the U.K., weren’t bad when it came out. But I think since then it has gone on to gain a bit of a cult status based on its sheer incompetence. I don’t find it laugh-out-loud awful, or the stuff of favourite-bad-moviedom, but I do get a kick out of most of it. It’s cheap and derivative and, like most movies that are so bad they’re funny, it tries to do too much and keeps falling on its face in embarrassing ways. I wouldn’t call it one of the best worst movies ever made, but it is bad enough to want to see a couple of times. I’m happy to report that over the years I think it’s been getting better. And yes, by that I mean worse.