We’ve looked at some great cannibal movies in this blog, and we’ve also checked out some duds. Inseminoid (called Horror Planet in the US) unfortunately falls pretty much into the latter category, proving that cannibalism alone is not sufficient to make a great film. But hey, it raises some interesting philosophical and psychological questions. Not including “who thought this was a good idea?” and “who wrote dialogue like this?”
Holly: Get your ass up here on the double!
Gary: I know what I’d like to do with her arse.
There’s a group of English and American archaeologists and scientists excavating an ancient tomb on a seemingly uninhabited planet. Uninhabited, but not uninhibited. A couple of them find some glowing rocks, there’s an explosion, then the rocks come to life when Mark (Robin Clarke) and Sandy (Judy Geeson from To Sir With Love) make out in the room where the rocks are kept.
How many horror stories start with illicit sex and end up with what looks a lot like religious retribution? Think of the Scream movies – sex happens, then slashers.
After much fighting in dim lights and dark caves, Sandy is captured and raped by perhaps the least scary monsters since the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Immediately two months pregnant (we know because she vomits in a bin), she starts killing her colleagues and eating their flesh.
Also blowing up what appear to be their pinball machines.
Like vampires when transformed, Sandy has become immensely strong, but can be brought down by, yep, a punch in her pregnant stomach. One critic summed up:
“…in what has to be a new low, even for extraterrestrial-horror films, all the men end up punching this pregnant woman in the stomach.”
Besides some wooden acting and clunky lines, the film also suffered from being released not long after Ridley Scott’s brilliant movie Alien, which also showed an alien rape and birth, although that movie had the novelty value of having a man going through a very traumatic labour (yes, if men had to give birth…). Inseminoid was immediately criticised as a knock off of Alien, which the director denied, although there were plenty of other knock-offs being released around that time, including Contamination (1980) and Scared to Death (1981).
But intentional knock-off or not, Inseminoid did not compare well with Scott’s film, one critic saying
“imagine Alien without the fantastic sets, convincing special effects and literate dialogue, and you have a picture of Horror Planet.”
Alien was, in the words of film studies Professor Barbara Creed, an articulation of the archaic mother – the mother as “primordial abyss”, the place we all came from, and to which we fear we will return. Unlike Freud’s insistence that boys are terrified of what they see as their potential castration when they perceive their mother’s genitals as “a lack”, the monster in Alien, and to some extent Sandy in Inseminoid, represent not a castrated but a castrating feminine. The many shots of teeth seem to refer back to the classic tales of the vagina dentata – the toothed vagina.
Although Sandy is eventually brought down by the square-jawed all-American hero, he is no match for her twin human-alien hybrids, who are just so cute, until they get hungry.
But Inseminoid had one advantage over Alien: it had a cannibal, and a female one at that. Praise be.