Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (J-D-C Scope)
Sound format: Mono
Whilst exploring a series of caves beneath the surface of Jupiter's moon Xeno, a scientific research team unleashes a long-buried alien creature which impregnates one of the female members of the crew (Judy Geeson). With the subsequent pregnancy developing at an alarming rate, Geeson is compelled to protect her unborn 'children' from scientific scrutiny and begins to massacre her colleagues, one by one...
Responding to the worldwide appetite for overblown space operas established by STAR WARS in 1977, yet remaining true to his roots as a purveyor of exploitation-horror movies (SATAN'S SLAVE, PREY, etc.), British director Norman J. Warren developed the script for INSEMINOID with writers Nick and Gloria Maley, a team of special effects technicians looking for a vehicle in which to showcase their talents. With funding from British and Hong Kong sources, the film went into production at Chislehurst caves (a grim but picturesque location just outside London) shortly after Ridley Scott's ALIEN (1979) wrapped principal photography, though Warren and producer Richard Gordon insist the movie wasn't influenced by Scott's blockbuster in any way.
Unfortunately, INSEMINOID's lofty ambitions are somewhat undermined by its modest £1 million budget, yielding a range of sets, costumes and visual effects which are more reminiscent of "Blake's 7" and "Doctor Who" than STAR WARS, and the cheapskate production values often provoke unintentional laughter. Faced with some fairly amateurish dialogue, most of the cast can't help but sink to the occasion, though Geeson is remarkably good in the leading role, transforming herself from terrified victim to monstrous avenger with scene-stealing glee (unfortunately, she later bad-mouthed the film in no uncertain terms, despite recently admitting she'd never actually seen it!). Stephanie Beacham (SCHIZO, TV's "The Colby's") plays the material with earnest conviction, while Victoria Tennant (THE WINDS OF WAR) makes no impression at all as one of the early victims of Geeson's rampage.
For all its drawbacks, however, the film is fast-moving and eager to please, and benefits enormously from John Metcalfe's expansive scope photography, which Warren uses to evoke a sense of scale at odds with the movie's financial limitations. There's plenty of gory violence on offer, too, though Warren was forced to make a few cosmetic trims to some of the most explicit sequences for censorship reasons in the UK, and it's that version which has prevailed ever since. Sadly, despite the film's modest success (including America, where a slightly truncated print played theatrically under the title HORROR PLANET), the director was unable to finance another venture for several years afterward, and his final film to date, BLOODY NEW YEAR (1987), went straight to video. His long-cherished ambition to remake FIEND WITHOUT A FACE (1957) has yet to happen, which is particularly regrettable - the genre has always needed talented mavericks like Warren, now more than ever.