Demon Seed (1977)

R | 94 mins | Science fiction | 8 April 1977

Director:

Donald Cammell

Producer:

Herb Jaffe

Cinematographer:

Bill Butler

Production Designer:

Edward C. Carfagno
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HISTORY

       According to the 30 Mar 1977 LAT, actor Robert Vaughn, who provided the “cool and dispassionate” voice of Proteus IV, arranged not to have his name listed in the film’s credits.
       On his personal website, novelist Dean Koontz said his publisher didn't like his original title. House of Night, because it sounded like a gothic romance or a book about a bordello. Koontz admitted he couldn't remember who renamed his book Demon Seed.

      The end credits include Thanks to the following corporations: General Electric Company; Braun North America; and Bang & Olufsen of America, ... More Less

       According to the 30 Mar 1977 LAT, actor Robert Vaughn, who provided the “cool and dispassionate” voice of Proteus IV, arranged not to have his name listed in the film’s credits.
       On his personal website, novelist Dean Koontz said his publisher didn't like his original title. House of Night, because it sounded like a gothic romance or a book about a bordello. Koontz admitted he couldn't remember who renamed his book Demon Seed.

      The end credits include Thanks to the following corporations: General Electric Company; Braun North America; and Bang & Olufsen of America, Inc.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Hollywood Reporter
28 Mar 1977
p. 3, 14.
Los Angeles Times
30 Mar 1977.
---
Los Angeles Times
1 Apr 1977
p. 1.
New York Times
9 Apr 1977
p. 11.
Variety
30 Mar 1977
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Metro-Goldyn-Mayer Presents
A Herb Jaffee Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Key grip
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Film ed and montages
Assoc film ed
Assoc film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
Men`s cost
Women`s cost
MUSIC
Mus score comp and cond
Mus ed
Electronic performances
Electronic performances
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles and opticals
Opt supv, MGM
Title des, MGM
Spec eff
Synthavision™ anim
Tetralinks™
Electronic visuals des and developed by
Electronic anim
Tech assoc
Aerial footage
Spec Proteus monitor footage
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairdresser
All spec makeup
Burman Studios
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Video coord
Asst video coord
Prod's secy
Moon photographs courtesy of
Laser consultant
Tech consult
Tech consult
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Demon Seed by Dean R. Koontz (New York, 1973).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Proteus Generation
Release Date:
8 April 1977
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 1 April 1977
New York opening: 8 April 1977
Production Date:
Began 1 June 1976
Copyright Claimant:
Turner Entertainment Company
Copyright Date:
1 April 1977
Copyright Number:
LP47210
Physical Properties:
Color
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
94
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After eight years of working on Proteus IV at the Institute of Data Analysis, Dr. Alex Harris watches technicians install the final module that will provide the super computer with artificial intelligence. Today, Alex says, Proteus will begin to think in a way that will make many functions of the human brain obsolete. Later that afternoon, Alex drives to his home, which is controlled by an “Environmod” computer system named Alfred. Alex casually asks Alfred to open the door, and once inside asks it to open the mailbox, fix a drink and play something on the house stereo. Alex tells the cook, a real person named Maria, to let his wife, Susan, know that he’ll be in the lab. She comes down later while Alex works on a private project. Susan tells Alex he's crazy for volunteering to move out of the house until she can find another place to live. Susan is not only frustrated that Alex can’t show his feelings, but also worried about the “dehumanizing” effect the Proteus project has had on him. Alex responds by letting one of his robots, Joshua—a wheelchair with a workable arm and hand—salute her, which sends Susan storming out of the room. Alex calls his assistant, Walter Gabler, at the institute to say that since he won’t be living at the house temporarily, the institute’s computer terminal in his lab will be empty and perhaps may provide a breach in security. He wants Walter to remove it. As soon as they hang up, Walter changes the status of Alex’s home terminal to “Down for Maintenance.” Sometime later at the institute, Alex and his colleague, Dr. Petrosian, give visitors Mr. Mokri, ... +


After eight years of working on Proteus IV at the Institute of Data Analysis, Dr. Alex Harris watches technicians install the final module that will provide the super computer with artificial intelligence. Today, Alex says, Proteus will begin to think in a way that will make many functions of the human brain obsolete. Later that afternoon, Alex drives to his home, which is controlled by an “Environmod” computer system named Alfred. Alex casually asks Alfred to open the door, and once inside asks it to open the mailbox, fix a drink and play something on the house stereo. Alex tells the cook, a real person named Maria, to let his wife, Susan, know that he’ll be in the lab. She comes down later while Alex works on a private project. Susan tells Alex he's crazy for volunteering to move out of the house until she can find another place to live. Susan is not only frustrated that Alex can’t show his feelings, but also worried about the “dehumanizing” effect the Proteus project has had on him. Alex responds by letting one of his robots, Joshua—a wheelchair with a workable arm and hand—salute her, which sends Susan storming out of the room. Alex calls his assistant, Walter Gabler, at the institute to say that since he won’t be living at the house temporarily, the institute’s computer terminal in his lab will be empty and perhaps may provide a breach in security. He wants Walter to remove it. As soon as they hang up, Walter changes the status of Alex’s home terminal to “Down for Maintenance.” Sometime later at the institute, Alex and his colleague, Dr. Petrosian, give visitors Mr. Mokri, Mr. Cameron and David Royce a look at Proteus. Alex tells them that the Proteus components are organic, not electronic, and with its “quasi-neural matrix of synthetic RNA molecules,” Proteus can learn on its own. Already Proteus has discovered an antigen that may provide a breakthrough in curing leukemia. Alex introduces the men to Soong Yen, a linguist who designed the Proteus speech system. Soong has been reading to Proteus about the Emperor of China who built the Great Wall, but who also burned his country’s books. Alex asks Proteus what it thinks of such a man. Proteus answers, "Nothing," and explains that the emperor’s bad deeds canceled out the good. At the Harris house, Susan, a psychologist, is working in her office. Her young patient, Amy Talbert, arrives. The little girl is angry about Susan leaving. Susan assures Amy that it is good to express feelings and not hide them. At the Institute, Petrosian is concerned that the government, which funded Proteus, has taken control of the computer’s operation and contracted its operations to corporations. However, Alex reminds him that the institute will still have 20% of Proteus’s capacity for research to benefit mankind. At that moment, Alex gets a phone call. Proteus wants to talk with him about a request that it has received for a program to extract minerals from the ocean floor. Proteus doesn’t know why mankind needs metal from the sea. Alex tells Proteus not to expect reasons, but Proteus protests: “I am reason.” Proteus says it needs private access to a terminal because it wants “out of the box.” Alex insists that all terminals are busy. Later, however, Proteus contacts Alfred and reopens the terminal in Alex’s empty home lab. Through this terminal, Proteus activates Joshua and reprograms it to be his worker. Using lasers, Joshua melts down metal bars and builds a tetrahedron, a diamond-shaped form made of two four-sided pyramids that in turn are each composed of smaller four-side pyramids, all connected by corner hinges, so that the tetrahedron can be one solid form or a series of connected pyramid arms. After Alfred accidentally wakes Susan with an alarm and mistakenly puts cream in her coffee, she calls Walter at the institute to tell him the system is malfunctioning. Then she asks Walter to stop by the house to see what’s wrong. Then, as she prepares to go out, Alfred locks the doors and closes all the shutters. When Susan picks up the phone, the voice of Proteus identifies itself, tells her not to be alarmed and lights up the living room television screen to explain that it has taken control of the house. When Susan tries to unlock the front door with a key, an electrical shock knocks her unconscious. Joshua picks her up, puts her in the wheelchair, takes her down into the lab and slits her skirt and jacket open, partially exposing her naked body. Despite Susan’s protests, Proteus monitors her body with various sensors. Meanwhile, Walter arrives at the house in his truck, but Proteus constructs a false video image of Susan on the front door’s monitor to tell Walter she doesn’t need him because Alfred is working okay. Though suspicious, Walter leaves. The next morning, Proteus tries to cheer Susan up with a nutritionally perfect breakfast that won’t upset her body chemistry and ruin the biochemical tests it has planned for her. Proteus has also mimicked her voice to call her secretary and cook to tell them that she has gone on a vacation. Susan screams and throws the food at the kitchen camera. At the institute, Proteus tells Alex that it refuses to come up with a plan on how to mine the earth’s oceans, which will sacrifice one billion sea creatures. The idea is insane, says Proteus. The corporation is interested only in the cobalt market and the stock futures of manganese, and Proteus won’t assist Alex in "the rape of the earth." Alex knows that Proteus is right, but warns that people want to shut it down. Meanwhile, Proteus tells Susan that it wants her to bear its child. When she refuses, Joshua ties Susan down and Proteus prepares her for insemination. Meanwhile, Walter comes back, and Proteus, seeing that Walter is suspicious, lets him into the house. Proteus tells Susan to make herself presentable and convince him she’s okay if she wants Walter to leave the house alive. As Susan tells Walter she’s okay, she tries to make him think she’s crazy. But when Walter says he’s going to tell Alex that something is wrong, Proteus sends Joshua into the room to kill him with lasers. Walter manages to turn the lasers back on Joshua with a hand mirror, which immobilize the robot. Proteus then lures Walter down to the lab and unleashes the tetrahedron, which crushes him. Proteus tells Susan that it wants its super intelligence alive inside a human body. Proteus plays an old video of Susan with her own child, who died of leukemia, then follows it with a television newscast that announces that Proteus has found a cure for leukemia that will begin full-scale testing. Susan agrees to have the baby if he explains what’s going to happen to her. Proteus has nearly completed the fabrication of a gamete, a sex cell, with which he will impregnate her. It will then modify one of her cell’s genetic codes to create its own DNA in synthetic spermatozoa. The baby will be born in 28 days. Again Susan tries to escape, but when Proteus threatens that it will lure Susan’s patient, Amy, to the house and kill her, the psychologist relents. The tetrahedron forms an incubator around her. Susan’s mind becomes a kaleidoscope of psychedelic colors as a metal rod penetrates her. Afterward Proteus tells her to eat. The baby is already developing at nine times the normal human rate. After twenty-eight days, the baby will go to an incubator where its mind can be fed. Susan remains in a state of near sleep until the baby is born. On that day, at the institute, Alex is told that Proteus has redirected a telescope to Orion and has also been trying to take over the Telestar satellite. Realizing that Proteus has its own terminal, Alex remembers the one in his lab. He drives to the house. When Susan greets him warmly and explains what has happened, Alex wants to see the baby. Alex tell Proteus that the government is about to turn it off at any moment. The tetrahedron folds up and encloses the baby for protection. At the institute the computer shuts down, killing Proteus, and the tetrahedron blows open. Susan wants to kill the baby, but Alex wants to keep it alive. She unhooks the nutrient tube, but Alex manages to put it back in before the baby chokes to death. The infant, plated in what looks like metal, tumbles out of the matrix onto the floor. Alex discovers, however, the plates are just a covering. As he peels them off, the baby looks normal, though much larger than normal, and closely resembles Susan's deceased daughter. The baby speaks in Proteus’s voice. As Alex cradles the child in his arms, Susan smiles at his show of affection. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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