A degree of autobiographical data is needed for this, which breaks a promise I made earlier in the month. As it isn’t whiny and does pertain to what I want to speak about, I thought and hoped I could get away with the transgression. If this irritates anyone (and I can’t see it doing so, but just in case) I hereby apologize for once again failing to follow through.
With the apology past us, let’s get the autobiographical crap out of the way next, shall we?
I’m not exactly sure of the time frame on this story. It seems to me it had to occur when I was eighteen, due to me being up late-nights. I did more late-night viewing then than at any point up to that time. However, a little voice wants me to say that I was still in High School, a junior, though and not a senior. I have no firm way of telling. What matters, though, is that I was living in Park Forest, a suburb of Chicago, and I was a very foolish young man.
How foolish, you might ask (or, if you are unkind, in what way were you different from you are now)? Well, I had myself a book of horror movie reviews. It was a nice book, complete with an introduction by Vincent Price!1 himself. I read it from cover to cover with growing respect. I decided as I did so that, as a Future Master of Horror that I would have to see every Horror movie ever made. And as I did so, I would check each review off. Thus the List came into being.
You can see the fallacy behind this thinking, right? I was never, ever going to see every horror movie ever made. I wasn’t even going to see every Horror movie made in the USA. They weren’t ever going stop making Horror movies, so that List would keep right on growing. On this, I hadn’t even considered direct to video films. And forget about the future DVDs.
But here I am, dumb, trying to see them all. I would ask my parents to rent this film or that film from our local video stores, be it a drug store, a mom-and-pop type place, or the Great Satan Blockbuster. As my parents were good people (and my father something of a Horror buff himself), I was able to check off movies left and right.
Now not every video store had a movie from the List. I would, on occasions, use TV listings in the local paper to see what kind of movies were popping up that week. Our cable provider had a channel devoted to scrolling through the cable channels. I would watch in eternal hope for some classic or another to grace me with its presence.
One late-night while I was watching the cable listing scroll through the hours, I noted that the movie Demon Seed was playing on my local Fox channel, Channel 32. It had already started, there would be commercials, and the good bits2 would be edited out. But hey! It was on the List! I didn’t see it in the video stores! What a bargain!
I switched in on and caught it as it was heading towards a commercial. In fact, I didn’t see any of the movie at first. What I caught was the last part of a bumper between the two.
This bumper did little to impress me. Shot on video tape, it had this dark-haired guy doing this funny run towards the edge of a building in downtown Chicago. He had a paper airplane in his hand, cocked back and ready to through. At the end of his run, he threw the plane.
Next scene is on the street. It’s of the same man, but in a gray wig. He has the paper airplane clutched to one of his eyes, screaming all the while. As if the plane had gone all that way down there and buried itself.
After all of these years, I can’t tell you if I laughed at this or not. But I think it’s a safe bet I did. I’ve laughed at less.
We cut back to the guy on the roof, who does this wide-eyed take directly at the camera. At that very instant I stopped whatever I was doing, pointed at the TV screen, and shout, “Holy sh–! That’s the Son of Svengoolie!”
And it was him, now working under his own name (Rich Koz). I hadn’t seen him in years, but that one moment was all it took for me to recognize him. Even out of his makeup.
For those who haven’t followed the link and are asking “Who the Hell is the Son of Svengoolie?” let me explain. The Son of Svengoolie was a horror host back in my fable, half remembered youth. I would watch him without fail every Saturday afternoon, laughing at his jokes and grooving to whatever Horror movie he was playing.
Below is a sample of his stuff (courtesy of YouTube). Mileage may vary on the quality, but I still like him.
Now here’s the time where I must apologize to you, the reader, once again. I have done something unforgivable. I should have warned you. I usually do warn you. But for some reason, I didn’t work it into the above paragraphs.
I have, sadly, spoiled the best part of Demon Seed.
That’s right. The best part was a bumper totally unrelated to the movie itself.
Oh, I’ve seen worse movies. I’ve seen Uchu kaijû Gamera/Gamera Super Monster. I’ve seen R.O.T.O.R. I’ve seen Bloodbath at the House of Death, which somehow stains not only Vincent Price!’s reputation but the reputation of every actor Price! has ever worked with. I have even seen an Adam Sandler flick.3
Demon Seed stands apart on a mountain of crap all its own. It’s running time consists of watching a magic evil computer mental torture then rape the female main character. So charming. And all so that the computer can impregnate the woman and down load himself into the fetus. Let’s not worry about how the minor details like how in the name of Isaac Asimov this is possible. This is just nasty for the sake of being nasty.
Worse comes at the end (only a slight spoiler here4) where the main characters switch polar opposite positions without rhyme or reason. (“We must raise it like our own, Alex!” “Kill it! Kill it!” and then switch “Whoa! Robobaby! Cool beans!” “Kill it, Alex! Kill! It!”) It doesn’t even give a proper freakin’ ending! It just sort of stops!
It’s a waste of all the talent involved. I dunno if the source by Dean Koontz is this bad (though for the rerelease of his novel he did rewrite the whole thing) but it’s hard to imagine this thing being good.
So, in the end, when given the option to watch Demon Seed, follow my advice. Go to YouTube and type “Son of Svengoolie”5 in the search box and watch. Cause in a fight between Svengoolie and Demon Seed, Demon Seed gets knocked out in the first round like a punk.
1 When you write the name Vincent Price!, you supposed to add an exclamation point. It’s in the Constitution as one of the Bill of Rights. It’s right under the amendment where you have to let out a little shriek whenever Boris Karloff’s name is mentioned.
Wait, what were you going to say?
3 You know. The one with Rob Schneider in it.