Wednesday, 7 July 2021


Pregnant Paws

(aka Horror Planet)

UK 1981 Directed by Norman J. Warren
Indicator Blu Ray Zone B

There was a point in my life when I went absolutely mad trying to see this movie.

It must have been around 1980/81, when I was 12, that I visited Chislehurst Caves in Kent. I loved caves because they were dark, dank places and I love soaking in that atmosphere (not much has changed in my sunny disposition over the years, to be honest). I remember the tour guide mentioning that they’d shot a science fiction movie there not so long ago but he didn’t think it had been released yet. My ears pricked up, of course, because I was very much into sci-fi at the time (and who wouldn’t be with films like Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica and The Black Hole playing at cinemas in those days?). So after the tour was finished, I crept up to the kindly old guide and asked him some details about the film. He couldn’t remember much about it but said Judy Geeson was in it and... after a while of scratching his head for a title, said it was called... something like Inseminoid.

So that was it... I spent the next year waiting for the new science fiction blockbuster called... something like Inseminoid, to land at my local cinema so I could take it in and marvel at a film shot in a place I’d actually visited. And then the next year went by and I waited. And another and I waited. No internet in those days you see... and no magazine coverage that I managed to catch. I’m assuming it did have a fairly wide UK release but it certainly didn’t hit my neck of the woods. It wasn’t for at least another two decades that I came across a second hand copy of the film on a DVD at the Camden Film Fair and finally got to see it. I remember I was not disappointed by it and, frankly, it was the main reason why I wanted this wonderful, five movie Blu Ray set by Indicator called Bloody Terror - The Shocking Cinema Of Norman J. Warren 1976 - 1987. And as it turns out, one good thing leads to another because, I certainly have had no regrets about getting acquainted with some of the movies in this selection.

The film starts with a very interesting set of star fields, somewhat animated like galaxies are boiling away in space, which is also somehow reminiscent of embryos and other aspects of human biology... not in terms of accuracy but it certainly has a flavour of that about it, I think and that certainly fits into the theme of the movie. Once thing to bear in mind is that I’ve always assumed that Inseminoid was conceived as a quickie production to be a ‘poor man’s A L I E N’, so to speak. According to one of the producers on one of the extras on this disc, however, this absolutely wasn’t the case and they might have well been shooting at around the same kind of time (which is weird given the film’s release date... must have had some kind of post-production delay is my guess).

The film has a fine cast of known and unknown character actors and includes Judy Geeson as the main protagonist/antagonist, Stephanie Beacham (who you may remember from such movies as Dracula AD 1972... reviewed here) and a young Victoria Tennant. Here they are part of a 12 person crew (predominantly women, which is interesting) who are part of a team of... well... space archeologists who have just discovered a strange, tomb-like structure leading on from their base camp in some caverns on a strange planet. And, despite no comparisons being made to A L I E N... two of the team are taken out by some crystal structures or an alien or... yeah, possibly both (I’m still not sure what the crystals were supposed to indicate). Then, in the process of looking for one of the two who has being taken over by some kind of controlling force (I never said the plot made any kind of sense, people), Judy Geeson’s character gets impregnated by an alien (who manages to drop out of the narrative, presumably for both budgetary and credibility reasons)... at which point, after a short while convalescing, Miss Geeson goes nuts and uses her new found superhuman strength and cunning to try and kill all the other humans before giving birth to aliens and... yeah. So no great amount of monster suit or model work needed because Geeson is now the antagonist here and, I have to say, she does a bloody good job of it. She has to scream a heck of a lot, get naked for a bit and also emote various alien/human points of view and doing it in what was, by all accounts, an already tough shoot. Very little of this film was shot in a studio, it turns out. 

 The caves in question were lit and augmented with ‘space base tunnels’ and, yeah, not great conditions to work under. That being said, as I discovered on one of the 'making of' features here, Stephanie Beacham said she had the most laughter and fun down in those caves than on any other of her film shoots and, frankly, absolutely everyone asked has nothing but good words on how brilliant a person Judy Geeson is to work with (apparently Beacham and Geeson are still good friends).

And, bearing in mind the shoestring nature of the budget and the speed of the shoot in such conditions, the film looks really good. Not everything but, honestly, most things from the bizarre space helmets which had two big headlights on either side of the head (and so give a really interesting ‘bright eyes from silhouette’ look when required) to the illusion of a small, underground rail car built on the dolly tracks from a camera... just really work and serve the movie well. It might not have much money behind it but you can certainly see that what was there was being worked very hard and it gives the film a nice, almost 'comfort horror', home grown feel.

Of course, although the trappings are sci-fi, it is kind of a slasher picture, as people are slowly whittled down by Geeson, with her alien brain working overtime so, it’s not too far away from what you’d expect from the director and, I have to say, although I already knew this was a watchable and entertaining movie, I have been acquiring more and more respect for Norman J. Warren with each movie of his I’ve seen (a shame then, that he hasn’t directed a great deal of them over the years).

The music for Inseminoid fits the film well and is once again composed by John Scott, who explains that he had to go the synthesiser route on the picture due to the budget. That being said, he does come up with an interesting, textural score and there’s another extra on this (like the one on Satan’s Slave - reviewed here) where he explains how he arrived at the musical elements for the movie... in this case, writing it as though it were an orchestral score and then trying to adapt it for electronic realisation.

And yes, being as it’s put out by Indicator, there’s a whole host of interesting extras with the film and it’s worth every penny.  Bloody Terror - The Shocking Cinema Of Norman J. Warren 1976 - 1987 is a great little Blu Ray set and Inseminoid is certainly an entertaining shocker. I mean it no disrespect when I say that it plays out like an expanded episode of the kind of thing you might see in the second season of Space 1999... but with a little extra nudity and gore. Which sounds pretty good to me. The film did not disappoint in comparison with my memories of it and, as usual, Indicator’s new transfer is superb... the film never looked so good.

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