Inseminoid (from Bloody Terror: The Shocking Cinema of Norman J. Warren) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - United Kingdom - Powerhouse Films
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (8th August 2019).
The Film

One of British genre cinema’s most important and distinctive independent filmmakers, Norman J. Warren made a series of horror films which were at the forefront of a new wave in British horror during the 1970s. Reflecting a period of permissiveness and fearlessness, Warren’s distinctive stylings are far removed from the Gothic conventions of Hammer Films, deliberately upped the ante in terms of sex, violence and gore to create a new breed of horror that was designed to shock for shock’s sake.

Five of Norman J Warren’s horrifying chillers are presented here in new restorations and on Blu-ray for the very first time in the UK. Containing a wealth of new and archival extras – including new appreciations by contemporary British filmmakers, new cast and crew interviews, audio commentaries on all five films, rare short films, outtakes and alternative scenes, and making-of documentaries – this stunning Limited Edition box set is strictly limited to 6,000 units.

Video

An archeological expedition on an alien planet, comes to grief when one of them is impregnated with alien eggs. She becomes psychotic and starts to pick off the remaining scientists one by one.

Much lambasted back in the day by some as sado-porn, this is actually a perfectly enjoyable sci-fi horror runaround shot in Chizlehurst caves effectively standing in for the inhospitable, freezing cold planet. It's obviously been green-lit in the wake of Alien and has it's fair share of grisly moments and copious bloodshed.

I used to dislike this film but thinking back it always looked so grotty and seedy, but the new 2K restoration from the internegative has worked wonders with it's production values and cinematography. It now looks like what it always was: a well funded low budget British film.

The script isn't up to much and doesn't give us or the cast time to get to know the archeological crew before the horror starts but the cast generally do very well with it nonetheless and Norman J. Warren does a good job directing, keeping the pace up and packing in the incidents. It's unlikely to be atop the list of anyone's favourite British horror or sci-fi films, but it's well worth revisiting every now and then, especially on this Blu-ray.

Shot in the anamorphic J-D-C Scope (that's Joe Dunton Cameras folks) with a wide ratio of 2.35:1 Inseminoid looks absolutely stunning possibly for the first time ever on this new Blu-ray from Powerhouse Films. In terms of UK film production this had a pretty healthy budget being also a co-production between Warren (UK), Richard Gordon (USA) and Sir Run Run Shaw (Hong Kong).

Warren's films have really benefitted from the HD upgrade but none more so than Inseminoid in my humble view. This always seemed to suffer from grotty, aged transfers and in the bad old days of 1.33:1 TVs, terrible panning and scanning which also zoomed the image and cropped it by 40%. Warren uses the frame well and although we've had widescreen version of this film on DVD (and possibly VHS) it's lustre has finally been restored.

The colour palette is rich in naturalistic colours, bloody red stands out against the antiseptically coloured futuristic sets and grey cave settings. Warren has been influenced by Argento's Suspiria (1977) ever since Terror (1978) and this also has some great gel lighting. Flesh tones are warm and natural. Black levels are deep and rich with massive of shadow detail previously lost to crush in the old standard def transfers taken from prints. Going back to the internegative has produced stunning results. This has always been a slightly soft looking film so don't expect razor-sharp, crystal clarity but flesh and fabrics show texture, especially in closeups.

Contrast is very supportive especially with so much white and grey in the sets and outfits worn by most of the cast. No blown out highlights here and plenty of detail. Film grain is ever present but it's been handled beautifully by David MacKenzie and Fidelity in Motion; these guys deserve some kind on industry award for the work they've done over the years in presenting film material properly in HD.

1080/24p / MPEG-4 AVC / 2.35:1 / 91:55

Audio

English LPCM 1.0
Subtitles: English HoH

A rock solid, vibrant mono track ensures that dialogue is always clear and John Scott's strident, creepy electronic score comes off nicely; it even triggered the subwoofer on occasion. Plenty of depth for such a simple mix and no signs of age related damage such as pops, clicks. An excellent job.

Subtitles for the hearing impaired and as always are an essential component of any decent release these days.

Extras

Audio commentary with Warren and assistant director Gary White (2004)

A vintage yaktrak taken from the old UK Anchor Bay Norman J. Warren coffin-shaped box set. As is usual for Warren this is stuffed to the gills with personal anecdotes and production info.

"British Entertainment History Project: Norman J. Warren - Interviewed by Martin Sheffield on 5 April 2018, Part Two 1976-2018" (69:20)

Part two of the wide ranging career overview begun on the Prey (1977) disc in this boxset.

"Norman J. Warren at the 22nd Festival of Fantastic Films: Manchester, 2011" (61:50)

The ever friendly and garrulous Warren's appearance at this annual festival is a keeper and along with all of the other interviews and screen talks on this boxset tell you pretty much all you'd want to know about his life and career. Having watched thousands of hours of interviews, read hundreds of articles and books on film makers and listened to hundreds of commentaries I'd say that Warren has to be one of the nicest, most engaging personalities it's been my pleasure to read, listen to and read about and he's on fine form here.

"Subterranean Universe: Making Inseminoid" 2004 featurette (44:46)

Another excellent extra ported over from the 2004 Anchor Bay DVD set; this covers the making of the film pretty comprehensively and features director Warren, producer Richard Gordon, executive producer Peter M. Schlesinger, production designer Hayden Pearce, first assistant director Gary White, composer John Scott, promoter Ken Dowling and actors Stephanie Beacham, David Baxt and Barry Houghton. Compare the clips from the film here with the restored presentstion.

"Alien Encounter: Trevor Thomas on Inseminoid" 2019 featurette (6:02)

Obviously shot at the same time as Thomas' interview on the Black Joy (1977) Blu-ray from Powerhouse Films

"Electronic Approach: Composer John Scott on Producing the Score for Inseminoid" 2004 featurette (13:10)

Yet another first rate extra ported over from the 2004 Anchor Bay DVD set; this one focusses on composer scot, his career, how he got the gig on Inseminoid and working with Warren.

Trailers and TV Spots (Play All - 8:36):
Original Theatrical Trailer #1 (2:13)
Original Theatrical Trailer #2 (1:47)
Original Theatrical Trailer #3 (1:02)
French Theatrical Trailer (2:28)
Horror Planet Teaser Trailer (0:31)
TV spot (0:31)


Comprehensive collection of promotional material from the films original release including a trailer for the edited US version retitled Horror Planet (in was cut to 86 minutes).

Inseminoid Image gallery: Original Promotional Material (108 images)

A surprisingly substantial gallery in HD.

118-page liner notes book with new and vintage writing in all five films in the set

Holy zarking fardwarks!

A ball-bustingly good extra 118 pages on Norman J. warren and his most popular films. Never a critical darling this is as good a collection of essays and material as I've read on a film maker and bless Powerhouse and all those responsible for giving Warren his due. There aren't many books out there about Warren and his work and this superb tome goes some way towards redressing the balance. Perhaps Jo Botting and Katt Ellinger can take up the gauntlet?

Overall

Inseminoid (1980) has never looked as good as it does here and I'd speculate that includes it's theatrical release. Arguably the most reviled film in the Warren horror cannon, this came out in the wake of Alien (1979) and is a pretty balls-to-the wall experience. Image and sound are as good as can be so kudos to Powerhouse Films and the encoders. Extras collect together plenty of great older material and add some splendid new stuff as well with the only caveat being the 12-minute interview with Judy Geeson found on the Anchor Bay Coffin box has been left off. As a result her voice is missed on this otherwise superlative disc.

Top notch effort all round; this set is easily one of the discs of the year.

The Film: C+ Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: A+ Overall: A+

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.