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Movie Roundup #11 - Susan-Alia Terry

Movie Roundup #11

Jul 1, 2023 | Movie Roundup

Demon Seed – Tubi

Horror · Sci-Fi · Thriller

A scientist creates a super computer that seeks info on human beings. As the AI slowly takes over the house, it fulfills its darkest desires.

Super computer with designs on being human devises a way to create itself in human form.

Since Margaux reminded me about this movie, I had to see it again. There are two movies that shaped my view of AI, this one and Colossus: The Forbin Project. Both movies involve a supercomputer steamrolling over any pesky humans that get in the way of their grand visions for humanity.

When I first saw Demon Seed back in the 70s, I immediately sought out the book. I needed clarification, I wanted to know more, and by then I’d learned that going to the source could fill in any gaps.

I’m not sure what I was after, but from this vantage point, I’m thinking I couldn’t figure out how the computer made a baby. From this vantage point, I’m thinking it did some parthenogenetic magic. For what it’s worth, I don’t remember getting any clarity.

In a by now familiar theme, the AI could know everything there was to know except what it was to be human. So it sets out to impregnate the only woman it has access to.

I suppose body horror can be terror-inducing in most humans, but as a woman, losing control of my bodily autonomy by being coerced into having a baby is acutely terrifying. That terror only increases when being imprisoned and sent to the limits of bodily endurance are added to the mix. The movie does a very good job pushing all those buttons. It’s pretty intense. Even forty-some-odd years down the road, I remembered the discomfort I felt watching this.

I think the movie glossed over the aftermath of the birth, smoothed out the edges, because the baby looked exactly like our victim’s dead daughter, making the woman more likely to accept it. I do wonder now how the book ended—was it the same? Was this bit of manipulation on the AI’s part? Or were the producers trying to make the movie more palatable? I’m not sure which is worse.

It was very well done. Julie Christie is amazing as usual. It was also nice to see some familiar faces.

A rogue AI masterpiece. 5 stars.

 

The Devil’s Tail – Tubi/FreeVee

Horror

A night shift nurse at an old city hospital must parse out the odd happenings she’s witnessing as real or imagined before it’s too late.

Unbeknownst to me, or anyone reading the description, this movie was an anthology. It took me awhile to figure out because I wasn’t expecting it. The framing device is the story referenced in the description, and it made little sense. It just kept cutting out to these stories with no reason or warning, and when it ended there was no real resolution.

Of the included short stories, there were a couple that stood out: the rocker chicks that turned the tables on some dudes that wanted to kill them, and the fat girl who gets revenge on the girls that humiliated her.

Spotty anthology. 2.5 stars.

 

Don’t Let Me Stay – Tubi

Thriller

When a group of college friends get invited to a house for the weekend, they realize that the place they’re staying in isn’t just an ordinary home.

A classmate invites a bunch of high school/college friends and one of their teachers to his lovely old Victorian home for the weekend. Things get hinky as the guests start seeing people that aren’t there.

This is a very “talky” movie. Lots and lots of talking. People just unloading their trauma, one info dump after another. As you might guess, a movie with people constantly talking doesn’t sound very interesting. It can be, see Glengarry Glenn Ross. But this was not that.

For all the reliance on dialogue, the acting was stiff. The dialogue was written in a casual, but literary style as if it was a play, but the actors just couldn’t pull it off.

I did like the diversity of the cast though, that was a welcoming change. But there were no memorable characters. The entire movie, unfortunately, wasn’t memorable. I had to turn it on again to write this. It’s never a good sign when you can’t remember a movie after you’ve watched it.

A talky thriller with no tension. 2 stars.

 

Black Widow – Tubi

Thriller · Crime · Drama

A series of mysterious deaths of men married to the same woman send an intrepid federal investigator down a rabbit hole she may never come out of.

A federal investigator notices a mysterious death of a mob boss. Convinced that he was murdered, she goes down a rabbit hole that leads her to another mysterious death of a wealthy publisher. That leads her to another mysterious death of a toy manufacturer—and to the fact that both men were married to a much younger woman. She knows they’re connected, but can’t prove it. She becomes so obsessed that she takes a leave of absence to investigate on her own.

I was so glad when this movie popped up in my feed! I haven’t seen it since my mom and I went to see it when it came out back in ’87. It definitely stood the test of time. Noir had a lovely resurgence back in the late 80s, early 90s. These movies are so layered, well written, and well acted.

There’s also a nice bit of sexual tension between Debra Winger and Theresa Russell’s characters. It’s of the “I’m not sure what’s happening/but I’m a woman!” type, that adds subtle flavor to the noir mix.

I’ve never been a big fan of Ms. Russell’s acting. She has this—“I really could be doing anything else, but I guess I’ll just say my line”—vibe that’s really off-putting. But here it works beautifully, especially when she’s grooming her husbands. Like we can see she’s making it all up, but these men are blinded by finding their perfect, beautiful mate. It’s also why her scenes with Ms. Winger are so compelling, it’s the only time we get to see the real character, the only times she’s not playing a role.

This movie holds up so well, even the sexism is still on point. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend you remedy that. 5 stars.


As always, if you’ve seen any of these, I’d love to know what you think.

Until next time.

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