A Pair of Warner Archives #2: Demon Seed

Here's another one of my absolute favorites in the Warner Archives collection: 1977's Demon Seed.  I don't want to delve into the story, because this is the kind of film where the less you know going in, the better.  But I will tell you it's a wild, thought-provoking ride through science fiction and horror, based on a 1973 novel of the same name by Dean R. Koontz - specifically the first version.  Apparently, in the late 90s, Koontz completely rewrote his novel, changing character perspectives and taking out some of the bleaker plot points.  Luckily, this film predates that lame-sounding cop-out, and goes to all the dark places few others dare, while managing to feel reasonably non-exploitative.  I won't go so far as to say there's nothing trashy about it, and I know this film got some critical push-back in its day; but I think that's because it was pushing an envelope that now no longer feels quite so dangerously edgy, and it'd probably be reviewed far less hysterically by contemporary writers.  It's the kind of story modern shows like Black Mirror have been beginning to tackle and a fairly first-class affair.
Written and directed by Donald Cammell, best known for making Performance with Nicholas Roeg, Demon Seed has the strength of the novel's intellectual aspirations, while remaining more grounded than, say, Videodrome or Altered States.  It's also got impressive production value that still holds up and an A-list cast, including Academy Award winner Julie Christie, Creepshow's Fritz Weaver and the uncredited voice of Robert Vaughn.  Admittedly, Koontz's name on a film poster isn't usually the best sign; but whether this is one of the only adaptations to get it right, or a case of the filmmakers elevating the material, this is an underrated thriller still awaiting its proper reappraisal.
Demon Seed's history on DVD is very similar to the first half of our Warner Archives pair.   Warner Bros first released it as a decent, widescreen but barebones DVD in 2005.  This is the kind of film that cries out for a special edition, but oh well, it would have to do for us through the whole SD era, as identical releases are all we'd get in all the other regions, too.  After it went out of print, Warner Archives reissued it as a DVD-R in 2011.  But eff that noise!  By then, the world needed a proper blu-ray release with an updated HD transfer; and in 2017 they came through.
Warner Bros 2005 DVD top; Warner Archives 2017 BD bottom.
Both discs are anamorphic widescreen, though the blu is slightly wider, sliding out from 2.34:1 to 2.40:1.  As with The Accidental Tourist, the framing is exactly the same, they're just correcting a slight horizontal squish.  The colors have been corrected, giving us truer whites and pushing back against a greenish hue.  And film grain that was once soft and smudgy now looks natural... albeit a little inconsistent.  This film could probably benefit from a fresher, 4k scan; but it's a perfectly respectable HD transfer as-is.  The most noticeable difference is that the DVD is interlaced, which this blu happily corrects, making it an even more welcome upgrade than TAC and similar cases.

The 2005 Warner Bros DVD featured the film's original mono track and a French dub, with optional English, Spanish and French subtitles.  The blu dumps the foreign language options, but bumps the mono track up to DTS-HD and keeps the optional English subs.  Both discs include the original theatrical trailer as the sole extra.
In a perfect world, there'd be a major Cammell retrospective, everybody involved with this film would be raced to interview chairs, and there'd be a major documentary about the making of this film, leading to loaded special editions in every region.  Arrow and Scream Factory have already given White Of the Eye pretty impressive releases, so maybe there's hope... it might've already happened if it was easier to wrest licenses from Warner.  But until such a day, at least the bare film itself has been given a solid, perfectly watchable blu via the Archives.

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