With the exception of the trademark window candy of 1950’s SF films whose only functions were to engage in such high stakes life-and-death actions such as pouring coffee, engaging in terrified embraces/lip lock with square jawed heroes or emitting high pitched screams worthy of a Civil Defense siren, there have been surprisingly few prominent female characters in American science fiction cinema; and the cumulative depth of these aforementioned gender specific “role models” could easily find accurate representation on the colorful posters of the day featuring impossibly curvaceous images of the actress, bosom pointedly thrust to high noon, arms flung up is a paralyzed pose of sublimation in her role as the helpless damsel in need of both rescue and “therapeutic” romancing to erase those images of intruders of domestic bliss by way of Atomic Age horrors.
Equally one-dimensional are the male archetypes- either divided by military (or in lesser budgeted cases: law enforcement) authority, or scientists who manage to eclipse all possible human knowledge by saving civilization (but more importantly, an invitation into the starlet’s pants) by eleventh hour technology (inspiration is at its zenith, apparently, when the ceiling of your lab is being molested by giant tentacle or mammoth mandible). This combination of formulaic gender typing was put to the test in the rather silly George Pal production “When Worlds Collide”, where pneumatic carnality and derring-do braininess- ruled the day over the value inherent in plain folks who would have the more practical skills in civilizing a new planet. (After all, once you establish your planetary colony, who has further need of a rocket scientist, rather than farmers, doctors and carpenters?) But as limited as fully realized males are in American SF films- all of the most colorful personalities reserved for robotic automatons -they can’t hold a patch to the woman as utilitarian and sexual object, a subject which reaches a rather distasteful zenith in Don Cammell’s film of Dean R. Koontz’ slight 1973 novel Demon Seed, a book which owes more than a small debt to John Fowles’ 1963 debut novel The Collector.
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