AI Amok: The Killer Computers of the 1970s

First show: July 29


In October, HBO will debut their new series Westworld, in which the ultimate in virtual reality – a theme park where visitors can fulfill any desire with the assistance of a series of artificially intelligent humanoids – turns dark when these humanoids become sentient. In our current world of self-driving cars, the Internet of Things, smart agents and robotic manufacturing, nothing could be more contemporary, right?

Not so fast. Concerns about artificial intelligence go way back – we’re all familiar with HAL 9000 – and the original WESTWORLD from 1973 is just one of a series of forward-looking, deeply creepy and deliciously entertaining films about the conflict between man and machine after the rise of artificial intelligence. The weekend of July 29th, we present four films from the 1970s that look at what might go wrong once computers gain consciousness: COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT, DEMON SEED, and a double feature of WESTWORLD and its 1976 sequel, FUTUREWORLD.


1970’s COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT preys on cold war fears, as the electronic brainchild of Charles Forbin – a huge underground computer complex named COLOSSUS – becomes sentient and connects (electronically, of course) with a similar Soviet-built supercomputer. Together, the computers share information, learn from each other, and launch a bid for worldwide control as humankind becomes increasingly helpless at the hands of these electronic masters. But COLOSSUS isn’t just a calculated precautionary tale; it has stunning widescreen cinematography, a sly, clever wit, and a strangely sexy subplot between Eric Braeden and Susan Clark. Never released on American home video, DVD or Blu-ray except in a heavily cut-down pan and scan version, fans of COLOSSUS have usually been those who have been able to catch the film on increasingly rare laserdiscs and 16mm prints. We bring COLOSSUS to you in 35mm Cinemascope.

Demon Seed -- AI 4

1977’s DEMON SEED features another horrifying tale of a supercomputer run amok, this time Dr. Alex Harris’ Proteus. Instead of commandeering military resources, Proteus – designed to shift shape, and in control of their heavily automated home – traps Harris’ wife Susan and attempts to branch out into the human world by impregnating her. Combining the eerie horror of ROSEMARY’S BABY with the technological concerns of the era, with a remarkable performance by Julie Christie and fueled by a musique concrète soundtrack, DEMON SEED remains remarkably unsettling and powerful. Unavailable on Blu-ray, we also present DEMON SEED to you in 35mm.


Finally, written by JURASSIC PARK’s Michael Crichton – and bearing a remarkable resemblance to that story, replacing genetically-engineered dinosaurs with humanoids – WESTWORLD thrusts us into Delos, a fully-computerized theme park where the cast members are robots and anything goes. Visitors to one of the three areas of Delos – Medieval World, Roman World or the titular West World – can engage in bacchanalian gluttony, wanton sexuality and an orgy of man on robot violence… until The Gunslinger (Yul Brynner) moseys into town with an evil, electronic gleam in his eye and takes a stand for the robots, and more and more robots begin to misbehave. Soon, the theme parks are in tumult as the human visitors are overpowered by their circuit-driven peers.


But the story doesn’t end there, as 1976’s FUTUREWORLD shows us what happened after West World was shuttered and Delos was opened with a new area, Future World, simulating an orbiting space station with holographic boxing, planetary skiing and, of course, dangerous robotic liaisons. We’re presenting these films in their original aspect ratios and digital restorations as part of a WESTWORLD / FUTUREWORLD double feature.


We guarantee you’ll never look at a self-driving car or a smart thermostat the same way again. Free or discounted for members.

Showtimes and links to individual tickets:

7/29/2016, 9pm DEMON SEED (35mm) $12

7/30/2016, 7pm WESTWORLD / FUTUREWORLD Double Feature (HD Digital) $15

7/31/2016, 8pm COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT (35mm) $12

Or get the COMPUPASS to get into all four movies, just $35! Strictly limited to 30 passes. Click here to purchase!