Found in Translation

How a Rising Director With a Cult Following Made the Wildest Sci-Fi Movie You've Never Seen

The Sperm is smarter than its absurd title and premise suggest.

Found in Translation

After being ejaculated into the sewage system, a man’s semen is somehow mutated, rising above ground and instantly impregnating hundreds of women into full-term pregnancies on the streets of Bangkok. The next day, they all give birth to identical children who eerily resemble the man. And within hours, those children grow rapidly, displaying deviant and perverse behaviors, along with an urgent need to find their father and spread their own seed so the cycle can continue.

This might sound like the plot of a bizarre ‘70s B-movie thriller, but The Sperm is something else entirely. Released in 2007 by Taweewat Wantha (a Thai director best known for his sardonic genre fusion), the film takes our modern obsessions with celebrity, fame, and sex and transforms them into bizarre sci-fi comedy.

The Sperm stars Leo Putt as Suthin, a struggling rock musician who wants to be famous so he can date the popular actress/model Lammy (Pimpaporn Leenutapong). Suthin has lustful dreams of Lammy, but always wakes up before they can consummate the relationship. One day, he meets her in person after winning a contest while shopping. Believing this to be another dream, he crudely propositions her for sex “before he can wake up,” causing him to become a laughingstock in front of Lammy and on live television.

Embarrassed, Suthin gets drunk with his bandmates. Hoping to cheer him up, the group doses him with a sex-enhancing drug and brings him to a brothel. He dreams about Lammy again, but wakes up to find himself with an elderly sex worker and abruptly leaves. Having trouble shaking off the swelling in his pants, he finds a poster of Lammy in the alley and relieves himself, spilling his seminal fluid into the sewers.

The Sperm stars Leo Putt as wannabe rockstar Suthin and Pimpaporn Leenutapong as the actress/model Lammy.

Sahamongkol Film International

Little does he know that a mad scientist, Dr. Satifeung (Somlek Sakdikul), and his sultry daughter (Dollaros Dachapratumwan), who are later revealed to be aliens, are the cause of the chaos. While transporting their mysterious laser beam, Satifeung accidentally sets it off exactly when Suthin climaxes into the sewers, causing his sperm to mutate into oversexed clones with the same obsession with Lammy. After observing one of Suthin’s offspring, Satifeung figures out how to stop these creatures. When the creature is aroused, their onanistic behavior causes them to ejaculate fresh parasitic sperm in search of a womb. But in the process of their climax, the creatures disintegrate and die. If the sperm cannot find a host within ten minutes, it will also die.

After using Lammy to draw the creatures into an empty theater, the heroes are able to trap them and play an erotic film, causing a mass ejaculation among the creatures that kills them all. With the secreted fluids trapped and no host to attach to, they slowly die off. But just when they thought it was over, a giant Suthin offspring arrives and kidnaps Lammy. In order to stop the colossal monster, Satifeung extracts fresh semen from Suthin (believing the original source of the creature could destroy it) and shoots it from the laser beam. This last-ditch effort fails miserably, but they’re not out of ideas yet. Realizing that the creature was made “from lust,” Suthin gains permission from Lammy to masturbate to her, producing seminal fluid “from love” – or, at least, from consent. This proves to be successful in defeating the massive creature, demonstrating that love conquers all.

Despite the vulgarity in the title’s name, there is no sex or nudity in the film.

Sahamongkol Film International

The Sperm knows sex sells but also understands that may be the problem. For countries like Thailand where sex is easily accessible due to the sex tourism industry, the topic and act is more tolerated, particularly among men. The teenage birth rate was one of the highest in Asia between 2000 and 2014, with premarital sex on the rise among teenagers and young adults. Wantha noticed this trend and believed the youth were becoming too absorbed with sex, causing them to lose sight of real romantic connections.

Despite the vulgarity in the title’s name, there is no sex or nudity in the film. Though there are a few sexual innuendos and suggestive scenes, the purpose wasn’t to objectify women but to point out the absurdity of it. At one point, a pregnant woman is kidnapped by the scientist's daughter, who’s wearing a tight latex catsuit and surrounded by minions that resemble blow-up love dolls. When she is done with the job, she deflates each one of them without any explanation. Even the lack of a name for the scientist's intelligent but provocative daughter calls out the problem that women, as brilliant as they are, are merely seen as sexual objects rather than three-dimensional people in society.

The scientist's daughter with her blow-up doll minions.

Sahamongkol Film International

Rock music serves as the backdrop for the story, with Suthin's band entering a Battle of the Bands-style competition. This is how Suthin chases fame, equating celebrity with desirability. In the beginning of the film, he strives to become a famous rockstar so he can attract women. But once his face begins popping up on every alien child, he realizes fame isn’t all that it is cracked up to be.

The film adds to the ridiculousness with its campy aesthetics, reflecting a ‘70s B-grade look through its makeshift props, badly-processed green screen, and terrifying CGI for both the Suthin-faced spawn and 3D-animated sperm. Wantha seemingly took inspiration from Thailand's very first sci-fi movie, 1971's Out of the Darkness, which centers on an alien invasion. Those aliens have the ability to emit green lasers from their eyes, which both Satifeung and his daughter are able to do to summon their ship. The exact same green laser-eyes effect from 36 years ago is used in this film, paying homage to the sci-fi classic.

The Sperm is the second directorial feature from Wantha, whose earlier works garnered a small cult following for his eccentric and inane storylines and his desire to create niche and crazy films despite the lack of mass marketability. The Sperm failed miserably at the box office, with audiences assuming, based on the title, that it was a raunchy sex comedy in the same vein as American Pie. While many speculated the title was a ploy to be controversial, it was actually a nod to classic sci-fi monster movies like The Thing and The Blob. In all its farcicality, The Sperm epitomizes the real monsters society would create if men cannot control their urges and transgressions, creating this never-ending cycle of sexual deviancy and societal problems that need to be fixed.

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