Embryo (1976 film)

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Embryo FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed by Ralph Nelson
Produced by Anita Doohan
Arnold H. Orgolini
Written by Anita Doohan
Jack W. Thomas
Starring Rock Hudson
Barbara Carrera
Diane Ladd
Roddy McDowall
Music by Gil Melle
Cinematography Fred J. Koenekamp
Edited by John A. Martinelli
Distributed by Cine Artists Pictures (USA)
Release dates
  • 1976 (1976)
Running time
104 min.
Country United States
Language English

Embryo is a 1976 science fiction horror film directed by Ralph Nelson and starring Rock Hudson alongside Barbara Carrera, with a cameo appearance by Roddy McDowall.[1] It deals with the mental and physical consequences of growing a human embryo in an artificial uterus.


Dr. Paul Holliston (Hudson) is a geneticist who has been living alone in his rambling clinic, which he operates out of his home, after losing his wife in a car crash. This leads to his feeling constant pangs of guilt from his sister-in-law Martha Douglas (Diane Ladd), who has become his assistant.

One night, Holliston runs over a pregnant doberman dog. The dog is fatally injured, but Holliston manages to save one of her unborn puppies by gestating it in an artificial uterus. Because the device still requires nutrients to be supplied by the mother, he must drastically shorten the gestation period: to this end, he uses an experimental growth hormone made from human placental lactogen, which speeds up the embryo's growth.

The doberman grows to adult size in a few days, and Holliston passes it off as the mother to disguise his secret experiments. Thanks to the serum, it learns incredibly fast and soon becomes as good as a well-trained dog. However, Holliston fails to notice that the animal's aggression is increasing commensurately: while he is out on an errand, it kills an annoying small dog and conceals the carcass.

Eager to use his discovery for the good of mankind, Holliston applies the same technique to an unborn human extracted from a suicide victim. However, the subject's cells age uncontrollably, so Holliston uses the highly addictive drug methotrexate to counter the effect. It works, and the embryo grows into a 24-year-old woman he names Victoria (Carrera).

Holliston educates Victoria, and she soon gathers encyclopedic knowledge of science and culture. He begins introducing her to his friends and coworkers as a Princeton graduate, and she wows them by beating chess champion Riley (McDowall). Holliston completes Victoria's education by having sex with her.

Soon afterwards, Victoria discovers that she has become addicted to methotrexate and the rapid aging of her cells has resumed. Thanks to her connection with Holliston, she gets some time on a university computer, which informs her that she can counter the aging with pituitary gland extract from human fetuses. In addition, Martha has grown jealous of Victoria's success, and finds out that Princeton has never heard of her. Before she leaves for Los Angeles, Victoria poisons her in order to keep her origin secret.

Holliston leaves to meet with Martha's coroner. Meanwhile, Victoria murders a prostitute to get her unborn child. When the autopsy reveals that Martha's death may have been a homicide, Holliston hurries home with his son Gordon to go after Victoria. He finds her, now middle-aged, gestating his daughter Helen's baby, and when he attempts to capture her she stabs Gordon.

Now determined to kill Victoria, Holliston gets in a car chase after her. When a now-elderly Victoria crashes her car, Holliston pulls her out to finish her off, but paramedics intervene. As she is being carried away, she reveals that she is pregnant with his baby, causing Holliston to cry out in despair.


Copyright status[edit]

As of May of 2014, Embryo is presumed to be in the public domain, since distributor Cine Artists Pictures had gone out of business before being able to renew its copyright on it.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sullivan, Ronald (1987-12-25). "Ralph Nelson, Early TV Director; Made 'Requiem for Heavyweight'". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-18. 

External links[edit]