Humanoids from the Deep (1980)
By: Stuart Giesel on December 12, 2012 | Comments
Shout! Factory | Region A | 1.78:1, 1080p | English: LPCM 2.0 | 82 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Barbara Peeters
Starring: Doug McClure, Ann Turkel, Vic Morrow, Cindy Weintraub, Anthony Penya
Screenplay: William Martin
Country: USA
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Humanoids from the Deep, from Roger Corman's New World Pictures studio, is exactly what you're probably expecting from a low budget monster exploitation pic: daft creatures terrorising nubile women and tearing the flesh off of everyone else. It's not a film for dog lovers, or lovers of classic cinema, but for purveyors of cinematic cheese it's a surefire winner. Rather than rehash what Mr Intolerance has already detailed in his excellent and thorough reviews of the New Concorde and Shout! Factory DVD releases, found here on this very site, I'll not delve too much into the background of the filming of Humanoids from the Deep - let's just say that changes were made to ramp up the sleaze, Corman-style, and some people, including director Barbara Peeters, weren't happy with the results, but luckily for us purveyors of cinematic slop what has resulted is a fun, shlocky and bloody romp.

In the sleepy fishing town of Noyo, a scientific experiment to increase the population of salmon goes terribly awry, resulting in a clan of mutated human-fish thingies attacking the population - specifically, nubile women for the purposes of procreation. Scientist Susan Drake (a wooden Ann Turkel) teams up with fisherman Jim Hill (an even more wooden Doug McClure) and Native American Johnny Eagle (Anthony Penya) - who's having trouble with a local racist played by Vic Morrow - to stop the humanoids from tearing the town apart.

As something of a Roger Corman novice, I came into Humanoids from the Deep expecting exploitative sleaze, and came away pleasantly surprised to find that I got that and more in spades - and this is even before I started watching another three excellent Blu-Ray releases from Shout! Factory, Death Race 2000, Galaxy of Terror and the more notorious Forbidden World. Humanoids is utter trash, no doubt, but that's what makes it so enjoyable, even as it's revelling in its more deplorable elements, namely the creature-on-woman action. Yes, when the humanoids aren't ripping chunks out of people, they're mounting naked women in order to procreate with them in a series of queasy sexploitative scenes. The tone of the film becomes uneven with the inclusion of these moments, and it's obvious they were inserted later to amp up the boobs n' gore quotient, much like what was done with Halloween II. But this has worked in Humanoid's favour. The film would probably not have stood the test of time and retained its cult following were it not for some shamelessly entertaining and sickening moments. There's copious amounts of female nudity and lashings of surprisingly well-executed gore to maintain interest, and because the film is so short it never outstays its welcome.

Doug McClure as the film's lead is as wooden as a timber deck, but this shortcoming is more than made up for by Vic Morrow as the racist Hank Slattery, and Cindy Weintraub as McClure's wife Carol. They both give better performances than I was expecting from anyone in the cast. Given that the majority of the rest of the cast is composed of fish-bait (the men) or fish-catnip (the women) the only other performer who stands out is Anthony Penya's Johnny, the constant victim of Slattery's racism. Ann Turkel's character only stands around giving us unlikely exposition and proclaiming herself to be "a professional scientist" so that we can all ignore the plot and get on with the next fishy rape scene.

The creatures themselves, designed by legendary makeup artist Rob Bottin prior to his success on The Howling and The Thing, look a little ropey in medium to long shots - especially the one humanoid that sports extended forearms - but up-close they are suitably icky, with a nice amount of grisly detail. Most importantly, even though they're merely guys in fish-suits, they retain more charm than an entire team of CGI wizards could ever hope to conjure. The gore FX, thanks to Chris Walas (of The Fly fame) and Roger George are well done, with some gruesome highlights including a decapitation and a guy's face cleaved in half. Yes, according to the Blu-Ray liner notes, the cut that's featured on the Shout Factory Blu-Ray (and presumably the DVD) is the uncut international version, so we're treated to the full range of guts and sleaze that Humanoids has to offer.

Other positives include a surprisingly good score from composer James Horner, years before his success on stuff like Aliens, Titanic and Avatar - I don't mean surprising in that Horner can't write a decent score when he tries, but just that you expect something more generic for a cheapie shocker like Humanoids from the Deep. The picture quality is excellent, and really shines through on Blu-Ray despite the film's low budget origins. And the film has a good dose of humour - there's nothing worse than a dour creature exploitation film that doesn't at least give a wink to the audience that this is all for fun.

True, the script doesn't really make much sense, and the origins of the beasts aren't explored in any detail, but who really turns up to these things looking for that sort of thing? If you really wanted to get critical, the whole "town-in-crisis" and "creature-on-the-loose" plot threads don't really gel together; the whole scientific testing and big business intrusion into Noyo's otherwise tranquil life doesn't get much play before being jettisoned in favour of cheap thrills. But you know what? It doesn't matter. Humanoids from the Deep still retains an immense amount of charm regardless of what's happening on screen, even when the creatures are forcing themselves on naked beachgoers or when it comes time for the gruesome and memorable epilogue (even if it's a shameless rip-off of a certain famous sci-fi film). For lovers of silly, exploitative films, this one's a winner provided you have a Blu-Ray player that can play Region A discs - hopefully a local release is coming soon.
Humanoids from the Deep looks excellent on Blu-Ray. Rather than clean up the picture in a futile attempt to mask its low-budget origins, Shout! Factory have presented the film with all its visual noise intact. The picture's graininess is presented as is, but colours and detail are still surprisingly strong and make for a superior presentation.
The English LPCM stereo track is something of a disappointment compared to the video quality, but it's by no means terrible. The screeches of the humanoids are ear-piercing, but otherwise sound effects are passable. Dialogue alternates between functional and tinny depending on the scene.
Extra Features
Shout! Factory could have treated Humanoids as a throwaway release, providing an uncut version with no trimmings, but they've assembled a decent amount of extras to bolster this Blu-Ray release. There are a bunch of deleted scenes (some without sound, some that are merely extended scenes), some trailers and TV spots, trailers for other New World releases and some still galleries. The short feature Leonard Maltin Interviews Roger Corman provides some tidbits about the background of Humanoids and Corman's reasons for shooting the extra gory and sexually explicit stuff. But by far the best feature is The Making of Humanoids from the Deep, which has interviews with Corman, assistant director James Sbardellati, actress Cindy Weintraub and composer James Horner. The feature gives a solid background to the filming of Humanoids, the issues surrounding the original cut and the additional material, the difficulties in filming on such a restricted budget, coverage of the special and gore effects and the subterfuge used to mask the film's Z-grade ambitions.

The Blu-Ray release also provides a reversible cover and liner notes.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
You should know what you're getting from a film called Humanoids from the Deep, and that is an abundance of cheese, gore and boobs. Viewers who aren't completely repulsed by its more unsavoury elements will have a ball. It's an immensely entertaining film that's become a highly recommended purchase on Blu-Ray thanks to a superior release from Shout! Factory.

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