HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP - DVD review

Humanoids from the Deep is pure exploitation cinema with a lighthearted touch.

William D. Lee's picture
William
Lee

They're not human.
But they hunt human women.
Not for killing.
For mating.


That tagline just about says it all for "Humanoids from the Deep," another sci-fi horror film from the purveyor of drive-in schlock, Roger Corman. "Humanoids" is a takeoff on Universal's "Creature from the Black Lagoon" with the salacious elements cinephiles have come to expect from New World Pictures.

"Humanoids" is set in the fishing community of Noyo along the coast of Northern California. Our hero is the blond and square-jawed Doug McClure, who (along with Troy Donohue) served as the inspiration for fan-favorite "Simpsons" character, Troy McClure. Here, McClure plays Jim Hill, a fisherman working to support his wife, Carol (Cindy Weintraub), and their infant son. Times are tough in Noyo with the bounties getting smaller and smaller.

To the rescue comes Canco, a big conglomerate looking to open a new cannery in Noyo. Canco promises the town's citizenry that they will turn the economy around with their new genetically altered salmon. These fish will supposedly grow bigger and faster than the normal species. Canco's promises sound good to everyone, except for Johnny Eagle (Anthony Pena), who feels the land for the proposed site rightly belongs to the Native Americans. This doesn't sit well with the bigoted Hank Slattery (Vic Morrow) and his goon squad of flannel wearing rednecks.

Little do the unsuspecting townsfolk realize that Canco's experiments with Mother Nature have yielded a grotesque by-product. It seems a crop of Canco's altered salmon was washed into the ocean by a storm. These genetically engineered fish were eaten by a larger species of Coelacanth thought to be extinct since the prehistoric era. Those same fish went through a series of accelerated mutations turning them into amphibious monsters. Waddling onto land, the titular humanoids attack two couples of horny teenagers. They kill the guys in horrible fashion while making sweet fishy love to the naked and nubile young ladies. The mayhem builds to a final tag scene straight out of "Alien."

It is up to Jim, Johnny, and Canco's head scientist, Dr. Susan Drake (Ann Turkel), to save an unsuspecting populace as the horny sea creatures reek havoc during the annual salmon festival.

"Humanoids" follows an abridged version of the "Jaws" formula which was reused previously in "Piranha." Most of the same plot conventions are present in "Humanoids." Sadly, we never see the corrupt businessman and/or politician who put profit over the safety of the people. "Humanoids" also makes the mistake of showing too much of the monsters. The costumes are pretty hokey and unconvincing. Part of the reason is that some of the creature scenes were added in during reshoots.

Corman's mantra for the film was, "Kill the men. Rape the women." Director Barbara Peeters, who went on to direct TV shows like "Cagney & Lacey" and "Falcon Crest," was originally hired to helm "Humanoids." It was rare for a female director to work on an exploitation flick. Peeters did a wonderful job on the first part of Corman's commandment. The monsters claw their victims to bloody shreds and there's a pretty gruesome decapitation. One of the film's funniest scenes involves a humanoid stalking his victims on a merry-go-round. However, Peeters seemed reluctant to shoot the other stuff. So Corman brought in another director to film additional scenes with buxom women being groped by the monsters.

VIDEO:
The video is presented in anamorphic widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The transfer looks good for a film from the early ‘80's. However, the levels of grain shift from barely noticeable to overbearing in a few scenes.

AUDIO:
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0. The sound is a little tiny, but the dialogue comes in clearly.

EXTRAS:
The Making of Humanoids from the Deep (22:43) is a behind-the-scenes look at the production. Most noteworthy is the fact that the film's leads were told they were working on a psychological thriller titled, "Beneath the Darkness." They were shocked at the final product; in particular, Ann Turkel went on the talk show circuit to protest the movie.

Leonard Maltin Interviews Roger Corman (3:27) is a quick sit-down discussion taken from the same interview from the "Death Race 2000" DVD.

You'll also get about 7 minutes of deleted scenes, most of which involve more girl on guppy action. The disc also includes a collection of trailers and radio spots.

FILM VALUE:
"Humanoids from the Deep" is pure exploitation cinema with a lighthearted touch. As usual, you can look forward to plenty of boobs and blood.

Ratings

Video
5
Audio
5
Extras
4
Film Value
6