4/20/2018

From the Depths They Came to Mate: "HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP"!

When it comes to the Roger Corman produced cult classic Humanoids from the Deep (1980), the above poster and it's tagline:
 They're not human.
But they hunt human woman.
Not for Killing.
For mating.
tells you a lot about what you need to know about it. A favorite of mine since I first saw it, there maybe movies with bit and pieces like it. But, as a whole it really does stand on its own, in particular as far as what happens on screen.
Tensions are rising in a fishing village in California, between the local racist and fisherman, Slattery (Vic Morrow) and his boys and Johnny Eagle (Anthony Pena), who is against their hatchery. These only escalate when they blame each for the deaths of their dogs. Slattery and his guys gang up on Eagle, as they fist fight. Jim Hill (Doug McCloure), all around good guy and fisherman, and his brother Tommy (Breck Costin) join in to give Eagle and even chance.

What they don't know is that the culprits of these brutal dog killings, and other attacks, are really a group of monsters from the depths. Mutated thanks to a process to grow fish faster, they are also horny, on top of being bloodthirsty and violent. They kill men, but the nubile women they rape(!). The sexy Dr. Susan Drake (Ann Turkel) already knows this, though, and soon she joins and helps our heroes to spot the rapey and hideous monsters, who are heading to crash the village's annual festival.
Humaniods from the Deep is directed by Barbara Peeters, but when the movie was finished producer Roger Corman felt that it lacked the sufficient amount of exploitative material. He hired an uncredited Jimmy Murakami to add more skin and make the monster rape on women much more explicit. He also tacked on the awesome ending, which gives it one final kick in the ass. The result picture is pure exploitation, one that only could have come from the mind of Corman, who always knew what it took to make money in the B-movie world.
It is to movie's testament that despite its righteously exploitative nature, it manages to throw in important and thoughtful socio-political ideas. On top of that old sci-fi/ horror adage of how one shouldn't use science to fuck with nature, it also touches on racism and the environment. These are themes that are as relevant as ever today, helping to give the movie a timeless and much deeper feel that one might think a movie like this would have.
"Hey, guys I'm over here! What's up?"

It also helps that the cast is rounded off with a talented group of actors. Everyone is great in their roles, in particular our leads. McCloure makes for a very likable in hero in Jim. While Pena is equally likable as Eagle, a man who is victim to much of the town's racism, and whose desire to protect the environment makes him a hero that we can further cheer. Slattery is played with believable villainy by Murrow. While, the gorgeous Ms. Turkel's Dr. Drake is smart and sexy, the perfect character to explain to our heroes, and us, what the fuck it is that is going on. It should also be noted that the chilling score is handled by James Horner, who would go to bigger budget terrors in the classic Aliens.
It is safe to say that had Universal continued with their Dark Universe, NOTHING remotely like this would have happened in their "Creature from the Black Lagoon" remake...

But, the movie is first and foremost a true exploitation horror movie. Thanks to talents to those behind the scenes, it knows what the audience wants and delivers in strides. It wastes no time in showing us the monsters in full detail. They come in different sizes and with different arm lengths, but are all frightening. Well lighted and shot with building tension by director Peeters, they are further complimented by their shrill and horrific screeching. This is excellent sound design which in the awesome Shout Factory Blu-ray are particularly nerve-shredding (more on that later). They also look great thanks to the flawless make-up of Rob (Robocop, Total Recall) Bottin. Done, before his ground breaking work on classics like The Thing and The Howling, this was a clear representation of the genius work that we would be seeing from him in the years to come.

As mentioned before, Corman added the more graphic rape scenes, saying "fuck that" to whole leave it to one's imagination thing. The creatures attack the movie's beautiful and naked actresses with violent and graphic abandonment. On top of that a kid and the aforementioned dogs are killed, pretty much not caring about what a movie should or not show or do, for that matter. The doggy deaths are the only part I wince at, but then anytime a dog dies onscreen that is my reaction. The gore is graphic and bloody as the monsters rip and tear into male human flesh, including a jaw dropping scene where a dude's head is pulled off (found in the European cut and in the above mentioned Shout Factory release). The monsters, themselves, are shot, immolated, stabbed, hacked at, and impaled.
"Hey dude, can you give me hand here?"

I first saw Humanoids from the Deep, when I blind bought the old DVD. Having read beloved horror/ gorehound critic Chas. Balun's glowing reviews of it for years, I had been meaning to see it forever. When, I did, I was blown away! The combination of a solid plot, great acting, strong directing, excellent FX and music with gore, monsters, and babes, made it a movie that was definitely right up my alley. I actually bought the DVD over to my friend's house, when they were having a B-movie movie marathon. Needless to say he and our friends jaws dropped as the monsters began their rapey ways.
I recently got around to finally picking up the aforementioned Shout Factory Blu-ray. This is an unrated cut that was previous, to this release, only seen in Europe. Titled over there the highly uninspired moniker Monster, it features that above referenced decapitation which is a real winner. The disc also look phenomenal with a kick ass sounds that brings the horrific screeching of the Humanoids and killer soundtrack along with the victim screams and explosions to furious and unnerving sonic life. There are new interviews, as well interviews and extras ported over from the old DVD. It should be noted that this was before the days of Shout's Scream Factory subsidiary, so it is under the Shout line.
Their is a 2006 remake of it produced by Corman's company themselves. It was part of a series of Corman produced remake of Corman produced movies for Showtime. I actually skipped this one, and from what I have heard I made the right move...

Humaniods from the Deep remains a wild experience. Unfettered in its desire to be pure exploitation, yet accompanied by socio-political messaging, there really is few if anything like it. Well made and well done, this exercise in monsters, blood, and boobs fucking rocks. If last year's Shape of Water asked the question, "What if the Creature from the Black Lagoon's Gill-Man had the girl he fell for love him back?"; then this one asks, "What if there were a bunch of Gill-Men, all made my man's experimentation with nature, sexually violating hot, human women?". If you have never sat through this classic, and love well made exploitation movies, monsters, and a good amount of blood and boobs, I ask you, "What the fuck are you waiting for?!"

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