Humanoids From The Deep (1980)

Director: Barbara Peeters

Starring: Doug McClure, Ann Turkel, Vic Morrow

Also known as: Monster

“It’s my theory that these creatures are driven to mate with man now in order to further develop their incredible evolution.” (Dr Susan Drake, Humanoids From The Deep)

When all’s said and done, you can’t beat a good Roger Corman film. Corman is the godfather of B-movie cinema and has produced well over 300 low-budget films over the past 50 years, the vast majority of which have been cheesy horror films heaving with gore, titillation or both. Humanoids From The Deep falls into the “both” category and is silly fun, though there it does have one or two questionable moments.

It’s set in the small fishing resort of Noyo, where the townsfolk are in the process of celebrating the announcement of a salmon cannery which is to be built there, greatly increasing the fishermen’s productivity. Good news!

"I think your dog's got worms, mate"

Oh, except for the fact that the company building the cannery is also responsible for experiments in salmon growth hormones, which have spread into the sea and somehow led to the creation of bizarre slimy half-man half-fish monsters that like to swim out of the sea and onto land, ripping the faces off any men they find and raping the women. And, in case you hadn’t guessed, it’s here where Humanoids From The Deep gets a bit iffy. 

Rape scenes are never fun to watch, that much goes without saying. But, when you watch as many horror films as I do and there’s no argument that being raped is widely considered one of the most horrific things anyone could ever experience, it’s somewhat expected that it comes with the territory and these scenes do pop up from time to time. But watching a large, slimy sea monster doing it is even more unsettling, especially when deep down we know it’s only in there because it’s a Roger Corman film and he wants an excuse to get some nudity on-screen.

The Paralympic swimming champion had a rather nasty condition

It’s particularly disturbing when one woman’s corpse is found and it’s clear she’s been the victim of more than just murder – it sort of darkens the tone of what should really be a silly, entertaining film. Thankfully, by the end of the film the rapey bits are out of the way and anyone still craving some baps can be happy with the classic “shirt getting ripped off as they try to escape” technique instead.

Corman was always good at getting once-great actors who were struggling with their careers and convincing them to star in his pictures. That’s why Humanoids From The Deep stars Doug McClure, one-time critically acclaimed actor, in the lead role of fisherman Jim Hill. It’s amusing to watch a once respected and much loved actor wrestling with giant slimy fishmen and still carry it off with all the sincerity of a divorce drama.

"Evening missus, I'm selling central heating. Can you spare five minutes?"

Dodgy scenes aside, Humanoids From The Deep is a compelling little film. Of particular note is the sub-plot involving a Native American character who doesn’t want the cannery because he’s he’s happy selling fish independently. He’s met with racism and violence from the other fishermen, and it’s perfectly possible at times to forget the whole “killer fish-men” plot and focus your attention on this sub-plot instead.

The creature effects are well-handled by Rob Bottin (The Thing, Total Recall, Robocop, Se7en). This being a Corman movie, the typical Jaws and Alien rule of not seeing the monster until near the film’s end goes completely out the window and you get a good look at the humanoids from fairly early on, so it’s a testament to Bottin’s excellent make-up and creature design that they’re never a disappointment.

If you can stomach a couple of needlessly dark scenes, Humanoids From The Deep is otherwise a great laugh and the perfect film to watch with a group of mates. It’s typical Corman B-movie cheese, and offers everything you’d expect from a hammy 80s creature feature. Oh, and the ending is ridiculous too.

Humanoids From The Deep is available on DVD in the UK and while the print quality isn’t amazing it’s dirt cheap – some people are selling it through Amazon for only 1p and only charging you a couple of quid postage. Have a look here. It’s also available on the UK Netflix service.
If you live in the US you can get the DVD here and the Blu-ray here.

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