Director: Barbara Peeters
Starring: Doug McClure, Ann Turkel, Vic Morror
Review Author: Tony
For this months Beer Goggles I’ve finally sat down to watch a film on my list for a long time, Roger Corman’s Humanoids From the Deep. Even before ReelTimeFlicks I’ve had a penchant for 80s/90s B movie monster flicks; I’d scour through Wikipedia and YouTube for synopsis, trailers and scenes from films heavy on gore and practical effects accompanied by woeful acting and bizarre direction. Naturally Roger Corman’s name became well known to me due to his reputation as the grandaddy of this niche genre horror and a legend in Hollywood for his skill at shooting films within quick time frames and under budget. One such film mentioned numerous times was Humanoids from the Deep, a film that I could never get my hands on. Thankfully, this great white buffalo appeared on Netflix, at which point I cleared my schedule, ran to the off-licence, blew off my fiancé, and settled down to a long-anticipated night of heavy drinking and 80s B movie goodness.
When a small fishing vessel explodes and several local dogs turn up dead at a pier in the small town of Noyo, California; the town rednecks do what they do best, blame the local Native American. Unfortunately for the rednecks and their ingenious logic, horny male teenagers are showing up dead and their partners missing. The culprits are a group of mutated fish-men, the result of unethical experiments from an evil corporation called Canco who have been fucking around with the salmon. Local defined jaw man, Jim Hill teams up with ethical Canco scientist lady, Carol to investigate the recent deaths and stop these sex crazed fish monsters before they ruin the annual Salmon Fair.
I mentioned the term sex crazed above because holy hell does this film embrace the sleazier side of the 80s. Nudity and sex have been a staple of the horror genre from the 80s to the early 2000s. If there was a killer or monster on the loose, there was always a horny couple bumping uglies at the most inopportune time. What unfortunately has been a less talked about trope of the 80s creature feature genre, especially when it comes to Corman movies, is the abundance of rape. Luckily this taboo subject has become less common across media and viewed rightfully as the reprehensible act it is. Director Barbara Peeters actually objected to shooting the rape scenes in Humanoids from the Deep, so Corman respected her wishes and removed them from the script!!! SIKE.., He just hired a second director to shoot these scenes and include them in the final edit without Peeters permission (can’t be a legend in the industry and not be a complete scumbag). There’s something quite sobering about watching a gross sea monster sexually assault young women, especially after how hyped I’ve been for this particular movie.
Aside from the perverted moments, the film was actually better than expected. Maybe it was the few too many glasses of wine clouding my judgement, but I thought the film did great at recreating the Monster from the Black Lagoon, and small town monster film vibe from the 50s/60s. The creature outfits had me in fits of laughter, think Ghoulies but with Stretch Armstrong arms, but I respect that they were decent considering the year of release and the film’s budget. Peeters even throws a few social issues like bigotry against Native Americans and environmental damage, which is pretty flimsy but a unique addition to the boobs and gore.
Where the film really lives up to its cult status is a wonderfully manic siege of the town’s Salmon Fair. What begins as carnage as the humanoids slaughter the town’s denizens and, ahem, greet the women, turns into this free-for-all where the town fights back claw and nail, shooting the and beating the creatures to death. Even the redneck leader redeems himself, putting himself in danger to save children and ultimately being saved by the local Native American (Yay, fuck racism). And yet all pales in comparison to the most alarming moment that shook my drunk self to the core. One of the teenage victims is a ventriloquist with one of the creepiest puppets I’ve witnessed, and yet he’s also getting laid. Don’t give up on your hobbies lads and lassies, there’s someone out there for all of us!!!
Humanoids of the Deep is a perfect example of a Roger Corman produced film borrowing from more successful films but embracing a more exploitation movie vibe with violence and debauchery aplenty. What stands out is a rare occasion with a female director behind the camera who pays homage to the films that have come before rather than rip them off. Apparently this film was a surprise success and Corman remade it in 1996, which is fantastic because I’ve more content to milk for Beer Goggles.
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (Californians have small brains and like craft beer)
Interesting piece of trivia. The kitten I recently rescued decided to claw my sack in the middle of this write-up. Thankfully, I can report my faculties are still in order and I will wear thicker pants (and maybe a cup) for future reviews.