Humanoids from the Deep (Monster) (1980): 10 out of 10: A struggling fishing town (Noyo, California) has its hopes raised by the promise of a new salmon cannery. But local Indian activists threaten the economic prosperity. Oh, and the cannery has been exterminating with salmon to make them grow bigger and breed faster and as a result Horror at Party Beach has broken out as the mutated salmon (Now in full Creature from the Black Lagoon form) kill all the men (and children and dogs) while seeking out comely woman to impregnate.
The Good: Go big or go home. It is rare to see a movie take a premise like this and just put its foot on the accelerator and never let up.
If Humanoids from the Deep had ended without its denouement, I probably would have still given it a 10 out of 10. The movie sets the tone early. With a child murder, fishing boat fireball, and the killing of all the town’s dogs. (If you are sensitive to dog killing may want to start twenty minutes in).
Then we get to various scenes where a young, attractive couple is about to have sex and a monster shows up, disembowels the male, and proceeds to rape the female.
The B plot gains some steam at this point with an arson attack on the Indian’s home and various plot points about cannery politics. Meanwhile, the monsters continue to whittle down the cast through auto accidents and other cinematic deaths.
But the ending… The town is having a fair and something like twenty monsters show up. Excellent direction mixed with non-stop action fill the screen. (There is one bit where a monster finds himself on a carousel, killing one child after and another as it spins around that is a standout.)
Anyone can die at any time (Or in the case of the adult female cast members, a fate worse than death). The carnage is pretty amazing and non-stop.
Humanoids of the Deep is well shot with decent location shooting. (This is not a no budget quickie like the similarity themed Frog-g-g!), The cast is solid with some character actor standouts, such as Vic Morrow and Doug McClure. (Only female scientist Ann Turkel seems a touch miscast). The special effects are good, the monsters are excellent (And there are so many of them), and the soundtrack is by Oscar winner James Horner.
The Bad: The idea that Billy (David Strassman) could convince the comely Becky (Lisa Glaser) to get naked with a ventriloquist act is easily the most far-fetched premise in this entire creature feature.
You know now that I think about it, why is this called Humanoids from the Deep? They are not from the deep. They are from upstream. (The original title, the unimaginative Monster, is at least more accurate.)
The Ugly: I also want to question the idea that humanoid fish from genetically altered salmon would be all rapey to begin with. Female salmon lay unfertilized eggs. The eggs are fertilized externally by the male. So, in reality, what we should have is a collection of creatures jerking off in the surf at low tide. (Or if they are still hell bent impregnating humans going on panty raids.)
If you want rapey sea creatures, you have to have mutated dolphins. Hell, even in dolphin form, they are renown for, shall we say, being over amorous with humans they just met. (And bonus points dolphins are gender fluid. Or at the very least, they don’t give a fuck and will hit anything. Probably more the latter.)
I checked with my science advisor Brooke and she votes for mutated humanoid ducks. She went into great detail about duck gang rape and other mating habits. (Including the fact that duck’s penis can reach 20 cm, is corkscrew-shaped, with ridges and backward pointing fleshy spines.) Having watched the documentary Howard the Duck, I can attest that humanoid duck sex is quite possible (And surprisingly erotic) Though in the case of Lea Thompson it appeared consensual.
In Conclusion: Considering the themes present in Humanoids from the Deep such as rape, forced impregnation, dog killing, baby killing, child murder, environmental devastation, overfishing, the death of blue collar work, dying towns, capitalist exploration, violence against Native Americans, violation of the treaty rights of Native Americans, genetic engineering, and ventriloquism this is a pretty lighthearted movie.
Humanoids from the Deep is a silly monster movie. (I do understand that the trigger warnings are probably longer than the script.) Roger Corman set out to make a R rated Horror at Party Beach and he succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Director Barbara Peters claims Roger added a lot of the exploitative sex and violence after the original shooting was completed. And it is likely the writer/director of 1975’s sexploitation film Summer School Teachers is telling the truth.
But Roger was right. It is a silly film. Why not go for broke? Humanoids from the Deep is one of the best trashy exploitation films out there.