Humanoids from the Deep (1980) Review

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Second Wave Corman.

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

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 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

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

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.

There is a cute blink and you miss it gag where the dummy continues to follow the monster attack with his eyes after the ventriloquist has been slaughtered. Nice fun gag in a movie that really isn’t known for its subtleness.
Of course, the monster attack was not the only thing he was looking at.
Our poor ventriloquist, Billy (David Strassman) is not just some extra hired off the fishing boat. He is an honest to goodness ventriloquist from The Magic Castle. The dummy’s name is one of his main characters, Chuck Wood, who is famous for coming to life when he walks offstage. Apparently remote control dummies have been a thing since the 50s.
I may have to amend my review above. Being able to remotely control objects very well might land you a date with Lisa Glaser.
You know I just made fun of Beyond Beyond for having an adolescent run a fishing boat and here we are again. Well, this one is human, not a rabbit, so I am sure he can fill the winch with gas without issue.
Or perhaps not… maybe an adolescent badger?
Plastic surgeon and weekend trawler fisherman, perhaps?
Hark who goes there (To offscreen scream of terror)
Humanoids from the Deep does a nice job with foreshadowing and keeping things just in frame no matter who was directing the scene.
For example, your eye is drawn to the fire or maybe our characters on the dock, and you don’t even see the monster in the water.
Another example where you are so concerned for our knife armed heroine you barely notice the most horrifying and gaudy wall art in the history of cinema.
Or the serious acting from Vic Morrow, Cindy Weintraub, and Doug McClure distract you from noting Spaulding Smalls is apparently at the dance.
And last this incredible collection of wrack on this California beach (I spy some bull kelp, red algae and is that a hint of dulse?) may distract you from the fact there is a giant monster assaulting a topless woman in the background just in frame.
The more I look at Ann Turkel as Dr Susan Drake (Another duck reference? This goes deeper than I thought.) the more she reminds me of my science advisor Brooke.
For example, this could easily be Brooke on a Bumble date.
And this would be Brooke hearing that as my science advisor, she is responsible for any scientific errors in my upcoming novel, Snowcano.
In fairness to Brooke, I don’t see her ever wearing that outfit. Or talking to anyone in a puffy vest now I think about it.
Speaking of outfits, that is one laid back town sheriff. Especially compared to Mr. Three Piece Suit on the right with his racing stripe stitching. The sheriff, on the other hand, seems to have this post Wings, Thomas Haden Church look going.
I must have more Lynn Theel screenshots than I do of the monsters.
Here she is ready to fight a monster.
Why didn’t the monster show?
Perhaps I am wearing too many clothes?
There we go. Maybe I should unlock the door for the monster as well.
Alas, the monster stood her up, so she ended up making out with her boyfriend.
Hold on, is that the monster?
Nope, another false alarm. Well, tomorrow is another day.
It’s tomorrow and Lynn Theel is thinking maybe if the monster sees me with another guy, he will get jealous.
I will just wet my hair and breasts seductively and wait.
But I got to find a way to get rid of the “Third Wheel”
Well, that did the trick. Now I can have the monster all to myself.
Finally alone with the monster.
Well, that hook up could have gone better. Lynn Theel isn’t the first girl our monster left for dead in a seaweed cocoon and she won’t be the last.
And now Lynn Theel finds herself giving birth. And we all have one thought. What the hell is going on with her eyes?
See, this is why choice is so important. As I said in my Alien review “There was some hubbub when Humanoids of the Deep came out a year later with a final scene that was a direct ripoff of the Alien chest burster.” Though in all fairness, it also kind of rips off 1974’s It’s Alive.
The make-up effects were by Rob Bottin, who would go on a few years later to do the make-up effects for John Carpenter’s The Thing, which I think we can all agree are the pinnacle of the craft. He is also the guy who did Arnold Schwarzenegger’s expanding head in Total Recall (He doesn’t admit to the three breasted prostitute but I think we all know)
What makes Bottin’s work here so amazing is not just does it look good in daylight, but it is made to hold together in the California surf as you can see in the screenshot. I wouldn’t expect less from the guy who gave us gluttony in Se7en or the melting bad guy in RoboCop. Rob Bottin really is the G.O.A.T..
Cindy Weintraub made her film debut in Humanoids of the Deep. She was unsure about a proposed shower scene, so the producers hired a body double.
And as we can see, they missed it by that much. What we have here is the exact opposite situation as we have in Beaks: The Movie. In that movie lead actress Michelle Johnson also refused to do a nude scene. So the producers hired a body double that was more the Keira Knightley type. As I say in my Beaks review, “The movie’s body double is, shall we say, lacking in certain well know influences Michelle is famous for.”. Certainly anyone who had seen Blame it On Rio must have been more than confused.

Decades later, when Cindy Weintraub filmed a “making of” interview for a DVD release, she laughed and admitted she can joke about it now, especially the body double’s much more voluptuous figure.

The Delightful Linda Shayne also made her debut in Humanoids off the Deep as the pivotal character Miss Salmon. (Standing next to character actor stalwart Greg Travis, in only his second role.)
While it would appear that Linda was about to get a big green baby daddy, she is surprisingly feisty.
She apparently is the only character in the movie to notice that the monsters have a big exposed (unskulled?) brain perfect for whacking.
While the monster is injured, and Linda Shayne gets away, the monster does successfully remove her bikini top. So really, we are all winners.
While Linda Shayne did appear in bit roles after Humanoids from the Deep, her main interest was in writing and directing. And a big win here she did successfully write, direct and produce a major Hollywood film. That film was Purple People Eater with Ned Beatty and Shelley Winters. You know what good for her. I like Linda Shayne and refuse to be snarky. So she likes to do kids’ films. Her latest project is a nine minute short film 2019’s Mirror Image, which looks like a Nickelodeon version of Die Hard.
As our actresses go, poor Denise Galik gets the short shrift. She is the one quoting Hamlet on the beach above. Apparently, she was not monster mating material. Maybe she was already pregnant? I will have to see if there is a novelization.
Denise is not the only victim comfortably dressed.
I mean, everyone has sweaters on.
Even abandoned children are bundled up.
So is this the right beach attire?
Or is this the right beach attire? The Pacific is freezing cold under the best of circumstances.
Humanoids of the Deep is clearly confused what time of the year it is supposed to be.
Is that enough beer for fishing?
There is both a dog and a child alive, so this is before the opening credits. Director Barbara Peeters has complained about the additional footage added to the film. But unlike actress Ann Turkel, she didn’t try to get her name removed or stop distribution.
Sure, she is not responsible for this.
But she definitely made sure this good boy did not make it past the first reel.
You can’t slaughter a half dozen dogs and some children, then claim you didn’t know you were making an exploitation film… for Roger Corman… about sex crazed monsters. This was not Barbara Peeters’ first rodeo. (She had no problem with nudity and incest in 1971’s Bury Me an Angel which she both wrote and directed.)
I still have Lynn Theel snapshots? Okay, let’s talk about that light switch cover… or the hanging garlic.
Or the fine motel art on the exposed brick, perhaps?
Yeah, he is not coming back….
How about some monster pictures?
Monster meets Vic Morrow.
Monster not on fire.
Monster on fire.
Monster snacking on extra. (Speaking of extras, good reaction shot on the right there.)
Monster decapitating extra.
Monster at picture window in what is a surprisingly tense and well done scene.
Monster visits fair
Monster ready for his close up.
Monster at wrong side of buffet.
Monster gets woman to leave tent using a somewhat unusual method.
OMG forget the monsters… It’s a duck… run.
Alright Barbara, why don’t you take lunch? I am going to let Jimmy do some second unit stuff here… shots of seaweed, that kind of thing.
Why is the carousel on fire and why is the smoke purple?
One of my traditional favorites.
Look, I am telling you there is no way the audience will know we shot this insert during the day.
The birth scene is not the only inspiration from Alien in Humanoids of the Deep.
I wonder if filmmakers recycle this establishing shot for every movie or if it is fresh. (Knowing Corman I vote for recycled.)
This is our rape suspect. He seems sketchy.
Our heroes have arrived with still a few minutes of massacre left.
Finally, someone in a monster movie remembers to bring a camera and to actually use it.
Sister Christian, oh, the time has come
And you know that you’re the only one to say, “Okay”
Where you going? What you looking for?
You know those boys don’t want to play no more with you, it’s true
You’re motoring
What’s your price for flight?
In finding Mister Right
You’ll be alright tonight
Babe, you know you’re growing up so fast
And mama’s worryin’ that you won’t last to say, “Let’s play”
Sister Christian, there’s so much in life
Don’t you give it up before your time is due, it’s true
It’s true, yeah
Guitar Solo…. You have made it to the end of my review, so hear my confession. I have heard Night Ranger’s power ballad Sister Christian hundreds of times since 1984. I have absolutely no idea what the song is about.
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