Synopsis: Something evil is happening in the sleepy fishing village of Noyo. Fishlike humanoid creatures, spawned by mutant DNA, begin rising from the ocean looking to mate with the local women. Scientist Susan Drake (Ann Turkel) along with local fisherman Jim Hill (Doug McClure, The Land That Time Forgot) seek to investigate the cause of this invasion of creatures from the ocean floor. But when the annual Salmon Festival begins, some unwanted guests are about to crash the festivities. Also starring Vic Morrow (Message From Space), Cindy Weintraub (The Prowler) and Denise Galik (Don’t Answer The Phone).
eyelights: it’s stocked with boobies. James Horner’s score.
eyesores: it’s stocked with boobs. its overall construction.
‘Humanoids from the Deep’ is a Roger Corman cheapie in the vein of ‘Piranha’ and ‘Mutant’. Based on my appreciation of said films, plus ‘Death Race 2000’, I decided to give this b-movie a chance; I figured that it would likely be bad, but in the so-bad-it’s-good tradition of Corman’s other productions. Plus I read a review that suggested that there was a lot of skin – and sometimes, you’re just in the mood for a little gratuitous nudity.
The version that is available on DVD is the restored International Cut of the film, which one supposes features more footage in it (although -so far- I can’t find any information to that effect). Apparently it was titled ‘Monster’ in the International Cut, so that’s what you get on this print’s titles. (Frankly, I wasn’t sure what to call this blurb, due to the ambiguity of the changes, so I kept ‘Humanoids from the Deep’. It likely keeps it from getting confused with the far-superior Charlize Theron movie.)
There’s not much to be said about the film, really. It’s bottom-of-the-barrel “filmmaking” at its middling best, barely succeeding on any count: The direction is serviceable, and even shows a few glimmers of skill, but there are so many editing issues that it’s hard to know who’s to blame; The performances are passable at best, and are often amateurish; The gore effects are too low-budget to be convincing, even though they try their best; Continuity errors are a dime a dozen, giving the film a flavour of total ineptitude.
And as for the script? Well, it’s basically a rehash of plenty of these types of b-movies: Local fishermen discover that there are creatures lurking in the waters nearby, after a few inexplicable attacks were made on their dogs and a couple of under-dressed teenagers. They discover that it is caused by the research a corporation, Canco, has been doing in the environs, as they try to convince the townsfolk to sign a lucrative cannery deal with them. All hell breaks loose. As do many boobies.
Even the generous gratuitous T&A doesn’t save ‘Humanoids from the Deep’; it’s so poorly put together that there’s absolutely no savouring of the thought of more nakedness. None whatsoever (it would probably help if any of it were sexy, but it’s not). My understanding is that the director, Barbara Peeters, wanted to tone down that aspect of the film, but Roger Corman vetoed her and had more sex and gore shot for the film – somehow leaving it stripped of appeal.
The only really redeeming value is the score, which is one of James Horner’s first. I’m not particularly a fan of his work, but it was unusual to hear such a poor production get the support of an actually decent musical backbone. Usually, one would get a cheesy synth score, some terrible demo-sounding crap or selections of stock music. Amazingly enough, ‘Humanoids from the Deep’ actually features an original score that knows how to build chills when most needed. Nice.
But, otherwise, this is a film that deserves very little attention or respect. It’s not the worst film of its kind by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s not an entirely competent one either. At best, it’s late-night fodder for turning one’s brain off. But, with one’s mental faculties in full tilt, this is one shallow, unsatisfying turd that has very little to offer. It still amazes me that turds can float to the surface – you’d think that dead weight would always sink to the deepest depths, never to be seen again.
I know one thing, though: this ‘Humanoid’ will never resurface in my presence.
Post scriptum: Amazingly, the film was remade for television in 1996. Word is that it’s even worse, if one can imagine that. I don’t plan to verify these assertions.
Date of viewing: April 1, 2013