Humanoids from the Deep – USA, 1980

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‘They’re not human. But they hunt women. Not for killing. For mating.’

Humanoids from the Deep aka Monster: Humanoids from the Deep is a 1980 American science fiction horror film directed by Barbara Peeters from a screenplay by William Martin [as Frederick James], based on a storyline by Frank Arnold and Martin B. Cohen. The movie stars Doug McClure (At the Earth’s Core), Ann Turkel, and Vic Morrow (The Evictors).

humanoids from the deep title screen

Roger Corman served as the film’s (uncredited) executive producer and it was distributed by his New World Pictures.

The soundtrack score was composed by James Horner (Wolfen; Deadly Blessing; The Forgotten and many Hollywood blockbusters).

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The movie was originally offered to Joe Dante  (PiranhaThe Howling) but he turned the project down. Shooting commenced in October 1979. Barbara Peeter’s version of the film was deemed to be lacking the required exploitation elements needed to satisfy the movie’s intended largely male audience.

It is reported that second unit director James Sbardellati, who would eventually direct Deathstalker, was brought in to spice up the movie, and it was he who was reportedly responsible for filming the infamous nudity and gore scenes. Other sources claim that Jimmy T. Murakami (Battle Beyond the Stars) shot the additional exploitation material.

Several people who went on to bigger things worked on the film, including aforementioned composer James Horner, make-up artist Rob Bottin (who designed the humanoid costumes), editor Mark Goldblatt, and future producer Gale Anne Hurd (Aliens, The Walking Dead TV series) who worked as a production assistant. The actress who portrays the Salmon Queen (Linda Shayne) later became a film director.

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In 1996, a remake of Humanoids from the Deep was produced for Showtime cable TV by Corman’s production company, Concorde-New Horizons, starring Robert Carradine and Emma Samms. Although it included some special effects footage from the original version, the sex and gore aspects — the very elements that had distinguished the first film — were toned down for TV and it was not a success among fans or critics.

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Review:

Some people really hate clowns. Personally, I really hate ventriloquist’s dummies.

Seriously, those little wooden things totally freak me out. You know how some of you feel about the painted smile on the clowns ‘face? Well, that’s how I feel whenever I see the big eyes of a ventriloquist dummy or that mouth with the fake teeth. And don’t even get me started on those tiny little legs that some of them have. Agkh!

 

I mention this because there is a ventriloquist’s dummy in the 1980 film, Humanoids from the Deep. There’s really no reason for it to be in the film but suddenly, out of nowhere, there it is. It belongs to a teenager named Billy who, when we first see him, is relaxing in a tent on the beach, trying to get his girlfriend to undress for him and the dummy. Of course, they’re promptly interrupted by a seaweed-covered monster, who rips open the tent, kills Billy, and chases after his girlfriend. The whole time, the dummy watches with a somewhat quizzical expression on his face. It’s a strange scene.

Now, I’ve done some research and I’ve discovered that Billy was played by David Strassman, who was (and still is) a professional ventriloquist and his dummy was named …. I do not kid …. Chuck Wood. So, the whole tent scene was kind of a celebrity cameo. It is as if Roger Corman, who (uncredited) executive produced the film, said, “You know what? This movie has blood, nudity, killer fish-men, and rampant misogyny but it’s still missing something! How about that ventriloquist that I saw on the Tonight Show last night!?”

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Anyway, Humanoids from the Deep is basically about what happens when you try to mutate toxic salmon. You end up with a bunch of pervy fish monsters swarming the beach and trying to make like human/fish babies. Plus, a lot of dead teens and unplanned pregnancies.

You also end up with the local redneck fisherman (led by Vic Morrow) blaming the local Native Americans, accusing them of killing all of the dogs in town. Jim Hill (Doug McClure) and his wife, Carol (Cindy Weintraub), try to keep the peace but their efforts are continually tripped up by the fact that almost everyone in town is an idiot.

For instance, despite the fact that there’s been a countless number of murders and rapes and that they’ve all been committed a group of monsters that nobody knows how to fight, the town still decides to hold their annual festival on the pier. Of course, as soon as the obnoxious DJ starts broadcasting, the humanoids from the deep show up and basically, the entire festival goes to Hell.

And here’s the thing. The film itself is ugly and mean-spirited and misogynistic but the attack on the festival is totally and completely brilliant. I mean, it’s one of the greatest monster sieges of all time, largely because the monsters are apparently unstoppable and that humans are so obnoxious that you don’t mind seeing them all die. If nothing else, the monsters deserve credit for taking out that DJ.

It all leads to a “surprise” ending, which isn’t particularly surprising but which is so batshit insane that it somehow seems appropriate. Humanoids from the Deep is an incredibly icky movie, one that has some effective scare scenes but which is way too misogynistic to really be much fun. Oh well. At least the ventriloquist died.

Lisa Marie Bowman, HORRORPEDIA – guest reviewer via Through the Shattered Lens

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  • New high-definition transfer of the Uncut international version presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1)
  • Never-before-seen deleted scenes
  • Trailer, TV and radio spots
  • Leonard Maltin’s interviews with Roger Corman on the making of the film
  • The Making of Humanoids from the Deep,” featuring new interviews with composer James Horner, second unit/assistant director James Sbardellati, editor Mark Goldblatt

Other reviews:

… a fast-paced and energetic camp classic that should please horror and sleaze fans with its graphic gore, abundant female nudity, and sardonic humor. The creepy humanoid costumes were designed by makeup legend Rob Bottin (The Howling, Legend). They look pretty slimy and cool, especially for such a low-budget film, and in fact the production crew only had three of them!’ GoArticles.com

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“Whatever Peeters’ vision might have been, it’s inarguable that the grotesque and silly “assaulted by sea creatures” moments make this movie, elevating it from talky pseudo-sci-fi yawner to something akin to exploitation classic.” Tom Becker, DVD VerdictMovieQuiz_995-(3)

“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.” That Was a Bit Mental

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“Humanoids from the Deep has everything that I like about horror movies. There is a decent story, cute girls get naked, gory monster attacks abound (especially during the chaotic finale), and the cast consists of a number of name actors spouting off cheesy lines.” The Video Graveyard

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“Finally, lets not forget the effects by the soon-to-be-legendary Rob Bottin. While they may just be creatures in rubber suits, they’re impressive looking rubber suits for a low budget flick. The attacks that take place also have some decent makeup effects.” Horror Digitalhidden-horror-aaron-christensen

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Choice dialogue:

Dr Susan Drake: “It’s my theory that these creatures are driven to mate with man now in order to further develop their incredible evolution.”

Cast and characters:

  • Doug McClure … Jim Hill
  • Ann Turkel … Dr. Susan Drake
  • Vic Morrow … Hank Slattery
  • Cindy Weintraub … Carol Hill
  • Anthony Pena … Johnny Eagle
  • Denise Galik … Linda Beale
  • Lynn Theel … Peggy Larsen
  • Meegan King … Jerry Potter
  • Breck Costin … Tommy Hill
  • Hoke Howell … Deke Jensen
  • Don Maxwell Don Maxwell … Dickie Moore
  • David Strassman … Billy
  • Greg Travis … Mike Michaels, Radio Announcer
  • Linda Shayne … Sandy, Miss Salmon
  • Lisa Glaser … Becky
  • Bruce Monette … Jake Potter
  • Shawn Erler … John, Hill Baby
  • Frank Arnold … Old Man
  • Amy Barrett … Amy
  • Jo Williams … Herself on Piano
  • Henry T. Williams … Bass
  • Lyle Isom … Banjo
  • Jonathan Lehan … Fiddle

Trivia:

Footage from Humanoids from the Deep was recycled during the monster-filled opening credits sequence for Jim Wynorski’s Not of This Earth (1988).

 

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7 Comments on “Humanoids from the Deep – USA, 1980”

  1. B-movie heaven, they don’t come much better than this! Saw this at Hounslow West Odeon on a double bill with When A Stranger Calls, it was the best evening of my 15yr old life!

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