Humanoids from the Deep (1980)
Humanoids from the Deep (1980)

Genre: Sci-Fi Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 22 min.

Release Date: May 16th, 1980 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Barbara Peeters Actors: Doug McClure, Ann Turkel, Vic Morrow, Cindy Weintraub, Anthony Penya, Denise Galik, Lynn Theel, Linda Shayne

 


 

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oticeably scavenging several cues from big budget horror films, “Humanoids from the Deep” (also known as “Monster” overseas) still manages to create an enjoyable atmosphere and a few unique thrills to retain an air of originality. What it lacks in substance it makes up for in visual surprises. Combining an infinitely absurd plot with serious actors, decent gore effects, gratuitous nudity, and a pervasively foreboding score from James Horner results in a B-movie frightener that nearly breaks free of its genre restrictions to offer genuine scares and laughs – mostly in that order.

A small coastal community in California finds itself facing a deadly invasion when DNA testing on local sea life causes mutated, amphibious monstrosities to rise from the waters and prey on the villagers. For some unexplainable reason, the creatures are also predisposed to mating with human women. It’s up to scientist Susan Drake (Ann Turkel) and resident Jim Hill (Doug McClure) to stop the attacks and eradicate the threat before they too become victims of the ravenous abominations.

With their large, exposed brains and slimy green bodies, the design of the Humanoids looks like a cross between Swamp Thing and the extraterrestrials from “This Island Earth.” Knowing the limitations of their budget and effects capabilities, the filmmakers wisely chose to keep the beasts shrouded in darkness; it isn’t until about halfway through the movie that viewers get a good glimpse of the whole mutant. As legendary schlock producer Roger Corman commented, the actual monster will likely never live up to what the audience creates in their own minds. Here, such words of wisdom certainly apply, as the enemy’s shambling, long-armed awkwardness and fishy faces lessen the horror and amplify the silliness (though the amount of destruction and mayhem they cause is actually rather impressive). But displaying figures that betray actors in rubber suits is largely expected, especially with New World Pictures attached to the project.

In an interview with film historian Leonard Maltin, Corman admitted that he felt a sense of humor is very important in horror films – especially to prevent audiences from laughing in the wrong places. Yet one of the major shortcomings in “Humanoids from the Deep” is that there are no obvious moments of comedy; the chuckles arise from cliché character stupidities and senseless dialogue. In fact, most often the funniest moments are meant to be the scariest. In no way does this demonstrate the level of purposeful wit that Corman insists he acknowledged and sought in the screenplay by Frederick James.

As a throwback to the science-fiction monster movies of the ‘50s, “Humanoids from the Deep” does offer bloodthirsty fans the opportunity to revel in added doses of violence, gore, and nudity. Many scenes of nubile young vixens having their clothes torn off appear to be added just for the sake of greater nakedness, with frequent alien rape sequences unobscured by the environment or nighttime. Though these sexual assault shots reportedly offended many of the cast members, who were unaware of the graphic nature of the tacked-on footage (which original director Barbara Peeters refused to shoot), they added enough spice to turn this exploitation horror feature into a modest success – even inspiring a remake in 1996 for Showtime.

– The Massie Twins

  • 7/10