Humanoids from the Deep (1980) is released in the UK on Blu-ray by 88 Films on March 29th 2021. Special features:
New 4K Master from the Original 35 mm Camera Negative
Original DTS-HD MA 2.0 Soundtrack
Optional English SDH Subtitles
Audio Commentary by Film Critic Kim Newman and Film-maker Sean Hogan
Audio Commentary by Critic and Author Samm Deighan
The Making Of Humanoids From the Deep
Leonard Maltin Interviews Roger Corman
Reversible sleeve featuring brand new artwork and classic original poster art.
Meanwhile, here is our previous coverage of this cult classic:
‘They’re not human. But they hunt women. Not for killing. For mating.’
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. Also known as Monster: Humanoids from the Deep
Roger Corman served as the film’s (uncredited) executive producer and it was distributed by his New World Pictures.
The movie was originally offered to Joe Dante (Piranha, The 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 audience of mostly young males.
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 extra 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.
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 exploitative 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.
Seriously, those little wooden things totally freak me out. Do you know how some of you feel about the painted smile on the clown’s face? Well, that’s how I feel whenever I see the big eyes of a ventriloquist dummy or that mouth with fake teeth. And don’t even get me started on those tiny little legs that some of them have. Agh!
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 fishmen, and rampant misogyny but it’s still missing something! How about that ventriloquist that I saw on the Tonight Show last night!?”
Anyway, Humanoids from the Deep is basically about what happens when you try to mutate toxic salmon. You end up with a bunch of frisky fish monsters swarming the beach and trying to make them 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 have been a number of murders and carnal assaults and that they’ve all been committed by 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 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 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, guest reviewer via Through the Shattered Lens
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
“ … 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
“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.” DVD Verdict
“Humanoids is not entirely played straight (one of the heroines wears her sash from the “Miss Salmon” pageant and, as noted, the movie opens with ventriloquist copulation) but it’s on flinching and intense and, in the annals of rubber-suit abominations, a pure, shimmering and glorious beast.” Mike “McBeardo” McFadden, Heavy Metal Movies
“Director Peeters had nothing to do with some of the more explicit shots of slimy nudity added by Corman at the last minute to give the film some extra kick, though given the demands of audiences at the time with the slasher boom gathering steam, the tinkering made sense. Though competently handled, the peculiar lack of (intentional) humor and generic visual style keep this from becoming an all-out trash masterpiece, at least until all hell breaks loose for the big finale.” Mondo Digital
“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
“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
“Finally, let’s 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 Digital
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