Director – Barbara Peeters, Jimmy T. Murakami
Cast – Doug McClure, Ann Turkel, Vic Morrow, Cindy Weintraub, Anthony Pena, Denise Galik, Lynn Theel, Meegan King, Breck Costin, Hoke Howell, Don Maxwell, David Strassman
Release Year – 1980
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I remember seeing this film often when I was a pre-teen, and after well over a decade I found an opportunity to give this one a long-deserved watch. Creature films have always been a personal favorite of mine, especially older ones that give us full-frontal live-action creatures, like this film. Humanoids From The Deep is everything I want to see in a cheezy creature film, and has to be one of 1980’s most fun films ever. If you are looking for some classic sleazy Roger Corman-produced horror then this is your ticket.
This film takes place in Noyo, a small fishing village. When news of a giant canning manufacturer building a new facility in Noyo hits the fishing business, local Hank Slattery(the late Vic Morrow) is all for it, much to the behest of local Native American fisherman Johnny Eagle(Anthony Pena), who balks at the idea of such a facility being built on his native land. The cannery has promised the town’s fishermen that they will not lose any economy over the build, and that their fishing businesses will in fact bloom with bigger and more fish. Little does the town know, the cannery plans on doing this by genetically enhancing the biological makeup of the salmon the fisherman collect, and that has a terrifying effect on the creatures that feed on these fish. This experiment has caused a mutation in an amphibious species that has decided to upgrade its food source from aquatic organisms…to humans. Local fisherman Jim Hill(Doug McClure) has his sights set on figuring out what is going on, and enlists the help of scientist Dr. Susan Drake(Ann Turkel), who had a hand in creating the enhanced salmon that lead to this disaster. Unfortunately for this sleepy little fishing town, the creatures are not merely out to devour human flesh, but to rape the women in an attempt to further their species as well.
While not an absolute requirement, this film comes best served with ice-cold brew, fattening foods, and as many of your best buds as you can stand. Right from the get-go we are thrown into the fun and gory exploitation ride that this film is, and with a short runtime of a mere 80 minutes this flick never slows down for more than a few minutes at a time. The creature action kicks in fairly early as well, not too early to the point that we are left uninterested due to the lack of mystery, but early and often enough to keep you engaged from opening to closing credits.
If you go into this film expecting it to be everything that I have just mentioned then there is no way you should come out of this without a grand smile on your face. Barbara Peteers’ cheesy yet positive direction(yes, a FEMALE director) gives us plenty of on-screen terror and effective off-screen mystery to satisfy fans of both types of horror and kills. The look of the creatures was incredibly cool, and their mannerisms and killing techniques were a true joy to watch. Barbara Peteers’ may not receive full credit for some of the sweet gory scenes in this film, and that is due to the fact that this film has two directors and basically comes off as two different films if you pay close enough attention. Why two directors? Well, producer Roger Corman wanted more gore and sleazy rape scenes, and Barbara Peteers’ refused to film such scenes on the grounds that their sole purpose was to show gratuitous nudity(always important). So Roger Corman did the only thing he could do, he fired her and hired an unaccredited Jimmy T. Murakami to film the scenes. Personally, I thought the sleazy gratuitous nudity was excellent in this film and played to the viewer’s enjoyment regardless of gender. Yes, I honestly feel that even women can enjoy those scenes just because of how darn fun they are portrayed to us.
Story-wise this one is simple and kicks ass. We get a nice environmental science element thrown in regarding the genetic manipulation and the immense chaos that ensued as a result of a money hungry corporation’s bad decision, plus all the tits and creature chaos you could ask for. Character-wise we get some good conflict at the hands of the late Vic Morrow portraying the racist Hank Slattery, who is quick to blame Johnny Eagle for the strange happenings going on around the town at the hands of the humanoid creatures. The rest of the story is pretty simple, and moves quickly thanks to its short runtime and positive directing job from both directors.
Overall, this is a highly recommended creature film that comes with plenty of cheese, tits, and sleaze, and makes for a perfect beer-n-wings night with as many of your friends as you can stand.