They're not human.
But they hunt human women.
Not for killing.
FOR THE FIRST TIME ON HOME VIDEO, THE COMPLETE UNCUT VERSION OF THIS CULT CLASSIC!
Wow. Talk about a salacious tagline. And the poster art of a dazed bikini-clad teen on the beach with inhuman eyes leering above her only adds to the salaciousness. But then, this movie is rather garishly titled Humanoids from the Deep (though, technically, the film's opening and closing titles read MONSTER with Humanoids from the Deep in small letters underneath and in parentheses). This 1980 creature feature is one of many titles being released under the Roger Corman's Cult Classics banner by Shout! Factory. And the home video company has again outdone themselves, with a new high-definition transfer of the movie and generous extras (more on these later in the review).
Roger Corman, of course, is the legendary elder statesman of exploitation cinema, a producer / writer / director of - literally - hundreds of low budget genre titles. He has been credited by many sources over the years as the person who has helped start the careers of many Hollywood talents. Corman, in fact, was just given an Honorary Oscar earlier this year at the Academy Awards for his lifetime of work. It's a little hard to say that and then transition into a discussion of the schlocky Humanoids from the Deep, which he helped produce, but even this example proves the overall point. James Horner, who would later score popular epics like Titanic, provided material early in his career for this film - and he even participates in the DVD's extras.
In any case, Humanoids from the Deep makes absolutely no pretense about what it is in its comparatively brief 82 minute runtime. This is a fine example of exploitation, drive-in style filmmaking of its time. Hardly five minutes anywhere in the movie go by without an explosion, a spontaneous fistfight, a nubile and horny teenaged couple, or a shot of the titular creatures as they menace the unfortunate population of a small fishing town named Noyo. Sure, there's a story here, sort of: some kind of hackneyed tale of a science experiment designed to get salmon to reproduce and grow faster gone awry. A scientist (Ann Turkel) teams up with a good guy, family man fisherman (Doug McClure) and a Native American who has stirred the wrath of some racists (Anthony Penya) to figure out how to combat this menace. But truthfully, all one really needs to know is that there are a bunch of amphibious monsters out there - and they're now programmed to want to mate with humans. Let the midnight movie mayhem begin.
Now, I'm not going to say Humanoids from the Deep is a good film per se, but it certainly keeps one's attention. This was clearly made during the same time as Friday the 13th and other slasher movies, as there's a one-upmanship in the scares and sex department at work here that's reflective of the time period. Interestingly, the credited director is a woman, Barbara Peeters, but the extras on the disc detail how additional scenes helmed under a male director were filmed and added later. Apparently, Peeters only delivered on part of the exploitation demands of the producers, those involving the gory attacks on men. She shied away from the attacks on women.
Regardless of the intriguing gender dynamic at play behind the scenes (if you're interested, check out the extras for the whole story), it's amazing how something now three decades old can still run rings around the seemingly endless CG creature feature fare that dominates weekends on the SyFy Channel, which is really saying something about the channel's programming. The "Humanoids" are cheesy rubber-suited concoctions, in appearance mixing the classic Universal monster Creature from the Black Lagoon with the aliens from This Island Earth. And while the story is rather vulgar, requiring a lot of gore and violence, the antics often look more cartoonish than convincing. In other words, it's rather absurd fun when viewed through a B-movie aesthetic.
Before I move on to the more technical portions of this review, I just want to commend Shout! Factory on its packaging for Humanoids from the Deep. The DVD insert is dual-sided, much like VCI's home video release of Horror Hotel. One can opt to reverse the art to a sillier, painted poster of a creature rising from the seas behind a swimmer - art that's reminiscent of what covered old magazines like Savage Sword of Conan. An 8-page booklet can also be found inside with photos and an essay. Overall, this is a nice package, and I'd highly recommend this release to fans of old B-movie fare.
Shout! Factory presents Humanoids from the Deep in a new high-definition transfer of the uncut international version. The widescreen image is anamorphic and very likely represents the aspect ratio of its original theatrical presentation. The opening shots impressed me with their deep colors - something that carries on throughout, especially during the nighttime carnival climax of the film. However, the picture's sharpness varies from scene to scene.
Given the plentiful extras on this disc, I was a little surprised to see one lone audio track: an English language affair that provides some oomph to explosions and terror scenes but little else. This undoubtedly reflects its original exhibition. No optional subtitles are provided.
Shout! Factory really delivers with the extras. To begin, The Making of Humanoids from the Deep (22:41) is a surprisingly candid retrospective on the film's production with the participation of Roger Corman (of course), composer James Horner, actress Linda Shayne, second unit director James Shardellati, and others. This is presented in anamorphic widescreen.
Never-Before-Seen Deleted Scenes (7:11) offers precisely what it advertises, also in anamorphic widescreen.
Leonard Maltin Interviews Roger Corman on the Making of the Film (3:26) is a too-short interview, as Corman with his richly deep voice is always pleasant to listen to. His commentary tracks on his Poe films for the now-defunct Midnite Movies line were great, and it'd be nice to hear him talk at length on this disc. This brief extra has a full screen aspect ratio.
Radio and television spots, as well as a poster and still gallery, may be found on the second Bonus submenu. Rounding out the extras are two trailers for Humanoids from the Deep (one English and one German) and additional trailers for Galaxy of Terror, Forbidden World, and Up from the Depths. It might have been nice to have had a commentary track, but with an extras line-up like this, I doubt many cult fans will complain.
Shout! Factory has done a very nice job of packaging this 1980 creature feature under its Roger Corman Cult Classics line. Humanoids from the Deep is just as salacious as its advertising art promises, and while it is by no means a cinematic masterpiece, it is a very good example of prurient drive-in fare of its time. Highly recommended, given the extras, for cult film fans.