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More Fun Than You Can Possibly Imagine!
on November 11, 2003
I consider myself well schooled in low budget schlock from various film genres. Watching cheesy films is an acquired taste, one not easily cultivated overnight. Even with some knowledge about who makes these types of films under my belt, I still stumble over major contributors to the clunker movie catalogue and wonder why I haven't spent time with these delicacies before now. Roger Corman is my latest discovery. I admit to having heard of Corman before in reference to the spate of Vincent Price horror classics that emerged in the 1960s along with a few other films he made over the course of his career, but until now I never saw any of them. This guy is a giant of the low budget film, producing or directing some 500 plus movies in the last forty years. He's still going strong as far as I know, and never limits himself to one particular genre; he's made westerns, horror, action, drama, and science fiction films with seeming ease. Moreover, according to the bio on this DVD, Corman helped launch the careers of numerous Hollywood bigwigs. If "Humanoids From the Deep" is any indication, I will spend a lot of time with this filmmaker's projects in the near future.
This movie really ought to be a huge cult cinema classic. Maybe it is in some circles, but if so, I never heard about it. What a shame, too, because "Humanoids From the Deep" is classic camp that rips off every 1950s monster film you ever heard about. The movie, set in a fishing town called Noyo, tells the story of a town rapidly fading away. The local tars are having a tough time catching enough fish to make a living, and just when it seems that all is lost a big time cannery corporation arrives on the scene promising to build a factory that will rejuvenate the local industry. Who can argue with an influx of well paying jobs? Certainly not a fisherman named Hank Slattery who sees dollar signs in the arrival of the suits. Most of the townspeople adopt Hank's position concerning the changing times, even level headed Jim Hill. Hill, who really doesn't care for Hank due to the man's racism against the local Indian tribe, grudgingly agrees that the cannery will help salvage the town. He's a bit suspicious about corporations in general, a thought shared by his wife, but he's willing to go along with it if it means food on table. The local Indians, led by Hank's nemesis Johnny Eagle, despise the idea of building a cannery on old tribal grounds. When a series of unexplainable incidents occur in rapid succession, the Indians and Slattery's goons duke it out with other over the future of the area.
What in the world could possibly cause all of the dogs in the area to die violently in the space of a single evening, lead to the disappearance of a few of the local ladies, and cause such discord between the Indians and the Anglo community? Why, humanoids from the deep, of course! That's right, within mere minutes we learn that Noyo has a big problem in the form of some weird half-salmon, half man beasties roaming around offshore. And these monstrosities take no prisoners, either, since they aren't above tearing open a few bodies, ripping off a few heads, or liberating a few bosoms in order to capture Noyo's women for mating purposes. Corman permeates this film with everything a low budget horror lover could want: completely unnecessary nudity, gallons of gore, and numerous massive explosions. The cars, houses, and boats blowing up in "Humanoids From the Deep" especially impressed me since the producers of the film sank a lot of money into these blossoming fireballs. This is obvious because they use the hilarious old "numerous camera angles and quick cuts" to get the most out of the effect. If you don't care explosions, there is always the gore to float your boat. The conclusion of the film, when Noyo celebrates their town festival and the humanoids make an impressive yet unannounced visit is sure to thrill you with the arterial sprays and gory amputations going on all over the place. What a great little film.
The performances aren't all that bad either. Vic Morrow plays Hank Slattery with all the menace you would expect from the late star. Doug McClure turns in steady work as the even tempered Jim Hill. The rest of the cast, while not as well known as these two actors, all do a pretty good job with their parts. Of course, the humanoids share top billing with the human actors, which is fine because the special effects used in creating these violent creatures worked quite well in my opinion. The humanoids are gruesome looking, with sharp teeth, oversized heads and arms, and a shambling gait resembling the undead in all of those Italian horror movies. I can't say I cared too much their endless shrieking and wailing, but the look and the unremitting violence of these monsters repeatedly entertains.
The DVD is quite a catch too (pun intended). You get five trailers: "Humanoids From the Deep," "Eat My Dust," "Big Bad Mama," "Death Race 2000," and "Grand Theft Auto." A short interview with Corman, conducted by Leonard Maltin, graces the DVD, along with bios for Corman and the cast. The film transfer looks good for an old film of this caliber, at least good enough to see all of the splattery effects and nubile young women running around town. "Humanoids From the Deep" is a must see for those looking for a way to spend a wacky eighty minutes.