The Bad Movie Report

Humanoids  from the Deep

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My first real introduction to this film was back in the late 80's when friends told me I had to see it... how great it was. How it was just like an old-fashioned monster movie.

Nope, not worth further injury to my leg.Friends can be dangerous things. I remember sitting through perhaps twenty minutes of this; then fortunately something happened and we had to turn off the VCR. Probably one of my friends' current girlfriends entering, deciding the naked woman shrieking under the monster was my fault, and kicking me in my already game knee; she did that a lot. We did not like each other very much. So like I said, friends can be dangerous, especially their girlfriends.

But no, I'm talking about friends who are diletantes in the genre fields. They liked it because it had blood, gore, and naked chicks. If that's all you're looking for, well, here's your movie - you need read no further. Scroll down and order the puppy. Come to think of it, that might explain the outlandish success of the Ilsa movies...This is what happens when you're male in these movies...

Let us look at our plot: An evil fish cannery (about the most original element of the movie) has been experimenting with something called DNA-5, which accelerates the growth and size of frogs and, eventually, salmon. When tidal surges wreck one of the experiment's holding tanks, the DNA-5 dosed salmon escape and are eaten by coelacanths, of all things (those are the extraordinary "living fossil" fish, thought extinct for millions of years until they started getting caught again - off the east African coast!). The DNA-5 forces the evolution of humanoid fish-men overnight, and they attack a small fishing community. And, oh yeah, they want to bump their evolution up another step, so they lust after human women, for procreation purposes. Now let us look at the ingredients of this mish-mosh:

  • A psychic toddler who can sense the presence of the fish-men before the family dog. Which leads to:
  • Dead dogs (4 in all)
  • A Spring-Loaded Cat™ (hiding in a doghouse)
  • A Spring-Loaded Dress
  • A Spring-Loaded Dish in a Kitchen Sink
  • A Spring-Loaded Boyfriend (a false scare deemed so good it's used twice)
  • A telephone with a bell on loan from Big Ben
  • One woman in negligee lounging in front of open window
  • One Shaky's Pizza Parlor Band
  • One Scientist Who Has Tampered in God's Domain (Ann Turkel, and since she is a woman, is referred to as "a great little scientist")
  • One Hero By Default (Doug McClure)
  • One sociopathic redneck (Vic Morrow)
  • One Noble Red Man who is ecologically aware, and, being an Indian, is exceptionally good at kicking fish-man butt
  • One atomic molotov cocktail
  • One Ventriliquist's Dummy (babes will willingly undress for a ventriliquist's dummy)
  • One Salmon Festival (Amity Beach on the 4th of July was taken)
  • One painful radio DJ nicknamed "Madman"
  • Three rapes (at least)

Yeah, like you think I'm gonna make a joke here.The rapes are one of the problems I have with the movie. Monsters Lusting After Our Women has long been a cliche in the world of the B-film, probably going back even farther than King Kong; what could The Creature from the Black Lagoon or Octaman possibly have wanted with the female objects of their desire? In Humanoids from the Deep the implicit is made explicit; against all reason, these monsters want to mate with human women. Though the sequences are mercifully short, they are still distasteful and, much like the movie that contains them, pretty unnecessary.

"NO..MORE...WIRE...HANGERS!!!"For most of its running time, the movie seems to take the slasher film as its model - wander off, engage in hanky-panky, and die. Well, you die if you're male. If you're female, you get terrorized for a time (standard for slashers) and then raped. The single instance when the monsters pick on one of the "safe" female archetypes - a mother with a small child - they wind up not only minus a hand, but doused with oven cleaner and eviscerated with a butcher knife, as Mom goes Jamie Lee on them. For other victims, however, the dexterity of the fish men is indeed extraordinary, as claws that can remove half a face with one swipe can also nimbly pluck a bikini top from it's bosomy resting place. These cross-species miscegenations result in the final, derivative piece of this cinematic hodge-podge with:

One Alien chestburster-style monster baby birth "Don't hate me because I'm derivative!"

I haven't even started on the other absurdities within the movie: Jimmy Eagle's magic shirt, that cleans itself of blood in-between takes; the fact that one spear from a speargun is more effective than several rifle bullets; the way that the fish-men's rapid evolution has given them Metaluna Mutant-type exposed brains, rendering them vulnerable to the common two-by-four (one of their intended victims - who is topless, of course - does serious damage to one with a rock); and the fact that, outside of water, the fish-men are extremely flammable. Where are your atomic molotovs now, Vic Morrow?

Director Barbara Peters (or sometimes Peeters) later claimed that Roger Corman's "Evolving is fun!"New World Pictures later inserted more nudity and gore shots than she had originally intended, which may explain the somewhat fractured nature of the flick. Peters might have been (understandably) uncomfortable with the Mars Needs Women sub-strata; the picture certainly picks up when we leave this part behind and the heroes discover one of the monster's nesting places, and the later, climactic attack upon the Salmon Festival. Even then, however, the movie never reaches the heights it requires to distinguish itself from other, similar films. The only thing it has to recommend it, outside the typically fine Rob Bottin monsters, is what Fred Olen Ray calls "the cheapest special effect" - naked women. And there are better reasons to see naked women than screaming under some guy wrapped in foam latex.


Not that this will stop the *ahem* lonely fanboys.

- June 18, 2000