Exploitation Marathon: Humanoids from the Deep (1980)

We all have our guilty pleasures. I know I have a good number of them. For instance, I’ve been known, on occasion, to kick back to the gentle harmonies of Mr. Barry Manilow. Also, whenever I’m channel surfing and happen upon The Brady Bunch, I immediately stop my search. Well, it looks as if I now have another guilty pleasure to add to the list: the Roger Corman’-produced 1980 horror fest, Humanoids from the Deep. It’s shabby, and more than a bit rough around the edges, yet I really got a kick out of it.

All hell’s broken loose in the normally peaceful fishing village of Noyo, where a mysterious rash of violence is paralyzing the community. Long-time resident Jim Hill (Doug McClure) sets out to investigate the cause, while the town’s most prestigious businessman, Hank Slattery (Vic Morrow) believes he already knows what’s happening, laying the blame for the recent violence at the feet of the local Native American population, including Hill’s good friend, Johnny Eagle (Anthony Penya). Unbeknownst to them all, however, is that the true source of the hysteria is a mass of mutated sea monsters that have swarmed into the nearby river system. But these creatures, the result of a failed scientific experiment performed on salmon, are interested in more than just mass destruction; they’re also after the female population of Noyo, not to kill or eat them, but to use them as mates.

Now, this synopsis, particularly the horny humanoids slant, may cause a few eyes to roll. It is perplexing, to say the least, yet is just one of several aspects to Humanoids from the Deep that I have a hard time explaining. For instance, I can’t explain why the humanoids are powerful enough to savagely maul every man they get their hands on, yet at the same time dainty enough to remove a buxom young thing’s bikini top without inflicting so much as a scratch. For that matter, I’m baffled by the entire female population of Noyo, who look as if they’ve jumped directly off the pages of Playboy (I’ve been to a few fishing villages, and would never have left had I seen women this beautiful). Ultimately, I’m at a complete loss to hypothesize how these bulky, seaweed-laden sea monsters would possibly mate with human women in the first place. The mere physics of it sets my mind to spinning. But you know what? I don’t think I want to explain it, and neither will you. When watching Humanoids from the Deep, all you’ll want to do is sit back…and scream…and smile.

The screams you will come by honestly, for despite its low budget and the general tackiness of the creatures (I swear there are times when you can see the zippers in the backs of the suits), Humanoids from the Deep does manage to generate its fair share of spine-tingling moments along the way. Roger Corman himself commented on how surprised he was at the movie’s preview, during which audience members screamed uncontrollably throughout the entire picture (especially during the film’s shocking finale). But then, why wouldn’t they? Movies like Humanoids from the Deep are usually made for one reason and one reason only (Ok, two if you include box office receipts): to scare the pants off you. With that in mind, I assure you that you can’t go wrong with Humanoids from the Deep.

Cheesiness be damned… Humanoids from the Deep is flat-out fun.

Up next on the exploitation agenda, I’ll be taking a look at the 1971 action film, Chain Gang Women, and asking the all-important question: who the hell was thinking up these titles? Look for it in two weeks time.

4 Comments

  1. Hells yeah. Humanoids From The Deep is one of my all time favorite exploitation films. One of my goals when I went to Japan a couple of years ago was to find the Japanese DVD release which is the only uncut version out there. And I found it. The creatures are also one of my favorite designs.

    Doug McClure is the man.

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  2. While I don't count Barry Manilow or The Brady Bunch among my guilty pleasures, Humanoids from the Deep certainly is. As you point out, there's no explanation as to why the village's entire population look like Playboy Playmates, or why the salmon critters would breed with human women. Still, it has some truly genuine frights and is just a genuine fun movie. It's the sort of good cheapie they don't make any more!

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  3. More gore really. Especially in the end when the creatures attack the town.

    I think the Japanese DVD is the only one that's widescreen as well.

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