Connoisseur of Cheese Review: "Humanoids From the Deep" (1980)
Holy shit. I like fish. I like gratuitous nudity. I like CHEESE. In short, I like the feel of 80's movies- that grainy, unpolished, vaguely exploitative feel that tells you that you're about to be a privy to something that is guaranteed to produce a reaction one way or another. You couldn't possibly sit through this one stone-faced. It's impossible.
I really don't know how I haven't seen this one already. I'm kind of ashamed of myself; I really am. I've seen the poster art for years, and I've just never taken the plunge. So (at the very least) there's a lesson to be learned here: TAKE THE PLUNGE.
Humanoids From the Deep tells the story of a fishing town in the midst of a brouhaha over a proposed cannery going in upstream from the town proper. That is, if it were a drama that's the story that it would tell. This is no drama. This is from the ridiculously large (& occasionally hotly debated) film library of Roger Corman.
I'll spare you the diatribe. If you don't know who the fuck Roger Corman is then just go to IMDB and start at the top of his filmography as producer and work your way down. Do this immediately. I'm not kidding. Don't be culture deprived.
Anyways, the real story here is about a town that is (unknowingly) surrounded by a colony of fish/human hybrids (aka Humanoids) that are hell bent on killing all of the men in the town and RAPING all of the women. Furthermore, the Humanoids got that way by eating scientifically altered salmon that were "misplaced" by some shady scientists. I could give you a more technical breakdown of the plot, subplot, & themes, but do you really need any more than that?!
I didn't think so.
The leads in the film are 70's stars that would lead you to believe that this is, in fact, a serious drama. The hero is Jim Hill (Doug McClure, TV's The Virginian & The Land That Time Forgot), an iron-jawed good guy if there ever was one. The villain (with the redemptive arc) is played with ludicrously racist & narrow-minded care by Vic Morrow (The Bad News Bears & Twilight Zone: The Movie). MOVIE TRIVIA SIDE NOTE: Vic Morrow is the father of Hollywood A-lister Jennifer Jason Leigh. He's also the guy who (along with 2 kids) fucking died on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie in the infamous helicopter accident. Tragic shit right there, kids. Look it up on the interwebs and watch the video on YouTube.
The acting is surprisingly capable in the way that so many of the Roger Corman monster movies is. There's some goofy character actors doing their best to be sleazy and exploitative while being anchored by some real talent; that's a heady mix! This is grindhouse cinema at its best. The SFX are damn fine. The humanoids are utterly believable while maintaining just the right amount of cheese. They drip, they screech, they kill, they rape! It's movie magic. The kills are gorey and don't pull any punches. The rapes are just dirty enough without being genuinely offensive or over the top. These are giant fish-people we're talking about, after all. Like a Friday the 13th film, most of the nudity and sleaze comes before the fish starts up the car to Pound Town.
The coup-de-grace for me? That finale. Oh boy. There's a town festival loaded with people and loaded with Humanoids. Keep your eyes peeled and you'll see some off the wall shit during the melee that will have you laughing at the absurdity while adjusting the way you are sitting. And....and....just when you think it's done they give you a closing scene in the tradition of the classics (i.e. Carrie, Sleepaway Camp, The Brood, etc.) that will stick in your brain like an STD-infected fishhook.
There's so much to love here:
- The quaint and authentic setting
- Johnny Eagle being one of my favorite Indian characters this side of Dances With Wolves
- The world's most explosive Molotov cocktail......ever
- Lots of jiggly boobs (it is exploitation, after all)
- Face peelings and rib exposure
- Hoedowns the likes of which you've never seen.......watch the extras!
- That vintage late 70's Subaru Brat....what a dope car!
- One of the best bad racist insults in the history of cinema
- Unforgettable creatures
- Did I mention great kills and hot chicks? HOORAY FOR EXPLOITATION!!
In essence, what you are dealing with here is the mutated and incredibly horny baby of Creature From the Black Lagoon & the spirit of late 70's / early 80's sex comedies. I really don't need to say any more than that.