I’ve been on somewhat of a roll with my Amazon Prime monster movies lately, so when I saw this 1980 Roger Corman-produced amphibious monster cult classic, I knew what I was doing for the evening, beer in hand. It’s the infamous Mutant Fish-Monster Rape movie. Well, we need to check out what all the hubbub is about, right?
Humanoids From the Deep (1980)
In an amusing aside, Amazon must have the European cut or something, as the title is Monster with Humanoids from the Deep in tiny letters. At the very least it should be called “Monsters” as there are very many monsters swimming and running around. Well, to be fair, there seem to be only three different monster suits that reappear each time. And they shamble so slowly that only beach-goers with minimal foot speed have anything to worry about. But you get the idea.
So this movie stars lantern-jawed Doug McClure, who was in the Guys in Rubber Monster Suits phase of his career, and Ann Turkel, who was about to start the TV Guest Star of the Week phase of her career. It’s refreshing that Ann plays a tough, take no nonsense oceanographer who’s the smartest person in the movie. What’s not so refreshing is that the rest of the female characters are all bikini babes who are clearly just victims for the Fish-monsters. The movie also features Vic Morrow in the standard mustachioed villainous land developer role. It seems that Vic is doing a Boston accent without anybody telling him the movie takes place in Northern California. You got to love the guy for committing to a role.
I don’t know what it is with these Sea Monster horror movies I’ve been watching. Whether it’s Island Claws also from 1980, Eye of the Beast, a TV movie from 2007, or this one, there’s always a terribly written racism subplot. All of the victims are brutally monster-attacked and covered in slime and teeth marks, but for some idiotic reason the racist villagers always blame the local Natives. I don’t know why these cheesy rubber monster movies insist on tackling racism and then doing a piss-poor job of it, because it makes all the villager characters in the movie look like ignorant doofuses that are not worth saving. You’d think that a movie that features slimy bipedal Salmon-Men sexually assaulting nubile co-eds would handle racism with thoughtfulness and sensitivity, but you’d be wrong.
That’s the extra level of ickiness not featured in your standard Sea Monster Horror movies. The Mutant Fish-Monster rapes are part of the plot and feature in the marketing. Even the poster is pretty rapey. All of it seems to be reverse-engineered to get to the final scene which is a badly directed rip-off of Alien. I won’t mention which scene in Alien but I’m pretty sure you can guess. Apparently the many Mutant Fish-Monster rapes were added in post to get more boobs and blood into the movie. Let’s just say this movie wasn’t exactly intelligently dealing with the moral complexities of genetically altered fish and the ecological and financial damage done to a local fishing community before that stuff was added. Roger Corman knew he had a dog on his hands and he spiced it up the only way he knows how, and there’s only one reason I’m talking about this movie almost 40 years later… Mutant Fish-Monster rapes. The rapes themselves are indefensible, but they are incompetently shot so they’re impossible to take seriously. In addition to Mutant Fish-Monster rapes, this movie is pretty brutal, even by the grimy standards of 1980 exploitation films. The first two characters to get killed are a boy quickly followed by a Golden Retriever that gets choked out and brutally murdered on-camera by a Fish-Monster. That’s just cold-blooded, man. This movie does not give a crap.
All of that is in service of a standard Guy in a Rubber Monster Suit movie, with dull plotting and a bunch of bog-standard ’80s era loud noise jump scares including a kitty cat jumping out. The movie slowly builds to its action set-piece, a 20 minute Humanoid assault on the town’s Salmon Festival, featuring the same three Humanoid costumes filmed from different angles.
So this is essentially the same movie as the far more entertaining The Being which I just watched recently. The tools are the same, namely jump scare noises, horror music stings, and buckets of slime. There’s even a monster on the roof of the car attack in both movies. But the difference is The Being steers into its horror movie clichés with glee and has a sense of humor and demented nuttiness. The filmmakers were making a serious ecological horror film and Corman retroactively tried to turn it into the self-aware exploitation romp that it should’ve been all along. Arguably the only scene with campiness and a sense of humor is one of the re-shoots, where the Salmon Pageant Queen, played by star and writer of Screwballs, Linda Shayne has her bikini ripped off by a monster and she screams and bludgeons it with a rock. She’s literally sitting through the entire twenty minute monster attack before she decides, “Oh, I should probably try to run away now.” She brings energy and fun to an utterly stupid sequence, in an otherwise self-serious movie.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I’d say this is a moderately entertaining Mutant Salmon-Monster movie. The exploitative elements are pretty exploitative, but not in a fun way, except for the Salmon Queen scene. The movie does have near constant attacks, but the glacially slow monsters are never scary. Apparently only one of the suits looked convincing in close-ups but I’d suggest they don’t look convincing in wide shots, or even super-wide shots. The big assault on the carnival is horribly shot and goes on for way too long with all the extras screaming and running long after everybody should’ve gotten away. The immobile monsters just stand around while extras run past them. They occasionally stop to rip off heads and innards, but the gore effects are so bad that the filmmakers shouldn’t have bothered. At one point a guy’s stomach ripping goes on for so long that the filmmakers seemed to give up in the middle and never finished the effect. An old lady hangs off the collapsed dock and wouldn’t you know it, a slow-ass Humanoid picks the farthest away part of the dock to slowly climb after her? This goes on for ages. All of this is made even worse because it’s intercut with an even more terrible sequence where McClure’s wife and infant are home-invaded by a Humanoid that seems to have taken a cigarette break from being in the movie for those long 20 minutes.
Humanoids From The Deep is a fairly entertaining relic of the pre-CGI 1980s where the monsters are actors who had to suffer for long hours in 100 pound suits in terrible weather conditions for our entertainment. And hey, you’re already paying for Amazon Prime, so there you go. Just add beer and you have a party.