Okay, this is a real throwback to the 1950’s style monster movie with a late 70’s update. This time instead of atomic radiation being the villain, we get corporate gene splicing technology gone awry. Also, the monsters in this movie, unlike their 50’s counterparts, are rapists.
Apparently Barbara Peters asked for her name to be taken off this film once it was recut for release as the producers added several scenes of gratuitous violence against women by men in monster fish suits. I can’t say that this is absolutely true, but I did read it somewhere.
Okay, so Humanoids from the Deep stars erstwhile B-movie superstar Doug McClure at the height of his popularity, Vic Morrow playing Vic Morrow, and Ann Turkel who may actually be the star of several commercials or Italian horror films.
None of them can seem to keep a straight face through any of this film. But, considering the silliness of the subject matter, who can blame them. Here’s the plot in a nutshell, a small fishing town that may be in Northern California and yet may be in Washington, Oregon, or Canada is solely supported by the Salmon fishing/charter boat industry. A new company want to open a cannery in town, but there is some opposition from the local Native American population represented by the sole Native American in the film, Johnny Eagle (Anthony Penya). Vic Morrow provides the local beer swilling racist asshole villain Hank Slattery and aside from wanting the cannery to come and build like crazy, hates Johnny Eagle. In the middle of all this mucky-muck is Jim Hill (Doug McClure) a simple charter boat owner and captain who likes Johnny Eagle, but also wants the cannery built. His wife Carol and their little boy figure occasionally in the plot, but not all that much. Now, initially Dr. Susan Drake (Ann Turkel) would have been the costar and provided sexual tension for Jim Hill and the audience. But, in an effort to make Jim Hill an absolutely outstanding father and husband, he never once attempts to put the moves on Susan Drake.
Their relationship is worse than platonic. It’s boring!
There, got all that?
Everyone in this movie wears plaid shirts and down vests. I guess this is supposed to suggest that all the men are “men of the sea” but to the seasoned viewer, everyone looks absolutely idiotic. I am not sure if stills of this film were used in the first L. L. Bean catalog, but they might as well have been. I mention this only because after about 20 minutes you will start identifying Jim Hill and the rest of the fishermen of Galilee with the characters in South Park who never take off their parkas.
We begin with some asinine underwater photography ala Jaws where we are presented with a monster’s-eye-view of the northern Pacific. Superimposed over this Jacque Cousteauean tableau are some swoopy-droopy letters spelling out the title. It looks almost like they hired a 3-year-old kid to write the title card. It even wiggles like someone’s idea of ocean waves, someone who has never seen the ocean I reckon.
We then meet the crew of a boat that should be named “The Murphy’s Law” for reasons to be shown in a moment. This whole opening sequence is like watching The Poseidon Adventure while whacked on crystal methamphetamines. We get the dad, and captain, complaining that his kid is more interested in comics than the harsh unforgiving life of the salmon seiner, his able first mate Gilligan... no wait... that’s from a BETTER MOVIE... anyway, the first mate, and the little fat kid in question who:
1. fails to fill the winch motor with gas
2. spills the gas for the winch motor and doesn’t even right the can
3. gets knocked overboard into the seine (net or those unfamiliar with the term) by a stressed boom to which the winch is connected
4. eaten by the Humanoids from the Deep
During all this mayhem the captain realizes he really loves his fat gas spilling comic reading no good lazy son and leaps into the water where he too is eaten by a Humanoid from the Deep.
Gilligan, being the smartest of the bunch, attempts to send a signal flare, but slips and ignites the spilled gasoline thus blowing the boat, and himself up.
Whew... All we needed was Shelley Winters plummeting through the atmosphere like a fat asteroid and this would have been complete.
When you recover from the incredible laughing fit that this elicits, then you will be ready for the rest of the movie, and there isn’t much too it so pay attention.
We have Vic Morrow arguing with Johnny Eagle over the cannery. That night the Humanoids from the Deep kill all the fishermen’s dogs. Johnny Eagle is immediately blamed, and hey, if you are going to pick stereotypes to pin senseless violence on, why not the only white person in town?
Vic Morrow proves that turning the other cheek means killing Johnny Eagle’s dog in retaliation. This provokes a hilarious fisticuff sequence at a local dance where all the fishermen come with their dates and their beer, to welcome the new cannery.
With the cannery folks is underacting scientist Dr. Susan Drake.
She is immediately not attracted to Doug McClure.
While this whole shindig rolls into the early evening, two campers are about to screw on the beach and are killed (or so it seems) by the Humanoids from the Deep. This provides the first of several gratuitous booby shots that are neither titillating nor well filmed. In fact, they seem out of place considering the tremendous violence taking place around the jiggly knockers.
Perhaps these are the scenes to which the director objected?
The fight ends when the sheriff (yes the sheriff) puts an end to the silliness. By now Jim Hill, his brother, and Johnny Eagle are friends to the end as they have effectively whooped the asses of Vic Morrow and the drunken white trash brigade.
We get some fru-fru shots of Doug and his happy family that most normal people will fast forward through.
Okay, back to the action. Another young couple are going off to find a nice place to have unsafe sex and are attacked and eaten (or so it seems) by the Humanoids from the Deep. The entire attack takes place in about 18 inches of water so I am not sure how the monsters pulled it off, but they do. This provides another gratuitous titty shot as the female runs up the beach into the waiting arms of a monster and is thrown to the ground and humped by the scaly/horny monster.
Oh, and the monster is standing alone on an empty beach yet she only notices him when he comes into frame. She must need glasses.
Actually, this is the first real daytime glance we get of a monster and the suit isn’t half bad. That said, the quality of the suits when multiple monsters are on screen vary greatly. Some of them have enormous Japanese King Kong arms and others have normal sized arms, some have seams and other don’t, you know, standard B grade monster movie stuff.
It is kind of fun to point out the suit flaws. Make a game of it, when you see a zipper or obvious seam everyone screams “ZIPPER!” and takes a drink. You can even substitute non-alcoholic beverages, but I am not responsible for the pee-pee flood.
Okay, back to the err... movie.
Dr. Susan Drake ends up out on the boat with Jim Hill, to whom she has no attraction what so ever, and his brother to measure salmon sizes and take lots and lots of uninteresting scientific readings and samples. The charter customer catches something, something... BIG, but can’t get it into the boat. As it swims away Dr. Drake takes several pictures. She might as well not have bothered though, because the pics are never mentioned again in this movie.
Okay, now we go back to the whole “Johnny Eagle vs. Hank Slattery Death match.” Johnny invites Jim’s brother over for dinner. In this movie, “over for dinner” means an Apocalypse Now-like journey up the river to Johnny Eagle’s shack in the middle of friggin' nowhere.
In the meantime Hank Slattery and his boat-o’-buffoons follows Johnny Eagle and Jim’s brother back up the dark expanse of the Belgian Congo... or whatever river he lives on... then BLOWS UP HIS HOUSE WITH A MOLOTOV COCKTAIL!
Hello! Attempted murder anyone?
In the midst of all this crap the Humanoids from the Deep attack and Jim’s brother is injured.
While Jim’s brother languishes in the hospital Johnny Eagle, Dr. Susan Drake, and the sexually unattractive (to her) Jim Hill make a voyage out to the lab where Susan Drake works. There we get a lesson in lazy science and evolutionary biology if taught by Homer Simpson. Apparently to test a new growth hormone this lab and the cannery company released some genetically enhanced tadpoles out into the wild. These were eaten by native Salmon who took on the characteristics of accelerated growth.
Within a few weeks we have several scaly mer-men scampering around the beaches looking for dates.
Okay, once they leave the lab it’s “let’s go here, no wait here, no wait here,” to see if we can find evidence of the monsters. They do and a short yet pitched battle ensues. Several of the monsters are killed and one girl, the one who was running away from the surf, is found alive in a bed of seaweed.
Meanwhile, the local... brace yourself... no really... annual Salmon Festival is in full swing on the pier. Giving us a generous opportunity to wish all the people in this town to die. I especially made my wish for the character “Madman Mike” who is broadcasting live from the salmon festival, yet seems to posses no broadcasting equipment other than a single microphone.
I wanted him dead. I wanted him really, really dead.
He is joined by Miss Salmon Festival, a non-speaking jiggly-boobed stereotype that (later) remains fastened to her stool while the monsters kill Madman Mike because the director didn’t think to tell her to run away.
Okay, but we haven’t gotten to Pier-pocalypse yet, so hold on.
Okay, night has fallen and the monsters begin attacking the festival. They do this, quite ingeniously by leaping up through the dock and... well... attacking everyone around them.
What is the dock made of balsa wood? I mean, there’s at least 500 people on it, and how in the hell would they know enough to leap up through a spot where no one is standing? Better yet, what in the hell are they leaping off of? I mean, the dock is about ten feet above the water, and the water is probably a good six feet deep!
Anyway, they attack the salmon festival. This gives us a chance to see:
1. Johnny Eagle rescue Hank Slattery after Hank Slattery rescues a little girl. Aww shucks
2. Madman Mike get killed
3. Miss Salmon Festival’s boobies
4. Jim Hill and Dr. Susan Drake (to which he has no sexual attraction) attempt to route the monsters by setting the harbor alight with a gasoline fire.
The whole gasoline fire thing is just so wrong... I mean, they even give us aerial shots to show that approximately 50 square feet of ocean water is on fire while the rest of the harbor is fine. Not only that, but wouldn’t an effective fire require setting all the boats alight as well?
Not to mention the fact that the Humanoids of the Deep are actually aquatic creatures and would simply SWIM BENEATH THE FIRE AND ESCAPE!!!
None of this matters because it’s only a goddamn movie. Well, I for one do not like being taken for an idiot by a goddamn movie.
Okay, so the town rallies together and goes to war against the monsters in several hilarious scenes we get to see townspeople taking up arms, that is pieces of wood, and wailing on the monsters until they die and or flee.
Meanwhile (you knew there was going to be one of these right?) intercut with all this salmon festival lunacy Jim Hill’s wife is home with their son and both are being stalked by the long armed Humanoid of the Deep. In the background we can hear Madman Mike doing his “oh the humanity!” shtick but Jim’s wife thoughtfully turns it off.
The monster attacks and she shoves baby Hill into the closet and attacks! Using a combination of drain cleaner and a big sharp knife, she kills the long armed monster in her kitchen.
Meanwhile, Jim races home almost to be stabbed by his panic stricken wife.
Cut to the next day where people are still being treated for wounds on the pier. At this point I was zombified by the asinine climax and I can’t remember if Jim tells the cannery guy to go screw, but he might have!
Cut to a delivery room at the lab where the girl pulled from the seaweed is trying to give birth while Dr. Susan Drake assists with the delivery. The girl’s stomach swells and in a scene torn right from Alien, a little humanoid monster pops out of her distended belly.
End movie, place frozen fish sticks on pan, preheat oven to 450 degrees, heat until golden brown.
I watched this dog on perhaps the oldest VHS tape in existence. This did not enhance the quality of the presentation at all, but I didn’t really notice that the film looked as poorly as it was written. I mean, someone bought this thing before my family could even afford a VCR. Needless to say the only extras included were a box to keep the tape in and a label telling what is on the tape in case I lose the box. The label was all yellow and fell off and the box disintegrated not long after the movie started. Oh well, live and learn.