When my family first got cable, my parents were pretty much oblivious to the sort of content shown during the daytime. I’m pretty sure they thought that all of the pay channels (of which there were a whopping THREE back then) followed in HBO’s mold and only aired R-rated features in prime time. Of course, The Movie Channel was showing all manner of horror, exploitation, and smut cinema around the clock, but I wasn’t going to be the one to break it to them. Thanks to good ‘ol TMC, I got my first gander at T&A masterpieces like “H.O.T.S.”, raunchy comedy flicks like “Hollywood Knights”, and super gory, deliriously sleazy creature-features like “Humanoids from the Deep”. Even as a kid, Humanoids was never so much frightening as it was unsavory – I mean, what, with the whole “rape monster” thing – but I still watched it every chance I got. When I recently received my copy of Shout!Factory’s 30 Anniversary Special Edition DVD, boasting, amongst other things, the uncut, international version of Humanoids (simply titled “Monster”), I rounded up fellow Humanoids enthusiast, Big McLargehuge, and, along with our completely unenthused wives, revisited the sleepy fishing town of Noyo for yet another encounter with the Humanoids from the Deep!
Ah, Noyo. It’s a Pacific Northwest paradise, where the fish are always biting, the beer is always cold, and there’s more than enough flannel shirts and down vests for everybody. It’s time, once again, for the annual Salmon Festival, where dozens come from miles away to celebrate the migrating fish with bad polka music, carnival rides, and the occasional bit of racist tomfoolery at the expense of the local Native American, Johnny Eagle (Anthony Penya). It’s also time for an uninvited guest to rise from the depths and murder Noyo’s men, molest its women, and spread their foul seed! The byproduct of genetic engineering, these humanoid beasties won’t rest until they’ve torn off the bikini tops of every well-endowed girl in town, leaving it up to local fisherman, Jim Hill (Doug McClure), and geneticist, Susan Drake (Ann Turkel), to find a way to stop the mutated menace.
Humanoids from the Deep is a lewd, crude, and, oftentimes, laugh-out-loud funny bit of exploitation horror. From its clumsy creature effects and stock photography to the abundance of nudity and cheesy gore, it’s what one would expect from a Roger Corman production, but, for Corman fans, that’s not a bad thing at all. The cast, especially McClure and Vic Morrow (who plays the film’s human “bad guy”, Hank Slattery), seem to be taking this all very seriously, and actually turn in fairly solid performances for b-movie hokum such as this, while director, Barbara Peters and cinematographer, Daniel Lacambre, lend the film a bit of gloss and atmosphere despite the obvious budgetary restraints. This isn’t a great movie by any means, but it’s a great b-movie, and fans of the film will be thrilled to see this extended, extra-graphic international cut (never-before released in the U.S.!), which boasts more blood and boobs than any version of the film I’ve seen prior.
Humanoids surfaces on DVD courtesy of Shout!Factory, with a new HD print from that looks fantastic. The image, while still retaining much of the film’s hazy aesthete and filmic grain, is sharp and teeming with detail. Colors are rich and vibrant, and black levels are deep and true, with nary a sign of artifacting. Viewed through a PS3 and a Sony Bravia 46 inch LCD, both Big McLargehuge and I found ourselves constantly praising the image, as it looked very close to Blu-ray quality at times. The 5.1 Dolby DTS soundtrack is no slouch, either, with solid bass, an immersive surround sound mix, and clear, organic sounding dialogue throughout.
Shout!Factory has amassed an impressive selection of extras for this 30th Anniversary set, including an all-new making-of featurette entitled (what else?) The Making of Humanoids from the Deep that features interviews with producer, Roger Corman, composer, James Horner, and, actress, Cindy Weintraub, amongst others. Also included are a selection of deleted/alternate scenes, an interview with Corman conducted by film critic, Leonard Maltin, and a host of trailers, radio commercials, and TV spots.
While some may view Humanoids from the Deep as a pile of misogynistic trash (ironic, seeing as how it was helmed by a woman), there are legions of fans of this silly, slimy, salacious spectacle, and said fans will be thrilled by Shout!Factory’s wonderful treatment of the property. The HD transfer is amazing, the new extras are glorious, and the fact that this all centers around the little-seen international cut of the film is just icing on the cake. B-movie maniacs and Corman connoisseurs rejoice!