Monday, March 26, 2012

Movie Monday: Humanoids From The Deep

This week's movie is the 1980 horror cheapie Humanoids From The Deep!

Okay, this one I guarantee does not feature Ryan Gosling!
Humanoids From The Deep (aka Monster, which you see on the above poster; it was too good not to use for this post) is a film from the tight-fisted hands of producer Roger Corman, and stars Doug McClure, Ann Turkel, Vic Morrow, and a lot of topless girls.

The plot (such as it is) is about as close as you could come to recycling an older screenplay and just replacing the names (a lot harder to do in those pre-desktop publishing days). In the small town of Noyo--which is downstream from a chemical plant (ooh, social commentary!) run by the conglomerate known as Canco--some fisherman go trawling, and in one of their nets they catch some sort of giant sea monster.

The creature, which has razor-sharp claws, thrashes at the net and eventually in the young son of one of the fishermen, who has accidentally spilled gasoline on the deck. When another crewman lights a flare, it sets off an explosion, somehow causing it to turn from day to night, and back again:
One of the "notable" things I learned about this movie as I settled down to watch it was the fact that the monsters not only kill and mutilate their victims, but they actually take time to rape the human women they find. As if that wasn't enough of an odd detail, Humanoids of the Deep was actually directed by a woman, Barbara Peeters--but more on that in a moment.

Anyway, knowing that this film contained scenes like that, I was at least prepared. So I pleasantly surprised when, after one of creatures attacks a young couple on the beach, the film cuts away just as the girl is about to get it (the young man having been torn up and left for dead). I thought, oh, okay, the real nasty stuff won't be shown, it'll just be implied. Then, after a couple of dull talky scenes, the movie makes the effort to cut back to just the rape sequence:
Luckily, we don't really see anything, other than the girl's top get torn off. It's kind of disturbing to think that the producers thought the nudity would still be titillating, coming as it does in the middle of a rape scene. Best not to dwell on that, I guess.

Anyway, the scenes taking place back in the town are pretty standard. Vic Morrow, playing "Hank Slattery" (who I believe had his own detective show in the 80s, right after Matt Houston) seems to channeling his racist character from The Twilight Zone movie, spewing some off-handed racist stuff about someone hiring a "minority lawyer" from "the big city." Horrors!
While all the main characters yak, the Humanoids are running rampant on the edges of town, killing and raping, raping and killing. They attack a couple about to get it on in a tent on the beach, where the young man in question has decided to bring his ventriloquist dummy:
In the movie's most far-fetched moment, the use of ventriloquism actually gets the girl to take off her clothes, as opposed to shrieking from the tent in terror. Sadly, this scene ends like the previous one did: the guy gets it (yay!), the girl gets raped. Ugh.

The film's main characters are, ostensibly, Ann Turkel as a concerned scientist(!), and Doug McClure as a local resident who believes Turkel when she discovers what Canco's chemicals hath wrought. There's a go-for-broke scene of a bunch of Humanoids attacking people in broad daylight, and McClure opens up and fires:
If you squint hard, you can picture the great Tom Atkins in this role. I guess he was busy with The Fog. Oh well.

Anyway, the humanoids keep rampaging, finally attacking the town during it's big yearly carnival, resulting in more killing and raping (the women character's clothes in this movie fall off easier than they did in Zapped). McClure's character sets fire to the bay, cutting the Humanoids' ability to retreat. Stranded, each of the monsters are in turn shot, stabbed, or beaten to death. The next day, everything is back to normal. Or is it?

Well, not quite: one of the women attacked, Peggy, gives birth, and...
Humanoids From The Deep 2: Baby Geniuses!

Of course, Humanoids of the Deep is grade-Z trash, given whatever minor respectability (if that's even the right word to use) it has by the presence of it's B-level cast and some attempt at cool monster effects, like what you're wincing at above.

The thing that makes the film distinctive is the level of gruesomeness it achieves in regards to the monsters' attack. The whole "female victim" undercurrent of monster movies goes all the way back to King Kong (and probably even before), but rarely had a horror movie been this explicit, both visually and textually.

Stories differ, but supposedly producer Corman thought the film needed more sex and violence. When director Peeters refused to shoot such footage, he had a second unit director (Jimmy Murakami, whose career is all over the place) do it, resulting in the finished film. And while one can admire Peeters for not wanting to be involved in such lurid details, I'm at a loss to imagine what this movie would have been without the sex and violence--a bunch of dull, talky scenes peppered by the brief appearance of some guys in drippy rubber suits.

Improbably, Humanoids From The Deep was remade for cable in 1996, with (from what I've read), the sex and violence toned down. I can only imagine a big-budget "re-imagining" is just around the corner!

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