Humanoids from the Deep (1980)

Humanoids from the Deep (1980), directed by Barbara Peeters

Ok, what's cutting the fishing nets, blowing up boats, tipping over garbage cans and killing dogs? It's just the beginning for a new race of mutant frog-salmon things: they need human women for mating!

This low-budget Roger Corman mashup of Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) and Jaws (1975) and Alien (1979) is a perfect drive-in movie: action, violence, explosions, boobage and even more nudity, only 79m long. It turns into a gore-fest at the end.

I am never more deeply into the movie magic world than when watching an exploitation film. In a more serious work I'd critique the acting and wonder "What does the director intend here?" In this sort of thing you relax and stop worrying.

Is it a bad film? Oh, hell yes. Were you expecting something else? A bit more humor would have helped. But oddly enough "cheap" can help a horror film seem more real: those rusty fishing boats, for example.

This type of fun-horror film is fun partly because it makes us uncomfortable: we're embarrassed to be laughing at the gore. I found the titillating aspect of this one extra disturbing: some of the sexiest bits are women stripped, savaged, thrown in the mud and raped by monsters. Am I enjoying this? I guess I am: I keep watching. I didn't think I was a bad person...

On the other hand the women are pretty strong. The beauty queen ("Miss Salmon"!) has her bikini top ripped off and responds by bashing the creature bloody with a rock and escaping.

They introduce some probably unnecessary plot: pro- vs anti-cannery factions and Indians vs hostile white fisherman, lead by the great Vic Morrow. He and Doug McClure are the only "names". Maybe cold science-babe Ann Turkel? I've seen her in a few things.

In the final battle at the harbor festival the creatures on land are defeated by setting the water on fire. I'm trying not to puzzle over that.

The nudity, rape and gore were added by a second unit after initial filming and the director and Turkel wanted their names taken off.

One of James Horner's early scores, far better than the movie deserves. It reminds me of his vivid, lush music for Star Trek 2 & 3.

Available on Blu-ray from Shout Factory with a surprisingly good image in certain scenes, not all.

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