Retro Review: ‘Humanoids From the Deep’

Following the success of Jaws a number of filmmakers leapt at the chance to make their own version of an aquatic-based horror flick. Of course, B-movie maestro and Hollywood icon Roger Corman was no exception. Under the banner of his newest production company, New World Pictures he recruited Barbara Peeters who had collaborated with on movies like, Bury Me an Angel and Eat My Dust!, to helm his latest project Humanoids from the Deep. Though his tinkering with the final product caused Peeters to disown the film, it was still released in 1980 and was yet another financial success for the king of low budget horror and even now all these years later is seen as a fan favorite among fans of his cinema.

In the waters off the coast of a small California town there is something lurking beneath the water making its presence known. It seems as if the attacks from these murderous, sex-crazed humanoids are tied to a local fish cannery which is opening in the area. A local named Jim working with the scientist Dr. Susan Drake to get to the bottom of what is going on. But they have to work fast because it is only a matter of time before these monsters unleash their fury on the town.

As mentioned previously, the director Barbara Peeters would disown her work on Humanoids from the Deep despite its success. From the start, Corman told her he wanted to play up the exploitative side of this movie, making it clear he wanted the monsters to brutally kill the men and terrorize the women. When he received the initial cut, Corman found that she had followed his edict as he wished and turned to one of the assistant directors Jimmy T. Murakami to helm reshoots. Upon seeing that he had added scenes to amp of the sex and violence (a shocker for Roger Corman I know) Barbara Peeters was understandably upset. The end result of all this is a feature which hits all the right buttons for lovers of fun cult cinema. While Corman may have questioned the level of violence Barbara Peeters used, one can not question that she executed it to perfection as the gore fx are incredible. A large part of the credit for this goes to the future make up fx legend Rob Bottin who was hugely instrumental in the film’s success. While Corman’s movies are notorious for showing monsters as little as possible, he found Bottin’s costumes for the Humanoids to be so incredible there were plenty of scenes to show them off. The budget only allowed for one fully-functioning costume (with Bottin himself actually wearing it) to be built so Barbara Peeters had to be smart with her utilization of it, with clever camera work and editing audiences are none the wiser to this fact. She also created an eerie atmosphere hovering over the little seaside town of the film, which was no doubt amplified by a moody score courtesy of a young James Horner.

By now any B-movie fan knows what to expect from a Roger Corman movie: blood, boobs, monsters, and future Hollywood A-listers. Humanoids from the Deep has all of the above in spades. This is a fun and fast-paced horror movie sure to to leave any viewer happy.