Review Index



More eighties trashola from Roger Corman, with plenty of gore, slime, cheesy sea monsters, gratuitous T&A and one of the cinema’s better mutant birth scenes. Of course, if you’re looking for anything beyond those elements then you’d best look elsewhere!

The Package
     1980’s HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP (released internationally as MONSTER) was the final feature directed by the seventies sleazemeister Barbara Peeters. It capped Peeters’ eight year association with Roger Corman, during which she directed BURY ME AN ANGEL (1972), SUMMER SCHOOL TEACHERS (1974) and STARHOPS (1978) while laboring on the crews of such Corman anti-classics as NIGHT CALL NURSES (1972), THE YOUNG NURSES (1973) and EAT MY DUST (1976). Since 1980 Peeters has worked mostly in episodic television, and on an in-the-works documentary about abused women called LEGACY OF RAGE. She now dismisses HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP as “dreck” (it was admittedly re-edited against her wishes), although it remains her best-know film, and one of the most popular Corman productions of the eighties.

The Story
     A small California fishing town is rocked by the opening of a shrimp cannery owned by a slimeball named Hank Slattery. Concurrent to this are a number of suspicious deaths: a fishing boat is blown up and several local dogs are killed. This only increases the tension between the townspeople who support Slattery’s cannery and those who oppose it.
     But then things really go to Hell when a skinny dipping couple are attacked by a scaly humanoid sea creature that dispatches the guy and drags the gal off to be raped. Another couple suffers a similar fate while camping out on a beach the following night, and the creatures attack again shortly thereafter, nearly drowning a young man and forcing a young woman off the road in her pickup truck.
     Dr. Susan Drake decides to investigate. She and some local fisherman discover a cluster of beachside caves, out of which several critters emerge. The creatures are killed and Susan does a study on their genetic make-up; her conclusion is that they’re part human and part fish, having been created by DNA-altered salmon from Slattery’s cannery. Now these humanoids from the deep are determined to wipe out the fully human “predators” in their midst.
     Unfortunately for the townspeople a carnival is held that night to celebrate the opening of the cannery, providing the humanoids with plenty of bodies to dismember, behead and worse. Then there’s a girl who got raped early on by one of the creatures, and is about to give birth…but to what??

The Direction
     The script for HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP isn’t exactly great, or even good; its director Barbara Peeters claims Roger Corman only offered it to her after every male director in his stable turned it down. The film is packed with shopworn clichés (such as the monstrous footprints in the sand glimpsed early on) and the narrative hook of a large corporation encroaching on a tiny village only distracts from the good stuff, being a demonstration of Corman’s oft-irritating penchant for injecting social significance into his films.
     Another Corman dictate is evident in the fact that the critters of the title are kept largely off-screen until the third act. Corman’s rationale was that audiences probably wouldn’t be too impressed with the creatures once they finally saw them, and in this case he was correct, as the humanoids look like exactly what they are: guys in dopey monster suits draped with dripping seaweed. The designer of the things was a young Rob Bottin, whose best work (on John Carpenter’s THE THING and the original TOTAL RECALL) was still several years in the future.
     At least the film contains a goodly amount of gore and female nudity, and an amazing mutant birth. These scenes were admittedly shot after the fact by the film’s second unit director James Sbardellati, against the wishes of Ms. Peeters. So while most everything in the film is pretty lousy (this includes the score by a young James Horner, who riffs shamelessly on those of JAWS and PSYCHO), its enthusiasm for all things exploitive makes for an enjoyable dose of grade-B delirium.

Vital Statistics

New World Pictures

Director: Barbara Peeters
Producer: Martin B. Cohen
Screenplay: Frederick James
Cinematography: Daniel Lacambre
Editing: Mark Goldblatt
Cast: Doug McClure, Ann Turkel, Vic Morrow, Cindy Weintraub, Anthony Penya, Denise Galik, Lynn Theel, Meegan King, Breck Costin, Linda Shayne