Humanoids from the Deep (also released as Monster) is your basic monsters from the deep sci-fi horror movie, but with added sleaze. Lots of added sleaze.
It was produced by Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, and it has the kinds of exploitation ingredients you expect in a Corman-produced movie.
It follows the standard pattern - you have a sleepy seaside town that is suddenly menaced by mysterious monsters from beneath the sea. The town of Noyo depends on salmon fishing, and a big corporation is about to build a cannery there. This will be a huge boost to the town and everyone is happy, except for the local Indian tribe. And there’s even better news - the cannery company has a hotshot scientist with a plan to increase the numbers and the size of the salmon catch. Since this is a horror movie the scientist is a beautiful young female scientist, Dr Susan Drake.
Everything would be just hunky-dory except that people are starting to get butchered. Dr Drake, being a sceptical hard-headed believer in science, has no doubt what is going on. The town is being attacked by sea monsters! We later discover that there’s a reason that Dr Drake immediately suspects monsters - the cannery company has been experimenting with DNA-5 and a large mount has escaped into the environment. This has had the effect of accelerating the evolution process, so that a local species of fish has started evolving into humanoids!
The humanoids don’t just chomp people. This is where the sleaze factor comes in. These fishy humanoids have a powerful drive to accelerate their own evolution, and they do this by mating with the womenfolk of Noyo! As Corman puts it in an accompanying interview, they kill the men and rape the women.
Corman always had a sound instinct for what drive-in audiences wanted, and in 1980 he believed (quite correctly) that what they wanted was cheesy monsters, gore and naked women. And this movie delivers all three in copious quantities.
The original director was Barbara Peeters but the footage she filmed had insufficient sleaze so Corman got the second unit director to film lots more sleaze content.
The acting is fun B-movie acting, with Doug McClure being heroic, Vic Morrow being villainous and Ann Turkel being the dedicated but glamorous scientist. The cast know what’s expected of them and they deliver.
The special effects manage to be both reasonably impressive and very cheesy, a combination that characterises so many of the films Corman was associated with. The action is non-stop, and the editing is very tight. Despite the silliness of the premise the excitement is maintained.
The science is wonderfully goofy, which is always a plus.
This is a movie that concentrates on entertainment. If you want something deep and meaningful, or artistic, you’re not going to get it. What you will get is guys in monster suits, people getting chewed up by monsters, stuff getting blown up and naked women being chased by randy humanoid sea creatures. All done very proficiently, with a good deal of energy and a certain amount of style.
The Shout Factory DVD boasts a nice transfer and a series of reasonably informative interviews with various people involved in the movie.