The first thing you should know about this movie is that there’s another one with the same title. The movie we’re going to be talking about here is Humanoids from the Deep 1980, a campy blend of science fiction and horror. It’s definitely a B movie but a charming and very intriguing B movie. After all, the producer is none other than Roger Corman, a legend of the genre. On the face of it, the story is a familiar one of monsters living in the caves near the sea attacking residents of the small fishing village.

However, the execution of that simple premise led to unexpected results. Unexpected and oftentimes hilarious results. Don’t get me wrong, apart from a few strange jokes, Humanoids from the Deep takes itself very seriously despite the ever-increasing craziness of the plot. I really don’t know whether you should first see the movie or not before reading this. So, I’m going to leave that decision up to you. Just know that there will be spoilers here.

Drawing inspiration from Creature From The Black Lagoon, Monster, what this movie is called now, also blatantly rips-off Alien, Jaws, and other movies. Are you ready for the story of rape, racism, monsters, feminism, toxic masculinity, misogyny, exploitation, ecology, and experimentation? Well, you better be because here we go! Oh, and I forgot about nudity, production issues, and salmon. The salmon is crucial!

The Movie That Never Was

Hold my beer holder while I check this out

Initially, the title of this movie was Beneath The Darkness and the story was more science-oriented. Of course, there was no sex or nudity. And if you take away some of the more attention-grabbing elements, you can see that. The ecological and economical issues were at the forefront. Add to this a bit of racism and scientific experiments gone wrong and you got yourself a hit. The monsters were there to draw attention to these problems. We have to remember that these were the early eighties, a time when the eco-horror genre was very popular.

Dr. Susan stylish as fuck

That was the vision that director Barbara Peeters had for the movie. However, Corman didn’t like that vision. He wanted a much more exploitative movie with a lot of monsters, violence and nudity. To quote Corman about what monsters were there to do: “to kill all the men and rape all the women”. He liked how she filmed the male death scenes but didn’t like the lack of nudity. And also scenes where the monsters kill the women. This is where two new directors come into the frame, shooting a hefty chunk of additional footage.

The footage was never shown to Barbara, a fierce feminist, despite their initial agreement. And what was filmed was exploitative, to say the least. A lot of the original footage was also cut. Character development, plot twists, and other boring stuff had to make way for more nudity and monsters. Now you’re probably thinking that this is practically a porn movie but I assure you it’s not. Understandably angry with these changes, Barbara wanted her name taken off the credits. Corman agreed to this but only if she paid for it, which she refused. Ultimately, after many years she said that this turned out to be “a fun little movie.”

Two Salmon Festivals are Two Salmon Festivals Too Much

That beanie is too small and you know it

We find ourselves in the small and sleepy town of Noyo, California. For the first three minutes of the movie, we watch burly fisherman work on their nets, ships, and beer bellies. Then we meet our main guy, a man in his prime and with enough hair and denim to prove it. Everybody here has a lot of hair. So much hair that even when they wear beanies they’re really small so you can see their lushes curls. And you know what goes with denim, bright vests, and a lot of plaid shirts. After a bit of friendly banter and racist remarks, we’re off to see what Deke is going to catch.

And wouldn’t you know it, he catches a humanoid from the deep with his net. Only his ship explodes and everybody on board dies. That was the first sign that something terrible is about to befall the small town of Noyo. I like how after his son falls into the water, Deke takes a huge hook and tries to fish him out that way. It’s the little details like this that are going to make your bad movie night feel fantastic. And there’s a lot to cover with this one. So much so that instead of going straight for the so bad that it’s good section, Humanoids From The Deep had to get its own blog post.

After all, this is a movie with not one but two salmon festivals. Both of them feature a country band that’s so bizarre that I would actually listen to it unironically. This is also the opportunity for the villagers to have some time together and be racist towards the only Native American there. However, before that, the visitors will meet representatives of the Canco corporation. They want to build a cannery near the town and are currently experimenting with salmon to increase their numbers. You can feel where this is going, don’t you?

Humanoids From The Deep Are Actually…

This actually looks quite good

Humanoids from the deep are actually salmon, mutated salmon to be more precise. Oddly enough, some twenty years later, Eight Legged Freaks will use practically the same plot to explain how they got giant spiders. If you really wanted to stretch this concept, you could call it Lovecraftian although the notion of a science experiment gone wrong is such a general one. Anyways, Dr. Susan Drake of the Canco Corporation has been conducting experiments for seven years now. And she just figured out a way to make the salmon: “grow bigger, faster, and twice as plentiful”. Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

I think she’s still breasting

And while Susan is off fishing with our burly lead Jim, young and pretty girls of Noyo are getting assaulted by the salmon. I’m sorry, by the humanoids from the deep. Susan says that these are the actions of the “nocturnal predator”. When Jim comments that she seems damn sure of herself she replies: “I have to be with men like you around”, which is a nice touch. Soon, they end up on the beach and come face to face with monsters. They even discover poor naked Peggy and save her but not before ogling her boobs.

After shooting a specimen for dissection, they take it back to the lab. And it turns out that actually, these salmon evolved so fast that they almost turned into humans. Because you know the evolution, fish move from the oceans, coelacanths, and the rest of the buzz words. Of course, other asshole researcher tries to cover this up but our feisty Dr. Susan will not let him or Canco get away with this. It seems that she knew about the humanoids but couldn’t prove that they exist.

This Salmon Festival Is About To Get Bloody

Warning, humanoids from the deep on the prowl

So, we finally reached that very familiar point in a movie where people are partying and not knowing that there are monsters around. This happens a lot in natural horror movies, just check out Alligator or Tentacles. Jaws first invented the concept to be perfectly clear. It’s nighttime and most of the townsfolk have gathered by the marina and this Salmon Festival is popping off. According to the mayor, people have come from 200-300 miles away to have a good time. However, it’s now only a matter of time before the creatures start their uncoordinated attack.

And wouldn’t you know it, just as our wrecking crew shows up with a dead humanoid another one breaks through the floor and starts yelling. Soon all hell breaks loose and humanoids are attacking and raping people left and right. Jim and Susan are quick to react and after boarding their ship start dousing the water with gasoline. This bulletproof plan is sure to work despite everyone is not so safely located on land. It’s a statement, you fuck with our Salmon Festival, we’re going to burn your home.

Now, this part of the movie is quite gory with a lot of blood, decapitations, and other fun stuff. And wouldn’t you know it, the plan worked as humanoids just disappeared. However, at the same time, some pretty shady stuff is happening at the Canco corporation laboratory. And I will leave that shady stuff for you to discover. This scene is also the last one in the movie. A fitting end to what’s undoubtedly one of the crazier and at the same time charming B movies I’ve ever seen. So, let’s take a look at how the production went.

Some Nudity Required

Miss Salmon is a bit shocked

After the first version of the movie was done, it was time to add more nudity. Because of course, you want to add more nudity. The bigger the better, as the saying goes. And in the case of Cindy Weintraub playing Carol, Jim’s wife, this led to some pretty unexpected consequences. This was her first role and after she declined to do a nude scene they just went with a different actress. Towards the end of the movie, Carol decides to take a shower and this is where that different actress appears. The only problem is that the production chooses a woman with a very voluptuous figure and you can clearly see that’s not Cindy.

Classic eighties shower scene

She eventually laughed at the whole thing after the initial shock. The same goes for Miss Salmon, Linda Shayne, another debutant who did have a nude scene. Linda says she’s proud that she gets to kill one of the monsters despite her boobs bouncing all around. This trend continues with Lisa Glaser, the girl who was attacked on the beach, as this was also her first role. And she showed quite a lot of skin here. Additionally, that whole tent scene feels very weird what with the naughty ventriloquist and the sudden attack.

All of this footage was shot after the production of the “original” movie Beneath The Darkness. Most of the cast and crew had no idea about the additional footage. Some of them learned only at the premiere of the movie. And some of the shoots were quite arduous. For example, during the filming of that beach attack scene, it was so cold that Lisa’s lips turned blue. So, the makeup crew had to keep making them pink again and again.

There Were Just Three Humanoids

The only fully functional humanoid suit

Because of the low budget, there was only one fully functional humanoid suit. The two additional ones were usable only in certain scenes where you can’t see the whole monster. And when you look at that glorious finale you would think there are dozens of these creatures around. It’s a testament to the skill of Mark Goldblatt, a very talented editor who would go on to work on The Terminator, Armageddon, and Chappie among others.

Before they even started working with those suits they had to find stuntmen to wear them. This was quite difficult as they said they looked too goofy and refused to wear them. Members of the special effects crew tried them on and eventually ended up wearing them. They were all fit young men but the shooting was very intense. The suits were handsewn onto diving suits and then onto the actors.

Plus, there was the one suit with extended arms that were operated with special levers. I wonder if that scene where one of them is set on fire was the last to be filmed? Now, the creatures were designed by none other than Rob Bottin. Yes, the same Rob Bottin who worked on The Thing and other movies like The Howling or Total Recall.

Why It All Works

Jim fishing for humanoids with Susan and Johnny Eagle

Apart from using the tried-and-tested Jaws formula there are several reasons why this movie is so much fun. As you can notice, Corman had a knack for hiring really passionate and talented people. People who take their job seriously and are told to do so. They end up not being paid as much but they get the opportunity to test their skills. The same can be also said about composer James Horner (Aliens, The Amazing Spider-Man, A Beautiful Mind). The low budget meant that they had to get creative and boil down everything to their essential components. This gives the movie a special vibe.

Warrior Mother

You have this completely insane story and people trying their best to make it look, sound, and feel serious. This contrast creates a lot of energy. On top of it all, we have the classic Corman exploitation recipe that works so well even to this day. This is definitely one of those movies so bad that they’re good. And despite all the nudity, the women here are actually heroines. Carol slaughters the monster with a knife, Miss Salmon uses a rock to also dispatch one of them. And Susan is this smart, feisty, and brave woman who rivals our strong male cast in all aspects.

Humanoids From The Deep developed a cult following and was subsequently released on DVD and Blu-ray back in 2010 by Shout! Factory. This is the uncut, widescreen version of the movie and it looks freaking awesome. You will also get a special making-of segment along with the movie. The 1996 remake of the movie with the same title was pretty average. It simply didn’t have the charm or pizzazz of the original. If you’re looking for more B movie gold check out our Rabbit Reviews articles about Lifeforce, Cyborg and Highlander II.

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