1: Pure Nostalgia
I often notice people speaking about nostalgia like itâ€™s a bad thing and I just donâ€™t agree with that at all. Nostalgia is a wonderful harmless drug and I enjoy partaking as frequently as needed. My father took my brothers and I when we were young to see HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP. Iâ€™m assuming the idea was that because it involved the ocean it would be akin to one of our favorite flicks, JAWS. Well, HUMANOIDS is nothing like JAWS. No matter how wacky this movie may be, I really cannot watch it without viewing it through a childâ€™s eyes. It catapults me backward to a time when movies still seemed completely uncontrollable and dangerous to me. I feel an unexplainable primal energy from every late-night forest stalking scene and every twig snapping under the foot of an ambiguous intruder still gives me a thrill. I feel really lucky that I can even now tap into my younger selfâ€™s excitement all of these years later. Unlike me, this movie never gets old.
2: It’s goofy
I really hate to see animals killed in movies and I also have an aversion to onscreen rape. In fact, the same year HUMANOIDS was released (1980) my brother (who worked in a movie theater) snuck me in to see MOTHERâ€™S DAY and I simply could not handle it and ended up fleeing profoundly disturbed. HUMANOIDS involves many dead dogs (!) followed by a lot of fish creatures prone to rape and yet I give it a pass because ultimately the film is good-natured and goofy. Itâ€™s sort of like a 1950â€™s beach monster movie dipped in eighties-era inhibition. Sure, an obvious obsession with T&A abounds but it also makes a point of presenting one hell of a powerful and intelligent female lead (Ann Turkel as Dr. Susan Drake who takes zero guff from anyone). Word has it that Director Barbara Peeters delivered a far less exploitive film to producer Roger Corman who unsatisfied, forced additional re-shoots of more explicit scenes. Maybe itâ€™s because I grew up with this movie (it was rented on multiple occasions and became a family favorite of sorts) but Iâ€™ve never found the end result particularly offensive even though its premise of aquatic monsters impregnating women against their will might be a little iffy to modern tastes (HUMANOIDS was remade for cable television in 1996 with its levels of sex/violence toned down). I mean, this is the type of movie in which a ventriloquist dummy inexplicable becomes sentient to witness a double homicide and itâ€™s presented as the most natural of occurrences. Itâ€™s difficult to take too seriously.
3: Vic Morrow
I dig Doug McClure and Ann Turkel as the filmâ€™s intrepid leads but Vic Morrow playing hateful racist asshole Hank Slattery is pure gold! Nobody does bad guys as convincingly as Morrow and Iâ€™m forever sorry he and his young costars in THE TWILIGHT ZONE MOVIE (1983) received such tragic (and avoidable) fates (Pssst, while weâ€™re on the subject: HUMANOIDS handles the same anti-racist theme as Morrowâ€™s TWILIGHT ZONE segment and in a less ham-handed way. Also, this flickâ€™s got you covered on the anti-greed, pro-environmental issues too! Itâ€™s pretty sneakily progressive for a monster fish movie, Iâ€™d say).
4: Those Monsters!
As much as I love eighties era slashers, thereâ€™s something special about the monster movies that were able to creep their way out of the floorboards at that extraordinary time (Iâ€™m winking at you, THE BOOGENS). The monsters that inhabit HUMANOIDS have a bit of a throwback feel to them (theyâ€™re unavoidably linked at the fin to THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON) but theyâ€™re also innovative and impressively daunting. How can they not be cool when the legendary Rob Bottin (THE THING) had a hand in their creation? I wish I could share a proper centerfold of these equally humorous and disgusting creatures. Their brains seem to be half exposed, their arms are unnaturally long, they seem to be covered with slime, kelp and gooey debris and the mean, green dudes stand about seven feet tall! Whatâ€™s not to love and furthermore, where is the action figure I deserve?
5. The Salmon Festival Massacre!!!
Like most young folk I had a soft spot in my heart for destruction. Movies like EARTHQUAKE, THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE and THE TOWERING INFERNO all brought me great joy (I especially dug the opening of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA which involved multiple planets being mercilessly annihilated). Right up there with the best scenes of chaos of my youth is the remarkable Salmon Festival fiasco of HUMANOIDS. There are sea creatures popping out of seemingly everywhere (impressive as only three monster suits were created), frenzied beauty pageant contestants fighting for their lives and innocent townspeople running about pell-mell. At this point, the mystery is over and the frightful fish folk couldnâ€™t be more up close and in your face. Itâ€™s a lot of fun and provides an incredibly satisfying payoff to the film. HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP taught me at a young age that horror movies could be as joyful as they are scary and for that I will always have affection for this somewhat silly, yet unquestionably awesome film.
Oh and… HUMANOIDS is free on TubiTV!
Cool looking monsters, but I fear the sexual violence might leave me a bit cold on this one. One of the few things that still genuinely bothers me.
I totally understand. I think this movie is outlandish enough (for me) that I can look beyond the problematic premise but itâ€™s clear there was an issue since they toned down the remake so much. I often wonder what the directorâ€™s original version was like before they added the gratuitous scenes. Maybe it was a better movie all in all?
Gee, I was going to do a Five Fave Things on this movie eventually, but you beat me to it.
This is one of those movies that elicits nostalgia for me too, but I first saw it on HBO back when they used to play horror and exploitation movies a LOT!! I probably watched it ten times back in ’81/’82.
The rape thing never bothered me because it was so beyond plausibility. But that last scene…..THAT freaked me the hell out!! It seems sort of tacked on now, but it disturbed me to no end when I was 11.
Aw! I wish you had written your FFT on this instead of me! It would have been better! I started this series to be all positive and then I went and wrote about dead dogs, sea creature rape and THE TWILIGHT ZONE MOVIE tragedy! Guess i was having a morose week!
This movie was a big part of my childhood too. I think this was the first time I watched it and realized it was a little questionable in the taste department. Itâ€™s too bad too. Iâ€™m starting to think if they just trimmed it down, the monster aspect is great fun for younger viewers. I wonder what the edited for TV version is like or if there even was one. I must be getting old if Iâ€™m now considering the benefits of a PG rating!
That last scene! That was just as crazy and horrific as the chest bursting scene from ALIEN to me back in the day (which Iâ€™m sure inspired it) Yikes! her eyes! and that expression! Really scary image to close out with!
“Aw! I wish you had written your FFT on this instead of me! It would have been better!”
Umm….yeah, right. This post was great, as usual.
I think, in this movie, the IDEA of women getting raped by fish monsters is a lot worse than the actual execution of it. I mean…you just see a humanoid kind of flop on top of a woman five seconds before the scene changes. Bad taste? Sure. But then again we wouldn’t have had that fantastic ending if taste was a concern!
The facehugger scene in Alien was a kind of “man-rape” wasn’t it?
Yep, I mean, it was 1980 after all and this was a Corman produced picture. A woman gets raped by a giant worm in GALAXY OF TERROR (1981)! And I think these same scenes would be hard to do just a few years later. Things were getting censored a lot by 1985. Maybe the real reason some of the scenes feel out of place in HUMANOIDS is because they actually were added on and were not the original directorâ€™s idea?
And thatâ€™s true about ALIEN and Iâ€™d say a lot of 1950s horror movies were implying that which they couldnâ€™t show.
At the end of the day though an episode of L&O: SVU is probably ten times more disturbing due to the realism and that show is aired basically 24 hours a day (not that Iâ€™m knocking it).