Humanoids from the Deep
We're lucky as horror fans that we still have some smaller, independent companies around and managing to release some cult titles onto high definition bluray. It reminds me of the late days of laserdisc and the early days of DVD when we would eagerly anticipate cult titles from the likes of Elite Entertainment and Anchor Bay. It seems with bluray we have come full circle and while our beloved horror genre doesn't quite seem to have the same amount of releases as the early days of DVD, the format is still young given the slower than usual adoption - in part due to the HD-DVD war. With companies like Shout Factory and Blue Underground embracing the format and releasing some quality discs, the ball is our court to start throwing some cash their way to keep the cycle going.
I chuckle to myself as I sit down to start a review of Roger Corman's 1980 monster flick, Humanoids from the Deep. I think back to the early 80s when I was just a young child and my older brothers would watch Humanoids on cable TV for some gratuitous tits and ass shots. I recall being more interested in the monsters, at least back then. Humanoids became a joke between my brother and I later in life, often bringing it up whenever we were looking for a movie to watch on TV. When I stumbled across a VHS copy of it a dozen or so years ago in a Suncoast, I snatched it up and sent it to him to keep the joke going. I gave the VHS a brief viewing but didn't finish it for some reason or another. I look forward to revisting this movie to see if it is just joke material or there's some good horror sleaze to be found. What better way to do it than on high definition bluray? Lets take a look at Shout Factory's release of Humanoids from the Deep.
A small fishing down by the name of Noyo is excited about a Canco cannery that is about to open. The local fisherman have struggled with dwindling catches and the new company not only promises to bring new jobs, but claims to have successfully completed experiments that will increase the size of fish stocks. While most of the town celebrates the news, local native American Johnny Eagle (Anthony Pena) believes the cannery is a bad idea and tries to argue his points to anyone that will listen. He begins to butt heads with Hank Slattery (Vic Morrow), the leader and most vocal of the town's fishermen. When some dogs on the seaside docks are slaughtered, Hank is convinced it was the work of Johnny. When Jonny's own dog his murdered in retaliation, tensions finally boil over and a fight breaks out between the two.
The next day Johnny arrives at port with an unconscious man by the name of Tommy (Breck Costin) who was brutally attacked and is clinging to life. Most are quick to blame Johnny but he insists it was monsters from the sea that came ashore and attacked them both. Tommy's brother, Jim (Doug McClure), goes searching with Johnny and Canco scientist Dr. Susan Drake (Ann Turkel) to find out the truth. They discover evidence of the creatures and reluctantly Susan admits they are a result of the Canco experiments. When they search some local caves on a nearby island, they come face to face with the creatures. Jim and Johnny manage to kill off the few trying to attack. They then discover Peggy (Ann Turkel), a young woman that was kidnapped and raped by the creatures, buried under some seaweed, though still alive. It turns out that like most species the creatures need to mate, though their preference is female humans.
As Susan, Johnny, and Jim begin to piece together what the creatures are after, they realize the town's local festival that evening is a prime event for the creatures to attack. They arrival at the festival with the body of a creature as evidence, but are too late; the creatures have arrived and all hell quickly breaks loose. Now the townsfolk must fend off the creatures and try to fight back if there's to be any hope of survival.
There's some history to the creation of Humanoids from the Deep which is explained on the bluray in both the insert eassy and in the supplements. Originally titled Beneath the Darkness in an effort not to scare away any of the talent with a title like Humanoids from the Deep, Roger Corman decided some more thrills were needed. Director Barbara Peeters disagreed and as such, assistance director James Sbardellati was used to film much of the scenes involving nudity and rape, plus the famous gruesome ending. Knowing that and looking at the movie, it's easy to see how the movie really could be looked at in a more serious tone had the exploited footage not been added. There's elements of racial tension between Hank and native American Johnny Eagle, plus the struggles of a town trying to survive a fishing drought. Of course, the very nature of Humanoids from the Deep - a movie about sea monsters - insists that it be a hokey horror flick. As such, who can blame Corman for putting some frosting on the cake? A bad B movie demands it.
The most surprising aspect to Humanoids for me were some of the performances. At times the actors can struggle with their lines about monsters from the deep that impregnate women, yet most of the time the actors give admirable performances. With Hollywood veterans Vic Morrow and Doug McClure, that's not too surprising. The beautiful Ann Turkel didn't have too much on her resume at the time but went on to have an impressive career and remained active in Hollywood through the new millennium. The rest of the cast is largely forgettable and certainly struggle to give convincing performances.
Finally, lets not forget the effects by the soon-to-be-legendary Rob Bottin. While they may just be creatures in rubber suits, they're impressive looking rubber suits for a low budget flick. The attacks that take place also have some decent makeup effects. Thankfully Shout Factory has released the uncut version of Humanoids, titled Monster as it was originally released in International markets. I know one additional scene include a decapitation. Good stuff, indeed.
Humanoids from the Deep is dated in all aspects when compared to today's torture porn genre. Some brief rape clips and a handful of nude scenes simply pale in comparison to what we get today with the likes of Saw, Hostel, and countless others. Those that saw it back in the day will no doubt still enjoy it to this day. I can't see modern horror buffs enjoying this unless your an enthusiast that can appreciate a dated, hokey B horror flick starring monsters from the deep and featuring copious amounts of tits and ass.
Shout Factory presents Humanoids in a 1080p 1.78:1 transfer using the MPEG-4 AVC codec. What surprised me most is just how clean the transfer was. I expected lots of dirt, scratches, and other blemishes to appear frequently but in fact the blemishes were few and far between. There are particular scenes that are soft and heavy with grain but even the grain was less than I anticipated. Overall the image is sharp and well detailed with just a handful of exceptions. I was blown away by the clarity at times, especially when compared to the older, New Horizons DVD that is dreadful in comparison. Colors are a bit subdued but that is likely due to source material rather than this particular transfer. This is certainly the best Humanoids has ever looked at likely the best it ever will look. There are some problems but considering the low budget nature and age of the movie, that's not too surprising. I am rating the transfer with a B.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby 2.0. I didn't hear much activity from the sides so there's really no use of channel separation. I heard no distortion on the track and volume levels remained consistent throughout the presentation.
Shout Factory put some enjoyable extras for the disc, most notable of which is the making-of featurette. It contains interviews with cast and crew as they discuss various aspects to the movie, including the additional graphic footage that Corman wanted added, the musical score, and much much more. It’s a great featurette that fans are sure to enjoy as they gain some new insight on the making of the movie.
A short interview with Leonard Maltin and Roger Corman is included. The two discuss Corman’s logic behind monster movies and the public’s response to Humanoids from the Deep. Rounding out the supplements are several never-before-seen deleted scenes - with more tits and ass, TV and radio spots, theatrical trailers, a poster and still gallery, various New World trailers. A booklet is also included with the bluray that includes an introduction by Roger Corman and a short essay.
Overall some enjoyable extras that are icing on the cake for this bluray release.
There are better monster movies out there and by today's standards, there's not too much shocking in Humanoids from the Deep. If it weren't for that nostalgia factor that I'm so fond of, I probably wouldn't even rate the movie itself with the B- I gave it. The story is forgetful and while the effects aren't too bad given Rob Bottin's involvement, they are minimal due to the low budget. Even the tits and ass factor is pretty light by today's standards. Yet for those that have a fondness for Humanoids from the Deep, Shout Factory has done a tremendous job with the blu-ray, giving fans a solid transfer and some enjoyable extras.
*Because of the quality of the HD format, the clarity, resolution and color depth are inherently a major leap over DVD. Since any Blu-ray will naturally have better characteristics than DVDs, the rating is therefore only in comparison with other Blu-ray titles, rather than home video in general. So while a Blu-ray film may only get a C, it will likely be much better than a DVD with an A.
Damn, just from looking at the screen captures its obvious how clean the transfer is. This looks beautiful compared to the DVD.
One of the reasons I love this forum is because a film which is based on horrible fish people raping young nubile women can be dubbed "not too shocking". I salute you Dave.
Oh come on fish people need love too!!!
One of the best exploitation films of all time imo and an incredible dvd presentation too. Easily the dvd release of the year for me, alongside Piranha. I would give this an A.
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