Review – Humanoids From The Deep (1980)


I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall, the day this movie was pitched to the studio executives. That meeting must have been such a hoot. “Right, we have these humanoid sea creatures that come ashore, invade a small coastal village, killing all the men and raping all the women”. Sounds absurd right. But that’s basically everything you need to know, about this hugely entertaining, exploitation movie from 1980.

It stars Doug McClure, who starred in an awful lot of monster movies in the 70s, including the Edgar Rice Burroughs movie adaptions, such as ” The Land That Time Forgot, and the sequels that followed. Supporting him we have Ann Turkel as Dr Susan Drake, and Vic Morrow, who i remember from one of my favourite films ever, Twilight Zone The Movie.

Imagine The Creature From The Black Lagoon but with more monsters, oodles of sex and violence and you get the basic premise of Humanoids From The Deep. One of the members of the RetroMovieZone ChitChat Facebook Group described it as “that film with the rapey lizards”. That pretty much sums it up actually.

A small fishing village is beseiged by amphibious, humanoid creatures. The drama starts when the fishermen begin to pick up on the fact that most of the fish are missing. Soon the locals are finding their dogs slaughtered, and shortly after, locals start to go missing. Fisherman Jim Hill (Doug McClure) begins to investigate with the help of a scientist (Ann Turkel), and soon their worst fears are confirmed when they discover humanoid mutants, apparently the result of genetic experiments on salmon, that aren’t just killing people, but also trying to mate with women.

Surprisingly enough for an exploitation film, it was directed by a woman, Barbara Peeters. Even more surprisingly the movie was originally offered to Joe Dante, who turned it down. Dante had form with monster movies having previously directed the 1978 film Piranha, and would acheive amazing success in the coming years with movies like The Howling and Gremlins.

If you go into this expecting some kind of high art, intelligent thriller you’re in for a bit of a disappointment, but if you’re looking for a fun ride, with loads of nudity and gratuitous violence, you picked the right movie to watch. To give you an idea of what your letting yourself in for, one critic described it as  “fast paced, occasionally hilarious gutter trash from the Roger Corman stable”. Sums it up quite nicely.

I first saw this in 1980 at my second home, Burton Odeon, and i have to admit, i loved every, over the top, sleazy, gore splatterd minute of it, and the ending, which has quite obviously ripped off Ridley Scott’s original 1979 Alien, is a complete shocker. The signposts were there right through the movie but i still didn’t see it coming.

The behind the scenes wrangles have become the stuff of movie legend. It goes something like this. As the film was being wrapped up, producer Roger Corman, felt that the picture needed more sex, nudity, graphic violence and monster shots throughout, so he ordered that scenes be shot, that showed the humanoids attacking and ripping the clothes off numerous, nubile young women. Director Barbara Peeters, who was a feminist and hated rape and violence against women, refused to shoot the scenes. Corman said he’d hire a second director to film the scenes he wanted, and get her feedback before using the new footage. She agreed to all this but Corman changed his mind, deciding not to show the new footage to either her, the rest of the cast, or the crew. They didn’t see the freshly shot sequences, until the official preview of the film. Peeters was absolutely furious, protesting that the new more graphic scenes were inserted purely to show more nudity and violence, and were there for purely exploitation purposes. Corman also edited out many of the scenes dealing with the plot and character development in order to make room for the nudity and more creature scenes. Peeters complained that it was no longer the film she made and wanted her name taken off. Corman said he’d do that but only if she paid the expense of redoing the credits. She wouldn’t, so her name stayed on the project. Many years later, Peeters ended up watching the film on cable and admitted it actually ended up being “a fun little movie.” Alls well that ends well.

Despite all this, Humanoids From The Deep was a only modest success. In all honesty, it didn’t exactly set the world on fire. It’s another film that’s slowly but surely gained a cult following since it’s initial release in 1980. A brilliantly haunting score by James Horner nicely sets the ominous mood, especially during the opening credits.

I’ve loved this film since the first time i saw it in 1980. It’s deliciously sleazy, wonderfully trashy, and has Roger Corman’s name written all over it. If your a fan of his work you know exactly what to expect from this movie, and you wont be disappointed. Grab a huge bucket of popcorn, switch off your brain, leave your delicate sensibilities at the door, and enjoy the hell out of this amazing movie…..


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I am passionate about movies and cinema generally. I love talking about them and writing about them.

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2 Responses

  1. Chris says:

    Brilliant review! Hit the nail right on the head with this one.. going to have to rematch it myself!

    Ps. Nice to see the view count going up! Some quality writing to be read ..

    • retromovie says:

      Many thanks for that Chris. Sincere apologies for not noticing the comment before now. Can’t believe it slipped through the net. I’m really happy with the number of hits the sites getting. Just pleased that people are reading my reviews and i guess nearly 13,000 views kind of confirms that. Thanks again for the comment and the compliment Chris. Much appreciated.

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