Humanoids from the Deep loomed large in the collective imagination when I was in grade school in the early 1980s. the name alone was provocative enough, but the sleazy newspaper ads represented exploitation at its most alluring to juveniles. However, a similarly-themed contemporary monster movie, Blood Beach, was also heavy on our minds at the time, and I'm pretty sure I've only watched the latter prior to this month. I don't recall Blood Beach at all now, but I highly doubt it's better than this grimly fun slice of horny monster mayhem.
Factions in a small California fishing town are at odds about how the arrival of a new cannery will affect local fisherman and the economy, but the side effect that no one thinks to expect is that the cannery's genetic tinkering with the fish supply is creating giant mutant fishmen who want to murder human men and mate with human women. This kind of plot could easily be played for campy laughs, but Humanoids director Barbara Peeters takes it completely seriously, resulting in a rare fully committed creature feature. While the first few glimpses of the slimy rubber-suited monsters might seem silly, when 20 of them are wreaking bloody havoc on an outdoor festival, slicing up everyone within reach, it's some of the best filmmaking of its genre.
Humanoids from the Deep was controversial when it was released due to a handful of scenes in which the subject of monster-on-woman conjugation is more than just suggested; even the movie's own director was aghast that producer Roger Corman had some of these scenes re-shot without her knowledge to capture something more sensational than she intended. While taste, decorum and feminism might lead one to side with Peeters, Corman knows his way around exploitation, and there's no denying that these scenes up the ante severely, transforming Humanoids From the Deep from a modest thriller to a shocker of epochal proportions.
A good cast of humorless tough guys, headed by Doug McClure and Vic Morrow, sets the perfect tone. Humanoids From the Deep is no artistic masterpiece, but for gritty d-movie creature action, it doesn't have many peers.