Frankenfood is the scary buzzword used to describe big industry messing with animals and plants to create more profitable products. Everything from corn, turkeys, cows and soybeans have been modified through genetics, radioactivity and other forms of freaky science. Back in 1980 this wasn’t much of an issue since everything in the grocery store was constructed out of corn syrup. Roger Corman issued America a cinematic warning about the dangers of tinkering with our food supply. This wasn’t some tree hugging, granola eating documentary with folk music. Corman’s declares that the ultimate threat from Frankenfood is rape and murder in Humanoids from the Deep: Roger Corman’s Cult Classics.
The sleepy fishing town of Noyo is getting nasty with the impending construction of a large scale Salmon cannery. The local Indian tribe led by Johnny Eagle (Anthony Pena) oppose it. Hank Slattery (Combat‘s Vic Morrow) wants the cannery almost as much as he hates the Indians. Jim Hill (The Virginian‘s Doug McClure) wants the cannery, but hates Hank Slattery. A movie about racial and economic tension would be enough for Ken Loach, but this is a Roger Corman production. Into this three way conflict arrives mutant sea creatures.
Local fisherman are killed by the slimy creatures. Women find themselves being sexually attacked. Jim Hill sees one of the monsters and wants to get to the truth whereas Slattery thinks this is merely an Indian trick. He uses the monsters as an excuse to attack Eagle. Hill gets a little scientific help from Dr. Susan Drake (Ann Turkel). Turns out that the Humanoids are fallout from a growth hormone treatment developed by the company wanting to build the cannery. The mutant salmon have swum home to mate with the women of Noyo. This is Creature From the Black Lagoon dosed with Viagra, ecstasy and meth.
The big finale involves the Humanoids attacking a dockside carnival celebrating the salmon season. Even with the presence of Miss Salmon, the monsters go nuts on the humans. The budget might be low, but this scene is better than most major Hollywood productions. The dock is set on fire and the action is non-stop. The only thing that visually tops Rob Bottin’s Humanoid monsters is Vic Morrow’s Dadfro. His hair tops that Gary Cole wore in the Brady Bunch Movie. Humanoids From the Deep reminds us that the biggest fear of frankenfood should be its ability to rape and kill humans.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The transfers is extraordinarily sharp when compared to earlier DVD releases. You get to see the detail Bottin put into his monsters and Vic Morrow put into his Dadfro. The audio is a PCM 2.0 taken from the mono. The range is good when the mayhem at the Salmon Carnival hits.
Never Before Seen Deleted Scenes (7:12) were uncovered in an MGM vault. The first scene is from the “spice it up” reshoots. A woman strips down and goes skinny dipping. Naturally she’s attacked by a monster. The second scene is a young couple making out in a car. Once nudity is revealed, the monsters come a creepin’. There’s also a bar scene featuring Vic Morrow.
The Making of Humanoids From the Deep (22:41) details how this film underwent a major reshoot when director Barbara Peters turned in a movie that underplayed the nudity while being extra vicious in the violence. Roger sent out a second unit to spice things up. This explains why there’s no director’s commentary from Barbara Peeters. Composer James Horner (Titanic) discusses his work on the score. The coolest part is a chat with Miss Salmon (Linda Shayne). She reminds us that she wasn’t merely eye candy to be attacked by the creatures. She fought back.
Leonard Maltin Interviews Roger Corman on the Making of the Film (3:27) catches Roger on an extra smiling day.
Radio Spot (0:32) is what you’d hear on the AM dial to lure you to the drive-in.
TV Spot (0:32) does focuses on people being stalked and attacked by the humanoids.
Poster and Still Gallery contains about a dozen images including plenty from Japan.
Trailers (3:46) contains the US and German releases. It promises all the intense action that the film delivers including the screaming Miss Salmon.
Humanoids from the Deep: Roger Corman’s Cult Classics is a low budget gem in the underwater monster genre. The movie gets extremely graphic in the sex and violence so it’s not a cute thing to show the kids like Creature From the Black Lagoon. Doug McClure and Vic Morrow are perfect adversaries around the harbor. After this film, you’ll think twice about letting people meddle with your fish.
Shout! Factory presents Humanoids from the Deep: Roger Corman’s Cult Classics. Directed by: Barbara Peeters. Starring: Doug McClure, Vic Morrow and Ann Turkel. Running Time: 79 minutes. Released on DVD: August 3, 2010.
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.