Barbara Peeters’ Humanoids from the Deep (1980)

It may come as a surprise to some that 1980’s sexy, nudity-laden Humanoids From the Deep was directed by a woman, Barbara Peeters. However, the bulk of the film’s nude and rape scenes were filmed by a totally different director hired by producer Roger Corman when Peeters refused to direct the so-called “exploitative sequences”, which features horny humanoids tearing off the blouses and panties of unwilling female victims and molesting them. Humanoids From the Deep is indeed gleefully exploitative, like many of the films produced by Corman’s New World Pictures (including Big Bad Mama , The Young Nurses and Peeters’ own Summer School Teachers , which makes her objection to filming the sexy scenes in Humanoids From the Deep seem a bit preposterous), but it’s a lot of stylish, tongue-in-cheek fun as well and manages to be scary and self-parodying at the same time. It also has a wowser of an ending that has young blonde bombshell Peggy (Lynn Theel), who has been raped and impregnated by one of the slimy humanoids, suffering a rather gruesome delivery room birth in a graphic scene that was ahead of its time and budget (possibly even an influence for the “birth” scene in David Cronenberg’s The Fly ) and must be seen to be believed! Though it was far from a critical success and received some harsh reviews upon its original release, Humanoids From the Deep has since acquired a strong cult following and has been reassessed as an entertaining and worthwhile piece of sleazy sci-fi cinema.

Humanoids From the Deep takes place in the quaint seaside harbor town of Noyo, where some of the local fishermen and community are in an uproar over a salmon cannery that is about to be built. In the midst of a power struggle between the supporters of the cannery (lead by racist fisherman Hank Slattery) and the opposers (lead by Native American boat captain Johhny Eagle, played by Anthony Penya), a team of enormous, scaly sea beasts (or “humanoids”) begins crawling to shore from the murky waters and slashes to death the human men they encounter and forcefully breed with the unwilling females. Soon its up to pacifist boat captain Jim Hill (Doug McClure from TV’s The Virginian ) and lovely marine biologist Susan Drake (Ann Turkel from John Frankenheimer’s 99 and 44/100% Dead ) to determine the cause of the mutant sea creatures (which, of course, turns out to be the result of pollution a la 1979’s Prophecy ) and hopefully put a stop to them before they complete their mission of mating with every human female in sight and multiplying.

At barely 80 minutes, Humanoids From the Deep is a fast-paced and energetic camp classic that should please horror and sleaze fans with its graphic gore, abundant female nudity, and sardonic humor. The creepy humanoid costumes were designed by makeup legend Rob Bottin ( The Howling , Legend ). They look pretty slimy and cool, especially for such a low-budget film, and in fact the production crew only had three of them! Through the use of some clever camerawork and tight editing, there seems to be many more of the ghoulish creatures prowling around and creating bloody mischief. The film’s jazzy, smoky score was created by now popular movie composer James Horner (future Academy Award winner for his work on Titanic and force behind the scores of Aliens , Field of Dreams , Braveheart and Apollo 13 ) in only two weeks. Doug McClure added another solid performance to his resume, and the late Vic Morrow (two years before his untimely death on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie ) is a standout as bigoted Hank Slattery. Humanoids From the Deep was remade in 1996 for cable TV’s Showtime Channel and also produced by Roger Corman, but the remake was rather dry and bland compared to the sleazily fun original . Clips from the film were also spliced into the enjoyable 1988 Corman-produced Not of this Earth remake (which stars ex-porn queen Traci Lords and was directed by Jim Wynorski), a fast-paced ’80s-style rehash of Corman’s own 1957 Not of This Earth .

Humanoids From the Deep is as much fun today as it was in 1980, and is available not only on DVD but on a gorgeously remastered Blu-Ray . A not-so-subtle warning of the dangers of pollution, the film is nonetheless more concerned with entertaining the viewer with action, sex and gore than being preachy or self-important, which is an asset. I rate Humanoids From the Deep an 8 of 10 and recommend it to cult movie fans, especially fans of science fiction and beach horror films like Blood Beach and Piranha .