Humanoids From The Deep
Title: Humanoids From The Deep
Year Of Release: 1980
Running Time: 82 minutes
DVD Released By: New Concorde
Directed By: Barbara Peters
Writing Credits: Frank Arnold, Martin B. Cohen (story) and Frederick James (screenplay)
Starring: Doug McClure, Ann Turkel, Vic Morrow
1. From The Caverns Of The Deep... It Strikes!
2. They're not human. But they hunt human women. Not for killing. For mating.
Humanoids of the Deep
Monster (Humanoids from the Deep)
Review Date: 7.21.07 (updated 1.1.10)
Shadow's Title: "Fish 'n' Chicks"
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Jim Hill – This guy is one of the locals who makes his living by operating a fishing boat. He seems a pretty honest and good natured guy. He supports the idea of opening a cannery in the town of Noyo, but is still good friends with people who do not share his views. In other words, he respects others.
Carol Hill – Jim’s wife. She really has no role to play except to stand next to Jim in a few scenes and take care of the pooping baby the rest of the time. It’s too bad she doesn’t have a bigger part, as she’s also a total MILF who really needed to be seen in some more revealing outfits.
Doctor Susan Drake – The scientist for Canco that experimented on salmon with DNA-5. Hoping to speed up their development and increase the population, she ended up with hordes of horny Fish-men, instead. Now that is a screw-up for the record books. She can't even pronounce coelacanth correctly.
Johnny Eagle – Native American that makes a living from the fishing industry. He’s good friends with Jim and Tommy, but steers clear of Slattery. Johnny is the stereotypical American Indian that one finds in a B-movie: he supposedly cares more about the environment than anyone else does.
Hank Slattery – Every film has to have a jackhole somewhere, whether it’s in the main cast or just a secondary or tertiary character. Well, Hank here is Noyo’s resident jerkwad. He supports the idea of a cannery, but is a total ass about it. Plus, he is a raging bigot and dog killer.
Tommy Hill – Jim’s younger brother. He doesn’t do too much but back up his brother and/or Johnny in fistfights. While helping the latter, he is attacked by some of the Humanoids and has his ass handed to him big time. He survives, but pretty much vanishes from the film after that.
Linda Beale – She is one of the local broads that shows up in the movie. That really is the best way to describe her, as she doesn’t really add much. She pops up here and there, is seen sketching on the beach at one point and…well, that is about it. She ends up crashing a truck and going kablooey.
Peggy Larson – Another local girl. After her boyfriend gets sliced and diced she is grabbed by a walking fish stick and dragged back to their hangout where she is raped by at least one of the monsters, if not all of them. Later gives birth to something best described as a baby Gillman.
Jerry Potter – No, this isn’t Harry’s long lost, retarded muggle of an American cousin, though there is ample evidence that Jerry here is mentally challenged. This uber dork is Peggy’s boyfriend and is typical of guys his age: he is obsessed with beer and getting laid. Got killed instead.
The Humanoids – The newest residents to call the town of Noyo home. Unlike other minorities, these guys really are bringing down the value of the local properties. Just wait until they start applying for a driver’s license, requiring medical care and insisting that local schools be bilingual!
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Our first shot is one where the camera lazily moves through some kelp, the ominous music playing. These sort of shots always freaked me out as a kid because I have always had a fear of deep water. Especially deep murky water. It is not so much the water that unnerved me, but the apprehension over what might be lurking in that murky water that had me on edge. I’ve never liked the sense of helplessness that being in water brings. After all, you are no longer in your element and are in the domain of things that are much bigger and stronger than you. Anyway, now that I’ve got the brief psychoanalysis out of the way, the shot changes to a surface view of some cove or bay and the title shimmers into view.
As the credits unfold, we are treated to lots of views of the town of Noyo. The town, being a coastal community, seems to be built around the fishing industry and we get numerous views of the marina, boats, guys working on boats, guys working with nets and traps, boats in dry-dock and all that sort of thing. I half expected to see a trawler come sailing into port with the Gorton’s fisherman at the helm.
A jeep pulls up at the marina and Jim Hill, accompanied by his brother Tommy, emerge. They chat with some guy named Deke, who apparently can predict the day’s success at fishing by how much his beard itches in the morning. They also see Hank Slattery, who operates another local boat. Hank greets them warmly and says that it is a perfect day. Then he spies a small outboard motorboat approaching and grumpily remarks that it was “damn near perfect.” The small craft stops and Johnny Eagle hops out onto the dock, along with his dog.
Jim asks Johnny if he is going fishing, but Johnny says there isn’t enough fish out there to pay for his gas. Besides, if a cannery opens close by, within a year or two there won’t be any fish at all. Hank speaks up now and says that a cannery would mean progress for a town like Noyo and in turn, progress means money. Then he says that Johnny and “his people” don’t understand that. He stresses that one thing is for sure: they (meaning Johnny’s people) won’t be allowed to stand in their way. Johnny mentions that General Custer said something similar before having his ass shot full of arrows, but Hank just reminds them that while Johnny’s people won the battle, they won the war. With that he yells out a few commands to his crew and his boat pulls away from the dock. Johnny bids farewell to Jim and goes his separate way, as well. Oh, by the way…as Johnny leaves, you can see a kid sitting and reading a comic book on a nearby docked boat. A wee bit of foreshadowing there.
We can glean a few things from that brief exchange. One is that there is the possibility of a cannery opening in town. This seems to be a point of contention with the locals. Some townsfolk seem to be in favor of such a thing while others seem to be against the idea. Another thing we learn is that Hank is a colossal bigot. It’s obvious he doesn’t like Johnny simply because the other man is a Native American. His condescending remarks about Johnny’s “people” are just the sort of idiocy you’d expect from such ignorant fools.
So now the happy music swells and we see a few small fishing boats heading out to sea for the day. One such boat is operated by the aforementioned Deke. We see him and his crew out at sea trying to haul up one their nets, but it seems to be stuck on something. Deke calls for “Jackie” to get on the winch and we see that he is speaking to that kid with the comic book. The kid turns on the winch and Deke starts celebrating prematurely about the size of the catch they’re attempting to bring up. Below the water we see the net and note that there is a big, clawed hand moving around within it.
The owner of that clawed hand no doubt wants to extricate itself from the net as well as keep any fish that have been caught, so it begins to pull on it. A few seconds later the winch on the boat sputters to a stop (unnoticed by the Jackie, who has returned to his comic book). Deke yells some and Jackie checks the winch. It seems it is out of gas. This really causes Deke to fly into a rage, yelling and hollering to his son and wondering why the kid has been on the boat all day and never thought to check the gas in the winch motor. I suppose the adventures of Sub-Mariner (or whomever the comic book features) was much more important in Jackie’s assessment. Deke yells at him to get it filled up and then hollers at some guy named Smitty to get the engines fired up and ready to go.
The clawed hand continues to struggle with the net below the surface while Jackie fetches a gas can and begins to fill the winch with a funnel. Smitty can’t get the engine started and tells Deke that there is no oil pressure. Deke is about ready to soil himself, as everything seems to be going wrong just as he is about to haul in the catch of a lifetime. The force pulling on the net is now so great, the lines are close to breaking. Deke yells at Jackie to stop filling the motor and to come give them a hand with the net. Jackie places the gas can down, but doesn’t notice that it falls over and begins spilling fuel all over the deck (uh oh).
It should be noted that during this entire sequence, the surface of the water can be seen alternating from very calm and still to much more choppy. Continuity? What’s that?
Deke, Jackie and some other clown are now pulling on the net. Deke hollers some more to Jackie, telling him to lean way over and get a good grip. Finally, the line snaps, the winch arm breaks and Jackie is thrown into the water. Oddly enough, the kid must have climbed back out and thrown himself into the sea a second time, as when we first see him fall overboard, it is head first, but when we get an underwater view of him hitting the water, he lands on his back. The kid surfaces and Deke is preparing to extend a hook and pull him in while Smitty gets on the radio and begins calling for help. We get one of those underwater POV shots that denotes something closing in on the struggling youth (the owner of that clawed hand no doubt) and suddenly Jackie vanishes beneath the surface in the same footage of him surfacing, only now it is run backwards (yes, backwards).
The camera now recedes from the boat in an underwater shot, giving the impression that whatever just grabbed Jackie is swimming down and away from the vessel. Then a cloud of dark blood fills the water and up above, Deke starts to spaz out when he sees all that red. He screams that he has to save his boy and is ready to jump overboard himself, but a crewmember holds him back. Pity really, as Smitty loads a flare gun but trips with it and accidentally fires it right into the puddle of gasoline. KABOOM!! The entire boat goes up in a fireball, deep frying Deke, Smitty and that other dork. Now if Deke has been allowed to jump into the water, he might have had a better shot at making it back to shore alive. Maybe.
A distance away, Jim and Tommy Hill are on their own boat and notice the explosion. They watch as Deke’s boat explodes at least three more times, no doubt denoting that his hold was filled with high explosives (actually the boat only exploded once, but the filmmakers decided to show it several times). While Tommy gets on the radio to the Coast Guard, Jim produces some binoculars and looks through them, remarking that he does not see anyone in the water. The wreckage of Deke’s boat burns in the distance. Fade out.
We are now at home with Jim, his wife Carol and their Blonde offspring, Shawn, who is little more than a toddler. Oh, and their dog, Baron, too. The Sheriff has stopped by and his taking Jim’s statement on the earlier explosion. He states that boats just don’t explode. Jim tells him that Deke’s boat leaked oil like a sieve. The Sheriff thinks that would make it even easier to rig an explosion – an explosion that could drive away any potential canneries that might be thinking of setting up shop in the area. Since Johnny Eagle has been so vocal about opposing the cannery, his name tops the list of potential suspects.
Jim says that Deke and his guys were scared and were shooting at something…and it was not Johnny Eagle. Um, question…how does he know that? He was a mile away in his own boat! How could he know what Deke and his crew were experiencing? And shooting? The only shot fired was the flare gun that sent the boat up in flames. Is he just making this stuff up? Right about now, Baron senses that something is wrong and in some subtle fashion, Baby Shawn picks up on that fact and begins to cry. Is the kid psychic or a budding Doctor Dolittle type? I suppose the crying could be occurring simply because the kid has crapped in his pants again, but the dog is definitely bothered by something. Jim opens the front door and lets the dog out.
Baron heads over to some toppled garbage cans and begins sniffing around, the evening fog making it hard to see very far. The dog follows a scent into the trees and after a few moments begins barking at something. A large inhuman figure looms into view and grabs the dog. I’m guessing that what we see next is supposed to be a violent and bloody demise for the canine, but what it looks like is somebody in a cheap Creature From The Black Lagoon costume play-wrestling with a dog that has had red food coloring splashed on it. All in all, rather silly looking.
The next morning Carol Hill heads out with a dog dish and calls for Baron, but there is no sign of the dog. The music gets a little creepy as she heads towards the doghouse, which has a cloth flap that covers its opening and prevents one from seeing inside. She bends down to look inside, pulls back the cloth flap and LOOKOUT, a spring-loaded cat comes hurtling out, complete with requisite “meowrrraar” sound. Carol shakes her head and smiles to herself, then notices something and calls Jim outside. She shows him the toppled garbage cans and the slimy green substance that is all over the place. He doesn’t know what it is, but there is a trail of it leading into the woods. They decide to follow it. As they trudge along, they call out for Baron, but of course there is no sign of their dog.
We cut to town where Hank Slattery has backed his pickup truck up to the marina and his crew begins to unload a fresh supply of beer for the boat…all forty or so cases of it. Either the Superbowl is on TV or they are planning on opening up a floating bar for the other boats to frequent. I know, I know, it’s for their own purposes, but how long do you think that much beer will last them? Let’s see…forty cases of beer, twenty-four cans per case…that’s nine hundred and sixty cans. There are five guys in the crew, so that beer should last….until about 5:00 PM, tops. Maybe six o’clock if they stretch it. Just in time to return to port and restock the ship!
Elsewhere, Jim and Carol have followed the slime trail all the way to the shore, but have still not found any trace of Baron. They look around some more and call out the dog’s name a few more times before Jim notices something and takes off running down the beach. Carol follows, but they soon halt when they come across the bloody body of Baron, covered in seaweed. Well, they find half of the dog. Where the other half may be is anyone’s guess.
Back at the dock, Hank and his crew are laughing and making their way to their boat when they come across another dead dog. A short ways away lies a third dead pooch. Each one looks like it was mauled by a bear or something else with very sharp claws. However, there is one dog in the area that is not dead and it happens to be the dog belonging to Johnny Eagle. Hank takes note of this and you can hear the gears clicking in his empty head. Everyone seems to know that Johnny opposes the cannery. Now all the dogs but his turn up dead. I can see how bigoted morons would think he had something to do with it.
Why weren’t these slime trails left on the docks when all the other dogs were killed? Never again in the film will there be seen slime trails left by the monsters, which leads to me to think that the particular Humanoid that killed Baron and then dragged his carcass back to the beach, must have had a cold and a really runny nose, or was suffering from some severe diarrhea (eating a dog might do that to you).
It’s now night again and we get a POV shot of something walking around the outside of a house. Inside, a woman dressed only in some lingerie is brushing her hair, in plain view through a window set within a door. This is Peggy Larson. She hears a bang and looks outside, but sees nothing. She finishes her brushing, dons a robe and walks through the house, getting startled at one point by some laundry that falls from a hanger. Talk about jumpy!! She makes her way through the house, constantly looking around her as if expecting someone to appear out of thin air at any moment. When in the kitchen, she bumps some dishes in the sink and this nearly gives her heart failure. Then the phone rings, causing her to damn near jump out of her skin. She talks with someone named Linda for a moment and on the understanding that this Linda will be coming over shortly, she hangs up the phone.
She hears another sound and this time she retrieves a weapon from the kitchen. A meat cleaver? No. A huge steak knife? Nope. What she gets is…a meat fork. WTF (what the fork)? While I will admit that it makes a good stabbing weapon, a knife of some sort would also be useful in slashing a potential assailant in addition to being employed to stab. Oh, well. So Peggy now approaches the front door. It has a small window set within the top, too high to look through but big enough for her to see shadows moving about on the porch. The doorknob slowly begins to turn, but the door is locked. Whoever is outside runs off, the shadows giving away their movement. All of a sudden there is a roar from behind her and she is grabbed by…her idiot boyfriend, Jerry Potter.
Jerry explains that he came in the side door since the other door was locked. His appearance inside the house so quickly after someone tried the front door makes it clear that it could not have been him out there. There is no way he could go from that door, around the side of the house, enter and walk to her position within five seconds…unless he is related to Barry Allen. There is now some idiotic banter between the two of them. He notices her skimpy attire and alludes to some potential sex action, but she says that she is too scared, plus Linda and Tommy are on their way over and there just isn’t enough time. The hell there isn't! Any man knows that boom boom can be accomplished quite well and satisfying in under five minutes.
We turn now to the 75th annual Noyo Salmon Festival Dance, which is being held in some community center that looks like it was once a warehouse. Jim and Carol arrive and greet the Mayor, along with Hank Slattery’s wife. Jim asks where Hank is, but his wife doesn’t know, citing that he and some of the boys took off about twenty minutes earlier. A few minutes later Hank and his cronies arrive, followed up by Linda, Tommy, Peggy and Jerry, the latter of which produces a bottle of booze and commences the evenings festivities in the parking lot.
Inside, a band called Jo Williams and her White Water Boys are finishing up a tune. I don’t know if I’d call any of these guys boys. The last time the banjo player looks like he fit that description was probably the Johnson Administration. The Andrew Johnson administration. The Mayor of Noyo now gets up and introduces some special guests at this year’s festival: the president of Canco Incorporated and two of his associates, one of which is Doctor Susan Drake. The president now gets before the microphone and makes his big pitch, telling the townsfolk how his company is behind the community, how the cannery they plan to open will brings jobs and how they will even increase the catch. To stress that last point, he relates how Doctor Drake has been conducting tests upstream for the last seven years and how the company now knows how to make the salmon grow bigger, faster and twice as plentiful. All of this elicits various reactions from the crowd. Jim yawns in boredom while Hank claps like mad and nudges his wife and pals to get them to clap. The mayor wraps things up and soon the band has struck up another ungodly tune.
Um...problem: Canco claims that after seven years of experimenting, they now have the ability (through the use of something called DNA-5) to not only make the salmon grow bigger and develop into adults much faster, but also to increase the population – thus kick starting the fishing industry in the town of Noyo into a new period of prosperity. I hate to rain on their parade, but have any of those high IQ folks at Canco given any thought as to how the local ecology is going to sustain such a large increase? I realize that the fishing community is going to be plucking them from the sea as fast as is feasible, but it still seems to me that any situation where a single species’ numbers experience a rapid growth rate is just a disaster in the making. Will the population exceed the resources available for their development?
Couples are now seen dancing and at one point Peggy and Jerry head outside. Susan Drake chats with some of the locals, but she has this expression on her face like she would rather be anywhere else other than mingling with these inbred simpletons. It’s revealed that Jim will be taking her and the other Canco dorks out on his boat for a fishing trip. Hank asks Jim what he thinks of the doctor’s claims and Jim replies that he will believe it when he sees it. Susan looks at him as if her own morals were being impugned and says, “you’ll see it.”
Turning to Peggy and Jerry outside, we see that they are in the camper shell on Tommy’s truck and are necking up a storm. A shadow passes by outside the vehicle and Peggy thinks she hears something. Jerry did not see or hear anything and is far more concerned about getting his tongue as far down her throat as possible (and no doubt his tab A into her slot B) than anything going on outside. They go back to groping and kissing while the dancing continues inside. The sheriff mentions to the Mayor about all the dead watchdogs down at the Marina – all except for Johnny Eagle’s dog. The Mayor asks if the sheriff has come to any conclusions. The answer is no, but the mayor points out that Hank Slattery seems to have come to a conclusion on his own.
The dancing continues, then the door opens and people look up in horror. Standing there is Johnny Eagle, holding the bloody body of his dog. Look closely and you will see the blood stains on his shirt change shape and size from shot to shot. He asks Slattery if he knows who killed his dog (knowing full well that it was he who did it). Slattery calls it a coincidence, since seven other dogs were killed the previous night at the docks. He then asks Johnny if he knows anything about those, the implication being that Johnny was responsible. Johnny says that he does not kill dogs to get what he wants. Then he says that he is going to file a lawsuit for the return of all Indian lands along the river that lead to the sea. He’s going to stop the cannery from opening, but do it by the law. “Your law,” he says to Slattery. What's with the "your?" Did he suddenly relinquish his citizenship?
Slattery says that Johnny wasn’t invited to this little shindig and has one of his boys pull him outside while another takes away the dead dog. Slattery then encourages the music to start back up and everyone to resume dancing. He heads outside where some harsh words are exchanged with Johnny. One thing leads to another and soon a full on fistfight has broke out. The commotion draws the attention of the folks inside, who come out and watch as Slattery and his gang beat the crap out of Johnny. Finally, Jim Hill cannot stand it any longer and jumps in to help Johnny, followed quickly by his younger brother Tommy. Punches are thrown left and right. One guy bounces off the truck where Peggy and Jerry are necking. Jerry opens the back window and sticks his head out long enough to get decked by a fist. He falls back into the truck. There is a wee bit more fighting then the sheriff fires his gun into the air to get everyone’s attention and tells them to all head on home.
It is now daytime and we see Hank Slattery heading up river in a small outboard motor boat. He makes his way to where Johnny Eagle lives and then kills the motor. He drifts to shore, climbs out, ties up his mooring lines and then quietly makes his way toward the nearby house. We hear Johnny talking with someone about how he has talked to a lawyer in Sacramento (gee, I guess that means this film takes place in California) and how his case against Canco looks promising.
Jumping over to the coast, we see Linda chilling out on the beach and drawing in a sketch book. Not far off Peggy and Jerry recline on the sand, the latter rubbing his hands all over the former. An underwater shot then shows a boat passing by overhead and a clawed hand pushing aside some seaweed to get a better look. The boat is the one belonging to Jim Hill and on board he and Tommy are taking the Canco people on a fishing trip. Back at the beach, Peggy and Jerry continue to play tongue hockey as Linda looks on in amusement. Then, wanting some privacy no doubt, they get up and walk down the beach. As they go, they fail to notice the huge footprints in the sand that denote where something big and with sharp toenails has walked.
We cut quickly to Jim’s boat where one of the Canco guys has finally caught a fish after two hours of trying. Susan Drake notes how long it took and Jim remarks on how her work will change that…meaning that the waters will be so filled with salmon, the darn things will practically be jumping onto the deck.
Returning to Peggy and Jerry, we see they have found a private section of beach. She asks if his cheek hurts (where he got punched) and he answers that it does, but she could make him feel better. She says that he has a one-track mind (well duh!) and they resume walking.
Now we jump back to Jim’s boat, where the Canco president’s line has caught something. Whatever it is, it seems to be quite big. He tries pulling it in and at one point we see a dark shape below the surface of the water. The thing manages to get away, but not before Susan snapped a zillion pictures of it…despite it never surfacing. Whatever it was, it cut the line on its own.
Once again we head over to where Peggy and Jerry are wandering around. Having found a secluded enough spot for their tastes, they go splashing in the waist-high water. It’s apparent that something is watching them from beneath the surface. Jerry splashes Peggy with water, then dives under only to re-appear and splash her again. Then he seems to vanish beneath a wave rolling in. She calls out for him and tells him not to be an ass. He pops up again and snarls at her, pretending to be a monster or something. Then they start to kiss again while standing in the water. Somehow his hair has gone from completely wet to damn near dry in the space of about ten seconds.
A POV shot now tells us something is getting close. Close enough to see Jerry stick his hand in Peggy’s bikini bottom and squeeze her ass cheeks. She doesn’t like this and pushes him away. With her back turned to him, she can only hear the splashing sounds as something pulls him under the water. She looks around for him, but there is so sign of the dork. We get to see him, however. He is currently under water getting the squish treatment by a pair of big, clawed hands.
Peggy calls for him some more and then spies him hunched over in the water a short distance away, his back to her. She heads over, still thinking this is another of his jokes. She grabs him and spins him around, revealing that half of his face is now gone. She lets out a scream and rushes for shore. She is almost there when something grabs her foot and begins to drag her away. She screams and claws at the sand while dead Jerry bobs around in the water like the world’s most gruesome beach toy.
It should be noted that during the entire previous sequence, some of the footage was run in reverse (or mirrored) as Peggy’s bikini design has green coloration on only one breast cup, but that spot jumps back and forth from the left to the right. Continuity? What’s that?
Back where they initially started, Linda is pulling her pants on while Carol Hill invites her to accompany her down to meet Jim’s boat.
Now comes the part of the film that many may find distasteful. We return to the plight of poor Peggy. Off somewhere on some secluded section of beach, we see her thrown to the ground by a large Fish-man. It wastes no time in jumping on her and clawing away her bikini while she cries in protest. While things don’t get too graphic, the implication is clear: the poor girl is being raped by the Gillman’s fugly cousin. Yikes, not only is that thing green and slimy like the world’s biggest booger, but it probably smells worse than tuna that has been left in the sun for a week. And it didn’t even buy her dinner first! Look closely during this scene at the creature and you will notice that when it bends its head down, you can very briefly see a gap between the suit and the mask that exposes the actor’s skin.
Back in town, Hank Slattery and his posse are in the local pool hall, enjoying smokes and beers (long before California passed a law that forbids smoking in any such establishment). He relates to his friends what he overheard out at Johnny Eagle’s place and how something needs to be done to counter his lawsuit. One guy suggests getting their own lawyer, but Hank thinks that while the months (or years) drag on as the issue is settled in court, the good folks at Canco won’t be willing to wait round and will find another town in which to build their cannery. Hank says that something must be done now about Johnny and his people. When one of the other dolts asks how, Hank replies by saying, “any way we can, that’s how.”
At the docks, Jim has docked his boat and is bidding Tommy good-bye for the day when Johnny Eagle arrives. They inquire into each other’s bruises (obtained during the fistfight with Slattery) and then Johnny says that he wants to talk to Jim about the cannery. Jim doesn’t think there is anything to be said. Despite their friendship, Johnny is opposed to the cannery while Jim is in favor if it. Jim walks off to meet his wife, who has arrived with Linda. Tommy mentions to Johnny that despite sharing the same viewpoint as Slattery, Jim does not like the man. Linda shows up and embraces Tommy, then Johnny invites them to his place to help eat all the steelheads he caught the other night. They agree, so the trio all pile into Johnny’s small boat and take off up river.
Now we head back to the beach, where a POV shot gradually makes its way towards a tent that has been set up on the sand. We can hear the voices of a man and woman inside. Their conversation seems somewhat dirty until we seem them and realize that Mr. Cool is entertaining his girlfriend with a ventriloquist dummy. WTF? Since when did chicks go for nerdy guys like this? Evidently, the dummy turns her on big time, as soon she has divested herself of ALL her clothing. After conversing with his dummy a little more, the guy finally decides to take advantage of the naked chick in his tent. Too bad for him the POV shot has now reached their location. A large claw tears through the fabric and rips a huge hole in the guy’s shoulder blade. He topples over, apparently dead. The girl screams as the monster rips apart the tent in its efforts to get her. Oddly enough, when it was walking toward the tent, there was still quite a bit of light out, despite the sky being overcast. But when it tears open the tent, it is suddenly dark outside.
Before going any further, I must point out that something is seriously wrong with that wooden ventriloquist dummy. I mean it. That thing is possessed. How do I know? Well, after the guy puts it down in order to do the nasty with the naked chick, the dummy’s eyes move. Not once, but twice! First it turns its eyes in one direction and then back again as the monster attacks! WTF?! The film will never explain this behavior, but I am certain that it is evidence that Satan himself was animating the little sucker. Really, I mean it.
So the girl screams and bolts out of the tent and now it’s light outside again. She runs down the beach, completely naked, while the monster continues to rip up the tent. She races straight toward the camera and is completely unable to see the monster standing a couple feet away until she is close enough for the camera to zoom back and get the creature within the frame. It grabs her and throws her to the ground. Then as she struggles to pick herself up, it drops onto her and pushes her flat against the sand, all the while making that high-pitched screeching/wailing sound. Curiously, there is a large boulder a foot or two away that was not there a few seconds earlier. Also, it seems they are now much closer to the water than they were seconds ago and the actress being attacked is not the same one who we saw in the tent earlier. It looks like another poor girl is about to get fish f*cked. With her being face down, better hope Mr. Fish-man gets it in the right hole.
The fact that both a rock of this size and a horny Fish-man can materialize with such short notice leads to me believe that that particular beach is some sort of dimensional nexus or crossroads between parallel realities. That can be the only explanation! Traversing this stretch of sand will have one crossing back and forth between worlds. Perhaps there is some weird gateway close by that leads to some horrible place beyond time and space as we know it, where the Great Old Ones and The Elder Gods await the day that the Earth will once again belong to them. Um…sorry…I segued into Lovecraft territory there.
Out on the river, Hank Slattery and two of his buds are heading upstream in a small boat. Further upstream Johnny Eagle has stopped his boat and is telling Tommy and Linda about how his father brought him to this place to talk about the old ways. He wants to preserve the area as it is, thus his reason for opposing the cannery. The three of them then hear the sound of an outboard motor. Johnny says that he doesn’t get many visitors up here, so he starts up his own boat and gets to moving. When he finally pulls alongside the wooden pier on his property, night has fallen. The trio ties up the boat and look around, but there is nothing to see. Johnny offers Tommy and Linda the use of his truck so they can head back to town, but they refuse, citing that they are here to eat. They all laugh and head for the house.
Elsewhere on the river, it is still light outside where Slattery is. That is one long river, I tell you. It apparently crosses time zones!
Back at Johnny’s it is dark. Linda heads outside to get water from a well and Tommy follows her. They share a kiss, oblivious to the slimy visitor that is watching them from across the river.
Returning to Slattery, we can see that he and his pals have prepared a Molotov Cocktail. One of them is getting cold feet about using it, but Hank just pushes them on. They drift up to shore near Johnny’s place. Oh, by the way…it is light out where they are at. The Humanoid that was watching Tommy and Linda kiss, slides back into the water then we see a shot of Johnny and his guests preparing dinner. Oh, by the way…it is dark outside. Slattery and his gang now fire up their engine and hurl a cocktail at Johnny’s house. The place explodes no less than three times. Not just three times, mind you, but each one produces a huge fireball. What was in that bottle of booze? Antimatter? The entire house has been totally incinerated. That is some mighty potent liquor! Screw Everclear, give me a shot of this stuff!!!
Johnny, Tommy and Linda didn’t see who threw the incendiary device, but quickly rush to put out the flames. They head down to the dock…where that slimy Humanoid is lurking in the water. The men try to get some kind of pump working while Linda hops in Johnny’s truck in order to fetch help from town. She takes off as the men get the pump going, Johnny using a hose to douse the flames.
From the pier, Tommy hears a Humanoid off in the dark and believes it is whoever just bombed the place. He yells, calls them cowards and shoots off a rifle. Then a large scaly hand reaches up out of the water and pulls him off the pier. He struggles to pull himself out of the water, but the creature just pulls him back. Johnny is fighting the fire and cannot see what is happening. Tommy manages to grab the rifle and using it as a club, fend off his monstrous attacker. He climbs onto the dock just in time for another creature (that has climbed out of the water) to grab his head and beat it against the pier. However, Johnny has finally noticed his plight and has come running. He throws an axe at the monster, striking it in the head and sending it back into the water. Johnny goes to help the unconscious Tommy, but another Humanoid pops up to attack him. Johnny grabs the nearby rifle and shoots the critter, killing it.
In Johnny ’s truck, Linda is heading for town. It should be noted that when we first see the vehicle, there is a large portion missing from the windshield. A few seconds later when we see if from another angle, the glass is completely intact. Suddenly a fishy hand strikes the windshield from above the cab. The glass breaks and the hand reaches in several times to grab Linda. She slaps at it, as if thinking this was harsh enough to get the unwanted hitchhiker to bugger off. Finally she hits the brakes, which throws the monster from the truck. It rolls and lands in a heap a few yards in front of her. As she sits there, the creature begins to stir. This is accomplished by running in reverse a small portion of the footage that just showed it landing in the road.
Before it can pick itself up to menace her again, she drives over the beast, no doubt killing it. She heads on down the road, oblivious to the second monster in the bed of the truck. Doesn’t anyone even look in his or her mirrors anymore? Sheesh. This monster smashes the back window, reaches into the cab and throws its arm around her neck. She screams, struggles and somehow loses control of the vehicle. It plunges off a bridge (in a shot that was filmed at time when there was much more daylight available) and like every other exploding conveyance in this film, blows up three times. However, it seems considerable time elapsed before it did explode. When it first impacts, we see it land in some shallow water, but when it goes kablooey, the ground around it is now all dry. I guess the tide went out or something. Fade out.
Morning arrives and we see Doctor Susan Drake head into town where she tries to rent a boat from a local. He doesn’t advise it, pointing to a large group of gathered men across the street. She walks over and hears them talking about Linda’s death. Then Johnny Eagle cruises up in his boat with a battered Tommy. The Sheriff wants him to explain things, but the next thing you know, Jim and Carol have arrived and Tommy is being tossed into the back of a truck for transportation to the hospital. Carol accompanies him while Jim sticks around to hear Johnny’s tale of the killer Fish-men. Slattery is quick to blame the monsters for burning Johnny’s house, but a look from the latter makes it clear he knows Slattery did it (since the only people who know about the bombing is Johnny, Tommy and whoever the guilty party may be). Jim wants to go after whatever type of creatures are killing people, but no one seems interested. No one but Johnny and Doctor Drake. Jim is willing to accept Johnny’s help but it takes a lecture from Susan about his antique manners to convince him to take her along.
The three of them head back to Johnny’s place by boat. Johnny shows them the dock area, which curiously looks nothing like it did in the dark. Susan gets out and snaps a few photos. She finds evidence that the creatures were there and then goes on about how they are probably nocturnal and will remain inactive during the day. She also says that the food supply upstream will not support them, so they will have to turn to the ocean to survive.
The next thing we know, the three of them are out on Jim’s boat. Susan makes a sketch based on the description provided by Johnny. He says that it is pretty close to what the creatures look like, only they have bigger heads. She takes this to mean that the monsters may be more intelligent than they initially appear. She also comments that “they must have developed more than I figured.” Huh? As far as anyone knows, this is the first people have heard of these things, but she’s talking about their development. This shows right here that she knows far more about the situation than what she is admitting. One of their fishing lines suddenly catches something and Jim reels it in, only to reveal a big salmon. He remarks that it is the first time he is disappointed in seeing one that big. Susan draws some sort of correlation between the fish’s size and the closeness of the monsters’ hangout. Yeah, I didn’t quite get it, either.
Some time later Jim reports that after talking to his wife via the radio, he has learned that his brother Tommy will be okay. Then he asks Susan what she knows. Some of her statements have made it clear she knew more than she let on at first, so he presses her on it. Before he can get an answer, she points out the rocky shore she has been watching and the series of caves that dot the coastline. Suddenly the three of them have anchored the boat and are heading toward shore in a rubber dinghy.
Once on land they poke around the shore until they stumble across a whole bunch of the Humanoids. The monsters seem to be kicked back, sleeping and relaxing. Susan starts snapping photos like mad. One of the creatures is not thrilled by the uninvited guests…at least, not the two that are sporting testicles. Being female, Susan is probably quite welcome. The critter gets up and stalks towards them, its unnaturally long arms held out wide. Jim pumps it full of lead while Susan snaps more photos. Additional monsters now converge on the spot. Jim shoots them all dead, including one which had very nearly dragged poor Johnny out to sea. In all, Jim fired off about eleven or twelve shots.
The trio pokes around some more and makes a horrible discovery: a big pile of seaweed out from which protrudes a human leg. “My god, it’s Peggy,” exclaims Susan. Um…how does she know Peggy? She’s a stranger in town and only just arrived yesterday! They clear it away and find Peggy Larson. The girl is still alive, being kept warm by all that seaweed piled on top of her. Susan continues to snap more photos and suddenly another monster pops up, but this time it is Johnny and his spear gun that dispatches the beast. Good thing, too…as Jim was probably out of shells! Oddly enough, when the monster pops up, it is in shadow, but a split second later when Johnny shoots it, it is now standing in sunlight.
We cut to Susan’s lab at Canco, where she has all manner of sea life pickled in jars. One of the dead Humanoids is placed on a table where it begins to drip slimy green shit all over the place. Hounding her like some sort of kid, Jim pesters Susan with questions about the creatures. She says that as far as she can determine, the species has only just now appeared. She notes the gills on its head and says that its natural habitat is the water, but it seems like the species is evolving into an amphibian one. She points out the huge head and says that they have tremendous brain capacity. Though whether they can use it all is still unknown.
One of the other Canco flunkies wants Jim and Johnny to leave, promising to keep them informed, but they refuse. Mr. Flunkie tells Susan that the whole matter should be kept quiet until it can be properly investigated, as her theories may prove to be incorrect. This seems to piss her off and she launches into a speech about how she has been warning the company about just such a thing for a long time and no one has listened. Now the proof is literally staring them in the face. Her theories are correct and she is not going to keep quiet about things any longer. The locals have a right to know what is going on and she is going to tell them.
She has the flunkie set up a film in one of the conference rooms. She shows it to Jim and Johnny, who probably were afraid she was going to test them on it afterwards. It details some of the work Canco performed on frogs using something called DNA-5, a substance that stimulated the growth hormone in the animals, allowing adulthood to be reached in a manner of days. This same approach was being used on salmon when tidal surges tore apart one their tanks, allowing three thousand DNA-5 treated fish to escape into the ocean. When this happened, Susan was in favor of alerting the authorities, but her bosses prevented her from doing so. Her theory is that some primitive fish, like coelacanth, fed on the salmon and had some sort of abrupt evolutionary process jump-started within them. Those damn coelacanth again! First they cause people to de-evolve into apes, now they themselves are turning into horny Fish-men.
She shows them some of the photos she snapped and talks about how the creatures are rapidly evolving from fish to near human in one lifetime. Johnny asks why such critters would attack humans. She says that they are probably protecting their territory and food sources like most animals would instinctively do, yet if they are intelligent enough, they may see mankind as a competitor. Jim asks why they’d rape the girls and she says that they most likely do so to help further their own evolution.
Okay, hold the phone! The Humanoids supposedly started off as coelacanths that ate the DNA-5 saturated salmon that escaped into the sea, mutating, evolving and changing over a short amount of time. I can buy that (for movie purposes of course). However, why would they evolve into a humanoid form? They’re freakin’ fish for crying out loud! What is it about their watery, undersea environment that would influence them to develop the body of a bipedal creature with lungs? How did natural selection choose those characteristics for survival when they are so ill suited for life under the sea? The movie makes that common assumption that humans are the top of the evolutionary ladder and that all less evolved species would naturally become more like us as time goes by. WRONG. We are what we are due to our own unique biology, our environment and our ability to learn and adapt. Another species would evolve a form that is best suited for them.
Speaking of evolution, one of the real corkers in the dialog department comes when Dr. Susan Drake theorizes that the Humanoids are driven to mate with human women because they want to further their own evolution. WTTF(that extra T stands for “flying”)?? Aside from the fact that humans are not the end-all be-all of the evolutionary process and that the creatures should want to follow their own path, what makes them think that the two species can even mate? The closest genetic relative we humans have on the planet is the Chimpanzee, but you and I both know that Humans and Chimps cannot procreate (and I don’t even want to know about those weird movies from Tijuana) with one another, so humans and fish could? Yeah, right! I know, I know, the film showed it was possible with what happened to Peggy, but the whole idea is just goofy. However, if they are going to evolve anything, fer pete’s sake, evolve some skulls!! The lack of a skull to protect those oversized brains led to a substantial number of Humanoid deaths. Talk about a liability!
One last thing...were there no female Humanoids? You mean to tell me that all of the coelacanths that mutated into a humanoid form were male? I know Dr. Stupid…er…I mean Dr. Drake said something about them going from fish to a man-like form in the space of one (accelerated) lifetime, but that still doesn’t explain how they were all males. Were there poor Fish-women, sitting alone in their caves, getting no lovin’ while their cheating men were chasing skirts in town? I wouldn’t be surprised. I’m just glad (and so is every other guy on the planet) that they didn’t come ashore in search of a little booty call themselves. Ewww.
Jim is plenty scared by what they’ve uncovered and Johnny says that he hopes people in town will believe them. Suddenly Jim gets a horrified expression on his face and remembers aloud that the town of Noyo is in the midst of their salmon festival, which includes a seaside fair and carnival. “Oh my god, “ Susan remarks, another horrified look etched into her features. I know! Those cheap carnivals creep me out, too!
We return to Noyo and see that night has fallen and that things are in full swing at the marina. A marching band is strutting around, the rides are running, food and drink is being consumed, games are being played and people are generally having a grand old time. A radio DJ is broadcasting live from a nearby booth, accompanied by “Miss Salmon,” the winner of the festival’s beauty contest. There is even Jo Williams and her White Water Boys playing at one spot. Despite the efforts of the mayor to get them to play something more uplifting, like Ta Ra Ra Boomdeay, they are not really in the mood for it. He pretty much tells them to get with it, as people have come from two or three hundred miles away to have a good time.
Over at the Hill residence, Carol is home alone with baby Shawn. She seems to have every bloody curtain and shade open in the house, making it really easy to look in and spy on her. She puts the baby in his crib and heads into the shower.
Back at the festival/fair/carnival/thingie things are about to get very crappy when we see a Humanoid swimming in the water nearby. Hank Slattery and two of his cronies show up. The sheriff asks them if they found anything but they say no. Hank asks about Johnny Eagle and Jim, but the sheriff says he has heard nothing from them. This allows Hank to make a racial slur against Johnny. Then the gang head into the midway area in search of beer. About now the mayor spots Jim’s boat approaching. A bunch gather around as Jim, Johnny and Susan disembark. The sheriff asks what he found and they quickly produce the body of the Humanoid. Everyone is repulsed by it and Susan now tries to explain to people that they know where the monsters come from, but they do not know in what numbers they exist.
It is at this point, that sensing all that female flesh nearby, one of the monsters comes crashing up through the dock. Johnny quickly shoots it, but soon more of the critters are popping up like some demented game of whack-a-Fish-man. Naturally, people promptly shit their pants and go running. The radio DJ reports on the disturbance though he cannot see anything yet.
Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.
Things quickly go down the crapper from this point. One guy is pulled into the water and not seen again – there is just a few bubbles and a big expanding pool of blood to mark his passing. Fish-men are walking around, grabbing any woman they can get their slimy hands on, throwing them to the ground and humping them. Even one broad on roller skates cannot get away from the stinky suckers. Another gal gets cornered by several as she tries to hop out of the booth she was in. Talk about getting fishsticked! Another Humanoid pulls at a support beam, causing a section of the pier to collapse and sending a bunch of people into the water where one guy is quickly sliced to ribbons. A woman trying to pull herself up the collapsed section is hit by falling debris (including a beer keg that rolls by about three times) and knocked into the clutches of several Humanoids. Jeez, it’s a Gorton’s Gang Bang. One poor sap trying to run from the monsters falls right in front of the radio booth. The DJ and Miss Salmon watch in horror as a Humanoid grabs him from behind and rips his throat open, sending blood spraying everywhere.
While all this mayhem is in progress, Jim and Susan have boarded his boat and are quickly pumping diesel fuel all over the water. Meanwhile, at his house, Carol is busy in the shower and cannot hear the live report coming in over the radio. Neither can she see the large Humanoid that is standing right outside the bedroom window and staring inside. There is a shower curtain that is opaque enough that it prevents us from a getting a clear view of her naked body, but clear enough that we can see some details. I have to say though, that must be the most cramped shower ever. As she turns back and forth under the water, it’s easily noted how her protruding boobs brush the curtain.
Back at the carnival, things continue to go from the frying pan right into the fire. Men are being ripped to pieces while women are being raped. I know it may be cold of me, but considering the option, I’d be glad of being a man! The sheriff radios in for help while the bloodbath continues. On the water, Jim and Susan are still pumping fuel all over the surface. Then there is funny sequence with a Humanoid on the merry-go-round. On the first pass, you see it after a woman and a guy. On the second pass the woman is screaming in horror as the guy is being ripped open. On the third pass the monster and woman are nowhere to be seen, but the guy’s bloody corpse sits all alone in a chair. There was no fourth pass, but I'm sure if there was, it would have shown the Humanoid smoking a cigarette.
Finally, one of the monsters takes notice of the hot young thing in a bikini that is Miss Salmon. For some idiotic reason, she and the radio DJ have not moved from their booth, despite monsters running up and down killing people for the better part of ten minutes. I guess he was devoted to his broadcast and she was just…stupid. The creature approaches and the DJ does his best to fend it off and protect her, but he is soon ripped open and left a quivering mess on the ground. The whole thing is broadcast over the airwaves and at the Hill home, Carol hears it on the radio, having finally gotten her ass out of the shower. The long-armed Humanoid is still prowling around outside and when it peeks back in through the window, it glares at baby Shawn, who quite naturally starts screaming and shits his diapers, if he hasn’t done so already. Carol grabs a knife and comes running, but the beast is no longer in sight. She gathers up the baby and leaves the room and starts closing all the curtains in the house.
At the carnival, Miss Salmon has been cornered by her attacking Humanoid. She fights back but in the process she loses her bikini top. She does manage to pound the monster's exposed brain with a rock or something before making a break for it, her bare boobies bouncing all over the place.
We cut away briefly to the Hill house, where Carol has shut all the curtains and bolted the door.
At the carnival, a kid throws a torch at one Humanoid, sending it up in flames and no doubt producing a smell ten times worse than the dumpster behind your local Long John Silvers. Then we get a shot of Jim firing a rifle at the monsters. WTF? I thought he was out on his boat? In actuality he is, and the shot is a recycled one from earlier in the film when he, Johnny and Susan found the monsters on the beach. Sloppy, I know.
The kid who lit one of the critters on fire now implores Hank Slattery to come help his sister, who is hanging on to another collapsed piece of the dock. He tries to pull her up, but a Humanoid appears and begins tugging on her feet, prompting her to emit a sound reminiscent of a doll being stepped on by an elephant. Then Johnny Eagle shows up and blows the monster away with a rifle. Good thing. I’d hate to think what would have happened to that poor child if the critter had managed to pull her away. Slattery then jumps down and helps push the girl up to relative safety. However, this has put him in reach of the Humanoids, who grab him. He screams in pain, but Johnny saves him by shooting the monster and then pulling his sorry ass up to the dock.
For the love of all that is holy, how long does it take that crowd of people to vacate the carnival ? Once the Humanoids crashed the party, people are seen running and screaming for minutes and minutes and minutes. The place is not that damn big! Either no one could find the way out, forcing everyone to run in circles and get picked off by the Fish-men, or there were about fifty thousand people attending the carnival and it just took the better part of a half hour for them all to get their asses out of the area. Me, I’d have moved so fast there would have been flaming footprints left in my wake.
On his boat, Jim hands Susan a flare gun and tells her to send the monsters to hell. She takes it and fires into the water a few times, igniting the fuel there. Soon there is quite the fire in the marina, though I am at a loss as to what it is supposed to accomplish. Sure, one or two monsters might have gotten caught in it and burned, but is it really a threat to the rest? It in no way harms any of the beasts that are already loose on the docks killing and raping. Any of the critters that dive back in the water or who are already in the water only have to dive down and swim under the burning diesel. As a method for killing and/or driving off the monsters, it really kind of sucks.
So people continue to run, scream, fight off the monsters and soil themselves. Jim and Susan dock the boat, but a Humanoid attacks her as she tries to tie up the mooring lines. Once again it is Johnny Eagle to the rescue with his trusty rifle. He shoots the beast and it drops to the ground. A few seconds later, it manages to crawl to the edge of the dock and drop back into the water, unnoticed by anyone.
Finally, some of the men have gotten organized and are fighting back with blunt weapons (which may or may not include their heads). Between them and the fire, the remaining Humanoids are slowly dispatched. Earlier Johnny described the Humanoids to Susan as being “six and a half, maybe seven feet tall.” I seriously would like to know what he has been smoking. When we see a group of guys lay down a Rodney King style beating on one of the critters, they tower over it! In fact, none of the monsters that attacked the carnival looked like they were much taller than five or six feet! Were they all midgets or Pygmy Fish-men? Were they young members of the species hoping to get lucky with some of the local gals that rumor told them were real easy? Maybe it was a boys’ night out kind if thing, with them looking to sow their wild oats? Or in this case, kelp.
Jim asks about his wife and is told that she went home from the hospital (after visiting Tommy). Johnny yells at Jim to go to her, so what does he do? Do you think he runs for a vehicle and drives home? Oh, hell no. He jumps back aboard his big ass fishing boat, pushes off and heads for home in that. Yeah, like that will get you there in anything under three hours. Idiot.
He tries calling Carol on the radio, but she doesn’t answer. I don’t know why, because when we see her, she is standing right next to the radio, holding the baby. Then again, she did not really have too much time talk, as the Humanoid outside chooses to thrust its hand through the door window. Carol takes the baby and hides him in a storage closet then grabs a knife and shuts the lights off. She can see the monster through the window, but it does not realize that she is looking at it. She moves through the house, her knife held out before her. She hears a sound by the front door, away from the one by the window, meaning there are two of the monsters. She heads over to the door and when that Humanoid busts its arm through, she stabs it repeatedly with her knife.
Meanwhile, the other beast has broken through the kitchen window and has climbed into the house. She runs over but can only recoil at the advancing beast and flee from it. At one point she throws a lamp at it, which does no good. Then, backed into a corner, she grabs a plastic bottle of drain cleaner and squeezes it, squirting the fluid all over the critter. This halts it for a split second and gives her time to grab her knife again and start stabbing away like Lizzy Borden’s long lost descendent. Stab. Stab. Stab. Close up of Carol with blood on her. Stab. Stab. Stab. Then stab some more! The pattern of blood on her face seems to change from shot to shot, but finally the monster cannot take any more and keels over, quite dead. I have to wonder why the monster never tried to back up or get way from the knife, but I suppose even Fish-men can be retards.
It’s funny how this entire time the baby has not let out a peep. He was wailing away like lil Pavoratti when she hid him, but he hasn’t made a sound since. You and I both know that the only things kids do is cry and poop (and to quote an animated green ogre, they poop when they cry and then cry when they poop), so it was highly unlikely he was going to stop crying all on his own, especially given the circumstances. Thus, we must conclude that the walls in this house are five feet thick and made from concrete and steel.
Carol now crawls into a corner and begins looking around. There is still at least one more Fish-man walking about. She hears a sound from outside and another POV shot informs us that something is moving around. She gets up and runs to the front door just as something begins banging on it from outside. She wields her knife and as the door swings open, she stabs at the figure beyond. Alas, it is just her husband, Jim. He manages to grab her wrist and avoid being impaled.
Morning arrives and we see Jim, Carol and the baby back down at the carnival site. There are still fires burning and people continue to be cared for by medical personnel. Jim sees the sheriff and asks if he has seen Doctor Drake. The sheriff looks completely out of it. He is dazed, confused and looks thoroughly traumatized himself, as if he just spent the entire night forced to watch fat girl porn movies. He says that Susan has gone back to her lab and then staggers off, looking more like the local drunk than the local law. Carol wants to go home, as there is nothing more they can do.
We now head for Susan Drake’s lab, where she is overseeing Peggy Larson. It seems that accelerated evolution inherent to the Humanoids is passed on to their offspring. Poor Peggy looks like she is about ten months pregnant. The time has come for her to give birth to her little bundle of scales. She writhes around, the large scar on her face quite obvious. There is a tearing sound and her abdomen begins to extend even further (in this shot the facial scars are gone). Susan yells, “Oh my, god,” then runs around to take a closer look. Peggy’s flesh rips open and amidst all the blood and screaming, a baby Fish-man pokes his head up to peer out of his mother’s ravaged belly. It lets out a horrid little scream of its own and then things go black (Just like the crappy ending to The Sopranos).
As if to remind us what we had just watched, the movie shows us the title again, then the credits begin to roll.
Even by the year 1980, Roger Corman was a veritable legend in the film industry. Having started his career with cheapy flicks (mostly horror) in the 1950’s for Samuel Z. Arkoff and James H. Nicholson’s American International Pictures, he went on to churn out numerous films for them before striking out on his own, forming New World Pictures in 1970 and retiring from directing the following year. He was known for getting films made cheap and fast, often very fast. He continued this in his role as producer and helped to discover many young directors that went on to be big name talents, such as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, James Cameron, Peter Bogdanovich and Joe Dante. It was in this role as producer (that went uncredited in the finished product) that had him overseeing the production of Humanoids From The Deep.
Barbara Peters was hired to direct a screenplay by Frederick James, which was based on a story by Frank Arnold and Martin B. Cohen. One of the infamous behind the scenes stories concerning this film is how once Peters finished the film, producer Corman felt it was lacking that special Je ne sais quoi and wanted the director to add some gratuitous nudity and gore. She refused, so another director was brought in to film these scenes (including the notorious rape scenes) which were later edited into the film. There is speculation as to whether this account is true, with some saying it is not and others, such as Rob Bottin, who created the creature costumes and was inside one of them for the rape scenes, saying that it was indeed true. Naturally, the treatment of women in the movie was one of the major complaints from many groups, but the film went on to enjoy a modest amount of success at the box office.
At heart, the film is a throwback to the monster films of the 1950’s, the very same cheapies on which a young Roger Corman cut his teeth. It belongs in that rare group of movies that were the last to feature men in rubber monster costumes, before the love for CGI went bonkers over a decade later. Seemingly inspired by the success of Jaws (1975) and other maritime-themed ripoffs, this film also could list films such as The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Alien (1979) and Prophecy (1979) as inspirations. The Fish-men are obviously inspired by the Gillman films, the gore and gross-out ending from Alien and several other themes from Prophecy, including Native American concerns for the environment, greedy corporations and the accidental mutation of animals through man’s arrogance and ignorance. When broken down to its component parts, Humanoids From The Deep is truly a 1950’s film, only with the nudity and gore that 1980’s culture would allow on screen. Let's dive in (groan), shall we?
I think one of the more common examples of a basic and deep-rooted fear is the fear of deep water. As someone who somewhat shares that phobia, I know that for me, it is not so much the water itself that inspires that feeling of dread, but rather, what may be lurking in that water that fuels my fear. Let’s face it, when we’re in the water, we are out of our element completely and are utterly at the mercy of the lifeforms that call it home. The fact that most of the creatures that dwell there and that represent a threat to human life do so because they wish to devour us, doesn’t exactly help, either. That represents a whole new fear of being eaten alive – which can no doubt be traced back to our primitive anthropoid ancestors fleeing from large predators, and when combined with the feeling of helplessness and total vulnerability that deep, murky water brings, can be the reasoning behind more than one person opting to keep their posteriors on dry land rather than risk a fatal chomping by venturing too far from shore (however this would not include myself, as I was an avid surfer in ages past…go figure).
Now take that fear of the beastly things hiding in the water, the fear of being hunted down and consumed and suppose that the creatures doing the hunting are free to come ashore in search of you and I. This adds another near-subconscious level to the fear. Before, we considered ourselves safe in our homes, far away from the water and the hungry things moving about in its depths. Now however, with a threat from the sea that can literally come crashing through the front door, that deep-rooted fear takes on new dimensions…or at least it should. Perhaps now that our would be killers are in “our” world where the playing field is much more in our favor, we enjoy a measure of confidence, helping us to push those fears aside. Perhaps not. Given the story that Humanoids From The Deep imparts, maybe there is an even more primal fear at work here.
The ocean is often regarded as the source of all life on the planet, the wellspring from which every living thing moving about on the Earth’s continental masses once came. Could new life not rise again from those darkened depths? Maybe deep down in those subtextual levels of the narrative that are overshadowed by the more overt monster attacks, the fear this movie is really playing upon is not so much that something comes out of the sea to kill us (or in the case of those unlucky gals, mate with us), but that something may come out of the sea to supplant us as the dominant lifeform on the planet. A new species that is better suited to life both in and out of the water. A species that has the potential to be as intelligent as we are, yet not suffer from the racial, economical, social and provincial stratification that serves to hinder our own species’ progress. Perhaps it is through mankind’s own arrogance that Mother Nature gains a helping hand in cleansing the planet of the one lifeform that has caused it more harm than any other. An accelerated fresh start if you will. So the fear becomes one that is not so much based on personal safety, but one that stems from the fear that as a species, we may be obsolete and in need of replacement.
again, this could be nothing more than a killer Fish-man movie with
expoitive elements included in order to draw in the big crowds and maximize
profits. As always, I will leave it to you to decide for yourself.
The film also wastes no time in getting to what we watch these movies for: monster attacks. It takes a couple of minutes at the very beginning to set up the main characters and the conflicts between them, then with that out of the way, it dives (sorry) right into things with the events that transpire on Deke’s fishing boat. After that, the film manages to throw in plenty of monster action in between scenes of our cast arguing in one way or another about the whole cannery issue. All too often, movies will have far too little monster action, while being heavy on dialog that doesn’t really advance anything or useless subplots that only exist to pad out the running time. It might be a stretch to say that this film has no scenes that could have been trimmed, but what does occur in addition to the monster stuff at least is connected in some fashion and factors into things later in the film. Well…mostly. The conflict between Slattery and Johnny never really seems integral to the film’s plot and ultimately does not get a strong resolution. We know that the latter saves the former, but how did Slattery treat Johnny after that?
fact, the entire resolution is just a little on the unsatisfactory side.
In addition to the question of the status between Slattery and Johnny,
we are left wondering if the monsters were all killed or just driven
away. Should the townsfolk be recovering from the monster rampage or
steeling themselves for an ongoing conflict with these invaders from
the sea? Will Dr. Drake and Canco be held accountable in any capacity
for what has transpired? The story just stops and doesn’t address
any of these issues. Also a wee bit on the anticlimactic side is how
the film drops the events at the carnival to focus on Carol’s
plight at the Hill house and uses that sequence as its finale. I’m
not saying that these scenes should have been dropped, only re-edited
so that they appear earlier, thus allowing the mass attack at the carnival
to serve as the film’s climax.
Contrasting sharply to McClure’s Jim Hill is Vic Morrow’s portrayal of Hank Slattery. Hank is a bitter and angry man, plain and simple. I don’t think there was anything the man was not angry about. He probably held a grudge against the salmon for not leaping willfully into his nets. I know he should most definitely be angry at himself for his poor taste in clothes as well as his wife for letting him walk out of the house dressed in such horrible apparel. Hank is also a raging bigot and more than once makes derogatory racial remarks about Johnny Eagle – another source of his anger for opposing the idea of a cannery in Noyo. Morrow instills Slattery with the requisite amount of sliminess and truly makes him unlikable. Anyone who would kill a dog just to retaliate against someone who he assumes committed a similar act, despite any proof to back up the claim, is a cowardly slime in my book. Blowing up Johnny’s house was just icing on the cake. The fact is, Morrow was quite good in roles like this and suffered from typecasting for many years because of it. Personally, when I think of the actor, I picture an angry, dangerous man. While that speaks volumes on his ability to bring characters to life, it probably was the total opposite of what he was really like in day to day life.
The characterizations here often seem lifted straight from a book of stereotypes and this is no more true than when it comes to Johnny Eagle, the Native American. From the very beginning he is shown to be far more interested in preserving the environment than trying to make a quick buck like the others. At least the cliches ended there and he wasn’t talking about the spirits of his ancestors or something. Despite some truly horrible treatment by Slattery, Johnny comes off as quite noble, looking past their differences to save the other man from the monsters in the end. Hmmm…is that another stereotype – the noble Indian whose values transcend the petty foibles of the white man? Maybe. Maybe not.
rest of the cast is pretty forgettable. Ann Turkel as Dr. Susan Drake
seems almost as dead in the water (sorry) as Doug McClure, only getting
fired up on one or two brief occasions. She seems oddly restrained for
a woman whose work inadvertently created a menace to mankind. She’s
pretty low key throughout most of the film, but then gets somewhat proactive
in the last third. Perhaps it is just the guilt inspiring her to do
something. As for everyone else, they are just…there. They exist
only to be killed by the Fish-men, raped by the Fish-men, beaten to
a pulp by the Fish-men or menaced in some fashion by…you guessed
it, the Fish-men. They enter the movie, they say something, and they
exit the movie. Never does the film make any effort to flesh them out
or engender any sort of warmth for them or sympathy for what happens
to them by making them real and likable. Like in any movie of this type,
they are the expendable meat offered up to the cinematic exploitation
gods, the promise of their sad fates having been designed to lure people
to the theater.
The monster FX is carried out here by using the oldest method known to man: men in rubber suits. This is definitely one of the factors that lend the film that quirky 1950’s feel and charm. However, unlike the often cheesy, poor and outright unconvincing costumes of that bygone era, the monster suits here are rather good. Because the creatures come from the ocean, in many of the scenes featuring them, liberal amounts of seaweed have been used to adorn their bodies. This serves two functions. First, it helps make them more credible as sea monsters and increases our automatic revulsion by giving them a slimy, dank and smelly appearance. Second and more importantly, the seaweed accessories aid in hiding the rubber nature of the suits themselves. Look closely in a few scenes and you can spot where the various suit components meet, but not always link up very well with each other. In one shot you can actually see the pink skin of the guy inside the thing. The worst part of the monster costumes are the faces, which are not very articulated and come off as rather static. This is no doubt a result of a limited budget, but given what they had to work with, the fish-men here still look pretty damn good. Surely nothing I would have wanted to see paddling my way while I sat on my surfboard.
If I had just one complaint about the monster costumes it would be their size. A description of the Humanoids in the film states that they are six and a half to seven feet tall, yet not a single one of them ever looks to be over six feet in height. Even worse, during the carnival rampage, more than one of the creatures appears to be even shorter, maxxing out at five to five and a half feet, tops! How scary is that? Not very! It’s like being attacked by scaly midgets or a flock of angry Chupacabras. Oh, I know the critters can still be quite dangerous at that size – hell, a cat can do a pretty damn good job at shredding your flesh if it really wants to – but it’s a little harder to strike fear into people when your monster doesn’t strike the most imposing figure. Oh, and one other thing…what is with those long arms some of them sport? Are they evolving those in preparation for professional athletic careers or something?
The other aspects to the film’s FX are the blood and gore effects. Once again, given the time period and the likelihood of a limited budget, these moments come off rather well. Most notable is when Peggy discovers Jerry dead in the water, his face literally having been ripped off, exposing the skull beneath. This make-up job is very well done and though briefly seen, is quite convincing. Other kills shows flesh torn and bloodied, and while the viewer can see how it is accomplished with cheap prosthetics, it still looks decent enough. Less convincing are a few of the deaths during the climactic carnival rampage. Here we see Humanoids offing any men that get in their way, with lots of blood spurting, dripping and spraying all over the place, but it is quite apparent that the blood is coming from a tube running down the length of the suit actor’s arm and when he grabs his “victim,” the liquid is then pumped out, giving the appearance of people being ripped to pieces, having their throats bitten out or being squeezed to death.
less convincing than those deaths is the demise of Baron the dog. The
quick flashes we see give one the impression that the attacking monster
is doing nothing more than play wrestling with the canine with some
fake blood squirted into the mix. Change the music to something silly
and the scene would be more comical than horrifying. Speaking of dogs,
the dead ones found at the docks look quite real while the ripped and
torn carcass of Baron located on the beach just screams, “fake!”
While it is not the best looking effect, the “birth” scene
at the end is probably the most well remembered and the best at instilling
a sense of sudden shock and horror. Basically a rubber baby monster
busts through a rubber tummy. Not very scary all on its own, but given
the circumstances, editing and other factors, it manages to pack a punch…even
if Alien had pretty much done the same thing the year before.
from that glaring problem, most everything else works pretty well. The
pace of the film is good, though it does slow in spots, it doesn’t
linger too long in these moments before getting the monsters back on
screen. Unlike other films that are constructed around the attack scenes,
this film actually has something for the characters to do rather than
have to labor in coming up with reasons for them to appear and interact
with one another. The monsters themselves look pretty darn good and
are quite convincing (if a little short) most of the time. The filmmakers
opted to shoot the movie using a soft focus look, which gives some scenes
an eerie, dreamlike quality. One element that is the topic for debate
is the film’s misogynistic tones. This is highlighted in the scenes
showing human women being attacked and raped by the Fish-men. More than
one of these scenes has the girl in question either fully naked or wearing
skimpy clothes that are soon removed, thus providing the movie with
its gratuitous nudity quotient. Some may consider these sequences in
poor taste, while others may look at them as a justifiable part of the
Dancing – Not a lot, but there is one scene set at a dance. The dancing there is not hip in any sense of the word, with better movement seen in jerky stop-motion animations.
Extreme Violence – Many people meet very violent ends here, usually by being sliced open and clawed to death. Plus, several women are sexually assaulted by Fish-men. Eeww.
Gore – Rather mild. There are no entrails and body parts thrown about, but there's enough lacerated flesh and blood to warrant this icon. Today we’d just call it a UFC match.
Gunplay - While not exactly an NRA convention, there are enough shots fired at the Fish-Men that one might expect the lobbyists to show up at any minute.
Monsters – Lots of long-armed Fish-men from the sea. Horny Fish-men from the sea no less. But when you think about it, aren’t all men inherently horny?
Nudity – There is a surprising amount of nudity here. Lots and lots of bare boobies bouncing around, along with a few glimpses of the sacred bush.
Ocean Hijinks – It’s actually kind of hard to make a movie about sea monsters without getting someone in a boat of some kind, but I’m betting Ed Wood Jr. could have done it.
Science – It’s glossed over, but the reason behind the Humanoids is a result of fish consuming escaped salmon that had been injected with something called DNA-5. Huh?
Sea Terrors – While not leviathans that swallow ships and people whole, there are enough Fish-Men to make the people of Innsmouth move permanently to the desert.
Undersea Hijinks – There isn’t a lot of this here, mostly just underwater POV shots denoting the whereabouts and movement of the Humanoids.
Humanoid deaths: 16
Dead dogs: 9 (4 seen)
Beers consumed: 19
Spring loaded cats: 1
Bare boobies: 8
Fist fights: 1
Photos snapped by Susan: 29
Most Humanoids seen at once: 3
Continuity screw ups: Too many to count
Product placements: 9
Mins - Violence towards children!
Shadow's Drinking Game: This one is easy. Whenever you see someone holding a beer, take a drink.
for larger image
Dr. Drake in scientist mode.
Dr. Drake: “Look at the size of the cranium. That means they have tremendous brain capacity. Does not mean though, that they have the ability to use it all.”
Shadow’s comment: So they’re wrestling fans?
More scientist stuff with Drake.
Drake: “It’s my theory that these creatures are
driven to mate with man now, in order to further develop their incredible
comment: It scares the hell out of me, too! Especially
the part about mating with man. Who knew some were batting for the other
Film & Me
It’s quite odd, but I have absolutely no memory whatsoever of this movie when it originally hit theaters. I was eleven years old in 1980, watched several hours of television each day and saw commercials for everything under the sun, so it was almost impossible for a monster film to come out and me not know about it. I would even peruse the newspaper’s movie ads and stare at the artwork for new and current films, so how this movie could have escaped my notice just boggles my mind. My introduction to this film was one day when I was visiting the neighbors across the street. At the time they subscribed to HBO, but we did not. I happened to pick up their monthly HBO guide and was leafing through it when I saw the listing for Humanoids From The Deep. I asked if they had seen it and was told yes, and that it was quite the scary movie. The title hung in my memory for months until the movie had its television premiere (on ABC if I recall correctly). I tuned into watch and that one viewing was the only time I saw the film for over twenty years. Still, there were lots of images that stuck in my memory: the scene with Deke’s boat and the kid’s blood in the water, the demise of poor Baron the Dog, the images of Humanoids running loose during the carnival and of course, that final ending shot.
So the years go by and 2002 rolls around. I was living by myself (plus a dog) in a small town south of Sacramento. I had gotten into the habit of leaving the television on at night. Well, it was more like I got into the habit of falling asleep with it on. Have you ever done that and then awakened in the middle of the night with the sound just blasting? When you fell asleep it didn’t seem too loud, but at three AM it’s louder than all hell breaking loose! Either that or there are Gremlins that come out and turn up the volume on the TV’s. So one night I wake up with the sound blasting. I look at the TV screen in my half-awake state of mind and see the scene where Tommy Hill is pulled off Johnny Eagle’s pier by one of the Humanoids. Seeing a monster pop up like that instantly got my attention and I was fully awake. I hit the info button on the remote to find out the title of the film, and low and behold, it was Humanoids From The Deep. Alas I had to go back to sleep because I had work the next day, but not before checking to see if the film was going to be on again soon. Since it was being shown on one of those Showtime or Movie Channel stations, the answer was yes. I went back to sleep and a few days later taped the movie. I watched it again in full a time or two and decided I really needed this one on DVD. After a few days of searching, I found it. A part of me still wishes I had had the chance to see it as a kid, especially with all the bare boobies on display!
Shadow's rating: Six Tombstones