DirectorBarbara Peeters/Jimmy T. Murakami
Release Date(s)1980 (July 30, 2019)
Studio(s)New World Pictures (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: B-
- Extras Grade: C+
New World Pictures was on a roll in the late 1970s and early 1980s with films like Piranha, The Brood, Rock ’n’ Roll High School, Starcrash, and Up from the Depths – some of them more financially successful than others. In May of 1980, they released one of their most graphic films up to that point: Humanoids from the Deep (aka Monster). The story of a group of vicious sea creatures rising up from the waters near a small fishing community to mate with the local women and killing anybody that got in their way was a modest hit but received poor reviews from critics.
Humanoids from the Deep is a pretty mean piece of work that was made with only the purest of exploitative intentions (as was the norm in those days). Though the bulk of the story was shot under the direction of Barbara Peeters (including most of the gore), other footage, including the infamous rape scene, was picked up later by Jimmy T. Murakami. It’s a clear indicator as to what New World wanted out of it, which was a balls-to-the-wall genre film that could stand toe to toe with films like Alien (which the final shot of Humanoids from the Deep is clearly influenced by).
It’s also unusual that the story’s B plot involves a rift between a group of racists and a nearby community of Native Americans. The racists try to get rid of them after they express their intent to sue the town in order to save their land, but doing so would prevent the townspeople from thriving, putting everyone’s livelihoods in jeopardy. It’s a moral conundrum without a clear answer, but as a backdrop to a story about killer sea monsters, it’s certainly unorthodox.
The film is just an odd duck all around. It offers a new take on material already covered in movies like Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Horror of Party Beach from years before, but also introduces ideas like a slasher element into the third act. To boot, it comes complete with a Harry Manfredini-esque score by James Horner, even though Friday the 13th was released the same month and the same year (great minds and all of that). Not that either film has anything to do with the other, but there are, what seems to be, unintentional similarities between the two.
Worrying about the performances, which are not of the highest caliber, is not all that important. To be clear, you know you have a low budget film on your hands when the same sound of a woman screaming is used repeatedly throughout the same scene (akin to The Creeping Terror). In all fairness, Humanoids from the Deep is a worthy, yet thoroughly sleazy, piece of horror and suspense cinema from an era in which most low budget entities were primarily concerned with the amount of boobs and blood on the screen, and for that, we should all be thankful.
Released before on DVD and Blu-ray by Shout! Factory through their now defunct Roger Corman’s Cult Classics line, Humanoids from the Deep makes a fresh return to the Blu-ray format in Limited Edition Steelbook packaging. Better yet, it comes armed with a new 4K scan of the uncut international version of the film, which was taken from the original 35mm camera negative. It’s a marginal but noticeable improvement, particularly when it comes to depth and detail. Uneven grain is present early on, but smoothes out as the film continues. Even in low light levels, detail is potent, particularly on the monsters themselves who have never looked this good in high definition before. Everything is crisp and sharp with film-like textures. Blacks are deep and saturation is potent, particularly at the outdoor festival towards the end, which is rich with multiple hues in every direction. Overall brightness and contrast levels are excellent and the frame is mostly stable, but bounces in a few spots if you’re paying close enough attention.
The audio is presented in English 2.0 mono DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English SDH. It’s an extremely narrow presentation without much boost to it – you may even have to raise the volume on your system to get the most out of it. Dialogue is mostly clear and discernable, though a little questionable in a few areas, chiefly towards the end during the chaotic finale. Sound effects have decent impact and James Horner’s score offers the most clarity overall. Some mild hiss is present, but crackle, distortion, and dropouts are nowhere to be heard.
The bonus materials replicate the earlier DVD and Blu-ray releases from Shout! Factory, including The Making of Humanoids from the Deep, a 23-minute featurette containing interviews with special effects artist Chris Walas, editor Mark Goldblatt, executive producer Roger Corman, first assistant director and second unit director James Sbardellati, actor Cindy Weintraub, special effects artist Kenny Myers, actor Linda Shayne, and composer James Horner; 7 brief deleted scenes, some of which are silent since their audio stems have been lost; a 3 1/2-minute interview with Roger Corman by Leonard Maltin; 2 U.S. theatrical trailers; a German theatrical trailer; a TV spot; a radio spot; and an animated still gallery featuring 88 images of promotional materials, on-set images, posters, lobby cards, press books, and newspaper clippings. All of this is presented in attractive Steelbook packaging with new artwork. Alas, none of the material from the German Blu-ray release is present, which includes an audio commentary with editor Mark Goldblatt; the featurettes The Deep End with Steve Johnson and The Corman Sounds with David Lewis Yewdall; and The Directors: Roger Corman documentary.
This Steelbook release offers a nice visual upgrade of Humanoids from the Deep – indeed, it’s the best the film has ever looked on home video. However, the lack of a supplement upgrade leaves a bit to be desired. Still, for those who didn’t already own it, it’s nice package overall.
– Tim Salmons