Like its cinematic big brother Piranha, Humanoids From The Deep is a title that never quite got the love it deserved on home video. Originally available on VHS through Warner Brothers and later issued on DVD by New Concorde, it was always presented via a watchable but faded and kind of smudgy open-frame transfer. The New Concorde disc only had a brief Corman interview and a few trailers for features so most fans were denied the fascinating story behind this exploitation gem. There was a Japanese disc briefly available some years back that had the uncut international version of the film but said DVD was pricey and hard to come by.
Shout! Factory’s new DVD of Humanoids From The Deep goes a long way towards making up for these past audio-visual injustices. It features a new, high-definition transfer that is taken from the interpositive film elements for the uncut version and is presented in an anamorphically enhanced version on this disc. The liner notes booklets warns the viewer to expect minor but noticeable levels of grain in some scenes but they’re overselling it. The image is quite crisp and colorful, with no more grain than any fan would expect from the quickly-shot exploitation fare of this vintage era.
The audio portion of this transfer sticks to the film’s original mono mix. It offers a decent soundtrack presentation – the hideous squeals of the fish-men and James Horner’s atmospheric score definitely make their presence felt.
This Shout! Factory disc also adds an above-average complement of special features into the equation. The brief Roger Corman interview that Leonard Maltin conducted for the New Concorde disc is preserved here and it’s a short but informative bit with typically polished answers from Corman. There’s also a new 22-minute featurette that covers the film’s history and incorporates input from Corman, assistant director James Sbardellati, editor Mark Goldblatt and several more. Corman and the other major players are open about the film’s convoluted production and what they had to do to beef up the film’s exploitative appeal. Sadly, director Barbara Peeters does not participate in this featurette but, given her history with this film, that was probably never going to happen.
Another noteworthy extra is a brief reel of additional scenes shot during the reshoot that were never included in the final film. Some lack a soundtrack but all are fun to watch, mainly because they were all designed to enhance the film’s gore & skin quotients. Unfortunately, the audio for the scenes presented in this feature was slightly but noticeably out-of-sync on the disc screened for this review (*). This is unfortunate but it doesn’t hurt the enjoyment of these moments too badly.
Elsewhere, the disc features a complement of trailers for Humanoids From The Deep – a radio spot, a t.v. spot and the theatrical trailer in both English and German – as well as trailers for other current and forthcoming Shout! Factory releases from the New World library and a nice ads & stills image gallery. Michael Felsher rounds the package out with a fun set of liner notes in the full-color insert booklet that place the film into context within New World Pictures’ history.
In short, Shout! Factory has assembled a comprehensive package for this neglected gem and their Humanoids From The Deep disc is thus a must for Corman aficionados and exploitation flick fans in general.
(*) Reviewer’s Note: the disc used for this review was the finished disc and NOT a DVD-R.