The secret strength of Roger Corman’s New World Pictures is that he ran his oper­a­tion like a prop­er Hollywood stu­dio.  It didn’t mat­ter to him that he was deal­ing with schlocky sub­ject mat­ter and low bud­gets — he was deter­mined to be as thor­ough and metic­u­lous in his pro­duc­tions as the big stu­dio hon­chos.  He put an empha­sis on pro­fes­sion­al­ism and instilled that in all his film­mak­ers.  As a result, the New World Pictures fil­mog­ra­phy is packed with some of the tight­est, fastest-mov­ing and most pre­ci­sion-craft­ed clas­sics in the world of schlock cin­e­ma.

For proof, look no fur­ther than Humanoids From The Deep.  This schlock gem reimag­i­nes Creature From The Black Lagoon for the R-rat­ed 1980’s.  It takes place in a fish­ing vil­lage that is about to be tak­en over by a can­nery with big plans for the future.  This sits well with most res­i­dents except for dis­pos­sessed American Indian Johnny Eagle (Anthony Penya).  He want wants to reclaim vil­lage land that was tak­en from his peo­ple long ago, which doesn’t endear him to local big­ot Slattery (Vic Morrow).  Good-guy town­ie Jim Hill (Doug McClure) is caught in the mid­dle and strug­gles to keep the peace.

However, com­pa­ny and land dis­putes become minor issues when an onslaught of slimy half-fish/half-man crea­tures emerge from the waters to graph­i­cal­ly “mate”  with any seaside love­ly they can get their sca­ly claws on.  These mon­sters are the result  of larg­er species in a fish­ing town’s water sys­tem eat­ing exper­i­men­tal­ly-mutat­ed salmon pro­duced by the can­nery.  Johnny Eagle and Jim team up with Dr. Susan Drake (Ann Turkel), a can­nery sci­en­tist who rebels again­st her employ­ers’ keep-it-qui­et atti­tudes, to find a solu­tion — but can they stop this men­ace before the town’s annu­al seaside car­ni­val?

The above syn­op­sis might make the film sound crit­ic-proof — but the treat­ment it receives from Corman’s crew makes it so.  Humanoids From The Deep actu­al­ly had a trou­bled pro­duc­tion his­to­ry — direc­tor Barbara Peeters turned in a less-than-exploita­tive first cut and refused to do extra gore & nudi­ty reshoots, caus­ing Corman to replace her with assis­tant direc­tor James Sbardellati for the film’s retool­ing — but you’d nev­er guess it from view­ing the fin­ished pro­duct.  It starts deliv­er­ing the goods with­in the first reel and keeps churn­ing out the shocks like a well-oiled schlock machine.

Indeed, Humanoids From The Deep is a mod­el of schlock effi­cien­cy.  The cast plays the mate­ri­al straight, with McClure and Turkel turn­ing in solid, jour­ney­man-style hero per­for­mances and Morrow real­ly tear­ing into his more col­or­ful role as the town’s racist.  Veteran b-movie cin­e­matog­ra­pher Daniel Lecambre uses the seaside loca­tions to atmos­pher­ic effect and gives things an appro­pri­ate­ly pro­fes­sion­al sheen.  The film fur­ther ben­e­fits from top-notch make­up effects by a young Rob Bottin, right before he broke into the big time with The Howling and John Carpenter’s The Thing remake.  The fish-men suits are a-lev­el effects cre­at­ed on a b-movie bud­get and they real­ly sell the men­ace of the film’s nature-gone-wrong vil­lains (the inci­den­tal gore effects are pret­ty shock­ing, too).

However, the real unsung hero of Humanoids From The Deep is edi­tor Mark Goldblatt.  He’d lat­er go on to cut films for the likes of James Cameron and Paul Verhoeven and his work here shows he had the required chops from the out­set of his career.  He strips the nar­ra­tive to the bone to cre­ate an appro­pri­ate­ly lean pace, steadi­ly builds ten­sion and, most impor­tant­ly, cre­ates a series of daz­zling set­pieces via his punchy edit­ing style that real­ly ham­mer home the shocks.  The car­ni­val finale is a mas­ter class in how to make a lot out of very lit­tle through cre­ative edit­ing choic­es.

In short, Humanoids From The Deep is schlock made by the top pro­fes­sion­als in that field.  You can rest assured that you’re get­ting the best a trashy b-movie has to offer when you put it on.

Humanoids From The Deep

Humanoids From The Deep

The cult clas­sic returns in a 30th Anniversary Special Edition with brand new extras! The com­plete unrat­ed inter­na­tion­al ver­sion is avail­able for the first time, con­tain­ing the long-lost “head-ripped-off” scene.

Humanoids From The Deep (Blu-ray)

Humanoids From The Deep (Blu-ray)

The cult clas­sic returns in a 30th Anniversary Special Edition with brand new extras! The com­plete unrat­ed inter­na­tion­al ver­sion is avail­able for the first time, con­tain­ing the long-lost “head-ripped-off” scene.

NSFW Clip Compilation Set To A Misfits Tune! -