Humanoids from the Deep (1980)

Jaws was such a phenomena that, until Star Wars came along, every cheap studio in existence spent the 1970s imitating the plot line with everything from killer dogs to grizzly bears to piranha.  Roger Corman's New World Pictures was one of those, constantly going back and churning out another watery threat.  Humanoids from the Deep just happened to be one of the most infamous.

The small California coastal town of Noyo is approaching its annual Salmon Festival.  Problem is, there are not a lot of salmon, causing problems for the local fishermen.  Tensions are also high due to proposal to build a cannery in the town in order to increase employment, a move that is opposed by a local Native American man named Johnny Eagle (Anthony Pena).  His opposition doesn't sit well with Slattery (Vic Morrow), another local facing the reality of a diminished catch.  Jim Hill (Doug McClure) tries to keep the peace between his friends as he can.

The town soon faces a bigger threat.  Part of the reason for the diminished catch turns out to be amphibious creatures that have grown in the local waters due to genetically modified salmon accidentally being released.  The cannery's science head, Dr. Susan Drake (Ann Turkel), is hoping to increase the numbers of fish, but the unintended consequence is that the creatures are gaining in numbers and intelligence, coming ashore to kill the men in the town and attempt to impregnate the women. 

Corman used a bit of a bait and switch to get some more well-known actors on the project, originally proposing the film as a psychological sci-fi feature called Beneath the Darkness.  Director Barbara Peeters appears to have been pretty much in on it, knowing what type of movie she was really making, but according to Corman she did a good job of killing off the men - featuring creature and makeup effects by Rob Bottin - but forgot that he also wanted a good number of breasts in the film as well.  What he did to remedy that was have the second unit director film many of the scenes involving nudity and creature attacks on women, including a sex scene where a guy brings his ventriloquist dummy and part of the festival massacre involving an annoying D.J. (David Strassman) and the jiggly Miss Salmon (Linda Shayne).  

Peeters was upset, Turkel was mad as well, but drive-in audiences enjoyed it.  Thankfully even with the reshoots the creature assaults don't dwell on prurient details.  There was one fully functional creature suit and two others that were good for background shots, but Steele manages to make the best of them, to the point one would think there are an army of them attacking the festival at the end.  Still, little is taken seriously, and that is why the movie does work.  It doesn't have an oppressive, serious tone, but treats the concept in the ridiculous manner one would expect. 

Humanoids from the Deep (1980)
Time: 80 minutes
Starring: Doug McClure, Vic Morrow, Anthony Pena, Ann Turkel
Director: Barbara Peeters 



  1. I'm a little confused by the last paragraph. Who's Steele? I checked IMDB but I don't see anyone by that name. I did see James Horner did the music. Maybe another one of those who got a start with Corman and went on to much better things.

    A year later Morrow appeared in "The Last Shark," which was an Italian ripoff of "Jaws" only in that he was the Quint-like character.

  2. I fixed it. It was an error that I thought I fixed in the first draft.


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