Tuesday, August 03, 2010

They Hunt Human Women. Not For Killing. For Mating.

One of Roger Corman’s most notorious films features so much gratuitous sleaze that both its leading lady and its director publicly protested it and tried to get their names removed from the credits. Director Barbara Peeters (SUMMER SCHOOL TEACHERS) refused to shoot the extra scenes of gore, nudity, and intraspecies sexual assault Corman demanded, and the new footage directed by James Sbardellati (DEATHSTALKER) was so explicit that the cast freaked when they saw the film for the first time. Audiences loved New World’s gruesome homage to CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, however, and the result of Corman’s post-production meddling is one of the studio’s most popular horror movies.

Scaly six-foot sea monsters terrorize a small California fishing community already rocked by racial tension between whites and Native Americans. An ecological storyline involving a new cannery coming to town and polluting the waters provides Corman’s patented social commentary that helps justify the incessant rapes, eviscerations, and explosions (the mutant sea monsters are the result of DNA experiments done on salmon to make them breed faster and larger). Doug McClure (an experienced monster-fighter in drek like WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS and THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT) toplines as married fisherman Jim Hill, who takes the lead in battling the horny buggers, along with Ann Turkel (RAVAGERS) as shapely scientist Susan Drake and a ranting, curly-haired Vic Morrow (COMBAT) as race-baiting cannery owner Hank Slattery.

Shot as BENEATH THE DARKNESS to fool the actors and crew into believing they were making a somewhat respectable movie, HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP was released by United Artists overseas as MONSTER and spawned a 1996 remake. It’s a lurid film that certainly delivers the goods, particularly a rousing, fiery finale with enough breasts and spurting blood to stock a couple of creature features. And no sissy stuff with keeping the monsters hidden in the shadows either. These beasties are front and center, clearly played by men in rubber suits, but designed by Rob Bottin (THE THING) seamy, creepy style. Newcomer Mark Goldblatt (THE TERMINATOR) edits with tightly wound exuberance. James Horner’s jangly score adds a few jolts, and Peeters’ impressive truck explosion was recycled in many Corman pictures to come.

Cindy Weintraub (THE PROWLER), Anthony Pena, Lynne Theel (WITHOUT WARNING), Denise Galik (DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE), Hoke Howell, and Linda Shayne (SCREWBALLS) co-star. In addition to Horner, Bottin, and Goldblatt, production assistant Gale Anne Hurd also graduated to bigger, better Hollywood movies, including producing THE TERMINATOR. Electrician Rowdy Herrington went on to direct ROAD HOUSE. Shout Factory’s impressive DVD and Blu-ray release includes the international cut, which offers a few extra seconds of a brutal decapitation that was censored from New World’s U.S. release to get an R rating from the MPAA.

Perhaps more enticing to HUMANOIDS fans is Shout Factory’s inclusion of never-before-seen deleted footage of gore and nudity that was cut from the movie before its release, probably to meet Corman’s usual demand to keep the running time around 80 minutes. About seven minutes of mostly gratuitous gore and T&A unspool for your prurient delight. Other extras include a new making-of doc with plenty of talking heads, none of them Peeters or the main stars; an old Leonard Maltin chat with Corman; trailers; and a still gallery. Like Shout Factory’s GALAXY OF TERROR and FORBIDDEN WORLD discs, HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP comes with reversible cover art, so you can display your disc with the foreign MONSTER art if you like.

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