Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Monster: Humanoids from the Deep (1980)

There are some pretty obvious similarities between this film and the one I reviewed yesterday.  Both feature horrific creatures spawned by science gone awry.  Both feature 'teenagers' venturing to aquatic locations they don't know are dangerous.  Both have quite a lot of talky bits to pad out the run time between monster attacks.  Both even feature lead actors who were probably wondering how their career ended up in this schlock.

There are two significant differences, however.  The first is that this film is considerably better executed.  The second is that it has a whole lot more sleaze.

That sleaze was actually the subject of considerable controversy among the cast and crew. Producer Roger Corman, whose guiding principle has always been "what will make money?" felt that to get a "yes" for this film, it needed more raunchiness, so he filmed additional, highly sexual scenes after the main photography was complete.  The director and lead female actor both asked for their names to be removed from the film after seeing the final cut, but their requests were refused.

Putting aside the fact that Corman could be rather a jerk (which will not be news to anyone familiar with his career), how's the film?  Well for me, despite my general antipathy toward sexual assault as a plot element, Humanoids is so flagrant in its sleaziness and so blatant about its formula, that I find it hard to dislike.  It might be cynically exploitative, but at least it is honest about that fact.

So yeah, this is very much a boobs 'n' blood kind of film; perhaps the only movie I've seen that is more aggressively so is 2010's Piranha 3D.  Which I will review here one day, I am sure.  If you're simply not going to be entertained by a very deliberately exploitative film, you should skip it.  I certainly wouldn't blame you for feeling that way.

If you can look past that issue though, there's actually a well-crafted monster movie in here.  The influence of films like Jaws and Alien are obvious, but those certainly aren't bad movies to draw upon.  I like the design and execution of the Humanoids, and their attack sequences are staged effectively.  Their origin story and motivations are also sufficiently gonzo that I have a soft spot for them.  Finally, the film is smart enough to include an amusing subversion of its own tropes at one point, which provoked an outright laugh of pleasure from me as I was watching.

If you're in the mood for a trashtastic creature feature, this is worth catching.

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