Everyone has their staples for Halloween watching, like John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and “Nightmare Before Christmas.” But be forewarned, gentle reader, because your master of Scarimonies (God, I sound like the Crypt Keeper), Dukey Flyswatter, will suggest some gems and themes that may have flown drastically under your radar, like a schizophrenic Vampire Bat. Week three we focus on drive-in gems and Just plain weirdness.
October 22nd Humanoids From The Deep (1980)
Director Barbara Peeters, Executive Producer Roger Corman. Stars: Doug McClure,Ann Turkel,Vic Morrow.
Leave it to Roger Corman to spot a good thing and pounce upon it to rip it off like the arm of a hapless teen and club the audience over the head with it. In this case, I’m referring to the 1979 hit “Alien.” Before 1980 was done, he would crank out three slimy monster movies: “Galaxy Of Terror,” “Forbidden World,” and “Humanoids From The Deep.” Each film did very good drive-in business, but largely because of the cries of “Foul” from movie critics, saturation ad techniques and enthusiastic teenage male word of mouth, “Humanoids From The Deep” definitely became the primary cash cow.
In the sleepy fishing village of Noyo, California, most residents are excited for the opening of a fish cannery, which also experiments with producing larger and more frequently spawning salmon and such. It seems like a good thing for most of the town, save for some Native Americans who claim that their hunting grounds will be usurped once the factory opens. Good guy McClure is on their side, but racist boat owner Vic Morrow will stoop to dirty tricks and near-lynching to make sure that the town gets the much needed business from the forthcoming corporation.
The company has sent out one of their biologists to check out the waters and it doesn’t take long for the audience to know that there are dangerous monsters below the waves. But what the creatures do was quite a surprise for its time, and the press it got fueled the box office even more. You know how kids in Jason and other slasher movies get killed because they are having sex? In this grind house great, only the boys are slashed and the gals are graphically raped by some really disgusting-looking manfish.
Barbara Peeters shot a remarkably sober and traditional “Creature From The Black Lagoon” type film, but Corman didn’t think it was juicy enough. He hired a separate male director to go and shoot more rape scenes and topless scenes featuring the most endowed young sweeties he could find. Although women’s groups vehemently protested this move, and director Peeters was stunned to see it changed at the premiere. The audacious nature of it all and the bloody carnage of the finale resounded with the primarily young male audience. As far as exploitation movies go, it really delivers the goods, but with an air of misogyny and an attitude of, “Haters fuck off”
A guilty pleasure for sure.