Ever seen one of those beach party monster movies? You know, where some swingin’ dudes bring along their swingin’ bikini chicks to the beach so they can perform some hip wiggling dance so thrustingly violent that they look like their upper and lower bodies are having two completely different convulsions independent of one another. A dude wearing an ill fitting gill man suit occasionally pops up out of the ocean and scares the girls away and maybe kidnaps one and sticks her in a cave, only to be rescued later by the hero. Prime examples include Sting of Death and Beach Girls and the Monster. As far as horror movies go, they are quaint mid-60’s fluff, and about as horrifying as a rubber bat that somebody sticks in a half-eaten bowl of Jello that was left in the fridge, although I'm not saying that's a bad thing.
Well, by the time the early 80’s rolled around, audiences had changed. Times were more cynical and desperate, and art reflected that. Take, for example, Humanoids From the Deep, which is rooted in a similar premise where fishmen attack the denizens of a small coastal town, particularly the hot chicks. However, the songs and dancing have been replaced with makeout sessions, tits, and blood. Oh, and fishman rape. I mean the fishman raping the chicks, not the other way around. Nobody would ever rape a fishman. Anyways, don’t worry folks; they’re just trying to propigate their species. There’s nothing gratititous about it.
Here the fishman attacks a bikini beauty queen, but accidentally rips off her top in the tussle. Things happen in the heat of battle.
It also fits into the Jaws-sploitation genre (akin to fellow Corman production Piranha). There's the strapping hero (the ever monster-vigilant Doug McClure) and the vaguely Quint-esque character (Vic Morrow, who has the cool lines and gets to act like a dick while rocking the stache), and the female scientist trying to figure things out (a welcome respite from the annoying nerd guy or the crazy scientist wearing a labcoat covered in blood for no reason). There's also the opening killing, this time of a swimming kid that escalates into an entire boat blowing up. That's how you one-up Steven Spielberg right there.
However, it lacks the more interesting plot aspects of Jaws (and likewise, many Jaws ripoffs), like the mayor that doesn’t want to report anything for fear of driving away tourists, or Quint having a Moby Dick-esque past with the shark. Oh, I think I've gotten ahead of myself. I do that alot.
Basically, someone throws some chemicals into the water which is supposed to make salmon grow bigger, but this accidentally creates the killer fishmen instead. If you're gonna throw chemicals into the water to increase the amount of salmon you can catch, why not toss in some sleeping pill powder and make them easier to catch, and therefore, be able to catch more of them? Anyway, Doug and his hot young wife find a trail of mystery slime and get suspicious and decide to follow it. I don't know about you, but I don't think I've ever felt the pressing need to explore what lies at the end of a trail of mystery slime. I doubt there has ever been anything good at the end of a long trail of mystery slime. You'll probably just find whoever is responsible for emitting the mystery slime, and that is someone I do not want to spend time with.
Anyway, that is just one example of these characters spending a LONG time figuring out that, indeed, something fishy is going on. HA HA HA...oh, stop it. Immediately after they do indeed figure out that there is a major problem, the fishmen team up and attack a town get-together on the pier. If only they had put the pieces together a couple hours before and warned everybody to go home, but, on the other hand, it leads to an awesome scene where the fish dudes attack kids and rip off bikini tops and shit.
Way to ruin a nice pier party you overgrown catfish, you.
As far as Jaws ripoffs go, Humanoids From the Deep is both on the unsubtle side of the spectrum and far more rapey than most. However, that's not really a bad thing. It takes some familiar elements and combines them in a stupid, stripped down way in order to appease the exploitation Gods. It's also buoyed by acting stalwarts Morrow and McClure, who are performing in such a way that they seem to actually believe that they are absolutely, positively not starring in a movie about dudes in fish suits raping and killing women. I don't know how they do it folks.
P.S. This is review #4 in the Lazy Baker set of 11 for October. Only seven more to go!