Tuesday, September 13, 2011
HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP (1996)
I should have known better than to watch this film. Everything I knew about it screamed ‘disaster’ but my curiosity once again did me in.
I have been a fan of the original 1980 HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP since I finally got to see it back the late 1980s. For years I had wanted to see it because it was one of a handful of movies that got talked about a lot at school when I was in middle school. Cable television and HBO had just crept into our backward part of rural Alabama and the kids lucky enough to live where the wires reached would occasionally get to see something they really shouldn’t have gotten to see. Many a kid my age told tales of catching late night showings of R rated movies with all the dirty parts left in! These were thrilling stories that often expanded in the telling but one film that stood out in repeated tales was HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP. The way it was described it had to be one of the most intense things imaginable. Heads got pulled off, arms ripped from bodies, dogs torn apart and most incredible of all – multiple young ladies were seen completely nude! All of this graphic, bloody violence coupled with full female nudity made the film legendary around seventh grade and a kind of Holy Grail for those of us unlucky enough to not get to see it. Damn, but I wanted to see this sucker!
You might expect that once I finally saw the film I was let down. Surely nothing could live up to the madness concocted by puberty struck male minds in full hormonal flower. But, believe it or not, the film turned out to be something I quite enjoyed. It’s not a great film and I would never claim classic status for it but it is a well crafted piece of exploitation monster sleaze and I still enjoy seeing it today. Notorious for its violence and nudity it’s just as infamous for its human raping monsters humping away to reproduce offspring like mad spawning fish. THAT was a surprise! I have to figure the kids in my homeroom class describing the film simply had no words to use to get these disturbing scenes across to the rest of us. We couldn’t understand sex much less ‘fish monster on human female’ sexual violence!
You can easily see why producer Roger Corman would think it would be a snap to remake this trashy gem in the 1990s. He had struck a deal to produce a few monster movies for the Showtime cable channel and this got tossed out there but, as you might expect, the budget is low and the results are bad. Sadly the things that make the original film fun to return to for repeat viewings are one of the many things missing from version 1996. The 1980 film had the feeling of being about a real place with real people that had lives that went on before and after we watched them. There was a sense of a small town community in which everyone knew each other that made the eventual monster trouble have a sharper edge as old grudges and slights are brought to the surface in the tense moments. In the remake there is nothing believable about any of the characters and I couldn’t even tell you what most of them do for a living. In the 1980 film the characters were defined by their jobs and their attitudes grew out of what they considered important. In the remake characters exist only to create situations that drive the story forward. The original was filmed on a lot of real locations giving everything a lived in, comfortable feel but the remake is shot mostly on some of the cheapest, flimsiest sets I have ever seen. One look at a shack/home and I knew it was going to burn simply because you don’t build well if its not going to last past reel three.
I could go on and on but the film bored me and I fear boring you by writing about it. I suggest avoiding the 1996 version of HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP and seeking out the nasty 1980 film. It’s a mean-spirited bit of Corman produced monster mash and it can still entertain the sleaze hungry teenager in each of us. The 1996 film will just give you a headache.