AMPHIBIAN WEEK: Humanoids from the Deep (1980)

Did Roger Corman sit in a room screaming, “Make me more amphibian monster movies NOW!” into the telephone? Because this week, that’s the feeling that I’m getting. This time, Barbara Peeters got the call (Joe Dante turned this one down), although the final film was nothing like she wanted it to be and she tried — and failed — to get her name removed from the credits.

Fishermen catch what looks like a monster. Then, the son of one of them is dragged under the waves by an unseen beast. Another fisherman fires a flare gun that sets the whole boat on fire, killing everyone. Pre-credits, this movie is already meaner and better than most of what we’ve watched this week.

Jim Hill (Doug McClure, TV’s The Virginian) and his wife Carol (Cindy Weintraub, The Prowler) see the boat blow up and then their dog gets eaten (and his remains thrown up on their porch). So yeah. Things are off to quite the start.

Meanwhile, Jerry and Peggy (Lynn Schiller, Without Warning) are swimming and fooling around, but Jerry ends up torn apart and a fishman rapes the girl, causing the director to want to leave the picture. Seriously — they kept her name on the film. Time’s up, Roger Corman.

That scene is repeated with Billy (future ventriloquist David Strassman) and Becky, with yet another fish on female rape. All manner of folks are attacked, but Peggy somehow survives.

Meanwhile, Canco is opening their new canning operation in town. It turns out that the monsters that are fucking everyone to death are the result of Canco using HGH on salmon that were in turn eaten by larger fish who then turned into humanoids. From the deep? Yes. Humanoids from the Deep.

Luckily, Jim and Dr. Susan Drake are on the case. Their big plan? At the town’s fish fest, when the beasts attack, they dump gasoline in the lake and set it on fire. So not only is there no safe zone for women, fuck the environment, too. While all this is going on, Carol is attacked by two monsters but survives. Oh yeah! Vic Morrow is in this mess, too. And if you think Peggy is going to give birth to a fish baby, then you haven’t been watching this film.

Actress Ann Turkel chose to do this film — originally titled Beneath the Darkness — because: “It was an intelligent suspenseful science-fiction story with a basis in fact and no sex.” She was enraged as well at what the final film ended up being.

Corman remade this film for Showtime in 1996, with the sex and violence scaled down. That said, he of course reused the Salmon Festival footage for the remake. Why actually shoot something new?

Well, if you’re looking for a grimy, fishy film, this is it. It’s certainly more entertaining than the last two Roger Corman fish films I suffered through. You can watch the Shout! Factory release to get the best possible version. It’s also on Amazon Prime.

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