Film Review: Humanoids From the Deep (1980)

Also known as: Monster (alternative title – racier version)
Release Date: May 16th, 1980
Directed by: Barbara Peeters, Jimmy T. Murakami (uncredited)
Written by: Frederick James, Frank Arnold, Martin B. Cohen
Music by: James Horner
Cast: Doug McClure, Ann Turkel, Vic Morrow, Lynn Schiller

New World Pictures, 80 Minutes

Review:

“Hold it! We think we know where these things come from, but we have no idea how many there are.” – Dr. Susan Drake

I remember seeing this film multiple times as a kid. Back then, I saw it on premium cable and usually late at night. However, the version I saw back then was tame in comparison to the one I just watched. So apparently there are different cuts of the movie and the one I just experienced for the first time was the “racier version” called Monster.

The big difference is a pretty shocking one, as the humanoid sea monsters in this version not only murder every piece of flesh they come in contact with but they also rape all the hot women in the movie that can’t get away. I had to do a double take each time this happened because I certainly would’ve remembered that detail had I seen it back in the ’80s.

I feel like this version of the film also had a lot more gore. The old cut I saw did have a good amount of blood and violence but this edit seemed to push it to another level. And maybe this was due to the censors circa 1980 thinking that sea-beast rape and clawed off faces were a bit too much.

In retrospect, the “racier version” comes off as a true drive-in classic that would draw the admiration and respect of the legendary Joe Bob Briggs. And frankly, I’d love to see him feature this cut of the film on The Last Drive-In.

Humanoids From the Deep was produced by Roger Corman and his studio, New World Pictures. It seems pretty fitting as this movie is very similar to a lot of Corman’s late ’50s and early ’60s creature features. Granted, this upped the ante in regards to tits and gore; it was a Corman feature for a new generation.

But like Corman’s earlier work, this features dudes in rubber suits and pretty hokey but awesome cheap, practical effects.

Overall, the plot is pretty simple. Sea-men rise from the ocean to rape and kill people in a small coastal town. Everything comes to a big crescendo at the town’s big fair, which happens to be set up right next to the water.

The acting and direction are about what one would expect from a flick put out by New World.

While this isn’t a fantastic film, it’s still a pretty good time for fans of ’80s horror with a good amount of onscreen violence.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: other Roger Corman produced creature features, C.H.U.D.The Beast Within and Piranha.

Film Review: At Earth’s Core (1976)

Release Date: July 1976 (US)
Directed by: Kevin Connor
Written by: Milton Subotsky
Based on: At Earth’s Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Music by: Mike Vickers
Cast: Doug McClure, Peter Cushing, Caroline Munro

Amicus Productions, American International Pictures, British Lion Films, 89 Minutes

Review:

Being that I have now watched At Earth’s Core means that I have now gotten through the new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, which is kind of friggin’ depressing.

Truthfully, I had already seen this, as it is an Amicus film with Peter Cushing in it. It also has Caroline Munro, a huge childhood crush of mine, who always turned my heart into putty I would have freely given her to play with. I still would. I am weak in the presence of Ms. Munro even though she’s only been on my television set. Also, I’m calling her “Ms.” to ignore whether or not she ever married.

Anyway, Caroline Munro perv rant out of the way, on to the movie itself.

The film actually isn’t too bad. Considering that it is an Amicus production and that it has a tiny budget, I can live with the results.

It stars Doug McClure, who starred in Amicus’ other Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptation The Land That Time Forgot. He’s a hammy and bulky “save the babe” sort of guy. The babe being Ms. Munro.

It also stars Peter Cushing, one of my all-time favorite actors. However, in this, he is really bizarre and overly goofy. His voice is weird and quite annoying and his mannerisms are like that of a regal British gentlemen drinking too many pints of ale and being dared by his mates to walk around like that asshole Jerry Lewis. I pretty much hate Cushing in this movie and I hate saying I hate Cushing in anything. I mean, it’s Peter F’n Cushing!

The film is colorful, I like the cinematography even if it feels really dated for 1976. The colors and sets look like something out of a 60s Roger Corman sci-fi picture. I love the colors, actually but the film feels like it has less production value than its predecessor The Land That Time Forgot, which predates this by two years.

Additionally, the effects, in general, are also a step down. While the creatures and monsters are cooler concepts than the standard dinosaurs in The Land That Time Forgot, their rubber suits and overall construction just look really shoddy.

Don’t even get me started on the atrocious ape men.

Despite its faults, At Earth’s Core is still a fun picture to check out if you love the classic Burroughs and Jules Verne adventure films from the 1950s through 1970s.

Rating: 5/10

Film Review: The Land That Time Forgot (1974)

Release Date: November 29th, 1974 (UK)
Directed by: Kevin Connor
Written by: Michael Moorcock, James Cawthorn
Based on: The Land That Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Music by: Douglas Gamley
Cast: Doug McClure, John McEnery, Susan Penhaligon, Keith Barron

Amicus Productions, American International Pictures, 91 Minutes

Review:

The Land That Time Forgot is a better film than what is typically featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 but it was nice seeing it pop up in the new revival season. Also, it is made by Amicus and compared to the quality of most of their pictures, this is like a big budget epic for them. I’m not knocking Amicus but they were sort of a poor man’s Hammer Studios in the UK and typically made small gothic horror pictures.

This film features rubber dinosaurs, cavemen and a submarine. Those three things are an interesting enough mix. Unfortunately, the film spends more time on the submarine than the island it seems. Being that Amicus is not a big studio, they needed to distract from the island wildlife for budgetary reasons but there were probably better ways to do this.

The creatures aren’t horrible but they also aren’t great. What you have here is a typical rubber suit monster movie. It isn’t as cool and creative as a Toho kaiju flick but it is still well executed for what Amicus had to work with. The dinosaur battles were fairly decent despite the film’s limitations, technically and financially. The pterodactyls probably could have been a bit more convincing though.

The cast is pretty decent and the characters are an interesting mix. You have the military men from a German submarine, a few people from a ship that they sank and a caveman sidekick. Ultimately, the group has to work together, as they try to traverse and survive the dangerous island.

The Land That Time Forgot is not the best of the classic literary sci-fi adventure pictures that were big from the 1950s through 1970s but it is a really good effort from a studio that didn’t have Disney money. It is a good and fun film with a lot of flaws but it doesn’t get dull and it keeps your attention throughout. It is also a quicker paced film compared to others in its genre.

Rating: 5/10

Film Review: SST Death Flight (1977)

Release Date: February 25th, 1977
Directed by: David Lowell Rich
Written by: Robert L. Joseph, Meyer Dolinsky, Guerdon Trueblood
Music by: John Cacavas
Cast: Lorne Greene, Peter Graves, Susan Strasberg, Doug McClure, Barbara Anderson, Bert Convy, Burgess Meredith, Tina Louise, Robert Reed, Billy Crystal, John de Lancie, Brock Peters, Regis Philbin

ABC Circle Films, American Broadcasting Company, 89 Minutes

sst-death-flightReview:

In the 1970s, America loved its disaster movies. They also loved TV movies with big ensemble casts made up of the stars from various television shows. So green lighting SST Death Flight was a no brainer, right?

A lot of the disaster films of that era didn’t hold up well at all. Now I am not sure what people thought about SST Death Flight when it aired on ABC in early 1977 but it is a friggin’ turd.

I almost feel bad for most of the cast that is in this. Burgess Meredith deserves better and Lorne Greene has done his fair share of cheese but both men are pretty accomplished and respected and have a certain gravitas that puts them above a picture like this. I can’t fault Billy Crystal, he’s pretty damn young here and was looking for that big break.

70s celebrities seemed to love being in these big disaster ensembles though, and to be honest, despite the movie being terrible, it was probably a hell of a lot of fun to make and to hang out on the set with a bunch of really cool colleagues. I wouldn’t have said “no” to it, if I was in the same position.

SST Death Flight is unexciting, uninteresting and is just a cookie cutter plane in danger picture. This formula has been done to death and this movie offers nothing really new or captivating. In fact, it plays like more of a parody but without the clever jokes.

Ultimately, a bunch of people die, some survive but no one really cares. It has the most predictable scenario, with the most predictable twists and turns all leading to the most predictable ending.

But you can watch it get riffed in the first pre-cable era season of Mystery Science Theater 3000. That version is currently streaming on YouTube.

Rating: 2/10