Humanoids from the Deep Blu-ray Review
Humanoids From The Deep is presented uncut in its original 1.78:1 aspect and encoded via AVC MPEG-4. And it looks fantastic, schlock-fans!
Taken from the inter-positive for the International Version and bearing the appropriate title card of Monster - Humanoids From The Deep, the company have explained that they chose not to use any noise reduction as it would soften the picture and they didn't want to lose any of the detail or the improved colour. So, hats off to Shout! Factory once again. There's a few bigger labels that could do with taking a leaf out of their book, isn't there?
Grain is retained, then, and the image is graced with a properly film-like texture. This said, there are one or two moments when the grain seen against the grey and murky clouds looks a touch clumpy and bright, but at least there is no distracting digital manipulation taking place within the frame.
Print damage is still apparent, although there is no denying that the film looks cleaner and healthier than any other version out there on home video. We have some pops and speckles and elements of debris on the frame, seen most overtly against the grey skies, and a curious yellow line that puts in an appearance, but the film doesn't look as rough round the edges as it most certainly could have done. I wasn't bothered by any banding and there is no annoying edge enhancement to spoil things, but the contrast does give in to some hot whites that bloom a little in a handful of shots. Blacks can be quite strong and dominant in some scenes, although I am not convinced that there is any crushing of detail going on underneath them. Moreover, the image looks appreciably heavy with moisture - not the print or the transfer, you understand, but rather the rendering of the photography itself - meaning that this is about as accurate a picture as it could probably be. You really feel cold and clammy watching it.
The details on the monsters, themselves, is vivid and revealing. The film offers many examples for us to enjoy, but the most striking would have to be the moment when one of the beasts is laid out on an examination table in a well-lit room. Variances in shade and texture are smooth, and the ghastly gleaming hide, the gills and the spines are offered up for close-in scrutiny - and you know that you want to. Woodwork and steel fixtures on the trawlers and the little fishing boats yields enough information to make the image look detailed and vivid even in the murky overcast palette of the less than clement weather. We can even see the very fine rain that regularly falls. And there is good stuff regarding the injuries too - all are clear and rendered with due redolence. The tearing off of a man's head allows us to inspect the ragged fleshy perforations of the sheared neck, and the back-gouging clearly displays some nasty shining viscera within. Background details of cliffs, people at the dockside and of the wallflowers at the little dance early on are actually quite good. Views out to sea are authentically misty and obscured, but the rocks, shale and sand on the beaches, as well as the rocky coves and tangled foliage that characters find themselves squirming through can be quite sharp and three-dimensional.
Flesh-tones are more than decent and certainly consistent whichever bit of flesh you may be looking at. Colours are not as vivid as seen in Piranha, for example, which is a much warmer looking film, but the spectrum on show here is not at all shabby. People aren't wearing much in the way of bright gear - that skimpy negligée and a couple of bikinis aside - but the disc still has a fairly bold and well-saturated appeal - especially for those mutated greens and browns. There is something about Doug McClure's face that seems determined not to yield any detail. Whilst everyone else is afforded plenty of fine texture - freckles, crags, hairs ... all the usual suspects - our Dougie remains soft as a baggy baby's bum. But just look at Vic Morrow's tightly wound mop of curls! God only knows what possessed him to allow them to give him an afro!
Humanoids From The Deep shows its vintage from time to time, but this is a fine hi-def presentation that will surely please any fan.
As with the audio transfer for Piranha, Humanoids From The Deep gets a PCM uncompressed 2.0 track that has a few instances of glory within a limited soundfield. The mix can't help but sound a tad dated, and there are some very slight age-related issues with clarity and quality, but as far as I am concerned there is enough on the plus side to amuse and entertain you.
As you would probably suspect, James Horner's score is afforded a spacious presentation within the mix and probably takes the lion's share of any accolades. His trademark horns provide a finely melancholic refrain that does its best to reach out from the restricted frontal array. The frequent screaming and the dialogue come over well enough. There's plenty of gunshots going on, and these have a nice deep boom to them, but things like shattering glass - the windows of the Hill's house when monstrous arms crash through them, the windscreen of the van during a similar attack - don't really have much vigour or detail. And considering that the mass-assault on the Salmon Festival ends in a raging inferno, we don't get much activity with the flames and the fireballs. Things like the crunching of wooden boards as the mutants crash their way up through them have a bit of clout (if I'm being charitable) and the webbed swipes that they make can boast the occasional meaty slap. The exploding boat and the creaking winch and crane beforehand lack precision, but I think it is hard to complain about the mix from a low-budget film hailing from 1980. Certainly, the track does nothing wrong.
However, now we have got something that you should be warned about - but this is not necessarily a bad thing. The screeching of the monsters, when they are highly aroused and on the offensive is incredibly shrill and piercing. And this may well catch you off-guard. But it is not a fault of the mix. Well, I don't think it is, anyway. But, man, there are times when their high-pitched and skull-cracking cries may well have you suddenly reaching for the volume control. The film also offers a few jolting “stingers” - abrupt impacts and roars, a ringing phone etc - and some of these also enjoy a nerve-jangling upswing in volume.
Beyond this, there really is much else to say. The track is restricted in width - there's not too much in the way of stereo steerage - and the effects can sound harsh. But, as you may or may not agree, this only adds to the grungy, rough 'n' ready mood of the production. And I seriously doubt that we could get a better, or more fuller sounding mix for Humanoids From The Deep than this.
Although Shout! Factory have provided some terrific material for their Corman releases so far, Humanoids From The Deep, sadly, fares the worst. But this isn't to say that we haven't got some good stuff here.
Whilst there is no commentary track - which is a shame - we get a very decent 22-minute making of that packs in a fair bit and brings some unusual contributors to the party. Whilst we expect to hear from the likes of Roger Corman, and from James Sbardellati, from lisping editor Mark Goldblatt and from James Horner, it is actually very refreshing to get the opinions and reminiscences from Cindy Weintraub and Miss Salmon, herself, Linda Shayne. Weintraub discusses her character and her surprise at the finished version of the film, particularly the pneumatic babe that stood-in for her during the shower scene. Shayne talks about the wild weirdness of her one-day on-set. Mark Goldblatt and Sbardellati are frank about the nature of what Peeters shot and how they set about drastically altering and re-shaping the film to help it match up to peoples' expectations for a Roger Corman production. I wish that Rob Bottin could have got involved with this though. Asides from his wonderful contributions to featurettes on the making of The Thing, he has been strangely reticent about his tremendous work.
There is a very brief section entitled Leonard Maltin Interviews Roger Corman on the making of Humanoids From The Deep, but as nice and as cordial as this is, it actually tells us very little.
A selection of never-before-seen Deleted Scenes have made it on to the disc. Here you can see some alternate footage of the fates of some of the characters, and a lot more sleazy attacks. Aye, there's some fun to be had here with boobs and beasts. The audio tracks for some of these sequences has been lost, but the gist of what is going on is not hard to understand. This montage is definitely worth a look.
With a few TV and Radio Spots and a little illustrated booklet on the film, this is another pleasing effort from Shout! Factory.
Oh, and as with Piranha, I actually prefer the poster art on the flipside of this reversible cover. Bearing the international title of Monster, the image seen here is a much more accurate description of what we see in the film. Lurid and exploitative, this is also a very similar depiction of mutant mayhem that adorned the cover of celebrated pulp horror writer Guy N. Smith's wacky novel The Slime Beast, first published in 1975. Who remembers that guy then, the poor man's James Herbert?
It's becoming commonplace for me to lavish praise on Shout! Factory, but they've gone and done it again. They've brought another cult gem out on the format that we love and presented it with pride and as many extras as they could find. If you are a fan of this type of thing then you really cannot fault such a sterling service for films that far too many people would be readily prepared to dismiss and to ridicule. Humanoids From The Deep is no work of art, obviously, but it does exactly what it sets out to do - to thrill, excite, titillate and amuse - and does so with some terrific style. More Horror Of Party Beach than The Creature From The Black Lagoon, this still sits very nicely right alongside Piranha and the sci-fi shenanigans of Galaxy Of Terror and Forbidden World. It ticks all the appropriate Corman boxes as an adult creature feature and packs a lot of incident into a very short running time. One thing is for certain, you won't feel unsatisfied come the finale.
Once more, the transfer for this low-budget vintage production is genuinely rewarding. With no DNR robbing it of detail and an image that is probably far better than many - myself included - expected, this is a definite treat that helps make its long-awaited release in hi-definition all the more welcome.
Whether you know it as Humanoids From The Deep or as Monster, this is as bold, bravura and boob-filled as you could wish. Cast your nets and haul this classic mutated-mauler (and that's just Doug McClure) aboard now!
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