As I'm sure the guys will make comment on, I've been trying to source Humanoids From The Deep in a decent format for years. The only DVD print available is the full screen Concorde release that can fetch silly money on Amazon Marketplace (£237 as this goes to press, although I've seen it as high as £288) - and that's cut. Thank goodness for Japanese laserdisc, and thank goodness for collectors who are prepared to rip said laserdisc and upload it to a rare film collectors forum for eager Googlers like me to download and burn on to DVD. And it's uncut, and it's widescreen! Stone me.
We saw some of Planet Of The Dinosaurs very recently at Zombie Club as Fred Olen Ray lifted stop motion dino footage from it for The Phantom Empire, so really it was just a matter of time before the original made it here. No time like the present.
This Zombie Club is bought to you by Jim in association with rubber suited and stop motion monsters everywhere.
Humanoids from the Deep (1980)
Plot Horny humanoids appears from the murky depths to really annoy Vic Morrow and Doug McClure.
Jim Humanoids From The Deep basically has your standard eco-horror plot ("Very Jaws." - Zomblee). Doug McClure and his fishermen friends are having a rough season in their little salmon fishing town, so mostly welcome the cannery that's going to be built downstream. The problem is, it's going to be built on sacred Indian burial ground, opening up a whole subplot of how much Vic Morrow (on the kind of form that makes you realise how wasted he was on most of the films he was ever in) hates the Indians. And the cannery people, despite throwing a very funny party ("So far the cannery people are fine in my book." - Zomblee), have been doing genetic experiments to see if they can increase the size of the salmon. And boy has it worked, big time.
Doug McClure is hilarious, looking totally vacant in every scene and Vic Morrow is on fire as the racist bigot who kills the Indian's dog just to make a point. But it's the bizarrely disjointed quality of the movie that really makes it stand out. The pacing is really good ("Wow, kid and dog killed in the first 10 minutes." - Rawshark) and the female director, Barbara Peters, balances the humour and tension superbly, making the thing totally watchable. And then the monsters come out of the ocean, and you wonder where you've been all your life.
I'm not kidding, these big silly rubber monsters (think Island of the Fishmen) storm out of the sea, kill the boyfriends in a gory attack, rip the girlies clothes off then chase their naked bodies around the beach("They call it mate, we call it rape." - Zomblee). Depending on where you go, reports say that these sequences were directed after the main shoot by someone else and added against the original directors wishes (which explains how gratuitous they are), and you've got to believe it.
So, take a well-shot Jaws rip-off, add some ridiculous rubber monsters chasing naked chicks around beaches, and you've got one hell of a movie. I haven't even mentioned the relentless big finale, where hordes of the monsters charge the fairground on the pier, killing as many blokes and raping, sorry, 'mating with' as many chicks as possible. Amazing.
"Somebody killed my dog Slattery, you got any ideas?"
Rawshark If you’ve been reading our Zombie Club write-ups for a while now, you’ve probably grown to love the eco-horror template as much as we do. You know, a small community find themselves at the whim of a nearby commercially-driven factory / nuclear power plant / tourist-hungry mayor / fish cannery (delete as applicable) who then meddle with the forces of nature which ends up in the creation of a life-threatening attack by giant sharks / killer trees / humanoids from the deep (again, delete as applicable). All is present and correct here, but throw in lots of naked breasts (for Zomblee’s gratification) and Doug McClure and Vic Morrow for the little kid within Jim and myself and we have yet another film that both promises, and provides, Zombie Club Gold.
The start of this movie (as directed by Barbara Peters) is nicely paced, with a nice introduction to our small fishing community and a teasing glimpse of the soon-to-come humanoid threat, all set to the melodic music by James Horner. One boy is then killed underwater, the Indian’s dog bites the (dog) biscuit and the ”dapper Mayor” (Zomblee) seems to put his backing to both the cannery and the scientific research into salmon, designed to make the fish ”Bigger. And more plentiful”.
And then, wouldn’t you know it, all hell breaks loose and the film picks up momentum faster than a Ferrari as we witness Doug and Vic in a fist fight just before the first major humanoid attack on a couple making out on the beach. Legend has it that producer Roger Corman stepped in once the film was finished, and demanded more nudity and humanoid attacks, but Barbara Peters refused, so Corman promptly fired her and employed another director to shoot the requisite extra gore and bouncy bits. And boy does this film deliver on both counts.
We get faces ripped off, endless sex monster / humanoid rape scenes, shoulder tears, more nudity, more fishman rape and cool explosions as Vic Morrow Molotov’s the Indian’s house. But it’s the final attack scene that really tops it all off as the humans fight back, the beauty queen gets her bikini top ripped off and joins in the tussle, and even the Indian comes to save the day with his trusty rifle. Yes, it’s all a load of bollocks really, but hey, we’re not reviewing The Seventh Seal here, we’re watching Humanoids from the Deep and this little gem of a b-movie really does rock!
”I’m going to stop your cannery Slattery!”
Zomblee Our man Jim has been bigging up Humanoids from the Deep for some considerable time. Years, in fact. When you build something up this much, it has GOT to deliver, am I right? Thankfully, the DVD-R transfer from the uncut Japanese laserdisc is the best version available, and this happens to be the one we're watching tonight. Bring on Doug McClure. Bring on Vic Morrow. Then bring on those horny men in the rubber suits. Bring on that large glass of Rioja, by jove. Holy shit, I’m so happy right now!
Set in a fishing village, the plot follows a salmon farming company who experiment by making bigger, better fishies for our dishies. You can see what’s coming next, right? This being an eco horror, such experiments can only have a disastrous effect, and before you know it, sex-pest humanoids emerge from the deep at night in an effort to mate with the village women. This traditionally happens when couples are shagging in some remote place where they can't be helped, and these scenes will normally involve the only breasts of the evening (apparently these scenes were shot afterwards by a different director to up the sex and violence quota - something to be encouraged, I'm sure you agree).
Sourcing an uncut print of this movie paid dividends tonight. You see, the movie pretty much ends with an almighty village fairground massacre, which never seems to end, as the fishmen rip and rape their way through the understandably shocked locals. It's a frenzied panic scene of the highest order, with lashings of tasty death and destruction ("Look! They're just beating the fuck out of the fishman - brilliant!" - Jim).
The uncut print of this bad boy is well worth your hard earned dollar if you can track it down. Vic Morrow is as brilliant as usual, and the addition of the totally gratuitous sex and violence is a real bonus. A pleasure to behold.
”What the hell are these things anyway?”
Director Barbara Peters
Cast Doug McClure
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Planet of the Dinosaurs (1979)
Plot A spaceship crew crash on a planet full of stop motion dinosaurs and wander around a bit.
Zomblee It doesn't take inordinate amounts of thinking to work out what a movie with a title like Planet of the Dinosaurs is about. Is it about a poor mother being left alone to look after her child? A spy caper? A gardening thriller with Alan Tits Marsh? No, it's about a planet inhabited by glorious stop-motion dinosaurs, and take it from me - it's a great bad movie. First off, the dinosaurs, although of the old school variety, are still rubbish - I remember one in particular who Jim reckoned ran like a girl, with really short strides, before 'pronging' someone called Harvey on the edge of a cliff. Magic.
Rawshark observed that "all the men in uniforms have moustaches", which makes this one of those special movies where finely trimmed upper lip hair is to be celebrated at every turn; the Selleck, the Burt Reynolds, the Tom Savini, all represented here. Going one step further is the main character; let's call him 'Jim' (James Whitworth aka 'Jupiter' from The Hills have Eyes), who sports a really manly beard, just so that we know he's in control. Once their runaway reactor sees them crash land on the planet, Jim comes up with the plan to get to 'the plateau', and that is basically the rest of the movie right there. The long voyage by foot to the plateau ensues, and along the way they encounter dinosaurs who fight and stuff. It's brilliant.
ZC Jim was spot-on with his "He's a poor man's George Eastman" comment, though thankfully he doesn't go about the place raping and killing folk, instead playing the role of leader, and talking about getting to that plateau. Unfortunately however, Planet of the Dinosaurs doesn't give all the time. If my notes are anything to go by, there are "loads of really pointless chats that go on for ages. And walking", but please don't let that put you off, because you'll miss out on all the great facial hair and futuristic tracksuits. Were those tracksuits cool or not?
"What are we going to do? What are we going to do? Captain, what are we going to do?"
Rawshark Back in the day, there was an old film called King Kong which featured a big stop-motion monkey and some stop-motion dinosaurs. It was well praised at the time and in turn inspired a young guy called Ray Harryhausen to take up the art of stop-motion animation, where he specialised in dinosaurs. Harryhausen’s body of work included several classics such as One Million Years BC, The Valley of Gwangi and Clash of the Titans and his work was second-to-none on his particular field. With the big box office successes of the majority of the film he worked on, he inspired several copycat creators, and this is where Planet of the Dinosaurs, made in 1978, comes into my meandering intro, helped by the fact that it features a cameo from Harryhausen’s Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.
Now, whilst Planet of the Dinosaurs is not the greatest dinosaur movie ever made, it is quite fun. The dinosaurs themselves are pretty good and quite endearing, and the film is so full of completely corny dialogue and man lip hair that there is still a lot of enjoyment to be had. Captained by the inexperienced Lee Norsythe, the spaceship Odyssey crash lands on a (wouldn’t you know it) planet of dinosaurs, and the castaways spend the rest of the film trying to escape becoming dinosaur-fodder and fighting amongst themselves, with a leadership takeover attempt from the full-bearded “kill or be killed” Jim.
They walk around a lot, lose guns, make camp and finally aim for a plateau where they think they will be safe from marauding carnivores. Ok, so there is a fair lack of plot here, but the dialogue is peppered with laughably naff lines (for example - ”This isn't Nebraska. There isn't any service station down the road. There isn't any phone. If there were, the long-distance rates would be something else.”) and the film ambles along until our heroes build a stockade (”shit stockade” - Jim) before ultimately making the planet their home, complete with baby and all. Ah, don’t you just love happy dinosaur endings…
”You’ve reduced out chance of survival by one gun”.
Jim Spaceships, dinosaurs and pointless walking about. Yes, that pretty much sums up this mad little flick, which many consider the last hurrah in to the world of stop motion animation.
These are the things I learnt from Planet of the Dinosaurs
1. If you've crashed on an alien planet, don't strip to your bra and pants then go swimming. You don't know what's in the water.
2. Don't let the hot oriental chick hold the laser gun if you're walking through a swamp, or you might reduce your chances of survival by one gun.
3. If you're a fat lazy guy, don't whinge loudly or people might work out what a fat lazy bastard you are.
4. If you're a hot oriental chick don't run off or you might get gored by a dinosaur.
5. If you're going to be in a movie where you wear a Mork style space jumpsuit, make sure you buff up in advance or you'll look like a right weed.
6. If you expect to ever have a position of authority in space, you have to grow a moustache. Even the women ("Oh, I've just seen her moustache, man, big time!" - Zomblee).
7. If you crash on an alien planet full of dinosaurs, keep up the pretence you're going to get rescued for about 90 mins. Or until you kill the Tyranosaurus with the "poison berry bait plot" (Rawshark), whichever comes first. After that, you might as well start dressing like the Flintstones, have kids and live happily ever after on the alien world.
So, quite a fun little movie with some cool stop motion animation. It struggles for a plot, but that's not why you'd watch a movie like this, now is it? Kick back, imagine you're seven years old and enjoy dinosaur action the way it is supposed to be done.
"I'll get it!"
Director James K. Shea
Cast James Whitworth
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So that's that. With CGI currently being the favoured way to shoot monsters, it seems the days of rubber suits and stop-motion are numbered. Still, it's nice to discover films like this you missed first time around, and I'm sure it won't be the last time stop-motion or, more likely, rubber suited monsters make an appearance at Zombie Club (It's Alive 3: Island of the Alive anyone?)
It's also not the last time we're likely to see James Whitworth, as he crops up in other 70s grindhouse flicks Sweet Sugar and Terminal Island, both of which will probably make there way to Zombie Club at some point.
Tune in next time for a heallthy dose of revenge, courtesy of Clint Howard and a kid who's allowed to play with syringes.
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