Humanoids from the Deep (1996)
"Your deepest fears will surface."
Convicted prisoners are being genetically spliced with salmon DNA in an experiment but they escape into the sea where they start to terrorise a small village.
One of a number of 90s TV movie remakes of producer Roger Corman's previous films, Humanoids from the Deep is a poor attempt to bring one of the early 80s most politically incorrect films back to life. Let me just say now that if you loved the distasteful original for it's sleazy and trashy inclusion of gratuitous nudity, monster-on-female rape and lashings of fake blood then avoid this remake like the proverbial plague. This is the 90s. This is a TV movie. If you think the film is even going to touch bases on any of those elements then think again. Humanoids from the Deep is a neutered version of a cult classic and not even a good film in its own right.
I never saw any remake potential in the original Humanoids from the Deep. It was a product of it's time but films have moved on since 1980. Society has moved on. What was barely acceptable on the screen back then is outright criminal now. The exploitation elements have been eliminated and consigned to the scrap heap of history. Gone is the large amount of cheesy gore that the original had in abundance. The best you'll get here is an arm ripped off and a feeble attempt to replicate the chestbuster sequence from Alien. Gone is the rape and nudity which made the original such a trashy classic. Here, it is only implied that the fish-men are doing the dirty with the females they kidnap and there's not a naked woman in sight.
Humanoids from the Deep's story has been slightly tweaked somewhat to give it a more modern edge. So now we've got more teenagers in the cast, the involvement of the army to contend with and government cover-ups that are the order of the day. It's over-complicating what was once a simple story. The fish-men look even worse than they did before and are given a lot less screen time to hide that fact. Let's face it, they looked terrible in the original but I could live it with because of the nature of the film. For most of this one, the fish-men are camera shy but during the attack on the festival, they suddenly develop a desire to be famous and you can't get them off the screen. There's a good reason for that - it turns out that a lot of footage from this set piece has been lifted from the original, hence why you won't see the new characters mixing it up with the old-school fish-men. The sequence is badly edited together and serves to remind you of how much more entertaining the original was. I wouldn't be surprised if the new fish men were simply the old suits they find lying in storage somewhere, all moth-eaten and dishevelled after years of being locked away. Fish men POV shots and reactions of characters are the name of the game here to avoid showing us the creatures for as long as possible.
The film has better production values than the original but just comes off as another timid TV movie in comparison to more recent films. The original had a nice grimy, low budget feel to it, as if you were watching one of those old grindhouse movies. This one loses that appeal and the associated entertainment value but looks more professional and bigger budgeted in the process. Knowing full well that the makers of this remake were restricted with what they could get away with kills off a lot of the hope and expectation. With Corman pushing all of the buttons in the original to score a hit, you could never really predict just how far (or low) he would go in order to entertain and so there was always the feeling that things were going to get nasty. Here, because you know the film is working with the TV movie format, there's never any sense that Humanoids from the Deep will push the boat out any further than it has to.
Humanoids from the Deep at least features a solid cast. There's no Doug McClure or Vic Morrow to battle the fish-men but David Carradine, Mark Ralston and Clint Howard are all on hand to add some familiarity to the cast. In reality they should play second fiddle to the monsters but in this day and age, it's the humans who are given the majority of the screen time, developing secondary plots with human villains in an attempt to avoid showing the fish-men for as long as possible. The main character rarely engage with the creatures, presumably because that meant actually using the creature suits and shooting lots of new footage, and so they have plenty of time to kill in the background.
This is a weak, more conservative remake of Humanoids From the Deep. The original was enjoyable for the sleaze and cheese factor. Strip that away and you have this. It's not the worst example of it's type of film out there and it's still pretty pacey and entertaining for what it is. But why not just stick with the original?
Humanoids from the Deep
Director(s): Jeff Yonis
Writer(s): Martin B. Cohen (short story), Jeff Yonis
Actor(s): Emma Samms, Robert Carradine, Justin Walker, Mark Rolston, Danielle Weeks, Clint Howard, Kaz Garas, Warren Burton
Duration: 86 mins