First DVD War.

I got two
delightful DVDs in the mail from SHOUT Factory last week, a Roger Corman
double feature of Piranha and Humanoids from the Deep (or Monster as it’s also known in this uncut version). Both are films that were born out
of the late 70’s creature horror boom and Piranha in particular was a nice cash cow for the legendary producer. It lead to a horrific James Cameron-directed sequel and this year’s 3-D Alexandre Aja romp.

A lot of the reviews I’ve seen for
these kind of flicks getting a fancy re-release regurgitate the stuff from the Wikipedia pages and IMDB
trivia. Or the stuff on the commentary tracks or special features. I’d
rather have a little fun. And I did!

So, if you’ll indulge me…


COMPARISON #1
The
Titles:



vs.


Advantage: Humanoids from the Deep.

Extra Credit:


You can’t go wrong with either choice, honestly. It’s just that Piranha tries to pull a Jaws so much I have to go with the ‘Noids. Both films use terrific fonts. Both films send that menacing vibe.

But only one has Vic Morrow.

COMPARISON #2

The Scariest Thing in the World:


Advantage: Humanoids from the Deep.

That image is the scariest thing ever to appear in a Roger Corman movie. Or a Lars Von Trier movie. Or a Scary Scaryson movie.

Plus, the puppet reacts when his owner is murderized by a Humanoid. The owner uses the puppet to woo his broad and she removes every piece of clothing she owns and the resulting nakedness is a joy to behold. The owner of the puppet then gets ready to put his hand in the second person of the night when a Humanoid shows up and introduces his life to his death.

But the puppet reacts! It’s the funniest thing in the film. But it’s also the scariest.


COMPARISON #3
Naked Times


vs.


Advantage: Humanoids from the Deep.



vs.


Advantage: Still Humanoids
from the Deep.


Though there can be bad nudity (M.C. Gainey. Kathy Bates), it’s rare that there’s bad nudity in a Corman film. Though Piranha has some nice little trinkets, Humanoids from the Deep is a delightful naked romp. Full nudity, and yes… sometimes the full nudity ends up with a Humanoid delivering rape to the naked, but most of the time the nudity is absolutely splendid. I love the Humanoids.

COMPARISON
#4

Grievous Harm!


vs.


Advantage:
Piranha.


Humanoids from the Deep has better gore FX, but something about the usage of sound in Piranha coupled with the quick shots of the little guys biting human flesh is still effective. Even though it’s obvious rod puppets shoved as people it works. Little pieces of meat in the water works. That sound of the piranha in the water works. It creeps my buns out.

But the Humanoids do kick some delicious ass. You can’t lose.


COMPARISON #5
Jaws References

Humanoids from the Deep: A Jaws reference I made up!

vs.


Piranha: Subtle.

Advantage: Jaws.

It’s amazing how much Roger Corman has capitalized on in his filmography and other than maybe Lloyd Kaufman no one can do it better and somehow turn shameless into greatness.

Extra credit for Humanoids from the Deep:




Killing kids in movies is awesome. It’s somewhat taboo these days, but nothing tells you that a villainous force means business like a few dead young ‘uns. To answer the questions posed in Who Can Kill a Child? Piranha and Humanoids from the Deep, that’s who.

An early scene in Humanoids from the Deep involves a kid going overboard and being massacred by a ‘Noid. His father is distraught, as one would expect. Luckily his boat explodes and kills him and the other crew members. That saved him from an uncomfortable child funeral.

In Piranha, fish eat children with reckless abandon. During a routine summer outing at the lake, many young folks are discouraged when their floating and splashing is interrupted by their death and devourment by thousands of toothy Spaniard fish.




In all seriousness, both films have aged quite well. Both feature plots involving the tampering of mankind with his environment (the Humanoids are part salmon, which explains why they are so delicious when paired with capers and the piranha are genetically engineered to kick ass for war). Both films feature solid actors. Both films are edited by the talented and underappreciated Mark Goldblatt. Joe Dante directed the fish flick quite well, balancing the quite unavoidable campy elements and adding as much value as possible. Barbara Peeters directed the ‘Noid flick and then someone else came in and shot all the nudity and rape.

Good work if you can get it.




Piranha was a hit and has left an indelible mark on both human beings and Amazonian feeders. There is no denying its legacy.

But Humanoids from the Deep blows it literally and figuratively out of the water. Disregard the nightmarish 1996 remake and enjoy a sex-filled gory delight of low budget mayhem. The monster movie/slasher flick/tadpole rape elements merge majestically into an orgy of wonderful times and there’s even a white men vs. brown men subplot that rivals the mutant bear epic Prophecy. All told, a delightful time at the arthouse.

More evidence:





There’s a part of me that wishes I had the clout to make another Humanoids from the Deep movie. I honestly think it’s good material for a theatrical flick. It’d have to be a very violent and sex-filled movie but done in a way that relishes the practical and digital effects of today and without any winking at the camera.

But I don’t have the clout, so here’s another caption.




One last bit of evidence. There’s a scene near the end where the ‘Noids wreak havoc all around town and the girl who is the pageant winner is decked out in her bikini outfit before the amphibian molesters ruin it for everyone…


The ‘Noid has the good decency to rip the top off his victim before he gets ready to bring his filthy business:





WINNER:
YOU, if buy these.

BUY PIRANHA FROM US!
 
BLU
RAY.


BUY HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP FROM US!
 
BLU
RAY.