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Cheap thrills in 'Humanoids from Deep'
By Brian Offenther

FROM the 1950s on, director-turned-producer Roger Corman dedicated himself to making movies. Not necessarily quality ones, but movies nonetheless. Sure, a quality flick would turn up now and then (see: "Rock 'N' Roll High School" from 1979) but that wasn't necessarily the aim.

The title of his autobiography says it all: "How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost A Dime." That's not just a fact, but a brag.

Corman accomplished that by making films as cheap as possible, with low production costs and non-established artists. Despite this, he was allowed to keep making movies, that is, make money from one movie to fund the next one, by doing a few things, many of which can be found in "Humanoids from the Deep."

While not as overt as other Corman movies, "Humanoids from the Deep" builds off the interest of other movies. Sharing similarities with both the then-popular "Jaws" sequels and the classic "Creature of the Black Lagoon."

Mysterious deaths of pets and people are terrorizing the citizens of the waterside town of Noyo. At first it seems that they are murders caused by a dispute with some of the landowners and a Native American who wants them to stop developing the land, but it soon becomes clear that the perpetrators are humanoid monsters.

Luckily for viewers in search of titillation, the monsters oblige by seeming to take care to kill in gruesome ways, and to find plenty of pretty, naked woman to target with their wrath. The Roger Corman school of film parallels my 7th-grade math teacher in that they both insist on ruthlessly pursuing the lowest common denominator. A dollar is a dollar, and Corman never discriminated if it came from a high-end film critic or an excited teen.

Despite that, talent always was found or discovered by Corman. "Humanoids" is no exception. In this case, it's critically acclaimed film composer James Horner, about 20 years away from his work on the most successful film soundtrack in history, the one for fellow water adventure "Titanic." And while this soundtrack lacks the majesty of his later work, he does add tension to otherwise lame attempts to spook the audience.

Fortunately for Corman, audiences love lame attempts when they are imbued with singular style and history. Two years ago, "Humanoids from the Deep" was even re-released in a special edition package for DVD.

For some cheap thrills and a shot of film history, "Humanoids" delivers.

Otherwise, leave this one rolling in the deep.

'Humanoids from the Deep' (1980)

Where to see it: Dada (15 Xingfu Rd, near Fahuazhen Rd)

When to see it: September 11, 8pm

Price: Free

What to see: Typical ho-hum fare from legendary exploitation B-movie producer Roger Corman, with cheap production, buxom babes and buckets of blood.

Brian's rating: 3/10

Want to know where and when to watch free classic, cult classic and underground movies? Get the scoop every Friday from DJ and film aficionado (and Shanghai Daily columnist) Brian Offenther.

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