Cineray Goes Fishing

Hey, there horror fiends! Today I am going to recommend a couple of movies with monsters. But not just any monsters. Nope, today I am recommending two films that feature monsters from the briny deep. No sharks, octopus, or Cthulhu either, although watch for the future on the later. No, today we are watching two movies that feel like sequels of each other. Today’s fishy Cineray recommendations are Creature from the Black Lagoon directed by Jack Arnold and Humanoids from the Deep directed by Barbara Peeters. 

First up is Creature from the Black Lagoon, a classic tale of a forgotten monster and the explorers who have found him. The Gill Man, as the creature is known, is a creature who has evolved from fish over millennia hidden away in the Amazon undiscovered. When a fossilized fin with claws that looks a lot like a human hand with webbing is found, Dr. Carl Maia enlists the aid of his friend and former student Dr. David Reed to help along with Reed’s boss Dr. Mark Williams and Reed’s colleague and girlfriend Kat Lawrence in finding more fossils. What they find is more than they bargained for in the living Gill Man. Before they know it, the monster has killed members of their party. He also has taken an interest in Kay, and they resolve to leave. But the Gill Man traps them, and they must protect Kay and themselves from the murderous creature. 

It may seem like a cliched story, but that’s because this is the film that originated this particular trope. Movies like Rogue, Anaconda, or even Aliens, to an extent, have borrowed the “explorers caught by a monster and desperately try to escape” story from this film. And as the story in those films progresses, so too does Creature from the Black Lagoon. The monster’s attraction to a human woman is not all that original even in 1954, but where the motives of the Gill Man’s interest in Kay in this film are not explained but only hinted at, the monsters’ motives in Humanoids from the Deep are very clear. 

Humanoids from the Deep has all that you can want from a monster movie: a great monster and lots of monster attacks. The film starts with fishermen being attacked by an unseen creature, which causes an accidental explosion that kills everyone. At the fishing village in Noyo, California, the explosion is ruled an accident. A company named Canco is moving forward with their plans to open a cannery in the town while attacks on people near the water intensify. In each attack, the men are killed and mutilated while the women are attacked and raped by the humanoid fish creatures. As the time for the town’s annual festival approaches, a villager named Jim and Canco scientist Dr. Drake deduce what is happening and fear the attacks are about to get much worse. 

This film has a great monster, and the effects and action are excellent. The monster looks like an evolution of the Gill Man, with longer arms, larger fangs, and much more prominent fins. It’s all practical, and there are several monsters. They also do not choke their victims to death; they mutilate what they kill. 

The movie is thin on characters, but it has many monster attacks, which is exactly what you want in a monster movie. This movie plays to its strengths. The monsters are also a lot more clear in their intentions for the women. They are here with a strong biological compulsion to assert themselves by reproducing with women and killing men. The ending also has a twist that has since been copied. 

Finally, I think I picked these films because they are fun. Creature from the Black Lagoon may be my favorite of the Universal Monster movies. The Gill Man is so clear in his intention, and the movie moves so well. These men have invaded his territory, and he is going to assert himself and take their woman. And Humanoids from the Deep follows in that tradition and includes a critique on science. Creature from the Black Lagoon is available for rent on all the usual streaming services, while Humanoids from the Deep is free on Prime and Shudder and Tubi and Shout TV if you can stand the ads that will run during the film.