It will probably surprise no one that I am a great admirer of work of Roger Corman, the exploitation cinema genius whose work I’ve celebrated at my other home. So it’s a special moment for me when new editions of some of his cult classics are published. And what do I watch first, once Humanoids from the Deep arrives? The bonus-material interview segments, of course, because I’m as big a nerd as ever drew breath (and damn proud of it, too).

These particular interviews are introduced with a short segment, containing some footage from one of Humanoids‘s most notorious (and therefore most memorable) scenes.

humanoids from the deep eat half-dressed girl

The segment has a voiceover done by the sort of voice which we would have called back when I worked in radio, “ballsy.” (It was a less politically-correct time, rather like the time when Humanoids itself was made.) The voiceover text:

They are not human. But they hunt human women. And not for killing. Humanoids from the Deep. The 1980 sci-fi monster movie from Roger Corman’s New World Pictures. Things go horribly wrong, when a Canco fish cannery experiment with trout growth hormone accidentally mutates into depraved human-like creatures with the ravenous appetite to procreate with the village of Noyo’s virile women. Featuring a haunting soundtrack by renowned composer James Horner and terrifying special effects creations by Rob Bottin, Chris Walas, and Kenny Myers. Humanoids from the Deep lives on today as a Corman cult classic!

Wow! Sounds like a really cool…wait, what? Rewind, replay… procreate with the village of Noyo’s virile women.

Virile women? So the horny homicidal gill-men are coming out of the sea to what, indulge some sort of weird gender-crossing fetish?

Well, that’s not really what the movie seems to be about. Are they perhaps suggesting that the women of Noyo have unusual strength and courage? Maybe that’s a little better: at least two female characters in the film successfully fight off the attacking gill-men. But seriously, if that’s the case, it’s horrible sexism. Sorry guys, but nothing about being courageous and resourceful in the face of danger requires possession of a penis. So I hope that’s not what the writers were aiming for here.

So Dr. Faustus scratches his head and wonders about this counter-intuitive word choice. The best guess I come up with is that either the copywriter or the voice-over actor was aiming at the much more plausible “nubile” and missed, coming up with the rhyming “virile” instead.

Or is perhaps something more subtle still going on here? Need moar (lexicographical) dakka! Fortunately I have an Oxford English Dictionary handy, and the OED is definitely the BFG if you catch my drift. So I hauled down Volume XIX (Unemancipated – Wau-wau) and took a look.

Great Dagon! There actually is a secondary definition (2b) that might fit, albeit one marked as obsolete:

Of a woman. Nubile. Obs.
1648 HEXAM II, Manbaer… a maide that is Mariageable or ripe for a Husband, or Virill.

Who woulda thunk that the copywriter for exploitation cinema would have been so literate?