H-MAN, THE (Bijo to Ekitainingen)(director: Ishirô Honda; screenwriters: Takeshi Kimura/story by Hideo Unagami; cinematographer: Hajime Koizumi; editor: Kazuji Taira; music: Masaru Sato; cast: Yumi Shirakawa (Chikako Arai, nightclub singer), Kenji Sahara (Dr. Masada), Akihiko Hirata (Inspector Tominaga), Koreya Senda (Dr. Maki), Makoto Sato (Uchida, gangstar), Yoshifumi Tajima (Detective Sakata), Eitaro Ozawa (Inspector Miyashita), Yoshio Tsuchiya (Detective Taguchi), Kamayuki Tsubono (Detective Ogawa), Tadao Nakamaru (Detective Seki), Nadao Kirino (Shimazaki, the waiter-thug); Runtime: 79; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Tomoyuki Tanaka; Sony; 1958-Japan-dubbed in English )
“Another one of those run-of-the-mill monsters run amok sci-fi films from the 1950s.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Bijo to Ekitainingen, the film’s original Japanese title, translates as “Beauty and the Liquid Men.” It’s another one of those run-of-the-mill monsters run amok sci-fi films from the 1950s. This go around it’s an atomic radioactive liquid unleashed from H-bomb tests in the Pacific that turn people into green slimy radioactive blobs that begin to reproduce in Tokyo’s sewer system and snack on the population. The premise is similar to Irvin S. Yeaworthy’s Blob released also in 1958. A difference is the police here are battling underworld heroin pushers instead of teenagers.
It’s made by Japan’s Toho studios that hit box office gold with Gojira, Sora and Radon. The story’s by Hideo Unagami and written by Takeshi Kimura. Director Ishirô Honda (“The Human Vapor”/”Destroy All Monsters”/ “War of the Gargantuas”) and special effects technician Eiji Tsuburaya shoot for the unusual in their first effort at the “mutant” series, which didn’t catch the public’s fancy as the film grew too chatty and less interesting as the slight crime story line was expanded and drew too much attention away from the more diverting monster tale. What stood out, more than anything else, was the colorful comic book filming techniques.
The film opens as a drug pusher suspect being tailed by the police vanishes, leaving nothing but his clothes behind. The baffled lead police investigator, detective Tominaga (Kenji Sahara), questions the thug’s lovely nightclub singer wife Chikako Arai (Yumi Shirakawa), and the police stake out the nightclub where she works. When a scientist professor named Masada (Akihiko Hirata) contacts the singer at the club, the police take him to the police station and when questioning him learn that his interest in the singer is purely scientific. The professor believes people are being dissolved due to the radiation from the nuclear testing and he wishes to locate the missing thug to do further experiments to prove his theory. The police are skeptical but, what the heck, there are no other leads so they go along with this nutty theory. After many developments such as an eyewitness report on a ghost ship by fishermen who witnessed one of their men dissolve when attacked by a blob creature and many explanations via lectures, the police finally become sure that a dangerous blob-like creature is on the loose eating people. The fiery climax resolves both the monster (dubbed the H-Man, with the H standing for hydrogen) and pusher situations, but does it an uncreative way.
The film flubs when it tries to mesh together the sci-fi thriller and the gangster film, as the weak gangster story only drained energy from the more lively blob on the loose tale (with the blob looking like loose stool, it’s more disgusting than scary).
REVIEWED ON 4/8/2009 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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