Thursday, December 31, 2009

The H-Man (1958)

Director: Ishiro Honda
Icons of Sci-Fi: Toho Collection / Columbia DVD

Kudos to Columbia for putting out these "Icons of.." sets on DVD. Two of them were invaluable to Hammer fans and this one is a must for Japanese Sci-Fi fans. Particularly fans of Honda's ("The Father of Godzilla" & Kurosawa's assistant director on five films) as he directed all three films in the set. The H-Man varies in sone degree from his better known pictures as it is not about a giant mutated creature attacking Tokyo. The story here is still about radioactive fallout from the H-Bomb (hence the "H" in the title) but the main threat here is that it is turning people in a goo that absorbs other people, leaving a piled of wrinkled clothing behind. This film was made at the same time as another, more famous one about a pile of slime that eats people, The Blob. That's pretty much where the similarities stop. While the The Blob is about thirty year old teenagers trying to get the squares to believe their story, The H-man is about drug dealers, cops, and scientists trying to solve a mystery. So yes, in a total "you got your chocolate in my peanut butter" moment, this is a sci-fi/crime film. After a drug dealers clothes are found on the street, the cops, the crooks, and the wife are all searching to find out what happened. A young scientist shows up after reading about the story and believes it is connected to his research and that basically this guy melted. Unwilling to believe but still interested, the cops listen to his theories and check in with him occasionally until all is revealed and they must defeat the slime! It's a briskly paced and fun film to watch with some excellently staged sequences. The best being an abandoned boat that is investigated where the slime pours out and forms glowing apparition-like human forms and absorbs a few people before they make it off the ship. The second is the ending where teams of officers armed with blowtorches burn the sewers to get every drop of the evil liquid detergent. This is another fascinating take on the fears people in Japan were dealing with in a post-war society and an exponentially increasing reliance on technology.


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