Friday, January 16, 2009

Step Into Liquid: The H-Man(1958)

I have been an avid horror movie fan ever seen watching films like "Jaws" and "The Amityvile Horror" when I was a teenager. My DVD collection is dominated by horror movie titles, from the major franchises like Friday The 13th and Halloween to foreign titles like Frontiere(s) and Haute Tension. That said I don't have many Toho horror movies in my DVD collection, something I hope to rectify this year. I do own one Toho horror film on DVD-R and I absolutely intend on buying it on Region 1 DVD later this year when it's released by Sony. I'm referring to The H-Man, a 1958 Toho horror movie directed by Inoshiro Honda, and released to U.S. theaters about a year later.

The film's story: a drug deal gone bad, and the disappearance of the main suspect attracts the attention of Tokyo police. The police are understandably baffled by the suspect's disappearance, and begin their investigation in earnest. Amidst the backdrop of a smoke filled nightclub, a gorgeous singer named Chikako Arai(played by Yumi Shirakawa) and the almost squirrel-like scurrying about of waiter(and thug cahoot) Shimazaki(Nadao Kirino), the thuggery and under-the-table shenanigans of gangsters and Tokyo nightclub patrons are interrupted by mysterious attackers who, turns out, are in fact a radioactive, fluid-like slop that oozes onto their victims, grotesquely, and quite thoroughly, liquefying them. These attacks continue against various criminal elements and night clubbers, prompting the local police, led by Inspector Tominaga(Akihiko Hirata), who is assisted in his investigation by a scientist named Dr. Masada(Kenji Sahara), to work together to determine what the hell is going on. As it turns out a ghostly, derelict ship has spawned these radioactive, water-based monsters, or "H-men". The detective and scientist must devise a way to eradicate these dangerous waterborne threats, that, as they later discover, hide in the city's sewers. (no spoilers).

Observations: a surprisingly effective horror film, with a decent score(Masaru Sato), all of your favorite Toho actors in the cast, and effects that are, for the time, quite good. Some of the visuals in this film are very good: the derelict ship, and the sailors that prowl around inside it(including an out of G suit Haruo Nakajima), come to mind, as well as the "liquefying" victims sequences.

This movie is available on Region 2 DVD at Sony(Columbia Pictures) owns the American rights to this film and The H-Man is scheduled to be released later in 2009 as part of a three movie DVD set.

The first part of the Columbia Pictures, English dubbed version of the film: