The H-Man : 3 of 5
I'm really developing a taste for classic Toho films of all types, so I've completely enjoyed watching the Icons of Sci-fi: Toho Collection DVD set, finishing up with the 1958 classic The H-Man (released in Japan with the more poetic title Beauty and the Liquid People). This is another Honda/Tsuburaya collaboration (along with the usual set of Toho actors), once again without giant monsters, but with plenty of suspense and science fiction horror to take their place! The plot begins like a standard crime drama involving a routine drug-runner case, but soon the scientist Masada shows up and reveals that the cops are actually dealing with something much more bizarre. It seems a fishing boat crew was exposed to high levels of radiation during an H-bomb test, causing their bodies to liquify into blobs, and now they feed on other humans by dissolving them with a single touch! The blob effects are really amazing, using clever techniques to make the gloop appear to move up walls and uphill, or even through an open window. The blobs can also stand upright in a glowing humanoid form, which looks just unusual enough to be totally creepy. The female lead is a nightclub singer named Chikako, who sings sultry songs in English during some seedy club scenes (which also include some wild bikini dancing!). There's a scene where a jazz drum solo is intercut with some cop/gangster violence that's really unique, and I thought the editing was simply brilliant! The film's finale involves a last-ditch effort to get rid of the blob people by filling Tokyo's sewers with ignited gasoline (giving Tsuburaya an opportunity for some awesome effects shots), but unfortunately the pacing is a little slow, almost like they padded the ending a bit because they ran out of story. But overall I really enjoyed this film, and I'm completed dedicated to discovering more Toho classics. I feel like I'm only getting started in this genre of 50s-60s Japanese cinema!