The H-Man Review

The H-Man Review

English Title The H-Man
Japanese Title Bijo to Ekitainingen
Kana Title 美女と液体人間
Director Ishiro Honda
Release Date 1958
Distributor Toho

The H-Man is an excellent film wrapped up in a mediocre one. For most of the first hour this film plays out like a friendlier version of the extremely hard boiled Teruo Ishii movies of the time or the Nikkatsu noir movies. Now, I absolutely love Japanese noir when it’s done right, I love all kinds of noir when played correctly, but this film commits the sin of involving police officers far too often. Even worse is that the protagonist of the film is constantly looking up to them and vying for their attention and help. You have some harder edged crime moments towards the end and a dance sequence with a bunch of performers shaking their booty, but it really needed a lead with more balls. Teruo Ishii could have made this film a 5/5, but Honda just feels out of his comfort zone for the first hour…

Then the H-Man comes. He’s introduced in the first portion of the film, but it isn’t until they/he attacks the central nightclub of the film that it becomes interesting. Basically, the H-Men were born when a risky American nuclear test accidentally enveloped a nearby fishing ship which melted down the occupants and turned them in to living goo, much like the US The Blob which would come out later on in the same year. Whatever comes in to contact with the blob men is then turned in to another blob, they basically have a zombie like reproduction technique, only these guys can travel in to your bathtub and melt you to nothing.


Story

There’s one excellent scene in which the radiation filled boat is first discovered as the rescue team is then attacked by H-Men. It’s basically identical to the boat scene John Carpenter’s The Fog. The film climaxes with the H Men hiding in the sewer system below a region of the city as they start to pick the inhabitants off one by one… Except that isn’t what happens because the entire town is then set on fire before they get a chance to start their real rampage. If the film had cut to the H-Man scenes half an hour earlier and then started the final 5 minutes at the hour mark and had the final half hour as a monster rampage in a burning city you could have had a classic.

It’s a better movie than I scored it, I acknowledge that. But there’s so many missed opportunities in terms of tone and scripting that seem obvious to me (and should have been to the film makers at the time too) that it becomes pretty frustrating.

This film is at the very top of my ‘movies I would like to see remade’ list.

 

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Craig Hatch
Craig Hatch 35 posts

Horror Japan is Craig Hatch, a Brit currently living in Tokyo, Japan. Horror Japan is a project that aims to review and collate media from all aspects of Japanese horror culture.

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