Tuesday, December 25, 2012
The H-Man (1958)
Ishiro Honda was, according me, one of the finest director to ever have lived and work in
He began like everyone else, but after Gojira he became the leading special
effects/monster/sci-fi guy - and he did it with the same flair, style and
quality as his non-genre movies. In 1958 he directed one of the most
interesting films in his career, The H-Man, who completely lacks a big rubber
monsters who stomps Japan ,
but still contains one of the coolest creatures in his career: slime. Tokyo
I'm not gonna go into the story that much, except it's a beautiful and original mix of gangsters, night clubs, cops and slime - yeah, more or less a monster-noir packed with jazz and tough guys wearing hats. Of course everything is triggered by nuclear bombs and it lead to two scenes - directly after each other - that's very similar to what Luigi Cozzi did in his wonderful Contamination. The same dark and gritty atmospheric search of the abandoned vessel, resulting in the spectacular death for some of the people aboard - and then back to the lab where they try out the liquid on an animal, with terrifying result. In this one it's a frog, in the Italian film it's a rat. Cozzi is a big fan of Japanese genre cinema and I'm pretty sure he included it into Contamination as one of many tributes.
Like with Honda's later family production Godzilla's Revenge, The H-Man also shows us what a fantastic storyteller he is with a film that puts the special effects and terror in second place. The H-Man is first of all a gangster/crime movie, but with an awesome slimy twist. Godzilla's Revenge is, as you might remember, a very cute and well-made kids movie with a few pointless inserts of the Kaiju monsters fighting on an island.
Usually when fancy schmancy nobody's with a PHD in fine arts laugh at Godzilla I always reminds them of how Honda and Kurusawa was dear friends, they often worked together and how much they respected each others work - even if they worked on the total opposite of the movie scale in Japan.
But I'm sure you won't get disappointed at the slime-sequences in The H-Man. This is class, and of course superior to the same years (in my opinion very weak) The Blob. The special effects here is fantastic and produced with a lot of imaginative ideas. This piece of slime moves around and behaves like no slime up till then - sure, some effects is a bit cheesy, the dancer who gets covered by slime comes to mind, but it's very realistic compared to the American counterparts. The melting people looks awesome also, often covered in shadows and the result is like from a horror movie.
The H-Man is a masterpiece of fifties sci-fi and manages to be adult and intelligent all the way through.