Happy Anniversary, H-MAN!

It was 58 years ago today that Japanese audiences were introduced to the latest in the ‘Mutant Cycle’ of Toho Studios, Ishiro Honda’s Bijo To Ekitainingen (1958) (trans. Beautiful Girls and the Hydrogen Man), or THE H-MAN, as it was released in the U.S the following year. H-Man is a neat blend of horror, science-fiction and crime drama, with the monster’s attacks interfering in the police’s pursuit of a narcotics ring. It’s not the first, or last, example of aspects of different genres fusing into Toho’s effects films and they range from light touches to all-out blending into the fabric of the story. Honda’s SORA NO DAIKAIJU RADON (1957) (aka RODAN) started off like a murder mystery, until the deaths are revealed to be caused by giant insects (Meganuron). H-MAN is an example of the full blend. Another is Honda’s UCHU DAIKAIJU DOGORA (1964), where the monster fouls up an international gang of jewel thieves.

What I meant by “Mutant Cycle” earlier, is the collection of films that featured men mutated into some new, monstrous form. Other examples are Honda’s GASU NINGEN DAI ICHIGO (1960) (aka THE HUMAN VAPOR), and Jun Fukuda’s DENSO NINGEN (1960) (aka SECRET OF THE TELEGIAN). Considering the year it was made, the melting man effects in H-MAN are amazing examples of the miracles that effects legend Eiji Tsuburaya could work. See it if you can.

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