This review will be for the Japanese language version of the movie.
Misaki (Hisaya Ito), a drug dealer, is trying to make a getaway with his partner when he suddenly melts to the ground. The police question his wife, Chikako Arai (Yumi Shirakawa), a local nightclub singer, and she tells them she knows nothing of Misaki’s whereabouts or his activities. Of course, she is met with skepticism, and the police decide to keep an eye on her. Meanwhile, Professor Masada (Kenji Sahara) confronts his friend, Inspector Tominaga (Akihiko Hirata) with a theory that Misaki may have been exposed to radiation and melted. Masada tries to find scientific proof that this happened while trying to keep in touch with Chikako, who in turn is trying to keep herself alive from the gang activities her husband had been involved in. Finally, the mutant appears; making his presence known and confirming Masada’s suspicions; taking the life of a detective and several other nightclub personnel and escapes into the sewer system. Unfortunately, one of the criminals escaped and kidnaps Chikako and also escaping into the sewer system, unknowingly putting both of them in danger of being attacked by the H-Man. Chikako is forced to take her blouse off and throw it in the river to give the impression that she has been killed by the monster in order to take the heat off of her captor. Masada, however, refuses to accept that she is dead and takes off into the sewers after her, followed closely by Tominaga, and just as the sewers are being filled with gasoline to try and burn the monster to death. Tominaga and Masada finally find Chikako, and the three of them escape the sewer as it is finally lit on fire, killing the H-Man. The head professor at Masada’s institute states that the H-Man has been defeated, but as long as nuclear testing still exists, there can be no guarantee that the H-Man will never reappear. Should man ever perish from the earth, the H-Man very well could become the dominant species.
The characters in the movie are rather, “stereotypical”. You have Masada, the nerdy lab rat who has a true but completely ridiculous theory of what is going on, plus he seems to have a loose romantic interest in the beautiful woman. You have Tominaga, the head inspector, who is a tough and hard-nosed cop who doesn’t want to believe anything unless there is solid evidence in front of his nose. You have Chikako, the innocent, beautiful woman (extremely beautiful, I might add), who suffers from every dirty deed her husband committed, and is constantly under scrutiny from the police. Then of course you have the typical drug-dealers and robbers and the typical police officers chasing them. No performance is really exceptionally special here. However, the actors execute their roles quite nicely and enjoyably. The only actor who seemed unsure of himself was Kenji Sahara as Masada, who still seemed to be searching for his “style”, and hadn’t quite got the hang of it yet. That doesn’t mean he was bad, but he seemed to leave the most to be desired. Akihiko Hirata and the rest of his crew were good, and Yumi Shirakawa played her part as the innocent and unfairly targeted damsel in distress quite well, besides the fact that she is extremely beautiful.
There wasn’t much to the monster in the film. However, that did not make it uninteresting. The H-Man’s origins were generally unbelievable, but not uninteresting. Masada’s experiment to show proof of his theory of the creature was well done. Other than that, it wasn’t extremely special; it slimed people and made their bodies a part of its own. It was amusing, and quite possibly convenient, that most of the “slimed” were bad guys. The concept of it being a nearly invincible monster, but with a weakness so trivial and easy to exploit would seem too convenient; maybe it is, but this reviewer was kept interested. All in all, a very interesting monster and worthy of a spot on Toho’s roster.
Really the only special effects worth mentioning are that of the H-Man. We see the monster in both slime form and a human-shaped vapor-styled form. Both of which are rather impressive. The shots of the slime form crawling up the leg of the dancer in the night club was rather cartoonish, but the shots of it moving across the floor and walls, and the shot of it pouring down on the crew member on the haunted ship were impressive. Then you have the human-shaped, misty vapor form, which wasn’t exactly as impressive; truthfully, it was rather lackluster. There were no legs visible, and this form just kind of moved its hands up and down and drifted like a ghost into its victim. Which brings me to the effects of the victims. Watching the victims melt to the ground was rather impressive as well. Simple, yes, but whether it was through the use of just clothes on a string, or the few shots of actual dummies (not speaking of the actors) shriveling up, namely the shot of detective Sakata in the nightclub, were somewhat bone-chilling. Then there was the fire in the sewer, which was just that: a fire in the sewer. The shots of the H-Man burning were nothing to crow about, but it was a special effects shot. Anyway, the special effects were a hit, for what little there was in the film.
Finally, we come to the music. For this film, Ishiro Honda went with one of Akira Kurosawa’s most preferred composers, Masaru Sato. Sato seems like somewhat of an underrated composer, and the score for this film isn’t really that special. It does its job the way it’s supposed to, but not much more. The best in the whole film was the fast-paced and bouncy string and brass piece for the opening credits, and also for the scene in which they finally light the sewer on fire. It’s one of those themes that gets your heart pumping, and seems to fit in well. One other thing that deserves mention is the music in the nightclub. The instrumental pieces that the dancers performed to were nice; nothing special, but they deserved recognition. The next honorable mention goes to Yumi Shirikawa’s performances of the songs “The Magic Begins” and “So Deep Is My Love”; dubbed by Martha Miyake, but synched perfectly with Yumi’s lip movements and sounding beautiful. In short, the music compliments the movie and respective scenes well.
Overall, this “mutant” film is a welcome and enjoyable entry in Toho’s science-fiction lineup, and deserves whatever praise it gets. Not to say that it doesn’t deserve criticism, but there were few scenes I felt that needed major breakdowns. This is a film definitely worthy of a spot on any hard-core monster film fan’s shelf.”
– The Real McCoy