Ahh, today is one of those rare days when it comes to my movie watching. See, usually when I watch a movie made by Toho, it involves a giant monster destroying a city or two. Today’s movie is a little different and even though it does involve Ishiro Honda and Eiji Tsuburaya (two of the main men behind Godzilla), there is not a giant monster to be seen. Instead, we get a nice sci-fi/horror movie that is a little reminiscent of The Blob, or possibly an influence to that movie since today’s movie came out first. So let’s see what we get with today’s movie, The H-Man.
The plot: During a storm in Tokyo, a drug smuggler named Misaki is heading towards his getaway car when he grimaces in pain and starts shooting at something near his feet. The driver speeds off and as Misaki tries to run after him, he is struck by a cab but when the driver and police go to check on the body, the body is gone, leaving the clothes behind. At the police station, the police learn more details about where the drugs came from and bring in a man for questioning, as the drugs were originally in his post office locker. The man identifies Misaki as the man who asked him to store the bag and the police head to his apartment. When they get there, they find Misaki’s girlfriend Arai there but she says she hasn’t seen Misaki in days. The police follow Arai to her work as a cabaret singer and see a man meet with her back stage and quickly grab the man. They take him back to the station and learn that he is Dr. Masada, a professor at the university, who wanted to speak with Arai about Misaki’s disappearance. Masada has a theory that Misaki’s body melted due to excess radiation but the police dismiss his ideas as he has no proof. When Arai returns to her apartment, she is struck and questioned by a man looking for Misaki. When Arai convinces him that she doesn’t know anything, the man leaves out her window. Suddenly, shots ring out followed by a scream and Arai looks out the window and, shocked by what she saw outside, stumbles out into the hallway and faints. When the police get there, they check her apartment and look out the window but only see a pile of clothes and a gun on the street. Arai is brought in for questioning, with the two police arguing over whether they should believe her story. Masada returns to the station and after questioning Arai and learning of the 2nd man’s disappearance, Masada has Inspector Tominaga and Detective Sakata accompany him to the hospital. Once there, he takes them to see two bandaged men and asks the men to tell the two officers about an abandoned ship they had found. The men explain that they had been on a fishing ship for two days when they came across an abandoned freighter. Going on board to look for survivors, 6 crew members look around and find the piles of clothes scattered about as if someone had been wearing them. When they get to the captain’s office, they check the log and discover that the captain had died in the midst of writing in it. As the crew leaves, one of them decides to try on the captain’s clothes but a strange green ooze approaches him and starts sliding up his leg. Hearing his cries, two other crew members rush back only to see him dissolve. As the two men back away in horror, the other 3 men return and decide to see what happened only to encounter strange glowing figures, which dissolve another man after touching him. The crew head back to the fishing boat but only two of them make it back alive and as the fishing boat leaves, they see the glowing figures on the deck of the abandoned ship. When Tominaga questions Masada about believing the men’s story, Masada decides to prove his theory with an experiment, bombarding a frog with high levels of radiation and then exposing it to water, causing the frog to dissolve, but the police still don’t believe him. Later, Masada finds the life preserver from the abandoned boat and though the police choose not to listen to him, he takes it back to the hospital for testing, where they discover it is radioactive. Arai shows up to talk to Masada and tells him that she saw someone dissolve before she faints. When she recovers, Masada takes Arai with him to go speak to Tominaga but he still finds the theory unbelievable. That night, Tominaga and several officers head back to the cabaret, posing as customers, but they quietly arrest customers that one of the waiters talks to as they leave. When one of the men tries firing a gun, as he is being arrested, the waiter figures out what is going on and warns Uchida, the leader of the drug ring. As Uchida and the waiter try to escape out a window, the waiter is attacked and killed by the ooze, as is one of the dancers. Arai sees the ooze enter her dressing room and she escapes and calls Masada, who heads for the club. Meanwhile, the ooze goes after Arai but when two detectives see it, they begin firing at the ooze and it ends up killing one of them before leaving. As Masada, Tominaga, and the other police arrive, they find Arai still alive and the clothes that Uchida was wearing, indicating that he was also dissolved. The next day, they authorities meet at the hospital, where Dr. Maki shows a way to combat the H-Man, which the creatures are being called. After the initial meeting, Masada pulls Tominaga aside and tells him that Uchida is still alive, saying that since his clothes were not radioactive, he hadn’t been dissolved and had merely used the opportunity to fake his death. The next day, Uchida kidnaps Arai and Masada gets there just as they are leaving and attempts to follow them but his cab crashes and they get away. While the authorities plan on using high voltage discharge units to combat the H-Men, as well as setting the water on fire using gasoline as a way to kill the H-Men in the city. Uchida takes Arai with him into the sewers in order to grab the drugs that the waiter had hidden down there but as they are trying to leave, they encounter the H-Men. Uchida makes Arai take off her clothes to fool the police and then they make their way further into the sewers to try and escape. In the city, Masada sees some of Arai’s clothes floating out of the sewer entrance and heads in to save her, with Tominaga leading a gasoline team in after him. Uchida is killed by the H-Men and Arai tries to escape and is eventually found by Masada. As they make their way back to the surface, they are chased by the H-Men, but Tominaga and a flamethrower unit arrive and are able to burn all of the H-Men pursuing them. As fires destroy the rest of the H-Men in the city, the narrator says that if further H-bomb testing occurs, then the H-Men could return and end up ruling the Earth.
This was a really good movie, much better than I thought it would be. The acting was good, with Kenji Sahara (Masada) and Akihiko Hirata (Tominaga) doing really good jobs and I also liked Yumi Shirakawa (Arai) though I felt like she could have done better than play the “damsel in distress” all the time. The story was really good and while there are some ways that it can be seen as an influence for The Blob, it does a good enough job at being able to stand up on it’s own. The special effects were a lot better than I thought they would be, especially in regards to the times they actually showed people dissolving. A great classic sci-fi movie that is well worth watching.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5