Film (1958; vt The H-Man; vt Beautiful Women and the Hydrogen Man). Toho. Director Inoshiro Honda. Written by Takeshi Kimura, based on a story by Hideo Kaijo. Cast includes Akihiko Hirata, Kenji Sahara, Koreya Senda and Yumi Shirakawa. 87 minutes, cut to 79 minutes. Colour.
This Japanese film is, coincidentally, similar to The Blob (also 1958) but is more ingenious and sinister. Fishermen examining a drifting freighter find only empty suits of clothing – empty except for the captain's uniform, from which a pool of green slime emerges and immediately runs up the leg of the nearest fisherman to dissolve him on the spot. The freighter has entered a cloud of fallout from American H-bomb test and the crew has been transformed into a group organism. This Grey Goo entity reaches Tokyo but, unlike Toho's typical prehistoric Monsters (also awakened by radiation; see Gojira), does not knock over buildings; instead it slithers in and out of drains, under doors and through windows, dissolving and absorbing anyone it can catch, transforming some into phantom-like figures known as H-men; the "H" may apply both to Hydrogen and to hikabusha, a Japanese term for the socially-disadvantaged survivors of the 1945 nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There are good special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, moody photography in the sewers, and rather too much attention paid to a subplot involving gangsters; all in all, a good, slightly surreal film noir. [JB]
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