Half Human (1955)
Is it a demon or a primitive man? A horrible giant beastman with superhuman strength, it's the Snowman! (魔か原始人か？怪力と戦慄の巨獣人、これが雪男だ！)
Ah! A moment of fright! The giant beastman Snowman suddenly stamps through the snow of the Alps, approaching humanity! (あッ！驚愕の一瞬！忽然アルプスの雪を蹴って巨獣人雪男人間に迫る！)
1400 POUNDS OF FROZEN FURY that moves like man! HALF-MAN, HALF-BEAST but ALL MONSTER!
— American tagline
Half Human (獣人雪男 is a Jūjin Yuki Otoko, lit. "The Beastman Snowman")1955 tokusatsu kaiju film directed by Ishiro Honda and written by Takeo Murata from a story by Shigeru Kayama, with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. Produced by Toho, it was the company's first kaiju film since the previous year's Godzilla (1954). It stars Akira Takarada, Akemi Negishi, Momoko Kochi, Nobuo Nakamura, and Sachio Sakai. The film was released to Japanese theaters by Toho on August 14, 1955, while Toho International had brought an English-subtitled print to select American theaters as The Snowman by February 1956. DCA later released a heavily edited English-language version of the film to wider American theaters on May 17, 1957 as a double feature with Monster from Green Hell.
It is a dark and stormy night. A mountaineering club from Towa University has returned from a trip to the Japanese Alps, traumatized and wounded by an encounter with a so-called “monster” responsible for the death of their friend Takeno and several others. A news reporter arrives to interview them about the experience, and Takeshi Iijima begins to recall the events.
The club was going skiing in the Japanese Alps for a New Year’s vacation at the time. After a day of skiing, Takeno and Kaji go off to find Mr. Gen’s cabin and promise to meet up with Iijima and the others back at Mr. Matsui’s lodge. The two groups go off on their separate ways and the one going to the lodge successfully arrive, but an unexpected snowstorm begins before Takeno and Kaji can reach their destination. Worried about his friends, Iijima attempts to call Mr. Gen, but it doesn’t go through. Suddenly, Machiko, Takeno’s sister and Iijima’s girlfriend, spots a figure wearing fur clothing outside the lodge, who quickly enters and is revealed to be a village woman named Chika, who takes refuge. She informs the group that an avalanche occured in the Burning Hell Valley, which is en route to Mr. Gen’s place. The storm does not seem to be letting up and the group is getting anxious when the phone suddenly rings. Picking it up, the club is greeted with screaming and the roars of a ferocious animal, followed by a single gunshot and silence. Chika quickly packs her things and leaves, unbeknownst to the group.
The next day, a rescue party sets out to find Mr. Gen’s home. When they arrive, they find him dead, the victim of an apparent home invasion by a mysterious creature, as evident by massive footprints leading out the door. They first speculate that it was a bear, but the footprints are too human to match that description. Machiko finds Takeno’s coat, Mr. Matsui finds another item belonging to Kaji, and pieces of fur are found along the door frame. Kaji’s dead body is found outside by the rescue party, and the club members mourn. Night falls as the club searches for Takeno, but their search yields no results. Later, Dr. Koizumi, a zoologist, explains that he is unable to identify the fur of the creature that attacked Gen’s cabin, and other party members suggest it could be the legendary Abominable Snowman. The club and Koizumi agree to wait for spring to continue the investigation.
Spring arrives, and Dr. Koizumi and the mountaineering club arrive at Matsui’s lodge. A shifty little man reports the arrival of the group to his boss, Oba, who is also searching for the creature for his carnival, and his own group packs up and leaves. The club sets out even deeper in the Alps, Oba and his gang spying on them. The mountaineers plan their next destination for the following day, Garan Valley, something that worries their two guides as no one has ever returned from the place, and they refuse to go any further. Iijima encourages Koizumi that they should go there anyway, determined to discover what happened to Takeno. As the club sings around the campfire, a mysterious bearded man watches them from afar.
One day later, the group manages to survive a landslide after finding the remains of an animal that was attacked by the creature. A monstrous roar further confirms Koizumi’s suspicions of the likelihood of an unknown creature living in the area. That night, the Snowman reaches inside Machiko’s tent and strokes her face, her screams sending it running. Iijima gets separated from the rest of the club as they pursue the beast and he’s forced to find his way back with a limp after taking a nasty fall. He is then attacked by Oba’s gang and pushed off the side of a cliff.
Takeshi Iijima wakes up to find himself on the floor of a village hut, having been rescued by Chika. The bearded man, who was spying on the club earlier, is angry with Chika for bringing Iijima to the village, and she is ostracized by her fellow villagers. As punishment, she brings food to the Snowman and its offspring, who are regarded as deities. She returns to find Iijima missing, and is beaten by the elder when she demands to know where he is. Iijima awakens to find himself tied up and hanging over a ravine.
Chika sadly watches from afar, Oba and one of his lackeys attempt to sneak up behind her, but she turns to face them before they can do anything. She mistakes them for members of the mountaineering club, and denies knowing the existence of the Snowman when asked by Oba. He sneakily earns her trust by telling her he will lead her to the rest of the club if she tells him the location of the Snowman; she reluctantly agrees, and he also gives her a ring. The Snowman discovers Iijima, hoists him up from the ravine and unties him, then walks away, leaving him confused. Meanwhile, the village elder beats Chika until she gives him the ring she received from Oba.
Oba and his men discover the Snowman’s cave and captures the young Snowman, who is used to bait the adult Snowman into a trap. The trap is successful, the adult is chloroformed and the child escapes. Later, Oba encounters the villagers and shoots the elder when he lunges to attack him. The wounded elder’s words to Chika as he fades into unconsciousness are that she brought terrible evil to the village.
Later still, the adult Snowman is caged and carried away on a truck. The young Snowman catches up with the truck and attempts to break the adult free, but is stopped by Oba’s men and thrown into the same cage. The adult eventually wakes up and kills the truck driver by reaching through the cage. Oba shoots at the adult, but accidentally kills the child. Enraged, the Snowman pushes the now-stopped truck over the side of the cliff and kills Oba. Holding the lifeless body of its offspring, the Snowman returns to its cave. That night, the Snowman rampages through the village, tearing down houses and setting everything ablaze. By now Iijima has found his way back to the mountaineer club’s camp, and he recalls his experience with the Snowman. The village fires are visible from the camp, and the roars of the Snowman indicate it is getting closer to them. Iijima mistakenly believes the creature is docile, and one of the party members gets injured by it. Trying to save their injured friend, they leave Machiko back at the camp, who screams and faints as the Snowman finds her, allowing it to carry her off.
The following morning sees the group finding the smoldering remains of the village. The group meets Chika, who tells them the elder was killed by the “mountain lord,” and she agrees to lead them to it. Armed with rifles, the mountaineer club enters the cave of the Snowman and finds the skeletal remains of Takeno, which upsets his little brother, Shinsuke. Contents from Takeno’s journal reveal that the Snowman rescued and fed him, but he ultimately died regardless. The group ventures further into the cave and finds the body of the Snowman’s child and a pile of bones, as well as mushrooms that Dr. Koizumi theorizes were the source of their food. He comes to the conclusion that the Snowman's species has been looking for companionship and has set out into the Alps many times out of loneliness, which led to a member of its species going berserk and killing Kaji and Mr. Gen last season. The Snowman appears before them, carrying an unconscious Machiko, but flees as they fire at it. The group pursues the Snowman and manage to corner it in a large room, the creature standing in front of a bubbling pit of sulfuric acid. Chika attempts to approach the beast, and it lets Machiko go. As Chika struggles with the Snowman, a group member opens fire on it and the monster collapses with her into the pit.
Flashing forward to the present, the news reporter thanks the group for their account on the incident and remarks “It looks like the rain has stopped.” The film ends with a shot of the Japanese Alps.
- Main article: Half Human/Credits.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Ishiro Honda
- Written by Takeo Murata
- Based on a story by Shigeru Kayama
- Executive producer Tomoyuki Tanaka
- Music by Masaru Sato
- Cinematography by Tadashi Imura
- Edited by Shuichi Anbara
- Production design by Tatsuo Kita
- 1st assistant director Kihachi Okamoto
- Director of special effects Eiji Tsuburaya
- 1st assistant director of special effects Masakatsu Asai (uncredited)
- Directed by Kenneth G. Crane
- Script supervisor Francis Steens
- Associate producers Robert B. Homel, Minoru Sakamoto
- Cinematography by Lucien Andriot
- Edited by Kenneth G. Crane
- Art director Nicolai Remisoff
- Assistant director Hal Klein
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- John Carradine as Dr. John Rayburn, anthropologist
- Russell Thorson as Professor Philip Osbourne
- Robert Karnes as Professor Alan Templeton
- Morris Ankrum as Dr. Carl Jordan
- Main article: Half Human/Gallery.
- Main article: Half Human/Soundtrack.
- The Snowman (international title)
- The Beastman Snowman (literal Japanese title)
- Half Human: The Story of the Abominable Snowman (alternate U.S. title)
- Japan - August 14, 1955
- United States - May 22, 1957
- Canada - August 8, 1957
- United Kingdom - 1957
- Sweden - July 10, 1958
In 1957, DCA acquired the rights to distribute Half Human in the United States as the second half of a double feature with Monster from Green Hell. As what had been done with Godzilla and what would later be done with both Varan and King Kong vs. Godzilla, the American version of the film added in newly-filmed scenes with Western actors. The American version of Half Human removes several of the human scenes from the Japanese cut and replaces them with new footage featuring John Carradine, Robert Karnes, Russell Thorson, and Morris Ankrum where the baby Snowman's carcass is being dissected. Carradine's doctor character acts as a narrator who tells the events of the film through a flashback, similar to Raymond Burr's role as Steve Martin in Godzilla, King of the Monsters!. None of the Japanese characters are dubbed. Unlike the American version of Godzilla, the American version of this film was not well received at all and its edits have been widely criticized.
Due to Toho's self-imposed ban of its own cut of the film, the American version of Half Human remains the only version of the film to be legitimately available on home video around the world. It was released on VHS by Rhino Home Video and Englewood Entertainment in the 1990s (the latter release as part of the home video series The Wade Williams Collection), while its sole DVD release to date came from Renown Pictures in 2021 as part of a six-film set.
- Tapes: 1
- Audio: English
Englewood Entertainment VHS (1998)
- Tapes: 1
- Audio: English
- Region: N/A
- Discs: 2
- Audio: English
- Subtitles: English
- Special features: None
- Notes: Packaged with The Ape (1940), The Bat (1959), Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961), Nabonga (1944), and Claws (1977).
- In Japan, this film has been removed from circulation due to the original version depicting the inhabitants of the remote village as being deformed from generations of inbreeding, as well as showing backward and violent behavior. In the film’s dialogue, the word used for “village” is “buraku” (部落), which is associated with Japan’s burakumin minority group. In the time since the film’s release, offensive portrayals of the burakumin have become a sensitive issue in Japan. To avoid causing offense, Toho has never officially released it on any home video format in Japan.
- Toho prepared a VHS release of Half Human in 1994 or 1995, but ultimately declined to sell it. Gray market bootlegs of this release, which include an internal use timecode on the top of the frame, are the only way to see the Japanese version of the film, outside of occasional screenings in Japan.
- Half Human was the first non-Godzilla kaiju film produced by Toho, as well as the first film Ishiro Honda directed following Godzilla (1954).
This is a list of references for Half Human. These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: 
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