The H-Man (1958)
|Transforming Human Series|
Ah, people are dissolving! The horror of a flowing radioactive liquid! (あッ人間が溶ける！流れよる放射能液体の戦慄！)
— Japanese tagline
Molecular man terrifies the world!
— English tagline
The H-Man (美女と液体人間 is a Bijo to Ekitai Ningen, lit. Beauty and Liquid Men)1958 tokusatsu science fiction film produced by Toho It is considered to be the first entry in Toho's Transforming Human Series, followed by The Secret of the Telegian and The Human Vapor. It was released to Japanese theaters on June 24, 1958 and to American theaters on May 28, 1959.
On a stormy night in Tokyo, a gangster waits in his car for another gangster named Misaki to drop off a bag of illegal drugs into the trunk. After a police officer passes by, Misaki emerges from a manhole and opens the trunk to the car. As he attempts to load the drugs in the trunk, he is attacked by an unseen assailant and begins shooting at the ground. Panicking, the driver speeds off, with Misaki desperately trying to chase after him while the unseen attacker holds him back. Misaki struggles to free himself only to be struck by an oncoming police car. The driver exits the car and finds only Misaki's clothes left behind. The next day, Tokyo Metropolitan Police led by Inspector Tominaga investigate the incident, concluding that Misaki must have ditched his clothes and run away naked to escape. They conclude that Misaki stole the drugs from a locker owned by a foreigner under the alias "Mr. Gold," and was likely going to sell them to one of Tokyo's drug-running gangs. The police head to Misaki's apartment, where they encounter his girlfriend Chikako Arai, a singer at the Cabaret Homura. They bring Chikako in for questioning, attempting to learn from her where Misaki is hiding. She says that Misaki rarely told her about his business, and had been gone for several days. The police finally release Chikako, but head to the cabaret to investigate further. While Chikako performs, a patron shows her a note stating he wants to ask her about Misaki. After her performance, she meets with the man in her dressing room. Assuming he must be a criminal associate of Misaki, Chikako hands him money and asks him to give it to Misaki. Before the man can explain himself, the police enter the room and arrest him. Finding the note in his pocket, they presume he must be a suspect in Misaki's disappearance and bring him into the station. Tominaga recognizes the suspect as Dr. Masada, an assistant professor of biology at Jyoto University working under Professor Maki. Tominaga clears Masada, but asks what he was doing at the cabaret. Masada hesitates, but finally says he wanted to question Chikako about Misaki's disappearance, and theorizes that Misaki's entire body melted due to high radiation content in the rain. Tominaga and the police laugh off his suggestion, pointing out that even if such a thing were possible no one else melted in the rain. Tominaga tells Masada to stop getting involved and releases him, while the police set up patrols around Chikako's apartment.
That night, Chikako is confronted in her apartment by a gangster, who holds her at gunpoint as he interrogates her as to Misaki's whereabouts. When she insists that she doesn't know where he is, the gangster becomes angry and slaps her in the face repeatedly, and threatens her if she gives up Misaki to the police. The intruder exits through the window and down to the street, begins opening fire at something before screaming and falling silent. Chikako witnesses this happen from the window and runs out into the hallway and faints. The police quickly arrive and investigate Chikako's apartment, finding signs of the intruder and seeing his clothes and gun lying in the street just outside her window. Chikako is brought in for questioning once again. Chikako provides no new information, but is released once police finally decide she is telling the truth. Masada arrives at the station again and tells Tominaga that this time he has witnesses to corroborate his theory about what happened to Misaki. Tominaga and the other detectives begrudgingly come with Masada to a hospital where two sailors afflicted with radiation poisoning are laying in beds. Masada asks them to tell the police their story, which they do.
- Months ago, their ship comes upon the Ryujin Maru II, a fishing vessel that had gone missing in the South Pacific following a nuclear test in the area. Six sailors climb aboard the derelict vessel, finding it seemingly abandoned. As they explore the ship, they find what appears to be a dead body lying face down. As they investigate more closely, they realize that it's only a pile of clothes. The men laugh off their discovery until they notice many other similar piles of clothing around it, which they find suspicious. Three of the sailors head to the captain's quarters, where they find the captain's clothes in a chair and an open logbook on the nearby desk. As they read the logbook, they conclude that the captain was seemingly attacked while he was writing. Daichan, one of the sailors, begins putting on the captain's clothes, causing the others to become annoyed and joke that they will leave him there. As the other two head back below deck, a strange blue slime slithers across the ground and climbs up Daichan's leg. When the other two men hear Daichan scream in horror, they run back up to the captain's quarters and see only his clothes left behind and the slime slithers out of them. They run back to their comrades in terror, saying that something got Daichan. They then see the slime appear atop the stairs and take the form of a man. A second creature appears from the window and the two creatures rush at the men, melting one of them on contact. The remaining four try to escape back above deck, but the liquid drops onto one of them, Souchan, from above, melting him as well. Only two of the men escaped back onto their ship. When their crewmates suggested that they go back aboard to search for the others, the two terrified men begged them not to, saying it was a "ghost ship." The sailors then witnessed several of the liquid creatures materialize on the other ship's deck, appearing like glowing ghosts.
As Tominaga and the other detectives leave the hospital with Masada, they remark that they don't believe the sailors' story, as sailors are likely to come up with fantastical tales. Masada says that if the men were lying they would have come up with a more believable story, and points out that they have serious radiation sickness despite never going anywhere near an area where nuclear testing had occurred. He brings them to his lab at the university, where he demonstrates his theory about what happened. A machine generates radiation equivalent to that given off by a hydrogen bomb, extracting the heat from the reaction and collecting the radiation inside a chamber. Masada introduces a toad into the chamber, which causes its body to bubble and melt into a blue liquid. Masada places the liquid under a microscope and explains that the toad's cells are still alive, but have been changed so much by the radiation that it is no longer a toad. It is a new liquid organism. Tominaga and the police still do not believe this is connected in any way with Misaki's disappearance, and leave. The police question Chikako again, and get her to identify the intruder in her apartment as Nishiyama, a member of the Hanada Gang. The police travel to Nishiyama's residence and find the body of another gangster, killed by a gunshot. Unfortunately, they can find no connection between this incident and Misaki's disappearance. Meanwhile, Masada discovers the lifesaver from the Ryujin Maru II washed ashore, and brings it back to Professor Maki's lab at the university. Scientists there determine that the lifesaver is highly radioactive. Chikako then arrives at the university and asks to speak to Masada. She reveals that she saw Nishiyama melt after he left her apartment. Maki is interested by this story and asks that Masada report it to the police. Masada returns to the station with Chikako and explains his theory to Tominaga once again. He believes that the same liquid organism from the Ryujin Maru II is responsible for the murders of Misaki and Nishiyama. Tomminaga states the only reason he agreed to hear Masada out is because he was there at Professor Maki's request, and again says he doesn't buy the story. With the police increasingly annoyed at his insistence in pursuing his theory, Masada provides them a piece of information they might be able to use: that the waiter at the Cabaret Homura, Shimazaki is involved in the drug smuggling.
Using this tip, Tominaga and the other detectives go to the cabaret that night disguised as patrons and observe the waiter. They note which tables Shimazaki seems to stop by for long periods of time, and arrest the patrons seated there as they leave. One patron draws his gun and fires it as he is arrested. While the music in the club drowns out the noise for most of the patrons, Shimazaki overhears the gunshot and warns Uchida, the main figure in the drug smuggling ring. He and Shimazaki retreat to the dressing room, where one of the dancers is, and prepare to escape through the window. However, the liquid creature seeps in through the window. Shimazaki fires at the liquid with his gun to no effect, and is promptly melted by it. Uchida escapes as the liquid melts the dancer next. Chikako enters the dressing room and sees the liquid, and promptly hides in a telephone booth and tries to call for help. However, the liquid begins to slip under the door and go after Chikako. Two of the detectives arrive and open fire at the liquid, which recedes back through the doorway and materializes into a human form. Sakata charges at the monster but is liquefied on contact. The rest of the police arrive and witness the creature escape back through the window where it entered. Meanwhile, Uchida leaves his clothes behind and fakes his death.
Following this incident at the cabaret, the police accept that this liquid creature is responsible for the killings. Masada recreates the toad experiment for the police, and demonstrates that the liquefied toad will subsequently feed on a normal toad by melting it on contact. In the same way, humans who were transformed into these liquid creatures will feed on other humans. When asked why the liquid creature has come to Tokyo, Masada suggests that six of the crewmembers on the Ryujin Maru II who were on deck were directly exposed to the radiation from an H-bomb test and liquefied, and subsequently fed on the remaining 23 crewmembers. Masada says it is possible some portion of the creatures' human mind still remains, which may be why they returned to Tokyo. This liquid creature born from the H-bomb with the mind of a man is subsequently dubbed the H-Man. Professor Maki meets with the government to discuss countermeasures against the H-Man. He says that while it is not an efficient or safe method, the only way to kill the H-Man is with fire or high-voltage electricity. Because the H-Men are believed to move using the sewers, a plan is developed to dump gasoline into the sewers and set it ablaze, ideally incinerating the creatures where they hide, while high voltage electricity will be utilized to block the H-Men from moving further upstream. Masada informs Tominaga that no radiation was detected on Uchida's clothes, meaning he likely faked his death and is still alive.
Uchida tricks Chikako into entering his car by pretending to be Masada, and abducts her. Masada chases after Uchida's car in a taxi, but the taxi crashes into a truck while Uchida escapes. While a portion of Tokyo is evacuated as the authorities prepare to fight the H-Man, Uchida brings Chikako into the sewers to retrieve a stash of drugs he hid there. He threatens Chikako, saying that he could kill her and leave her body in the sewer while no one would believe he was responsible, or that she could live with him instead of Misaki. Once he sells the drugs, he says, he would have enough money to buy her anything she wants. As they prepare to leave the sewer, Uchida sees a team of workers carrying out the plan to exterminate the H-Man, and promptly leads Chikako a different way. Uchida prepares to exit the sewer through a manhole, but witnesses an H-Man blocking their way. He has Chikako take off her shirt so that whoever finds it will assume the H-Man killed her, and continues leading her through the sewer. Just outside, Masada leads Tominaga to the area where he last saw Uchida's car. Tominaga regretfully informs Masada that it's too late to find Chikako now, but Masada sees Chikako's shirt float out of the nearby sewer exit. He rushes in after her, despite Tominaga's pleas not to.
With the evacuations complete, gasoline is dumped into the sewers and ignited. Tominaga asks how long it will be before the flame reaches the area where Masada went into the sewer, and is told it will be about 15 minutes. He dons waterproof gear and enters the sewers along with a team of soldiers wielding flamethrowers to search for Masada. Meanwhile, Uchida is attacked and killed by an H-Man, allowing Chikako to escape. She runs into Masada, who tries to help her to an exit as the flames slowly move in their direction. Finally, they come upon Tominaga and the soldiers, who help them to safety as several H-Men draw near. The soldiers fire their flamethrowers at the H-Men, incinerating one as it slithers across the wall. Two more H-Men take human shape in the middle of the tunnel, but become surrounded in the encroaching flame as the soldiers continue to open fire. The H-Men finally are consumed by the fire and destroyed as Masada, Chikako, Tominaga, and the soldiers escape. The fire continues to spread through the sewers before pouring out into the river and the bay, with firefighters keeping the flames contained to the waterways and out of the city. Reporters ask Professor Maki is the H-Man is defeated, and he says that any H-Man in Tokyo is now as good as dead. However, he warns, that that does not mean another H-Man will never appear again. Mankind's use of nuclear weapons had created an environment where a new organism, the H-Man, can thrive. If nuclear testing continues, the H-Man may one day replace humanity as the dominant species on Earth.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Ishiro Honda
- Original Story by Hideo Unagami
- Screenplay by Takeshi Kimura
- Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka
- Music by Masaru Sato
- Cinematography by Hajime Koizumi
- Edited by Kazuji Taira
- Production Design by Takeo Kita
- Special Effects by Eiji Tsuburaya
- Assistant Director Koji Kajita
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Yumi Shirakawa as Chikako Arai, singer at the Cabaret Homura
- Kenji Sahara as Masada, associate professor at Jyoto University
- Akihiko Hirata as First Inspector Tominaga
- Eitaro Ozawa as Chief Detective Miyashita
- Koreya Senda as Professor Maki, Jyoto University
- Makoto Sato as Uchida, gangster
- Hisaya Ito as Misaki, gangster
- Machiko Kitagawa as Hanae, hostess of Cabaret Homura
- Yoshio Tsuchiya as Detective Taguchi
- Naomi Shiraishi as Ayako, Masada's assistant
- Ko Mishima as Kishi, Hanada gangster
- Yoshibumi Tajima as Detective Sakata
- Tetsu Nakamura as Mr. Gold, drug buyer
- Haruya Kato as Souchan, man on Ryujin Maru II
- Senkichi Omura as Daichan, man on Ryujin Maru II
- Ayumi Sonoda as Emi, Cabaret Homura dancer
- Kan Hayashi as Police officer
- Minosuke Yamada as Chief Deputy Shibata
- Jun Fujio as Nishiyama, Hanada gangster
- Ren Yamamoto as Saiki, Hanada gangster
- Akira Sera as Horita, man on Ryujin Maru II
- Tadao Nakamaru as Detective Seki
- Yosuke Natsuki, Yoshiko Ieda as Couple
- Yasuhiro Shigenobu as Ankichi, man on Ryujin Maru II
- Akira Yamada as Mr. Wakasugi
- Nadao Kirino as Shimazaki, Cabaret Homura waiter, gangster
- Yutaka Sada as Taxi driver who hits H-Man
- Shin Otomo as Hamano, Hanada gangster
- Soji Ubukata as Tokyo Metropolitan Police chief
- Mitsuo Tsuda as Tokyo Metropolitan Police chief
- Yutaka Nakayama as Hanada gangster
- Kamayuki Tsubono as Detective Ogawa
- Shigeo Kato as Matsuchan, man on Ryujin Maru II
- Yutaka Oka as JSDF captain
- Shoichi Hirose as Fire chief
- Itakuzo Kumaga as Deputy director of police headquarters
- Akio Kusama as Suzuki, Tokyo Metropolitan policeman
- Shiro Tsuchiya as Tokyo Metropolitan policeman
- Katsumi Tezuka as Man on Ryujin Maru II
- Haruo Nakajima as Chosuke, man on Ryujin Maru II / H-Man
- Toshiko Nakano as Apartment manager lady (uncredited)
- Matsue Ono as Neighbor's wife (uncredited)
- Hiroshi Akitsu as Man on Ryujin Maru II (uncredited)
- Toku Ihara as Man on Ryujin Maru II (uncredited)
- Shin Yoshida as Man on Ryujin Maru II / drunken customer at Cabaret Homura (uncredited)
- Masaaki Tachibana as Cabaret Homura manager (uncredited)
- Akira Kitchoji as Drunk in Cabaret Homura (uncredited)
- Kazuo Hinata as Drunk in Cabaret Homura / countermeasure meeting attendee (uncredited)
- Ikuo Kawamura as Maki's assistant (uncredited)
- Eisuke Nakanishi as Police officer at station (uncredited)
- Minoru Ito as Detective (uncredited)
- Koji Uruki as Detective (uncredited)
- Koichi Sato as Sato, gangster (uncredited)
Weapons, vehicles, and races
- Beauty and Liquid Men (Literal Japanese Title)
- The H Man (L'Homme H; France)
- The Horror Creeps Through Tokyo (Das Grauen Schleicht Durch Tokio; Germany)
- Main article: The H-Man/Gallery.
- Main article: The H-Man (Soundtrack).
The idea for The H-Man came from actor Hideo Unagami, who when acting in The Mysterians in 1957 wrote a story called The H-Man Appears (液体人間現る, about a liquid human created by the radiation from the hydrogen bomb. Producer Ekitai Ningen Genru, lit. The Liquid Man Appears)Tomoyuki Tanaka read Unagami's story and decided to adapt it into a film, but Unagami tragically passed away from a heart attack in November of 1957. Takeshi Kimura was hired to adapt Unagami's story into a screenplay, while Ishiro Honda was chosen as the director.
The H-Man became the first entry in Toho's Transforming Human Series, a trilogy of unconnected films which combined elements of science fiction and film noir and featured violent criminals alongside kaijin spawned by science. The next two entries in the series both came out in 1960: The Secret of the Telegian directed by Jun Fukuda, and The Human Vapor also directed by Honda.
- Japan - June 24, 1958
- United States - May 28, 1959
- West Germany - May 29, 1959
- Italy - September 1959
- Sweden - November 2, 1959
- Finland - December 11, 1959
- Australia - 1959
- France - 1959
- Mexico - February 25, 1960
- United Kingdom - 1960
- Denmark - March 12, 1962
The H-Man was released by Columbia Pictures in the United States in 1959. Columbia cut approximately eight minutes of footage from the film in order to improve the pacing and remove some of the less convincing special effects shots. The American cut of the film also removed any mention of the H-Men retaining their human memories.
In 1987, Columbia renewed their license for the film and retains the American distribution rights to this day. In 2009, it released the original Japanese cut of The H-Man, as well as the American edit, through Sony on DVD in a triple feature with Mothra and Battle in Outer Space.
The H-Man was positively received by critics after its American theatrical release. A New York Herald Tribune film critic at the time called it, "A good-natured poke at atom-bomb tests... The picture is plainly making a case against the use of nuclear bombs. At the same time, there is a great deal of lively entertainment in the story involving police, dope smugglers, scientists and some very pretty Japanese girls."
The H-Man has been praised for blending various film genres, most notably Japanese mafia or "Yakuza" films and science fiction tokusatsu films which were both popular at the time, and for Eiji Tsuburaya's special effects. The H-Man was popular enough to inspire two follow-ups in what became known as the Transforming Human Series: The Secret of the Telegian and The Human Vapor.
Toho DVD (2005)
- Region: 2
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (2.0 Mono, 3.1, 5.1 Surround)
- Subtitles: Japanese
- Special Features: Audio commentary by actor Kenji Sahara and writer Kenji Konuta, ""The Staff Reflect on The H-Man" documentary (45 minutes), Japanese theatrical trailer
Sony DVD (2009)
- Region: 1
- Discs: 3
- Audio: Japanese (2.0 Mono) and English (2.0 Mono)
- Subtitles: English
- Special Features: Audio commentary by Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski (Mothra and Battle in Outer Space), trailers
- Notes: Packaged with Battle in Outer Space and Mothra.
Anolis DVD + Blu-ray (2017)
- Region: 2 (DVD) and B/2 (Blu-ray)
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese, English (2.0 mono)
- Subtitles: German (for the Japanese version only)
- Special Features: Two audio commentaries (the first by Dr. Rolf Giesen and Jörg M. Jedner, the second by Jörg Buttgereit, Bodo Traber and Alexander Iffländer), gallery of promotional materials (4 minutes), film program gallery (1 minutes), still gallery (3 minutes), German theatrical trailer, 16-page booklet
Mill Creek Blu-ray (2020)
- Region: A; other regions to be determined
- Discs: 2
- Audio: Japanese, English (2.0 Mono)
- Subtitles: English
- Special Features: Audio commentary by Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski (for Battle in Outer Space)
- Notes: Packaged with Battle in Outer Space.
Eureka! Blu-ray (2020)
- Region: B; other regions to be determined
- Discs: 2
- Audio: Unknown
- Subtitles: Unknown
- Special Features: Unknown
- Notes: Packaged with Battle in Outer Space.
- The Ryujin Maru II is based on the Lucky Dragon No. 5, a Japanese fishing vessel which was contaminated by radiation from the American Castle Bravo hydrogen bomb test conducted at Bikini Atoll on March 1, 1954. This same incident partially inspired Godzilla, with the Eiko Maru being based on the ship.
This is a list of references for The H-Man. 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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