Lopert Pictures Corp. / United Artists of Japan, 1960, 72 minutes, NR
actors: Peter Dyneley, Satoshi Nakamura, Terri Zimmren, Norman Van Hawley, Jane Hyton
producer, director, writer: George P. Breakston
Taxonomy: Sci-Fi; mad scientist/mutant dude flick; 60s era schlock lovers
Plot: Hard nosed press correspondent tries to get the scoop on eccentric Japanese scientist. The Hook: He becomes the doc’s newest guinea pig!
The first thing we see as the flick starts are several geisha girls frolicking in some hot springs! Woohoo! Then a shambling shadowy figure slips into the geisha house. A drunken Tokyo businessman? No! It seems to be some sort of creature! This here critter proceeds to thump the poor geishas but good. No, not like that you pervs! It kills them! And just prior to the opening title sequence we get to see a sloppy Kurosawaesque bit of arterial spray on a paper room divider! Cool baby!
After the opening sequence, we see Larry Stanford (Dyneley), a correspondent for ‘World Press,’ trudge up the side of Mt. Fuji, in a suit and tie of course, to meet with rich eccentric scientist Dr. Robert Suzuki (Satoshi Nakamura). Larry also gets to meet Dr. Suzuki’s hottie assistant Tara (Terri Zimmern). Dr. Suzuki tells Larry that his work revolves around the role of mutation in evolution. Cosmic rays are mentioned (they were the new gee wiz stuff back then) and Dr. S explains that he is trying to use chemical substances to mimic the effects of radiation to produce mutations. Okay now that a bit of scientific sounding gobbledegook has been uttered, we can get on to the fun stuff. Rather suddenly, Dr. S asks Larry if he is faithful to his wife. Then he slips Larry a Micky! Just as soon as you can say, “Tricky Jap bastard!” Dr. S injects some of his enzyme cocktail into Larry’s shoulder. When Larry wakes up and apologizes for nodding off, Dr. S says he will visit him in Tokyo and Larry goes home.
Of course we already knew that Dr. S was a nutcase because prior to Larry showing up at his lab, he had killed his previous failed experiment – which used to be his brother Kenji! Dr. S has a great mad scientist lab built right into the side of Mt. Fuji complete with weird plants, giant mushrooms, random chemistry glassware and equipment. In addition to Kenji we see a mutant woman Dr. S refers to as Emiko. Care to guess the connection between Dr. S and Emiko?
Well Larry and Dr. S start hanging out together and soon become best buds. They go to bars and out to dinner and soon end up at the geisha houses. Gallons of sake gets consumed and who knows how many geishas get to know Larry. In fact Larry starts to ignore his work and has not thought of his wife Linda back in The States in weeks. Originally, Larry was going to go home after interviewing Dr. S, but now he wants to stay in Japan a while. Dr. S takes note of the fact that Larry seems to be interested in Tara. So, like all good male friends do, he tells Larry that Tara is interested in him and is a – ahem – “fun girl.” Wink wink, nudge nudge. So naturally, they all end up going to the bathhouse together and Dr. S slips away to give Larry and Tara some alone time. Larry hits it big time!
Well, after a night out on the town, Larry takes Tara back to his place and they meet Ian (Van Hawley), Larry’s boss and Linda (Hylton), Larry’s wife! Whoops! Linda is a dumb blond with a horrible Brooklyn accent who says, “Darling I … I came here so’s I could see you! So’s you could see me!” The fact that Jane Hylton can not act at all makes the Linda character even more annoying! Linda tells Larry he has to choose. Larry leaves with Tara which is understandable after we have experienced the horror of Linda!
Larry walks Tara home and she tells him he must tell Linda their marriage is over. Then she kisses him goodnight and sends him on his way. Larry goes home, has a fight with Linda and notices some subtle physical changes, like excessive hair on his arms and an eye growing out of his shoulder! Larry freaks out and is soon out at night killing, well just about anybody he meets really. He tries to confess to a Buddhist monk who simply ignores him, so Larry kills him. Larry kills several women who I think are supposed to be prostitutes, but it is never explicitly stated that that is their profession, and even ends up killing the shrink Ian has advised him to visit.
Dr. S has been keeping track of Larry, with Tara’s help of course, and analyses his behavior and concludes that when Larry kills he is actually another species! Soon he will become another being. Tara says that what they are doing is not right but Dr. S thinks she is letting emotions cloud her scientific intellect. After all, it is the research that is important, not the subjects. Didn’t he use his own brother as a subject? Didn’t he use his own wife Emiko?!!! Did you guess correctly? Bwahhahahahaha!
Ian suspects Larry is behind the killings and goes to the police. The cops chase Larry – now with two heads! – throughout the Tokyo streets at night. Larry kills a surprising number of cops before he makes his break toward Mt. Fuji and Dr. S’s lab. Dr. S knows Larry will come to the lab, just like Kenji did. He thinks the volcano’s heat may cause Larry to split into two different creatures. Yeah, well oookay. Tara can’t take it any more and gives Dr. S a tanto dagger so that he can commit seppuku and at least die with honor, then she leaves. Dr. S asks Emiko for forgiveness, then shoots her!
Mt. Fuji starts to erupt – you knew it would didn’t you? And Larry finds Dr. S in hs lab and kills him with the tanto. Larry smashes up the lab and takes Tara to the top of Mt. Fuji as the police close in. Then we see what we were all waiting for – Larry splits in two! Oh yeah! Suddenly we have good old solid guy Larry and an ugly ape beast running around. Larry saves Tara from the beast, but ends up nearly getting killed until Tara saves Larry from the beast! The beast then throws Tara into the volcano which pisses Larry off so he knocks the beast into the lava too!
Larry makes up with Linda (uhg!) and goes to the hospital. The end.
Babeage: Terri Zimmern who plays Tara is a hottie who does not seem to be Asian. Maybe Amerasian? Who knows, but I would take her over Jane Hylton any day! As I noted above Ms. Hylton could not act and frankly did not impress me beauty wise either. Maybe she agreed to work cheap. And Lord knows how little that would be in a flick like this!
Sleazeploitation: Several scenes with geishas and Tara in the bathhouse. Like most b-movies of this time period there is a high tease factor and little else.
Beasts, Freaks and Weirdoes: Two headed Larry, the beast, Dr. Suzuki and of course Linda.
Violence: Lots of Larry beating up cops or strangling hos.
Gore & FX: Some silly make-up, that one splash of blood, the part where Larry splits in two is actually done fairly well considering the budget involved.
Dr. Suzuki speaking of Kenji’s antics with the geishas, “It’s not easy to keep a thing like that from attracting too much attention!” Oh come on! Who would notice a few geisha torn to bits in the middle of Tokyo. Relax will ya!
Dr. Suzuki referring to Kenji, “He is like an animal now; he comes back to where he was fed the last time.” So do I. Does that make me an animal? I am not an animal!!
Larry upon meeting Dr. Suzuki, “I gather you’re working on the secrets of eeevo- lootion or something like that. Sounds great, but will it sell newspapers?” It don’t sound great when you say it Round Eye!
Dr. Suzuki to Tara when she questions his actions, “This is for science! For human knowledge! What happens to one man doesn’t make any difference.” Yeah and oh hey Doc, here are some fellow scientists from Germany who want to talk to you about your inferior racial heritage.
Larry wonders why Linda keeps asking questions, “Maybe it’s because I never put you in your place before, never slapped you down when you needed it!” What a swell guy!
Moral: Never, and I mean never accept a drink from an eccentric scientist with a hot assistant while visiting his remote volcano lab site.
The Manster is way more fun than it has any right to be! For a low budget Japanese/American co-production from the early 60s this flick just rocks! A great if not too original mad scientist story with goofy effects and just the right amount of sex and mayhem thrown in for extra spice. This flick is one to put on when you want to relax with friends, have a few beers and some laughs. Trivia: In the movie Army of Darkness (1992, directed by Spiderman’s Sam Raimi) Bruce Campbell’s character Ash finds an eye growing on his shoulder, very quickly he splits into Good Ash and Evil Ash and ends up fighting his evil double. The conclusion of this scene has Campbell deliver the classic line, “Good, bad, I’m the guy with the shotgun!”
This is me at age nine, baby!: Eww, enough with the girls already! Oh man she is just a dink! Wow – he split in two! Cool!
Japanese / American B-Movie Checklist:
a arterial spray
a dumb American hero
a evil/mad Japanese scientist
a hot bad girl turns good
a Buddhist monk
a samurai weapon
a Japanese cops with white gloves
a Mt. Fuji