Half Human – Japan, 1955 – reviews

 

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‘1400 pounds of frozen fury that moves like a man!’

Half Human, originally released in Japan as Jūjin Yuki Otoko (獣人雪男, literally: “Monster Snowman”), is a tokusatsu film produced and released by Toho in 1955. The film was made by Toho’s Godzilla production team, consisting of Ishirō Honda, Eiji Tsuburaya, and Tomoyuki Tanaka. This was director Honda’s second assignment in the kaiju (or monster) genre, after the original Godzilla (1954). For the film’s US release, John Carradine provided narration.

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According to Wikipedia Japan, the film has been removed from circulation due to the original version depicting the inhabitants of the remote village similar to the Ainu people as being deformed from generations of inbreeding as well as showing backwards and violent behaviour. However, no such reference is made in the film’s dialogue, but for this reason broadcasters and media publishing companies have refrained from showing it.

Five young friends, university students, go to the Japanese Alps during for a skiing vacation. Among them are Takashi Iijima (Akira Takarada) his girlfriend Machiko Takeno (Momoko Kochi) and her brother Nakada (Sachio Sakai). The other members of the group are their friends, Gen and Kaji.

Gen and Kaji get a little carried away and decide to ski way on ahead of the others. Takashi warns them that the way down the mountain is a lot more difficult than it looks. Sure enough, when Takashi, Nakata and Machiko return to their lodge, the innkeeper has seen no sign of the other two. Because the weather has taken a sudden downturn: the mountain is about to get hit by a blizzard.

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Fortunately there is another shelter down the mountain. The caretaker tries to telephone the remote cabin… but nobody answers. While Takashi takes over trying to ring the cabin, Machiko stares out the window into the deepening storm. She catches sight of a shadowy figure shambling toward the lodge! It’s really a fur-clad young woman named Chika (Akemi Negishi), who lives in a remote village deep in the mountains. However, the night is so brutal that she has little choice but to join them if she wants to stay warm.

The lodge telephone starts ringing. It’s the cabin where Gen and Kaji are. Machiko runs to the phone; but no sooner has she put it up to her ear when she throws it back down again in horror. Through the earpiece comes the sound of screams, followed by a single gunshot. There is a moment of silence. Takashi picks up the receiver, he hears another agonized scream and the line goes dead…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“All of the Japanese footage is narrated over by Carradine, which kind of makes it feel like a travelogue. Half Human is only worth watching to catch the bigfoot creature sequences which are done very well.’ Horror.net

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‘Honda’s film is the nearly perfect monster movie  — it offers an interesting story, scenic locations, suspense (the early sequences film like a crime mystery), interesting characters and solid stock actors, some unusual camera angles and cinematography, and a sympathetic monster.’ Monster Minions

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