I’ve talked about the Blob before. In Japan in 1958 there was a somewhat similar concept of a monster but brought to us by Toho (that’s the Godzilla people). So with a friend who has been watching A LOT of Lupin III recently, I convinced them to have a wee break to watch something else.
The film depending on if you’re watching the American or Japanese version opens differently (or at least so it was on the copy we were watching) .With the American version you start in a rainy street as 2 gangsters are trying to get a vehicle started. The one outside suddenly calls out in pain and shoots something on the ground unseen. People come and all that is found are his clothes as we see rain water flowing into the sewers.
The Japanese version however has opening credits, A nuclear explosion occurs and we start to see newspaper articles about a boat that was near the explosion and is now missing. These credits end showing he boat now adrift with no crew. Then the gangsters in the rain.
Now here’s the BIG problem with the film. There is a great horror film in here, but instead of using the gangster plot to build into the horror as it takes over, they keep the gangster stuff right till the end and they barely gel. There is a perfect example of what the film could have been when we get a section showing a group of people that found the ship afloat. We see clearly for the first time the H-man and just what they do fully as the people hurry to try and escape the horror they have let themselves get amongst. The shots are genuinely scary. But then we move to people who heard this and instead focus on the gangsters.
Because these two plots just don’t mingle well. H-men showing up makes the gangsters plot seem pointless yet it keeps going on, even having a hilariously bad car chase… all at a time that the H-men are now the proper threat.
This also makes the human antagonist come off as a complete moron yet he’s one of the few times the two plots do properly mingle before the climax and then is taken out by the H-men making all his actions rather pointless as just a means to get the leads into a dangerous situation.
It’s what I call a flawed film. There is good here but also bad holding it back. Had the whole film been like the section on the boat it would be a memorable horror that we would probably still talk about to this day. But as it is, they lingered on the gangsters too long and it’s just viewed as – that Japan’s film that’s a bit like The Blob – and silly slow car chase.