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The H-Man / The Woman Eater; May, 1959
Topic Started: Nov 19 2017, 04:46 PM (120 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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The H-Man
(1958) Dir. Ishirô Honda
A Toho Production
79 min. / Color / 2.35:1 / Dubbed into English by Paul Frees

The Woman Eater (1958) Dir. Charles Saunders
An Eros Films Production, but it's not dirty, despite its title and production company
70 min. / B&W / 1.66:1

ITB Strange Science Cinema #146-147

Yes, it's time once again to take another fabled trip back through the ages to the days when by-Gawd double features played in by-Gawd drive-in theatres across this great nation of ours. Tonight, we're at the Summit Drive-in on scenic Manchester Road in beautiful Akron, Ohio, for a truly classy double-feature sure to appeal to teenagers of all ages, particularly if they're, y'know, teenagers.

We arrive (in dad's beautiful Studebaker) just as the lights are dimming for our first feature, a Japanese production called The H-Man which I'd never seen before and hope to never see again. I'm-a be honest with you, this movie made absolutely no sense, and I wasn't even in the backseat necking with some nice girl. In fact, I stayed for about 1/3 of the second showing hoping to figure out what in the heck was going on and I finally gave the whole thing up as a bad deal. I'll do the best I can with it, though.

A bunch of guys are smuggling drugs, and the cops are after them. Meanwhile, apparently a hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific has created a pair of see-through blue monsters who turn into blobs and absorb anything they touch, leaving only their victims' empty clothing on the floor. Eventually, one of the crooks - whom we thought was dead, but he really isn't, and I only know THIS part because the guy says, "HA! Everyone thought I was dead, but I really isn't!" which I found very, very helpful - kidnaps a pretty lady, drags her down into the sewer (actually, not metaphorically) and tears her blouse off for no reason I could fathom except I really, really paid more careful attention to what was going on onscreen when she was (un)dressed like that. Well, long story short (sort of), the blobs chase the crook and the lady with the cops and a bunch of soldiers pouring into the sewers in hot pursuit.

Hang on, I'll be right back.

Okay, I did a little research online and discovered that (a) the American version of the film chopped out chunks of footage, rearranged this 'n' that, and otherwise edited the whole mess rather haphazardly, and (b) nobody can figure out the darn English version, it's not just me. Whew, I was afraid I was losin' it over here. The Japanese cut of The H-Man is available on a DVD I have (nearly 60 years from when I'm watching it tonight) and I promise I'll watch that before I watch Lawrence of Arabia, and let you know how much more sense it makes, if any.

Million-dollar Dialog:
Hysterical reporter: "This thing could DESTROY ALL OF US!!!"
His boss: "Hmmm. That's too bad."

Army Big-wig: "The flamethrower group will have to be on guard at all times." (Uh, isn't that always a good idea? I mean, do you really have to make that a direct order?)

As I think I mentioned above, unless I dreamed it, Paul Frees seems to supply all of the voices in this film, including the women. I think the guy in the snack bar sounded like him, too, and so did the kid in the next car (a Nash Rambler). The movie is beautiful to look at, very colorful. I guess it's like staring at a painting in a museum for 90 minutes and (a) trying to figure out what it all means, and (b) waiting for something to happen.

In the far future, you can find The H-Man on Mill Creek's "Vintage Sci-Fi 6 Movie Collection" with five other movies (there, I even did the math for you) or on Sony's "Toho Collection: Icons of Sci-Fi", which is the one that also includes the Japanese version.

Our intermission included a Paramount Modern Madcap cartoon for the kiddies, Fit to be Toyed; a big businessman has a nervous breakdown and all he wants to do is play jacks, because his father took his toy helicopter away when he was a kid. Oooookay. Not a bad cartoon, but I prefer 'em more "ha-ha" funny than "weirder than shit" funny. We also saw a snack bar ad (they sell fried chicken here, apparently; I'll bet it clucks like Paul Frees) and a trailer for next week's million buck classic The Hideous Sun Demon! Wow-de-Wowzers!

Gosh, all this and we still have another film to go: The Woman Eater (which was released in its native Britain as Womaneater, so don't get confused). Mad scientist George Coulouris has heard a rumor that deep in the South American jungles is a tribe that can bring back the dead, and so he - intrepid soul that he is - packs up and goes to have a look-see for himself. He discovers the tribe is proud possessor of a Tree God (but no, not the one you think it is) that eats women and sweats an immortality sap. Five years later, and Professor Georgie is back in England with the tree, a helpful member of the tribe (whose rhythmic tom-tomming hypnotizes women and entices them to embrace the tree) and said Tree God, an Oaky-looking thing with phallic-shaped limbs that reach out for its various victims, all of whom are beautiful young women and SAY, this film is EASY to follow. Stupid, but easy to follow. It seems our lonely professor has a cadaver of a loved one he wishes to resuscitate, but the natives have withheld part of the secret formula, and he can't find his Tree God receipt, so the whole movie ends badly for everyone.

Million-dollar Dialog:
Professor's aide, when the Prof is down with jungle fever: "He's babbling something about plants, sacrifice, and miracles."

(There you go, the whole plot in one sentence. Were that I could be that terse, eh?)

I've seen this film on TV a time or two, and I've always liked it, and I liked it tonight. This is one of those movies that tends to get a big thumb's down from the whole world but me; it's extremely low budget, but hey - I've seen enough extremely low budget movies that were awful to dismiss one that isn't. Coulouris is good, the ladies are beautiful, the tree is stupid, and the plot doesn't get in the way of the fun, so what th' heck. This has been released on DVD by Image Entertainment (2000) and it holds up nicely in its original OAR. This is a minor favorite of mine.

Okay, peeps, that'll wrap it up for the week: don't forget to... HAHAHAHAHA! The Rambler just took off with the speaker still attached to his window. Some people.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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