Sunday, July 27, 2014
HALF HUMAN (1958) movie review
Half Human (1958) d. Kenneth G. Crane / Ishiro Honda (USA/Japan)
Following the international distribution template set by Godzilla, King of the Monsters, Toho sold off the rights to their 1955 abominable snowman film Ju jin yuki otoko (which also starred Gojira’s Akira Takarada and Momoko Kochi) to producer Robert B. Homel. Homel took it upon himself to lop out nearly 50 minutes of footage and insert a 20-minute framing story featuring paleontologist John Carradine in his office booming out endless pages of exposition to fellow incredulously dull and dully incredulous scientists Russell Thorson, Morris Ankrum, and Robert Karnes.
Unlike Godzilla, however, no effort (or added expense) is given to dubbing the Japanese footage – Carradine just drones, er, explains to the viewer what we’re looking at. It’s as though his narration is painting the picture so well we can actually see it! The result is especially disheartening since the original storyline (directed by Honda) looks fairly intriguing, with a scientific expedition encountering an enormous ape-like monster living in the snow-capped Japanese mountains. Finding the big beastie too much to handle, the less eco-minded members decide to kidnap the snowman’s smaller offspring, with predictably disastrous results.
The simian outfits by Toho’s resident genius Eiji Tsuburaya are quite good, considerably more impressive than the kaiju suits for either of the studio’s King Kong outings. Sadly, the Japanese original can be quite elusive these days, due to it being pulled from Toho’s catalog following complaints regarding its representation of the indigenous Ainu people.