“The Manster” (1959)
Studio: Lopert Pictures Corporation
Starring: Peter Dyneley, Jane Hylton, Tetsu Nakamura, Terri Zimmern, Norman Van Hawley
Directed by: George P. Breakston and Kenneth G. Crane
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 72 min.
Synopsis: A man is injected unknowingly with a substance that changes him into a monster and attacks the people of Japan.
I remember seeing parts of this film when I was just a little kid. It may be one of the first horror films I ever seen. The part that I saw freaked me out and scared the hell out of me. The scene that I am referring to is when the main character, Larry (Peter Dyneley) discovers he has an eye growing out of his shoulder. That is all I remember from this late 1950’s film The Manster and this image stayed with me for a long time. I recently picked up The Manster on DVD and finally got to view the whole film and I was very entertained by it.
The film is about an American journalist, Larry Stanford, living in Japan who interviews a scientist about his latest work in evolution. Turns out, the doctor has been doing all kinds of strange experiments with humans turning them into monsters. While Larry is having a drink with the doc, he is drugged by him and the doctor injects him with a substance while Larry is unaware. Larry later wakes up and just thinks he just dosed off for a minute. He thanks the doc and leaves and returns to Tokyo.
Weeks later as Larry prepares to leave and return to the states to his wife, he meets up with the doc again and the two become good friends as the good doctor shows him all the great things in Tokyo. He even introduces him to his lovely assistant, Tara, who Larry begins to have an affair with. Larry begins to start acting different and does not want to return to his wife in America. His boss and his wife, who flies into Japan to try to save their marriage, confront him. Larry and Tara are actually caught in the act by his boss and wife and Larry decides he wants to be with Tara.
Besides Larry’s marriage and career falling apart he also begins to start transforming into some type of creature. It first starts with his hand as it begins to grow hair and claws. Larry then starts to go on a killing spree in Tokyo as he slowly starts to become something else. After the claws, an eye grows on his shoulder. Then after that a second head grows on his shoulder and he truly becomes a monster or Manster in this case, half man, half monster.
This film is a good classic monster movie that came from a time of other classic monster films like Godzilla, The Amazing Colossal Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Fly, and many more. This film also mixes elements from classic monster films of the 1930’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Frankenstein. Although the film’s theme is very common in monster films of that era, where some type of experiment goes wrong and someone turns into a mad killing creature, there is some uniqueness to this film that makes it stand on its own.
There seems to be depth in this film, where other monster flicks will just be about the monsters running amuck, this film explores the main character and is mental and physical transformation into his new self. It takes awhile before Larry becomes a monster, but during that time we get to know the character and see how much he has changed since we first see him in the start of the film. Dyneley also carries the film very well and makes this film what it is. If another actor was in the film I am not sure if it would be just as good. Another actor who does a good job in the film is Tetsu Nakamura who plays the doctor. Nakamura does not play a mad doctor, but one who started off trying to help out the world, but keeps failing, but tries and tries again.
The Manster, which is also known as The Split, is a classic schlock film and a great monster movie from the late 50’s. That scene with the eye still gives me the creeps after all these years. I also wanted to point out that Peter Dyneley was the voice of Jeff Tracy in the 1960’s TV series Thunderbirds, which he was best known for. Check out The Manster if you have not all ready. It is a cool campy monster flick that is always entertaining and creepy.