NOVEMBER 11, 2008
You know, I had heard the title The Manster before, and just assumed it was made up, like as a gag in a movie that had a scene making fun of such movies. But nope, it’s an actual movie. And I own it.
(On a budget pack. It’s not like I went out of my way to place a movie called The Manster in my collection on purpose; even my ironic purchasing budget has a limit.)
However, it’s not the worst of its type. Its type, for the record, is a combination of Wolf Man (our guy even sounds and looks a bit like poor Larry Talbot, and his name is indeed Larry as well) and Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But, in the spirit of things, the movie Double Garden seemingly took a lot of inspiration from THIS movie, so I guess it evens out.
Like Garden, the movie takes place in Japan and features a really ridiculous monster. In this one, the “Manster” is just a guy with some half-assed Wolf Man makeup on, and a paper-mache head (or something to that effect) glued to his shoulder. Near the end of the movie, it splits apart and becomes its own thing (and is killed about 19 seconds later), but by then it was too late to really fear the goofy thing; especially since I spent the previous 70 minutes thinking about the (intentionally) goofy 2nd Zaphod head on the HG2G BBC series.
But it does the job. After a slow start it moves along nicely, and there’s even some occasional bloodshed. However, the one thing that particularly delighted me about this movie was the odd obsession with drinking. When some cops show up to the home of the monster-to-be, he angrily greets them with this peculiar phrase: “Come in you know where the drinks are!” He says it in the same manner one might say “Shut the door you’re letting the heat out!” or whatever. Later, he is being questioned, and the cop says “You remember when I saw you in a bar after that old voodoo priest was murdered?” As opposed to when he saw him in a Fuddruckers after an old voodoo priest was murdered? Are old voodoo priests being knocked off with alarming regularity in Japan?
Like Wolf Man, we feel bad for the monster, because he was unwittingly turned into one. But oddly enough, the mad scientist is kind of sympathetic too, because he also inadvertently turned his wife into a monster and is trying to save her. He euthanizes her at the end too, which is a bit of a rare occurrence, especially in 1950s movies. Another minor uniquity is that the cop still plans to arrest Larry at the end. Usually the monster guy dies entirely, or is OK and instantly forgiven for all that he did when under the monster’s hold. But that’s something that bugs me usually, because monster or not, HE is the one who killed a bunch of folks, and if I was a family member of a victim, I’d want the guy to at least pay a fine or do some community service. Kudos.
So, it’s dumb and derivative for the most part, but it’s the rare late-era 50s monster movie that still has some of the charm that made those movies so big in the first place. And for that alone, AND my feeling guilty over assuming its title was fake, I’ll give it a pass.
What say you?