THE HUMAN VAPOR
(Gas Ningen Daiichigo)
All of Ishiro Hondas films are special effects spectacles. In fact, there is almost nothing else to them the human element is an afterthought that trails a long way behind other considerations. The Godzilla films and The Mysterians are spectacles of mass devastation but with The Human Vapor an effort was at least made to write in a human story. However, the results are ungainly. The film is static and slow. The bank robbery getaway and car chase through the city into the country is incredibly dull most of it seems to consist of wide-angle shots of cars driving and cuts away to various shots of the city. The middle of the film with the Vapor Man, cops and reporter girls following the dancer becomes dull and drawn out. (On the plus side, Keiko Saha as the girl reporter has a warm and sparklingly assured presence over and above the usual bland, demure girls who appear in Japanese fantasy cinema). Regrettably, it is the attempt to introduce a human element that drags this one out.
Ishiro Honda is not a dramatic or an actors director and the film works best when it allows him to get back to the effects sequences. Certainly, these are excellent with some eerie effects with the hero transforming into the Vapor Man developing a glowing face, assembling out of vapour in reverse motion camera effects, of suits collapsing as the Vapor Man emerges or he evaporating so that he can squeeze between the bars of a cell door. Occasionally the romantic relationship manages to have some effect despite the dullness. The heroine opines corny but oddly affecting lines like To me he is not a vapour man, he is all that is wonderful. The tragic ending is modestly affecting.
Ishiro Hondas other genre films include:- Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1954), Gigantis the Fire Monster/Godzilla Raids Again/The Return of Godzilla (1955), Rodan the Flying Monster (1956), The Mysterians (1957), The H-Man (1958) about a radioactive blob that can dissolve people, the Yeti film Half-Human (1958), Varan the Unbelievable (1958), the space opera Battle in Outer Space (1961), Gorath (1962) about a rogue planet, King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1962), Mothra (1962), Atragon (1963) about a super-submarine, Attack of the Mushroom People/Matango, Fungus of Terror (1963), Godzilla vs the Thing/Mothra vs Godzilla (1964), Dagora the Space Monster (1964), Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965), Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster (1964), Monster Zero/Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965), War of the Gargantuas (1966), King Kong Escapes (1967), Destroy All Monsters (1968), Godzillas Revenge (1969), the submarine adventure Latitude Zero (1969), Yog The Monster from Outer Space (1970) and Terror of Mechagodzilla/Monsters from an Unknown Planet (1976).
Japanese language trailer here (no subs):-