Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ten Movies I Want to See: Half-Human

Gag publicity still for Ju jin Yuki Otoko; the monster in the film is portrayed as a giant.

Half Human, AKA Ju jin Yuki Otoko ("Monster Snowman") is the second and rarest of the beloved giant monster films directed by Ishirō Honda, the man behind Godzilla/Gojira.

Ju jin Yuki Otoko was his first follow-up to Godzilla's success, and it is even more influenced by 1933's King Kong than Godzilla was.

From the ol' Wikipedia entry:

The original Japanese story concerns the discovery of a giant prehistoric snowman in the Japanese Alps by a group of hikers. When a traveling circus attempts to capture the monster, they accidentally kill the monster's son instead.

One online writer sees part of the film's strength in the ape-man suit and make, which he argues is better than the ones seen in later Toho Studios films like King Kong Vs. Godzilla. He credits this to one Ōhashi Fuminori, a suit designer and actor who later left Toho before its Kaiju series really took off.

The film is in black & white and features a monster that is only slightly gigantic, but the real reason it's so little seen today is the racist undertones of the film. These will sail over most Americans' heads, but the aboriginal Ainu of northern Japan (who have often been stereotyped as hairier and taller than "normal" Japanese) lodged such a protest that Toho Studios more or less pulled the film from circulation forever.

It can still be seen in old bootlegs, which are usually of a cheap American version with John Carradine who appears in a prologue and narrates the heavily edited film.

I've never seen it but my brother has, and his take on it sounds about what I'd expect to see. A weird, curious chapter in the development of the Kaiju genre.


At 12/30/10, 12:34 PM, Anonymous Boston Bill said...

And the Brother says: It was the Carradine version, and it was just awful. It opens with a group of professors listening to Carradine, then proceeds to the proper film. Only Carradine doesn't just provide exposition, he quotes everyone in the film, both men and women. The worst overdubbed Gamera flick would be easier to sit through. The one thing I could say about the Snowman was that he didn't seem any larger than the publicity still you provided, but it's hard to say since I gave up on the film halfway through - and it was a rental! I can't judge if 'Half-Human' is as good a film as 'Godzilla, but I'll tell you what: the Dubbed Godzilla is miles ahead of the dubbed Half-Human!

At 12/30/10, 5:36 PM, Blogger Monster, Indeed! said...

I believe they capture a man-sized snowman only to find his great big daddy coming after him. This concept would appear again in Gorgo (a British movie) and Gappa.

I'd still like to see it. I've seen almost every Honda monster flick. It would be worth it, even if I did fall asleep.

At 12/31/10, 12:33 AM, Anonymous Boston Bill said...

Don't get me wrong, I'd like to see it too. But in its original form. Alas, it sounds like that's never going to happen. Who knows, maybe if we Japanese we'd be offended by it as well. Then again, I've always wanted to see 'Birth of a Nation' even though I've never doubted that I'd be offended by it!

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