Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Invisible Man vs the Human Fly

                                             Director: Mitsuo Murayama
                        Starring: Ryugi Shinagawa, Yoshiro Kitahara, Joji Tsurumi

This is the followup to Daiei's 'The Invisible Man' (which I have yet to see) and is quite a quirky little sci fi thriller.

Tokyo is gripped with a series of murders committed by an unseen madman who kills his victims with a knife plunged through the heart. The only apparent warning sign being a buzzing sound preceeding the attack. The police are baffled. One officer quips that the murders could only be committed by an invisible man. Little does he (or the others) realize that through light ray technology, such a being has already been created. Unfortunately once someone is transformed, there is no way to bring him back without causing a fatal form of cancer. The actual killer however, is using a different method; an invention that can allow him to shrink to the size of a fly. The noise that accompanies our deranged mini murderer is because (as science points out, cough!), that creatures when they are shrunk to a small enough size, can float through the air while creating a natural humming sound.  Once the killer is found out, it is reasoned that only an invisible man can stop him. But will anyone be brave enough to alow himself to be transformed knowing he cannot become visible again?

Invisible Man vs the Human Fly is a fairly fun watch, but not quite as much fun as it ought to be. Director Mitsuo Murayama lensed this little pic as something akin to a police procedural. As such, the film has a rather deadpan 'Dragnet' like feel that is at odds with the decidedly loopy sci fi story. Though it does manage a faint B/W Film Noir quality that is appreciated, one need only watch Ishiro Honda's 'The H-Man' (lensed in vibrant color) to see how unnecessarily subdued much of the material is presented here. The effects are pretty cool; the human fly is just that, a man shrunk down to the size of a fly (with no insect-like appendages which would appear in the U.S.s 'The Fly') and just sort of floats around (and above and under) things, waiting to strike. The Invisible Man ('People" actually, at the risk of giving too much away) is compentent, but is not up to the level achieved by John Fulton in Universal's 1933 classic. Arguably the best 'special effect' on display takes place during the nightclub sequences featuring various scantily clad dancers (again predating 'H-Man') that most definitely livened up the lethargic first half. It also led to the film's most amusing moment as our villainous Human Fly having an unhealthy obsession with one of the dancers, buzzes around her while she relaxes in her dressing room only to find himself mildly swatted by the unsuspecting hottie.

Recommended mostly for Kaiju completists. Fortunately, I tend to fall into that category myself, so all is well.

                                                                    **1/2 / ****

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