The Human Vapor (1960)

Article #1411 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-24-2005
Posting Date: 6-23-2005
Directed by Ishiro Honda
Featuring Tatsuya Mihashi, Kaoru Yachigusa, Yoshio Tsuchiya

A librarian serves as a guinea pig in a scientist’s experiment, and gains the power to be able to dissolve his body into vapor. He uses this power to get money to help the dancing career of the woman he loves.

In some ways, this movie is a cross between Honda’s THE H-MAN from a few years earlier and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, in that the villain/criminal is primarily motivated by love rather than money, and that the love includes breaking the law to help the musical career of the loved one. I found this one very effective. It’s both touching and scary. The scenes of the man dissolving within his clothes are truly unsettling, especially as he seems to be able to move and manipulate the clothes to eerie effect. The love story is equally effective, and leads to an ending that is both logical and very sad. This is a really satisfying movie, and it’s recommended to anyone who will take the effort to look past the poor job that was done at editing and dubbing the movie for American audiences.


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