March 1st, 2012: Bijo to Ekitainingen aka The H-Man (1958)

Cast and Crew:  Ishiro Honda (Director); Takeshi Kimura (Writer); Tomoyuki Tanaka (Producer); Eiji Tsuburaya (Effects); Masaru Sato (Composer); Yumi Shirakawa, Akihiko Hirata,

What It’s About: The members of a narcotics trafficking gang go missing one by one, leaving only their empty clothing behind. The police are stumped until Dr. Masada (Kenji Sahara), a young scientist studying the effects of radiation, suggests a radical solution: a recent H-bomb test turned a boat of hapless fishermen into sentient blobs whose touch absorbs their victims.

Why Watch it Today?:  When the U.S. military conducted hydrogen bomb tests over Bikini Atoll today in 1954, one of the unfortunate results was the contamination of the Japanese fishing vessel  Daigo Fukuryu Maru  (Lucky Dragon No. 5), sickening her crew.  The tests continued, resulting in contaminated rainfall and fish, and a Japanese anti-nuclear movement grew in response.  In addition to the political movement, the incident inspired several Japanese horror movies, including today’s, which melds a procedural crime film with what amounts to a cross between The Blob  and C.H.U.D.

Where to Get It: Netflix (rental only)

Other Choices:  Gojira was partly inspired by the same incident.

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