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The Human Vapor (1960)

Gasu ningen dai 1 gô (original title)
Not Rated | | Sci-Fi, Thriller | 20 May 1964 (USA)
A librarian is subject to a scientific experiment which goes wrong and transforms him into 'The Human Vapour'. He uses his new ability to rob banks to fund the career of his girlfriend, a ... See full summary »

Director:

Ishirô Honda

Writer:

Takeshi Kimura
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tatsuya Mihashi ... Detective Okamoto
Kaoru Yachigusa Kaoru Yachigusa ... Fujichiyo Kasuga
Yoshio Tsuchiya Yoshio Tsuchiya ... Mizuno, the Librarian / The 'Vapor Man'
Keiko Sata Keiko Sata ... Reporter Kyoko
Hisaya Itô Hisaya Itô ... Police Scientist
Yoshifumi Tajima Yoshifumi Tajima ... Sergeant
Yoshio Kosugi Yoshio Kosugi ... Mean Detective
Fuyuki Murakami Fuyuki Murakami ... Dr. Sano
Bokuzen Hidari ... Jiya (Fujichiyo's Attendant)
Takamaru Sasaki Takamaru Sasaki ... Police Chief
Minosuke Yamada Minosuke Yamada ... Official
Tatsuo Matsumura ... Editor Ikeda
Yôyô Miyata Yôyô Miyata
Kô Mishima Kô Mishima ... Detective Fujita
Kôzô Nomura Kôzô Nomura ... Kyoko's Fellow Reporter
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Storyline

A librarian is subject to a scientific experiment which goes wrong and transforms him into 'The Human Vapour'. He uses his new ability to rob banks to fund the career of his girlfriend, a beautiful dancer. The Human Vapour is ruthless in his quest for money and kills anyone who stands in his way, especially police. He soon becomes Tokyo's most wanted criminal. Can he be stopped before he kills again? Written by INFOFREAKO

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Half Human! Half Beast! It Destroys! It Kills! See more »

Genres:

Sci-Fi | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated
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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

20 May 1964 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Human Vapor See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Toho Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Perspecta Stereo

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Cult music group Man or Astroman? took their name from a line in the film's trailer. See more »

Connections

Follows The H-Man (1958) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The story behind the crime
9 August 2002 | by KuRt-33See all my reviews

"At first I could not understand the terror in Dr Sano's eyes. Then I knew: I had been transformed into something terrifying. Something repellant...."

Maybe not necessarily repellant, but the sight of someone's body vaporizing till he becomes invisible... well, I've seen prettier things.

The second feature of this double bill is The Human Vapor and was directed by Ishirô Honda, the man who also gave you Gojira (a.k.a. Godzilla) and countless sequels with the rubber-suited monster. Honda worked for Toho Studios who, apart from Godzilla and Samurai films, made four movies about humans who could change the state of their bodies. The Human Vapor, released in 1960, was the last of these four films.

No monster in Gasu Ningen Daiichigo (1960) or The Human Vapor, but a librarian who agrees to be a test subject for a scientific study. Little did librarian Mizuno know the other test subjects had died during the test. He discovers he can vaporize his body and kills the professor (by asphyxiation). Mizuno might want to turn his back to humanity, but he's also madly in love with a beautiful dancer who's been saving for her comeback performance. He decides to help her by robbing the bank. Maybe not such a bad idea, but it's a crime my friendly neighbourhood officer tells me. The police pursue his trail (he might be invisible, but his car isn't) to the place where Vapor-Man abandons his car. Smart move, if it weren't for the fact that there's only one house nearby. That's where She lives and when She suddenly appears to have enough money for her comeback and can't/won't reveal any information on her maecenas, she's arrested.

This makes Mizuno so angry he becomes even madder than he was before (it seems like the test affected both his visibility and his sanity) and he wants revenge for the imprisonment of his beloved dancer. More banks are robbed and more people get killed. That's as far as I'll go because, who knows, you might want to check this movie out and as the saying goes, there's no crying over spilt endings. The movie is very decent and a remarkable ending.

The bad news is The Human Vapor isn't just the American title of the film, it's also the American version and sadly a lot went lost in the translation.

First and foremost, Gasu Ningen Daiichigo was a mystery and in The Human Vapor the anti-hero tells his story in a long flashback. This would've been only half so horrible if the narration had been more interesting and if it hadn't replaced the dialogue in quite a lot of scenes (which leaves us with the "I told him and then he said" effect). The jerking effect of the re-edited version is also not really a plus side. Even the soundtrack was changed. If you can't remember why the soundtrack seems so familiar, you must have seen The Fly (1958).

Crappy editing, dialogue and Americanized dubbing (Japanese characters are less credible with sentences like "Ah, go peddle your papers!") aside, nothing can keep us from knowing this is a terrific movie. Even if it falls from 10/10 to 8/10, an eight is still better than most things you're subjected to. The Human Vapor still has enormous amounts of tragedy and pathos, an anti-hero who can't control his limitless powers and an enchanting but painful love story. What it lacks as a crime story, it wins as a character study. It's fascinating to see how Mizuno evolves from a friendly lab rat into a psychotic megalomaniac. We also wonder about the role of the dancer Fujichiyo.

Does she know where the money came from? Does she also love Mizuno? Her personality is quite different from the other female character in the film, the reporter Kyoko. Traditional versus modern.

Mizuno's acts are beyond redemption, but still you feel some sort of sympathy for the Human Vapor and most of that comes from his unconditional love for Fujichiyo. (Not unlike the Phantom of the Opera's love for Christine Daaé.) True, the special effects are minimal, but who needs special effects in a sci-fi movie when you've got a story?


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