Journo Film: The Manster (1959)


I’m sure every journalist worth their salt has at some point had to go on a routine trek up to visit a deranged Japanese scientist at his volcano base, right?

In The Manster, the J-Movie goes B-Movie.

Foreign correspondent Larry Stanford, played by Peter Dyneley (who I thought looked a lot like Jeff Tracey from Thunderbirds only to google him and find out he actually voices Jeff Tracey), is injected in the neck by a crazed Japanese scientist while looking to find a story in Japan.

After his mutant injection Larry starts drinking sake heavily, not turning up for work and cheating on his American girlfriend with Japanese geisha girls. But that isn’t where Larry stops transforming, he grows an eye on his shoulder which eventually morphs into a whole extra head. He goes on the prowl at night with an unconvincing plastic head sticking out of his coat killing innocent monks and women.

Soon Larry isn’t really a man, but a monster a man/monster – a manster!

This film has everything; volcanoes, evil scientists, a double-headed man, crazed Japanese monster women in cages and a blood-soaked opening. It is a brilliant mash-up of 50’s American horror with Japanese monster movies.

The Manster kept me entertained for it’s short 72 minute running time, it certainly isn’t boring. But nor is there much to love about this film. It has some great schlock moments, the literal battle with himself by the volcano being a highlight.

The film is also quite an interesting exploration of the fear of going native. As Larry changes he begins indulging in more local customs, sake and geisha girls. When his panicked girlfriend arrives to confront him it addresses the fear that a loved one living abroad may change too much while away.

What can a journalist learn from the film?

The message at the heart of the film seems to be that a foreign correspondent has to come home. The reading of the film as an exploration of the fear of going native contrasts well with the beginning of the film where Larry refuses to take on one more assignment from his editor. He’s travelled too long and he needs to go back to America.

But in truth a journalist can learn almost nothing from this film, many people move abroad and don’t grow an extra head.


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