Sometimes you just need to kick your feet up with the way movies USED to be made…
Available now as a double feature on Blu-Ray from our friends at Mill Creek Entertainment. The H-Man & Battle In Outer Space are dips into the Toho vault that are just a classic blast from the past that allows us to embrace the absurdity and entertainment value of the genre before special effects got all high tech with a director talent that was actually more than a little ahead of his time.
In The H-Man the Tokyo sewer system is an oozing mess after a radioactive liquid turns people into slimy blobs that float down the drains following a rainstorm. However, that’s not the worst of it as the gelatinous masses have begun to reproduce and beginning to terrorize the city.
In Battle In Outer Space a series of mysterious catastrophes begin to sweep the globe, causing the world’s scientists to conclude that beings from another planet are attacking earth. Two earth space ships damage the attackers giving the world just enough time to prepare for a penultimate battle in outer space for the fate of the entire planet.
From iconic director Ishiro Honda and special effects wizard Eiji Tsuburaya both The H-Man & Battle In Outer Space have to be admired for their sheer efforts in scope while still on a budget still cranking out material in the Toho studio system even after the international success of Godzilla and the somewhat altered American version called Godzilla: King of The Monsters. Cinema enthusiasts already had many Japanese filmmakers on their radars in the 50’s and 60’s and it’s no wonder that these B-Movies really found a wide audience at the time.
They both have very simple premises, but are executed exceptionally well from top to bottom. Back then these directors, writers and actors were under contract to studios to output content at a pace that would shame us even today. But because of that these films have such efficiency to them that you can’t help but get wrapped up into the drama and action that is being put on screen.
In many ways Honda was a precursor for the Michael Bay, Steven Spielberg’s and J.J. Abrams of the modern age as Honda really had a unique gift for churning out some visually entertaining crowd pleaser’s at a brisk clip. It’s popcorn cinema in its original form, because while North American may have started it and ultimately perfected it, this period in Japanese cinema is so fascinating because it is mimicking the output of its North American counterparts. The catch was that during this period they we’re actually doing a better job of it.
Neither film has any legitimate name actors to it and they aren’t supposed to but these early subversions of pop culture making very subtle political statements (particularly in the midst of the nuclear era and the Cold War) have unquestionably influenced generations of filmmakers as you can how the likes of Wes Craven, John Carpenter, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have lifted from these low budget B Flicks that we’re made with the aim of pleasing a crowd and making a buck.
The only special feature on the disc is an audio commentary on Battle In Outer Space with authors and sci-fi historians Steve Ryfile and Ed Godziszewski but the transfers on both films are solid.
At the end of the day that’s all you should really look at this package of The H-Man and Battle In Outer Space as, just some classic time wasting diversions that you can kick your feet up with and more importantly turn your brain off for.