Plot: Dr. Suzuki (Tetsu Nakamura) is a scientist with a deep interest in genetics, as he wants to create various monsters out of his human guinea pigs. Of course, he keeps this pursuit a secret and his traditional science has won him some acclaim, which is how he encounters Larry Stanford (Peter Dyneley). Stanford is an American reporter who has come to Tokyo to write an article on Suzuki and his scientific wonders, but the good doctor has a special plan for the visitor. Soon after Stanford arrives, he is whisked off in a torrent of sake, beautiful women, and lavish attention, which of course allows him to lower his guard and soak in all the fun times. But the good times screech to a halt when the reporter notices some odd things happening, such as his hand growing claws and rampant fur. This is due to Suzuki dosing Stanford with a serum designed to derail his normal genetics, slowly turning him into an abomination. Is this the cruel end for Stanford or can he somehow find a way to reverse the process?
Entertainment Value: A television staple and a clear inspiration for numerous genre filmmakers, The Manster was a Japanese/American coproduction that explored body horror in some colorful ways. This was a public domain title that went decades without a proper home video release, but that didn’t deter genre fans in the least. The movie kicks off with a sequence that introduces us to Dr. Suzuki and his maniacal creations, distorted and twisted visions of humanity. The makeup effects might not be photo realistic, but they look quite good given the period and budget involved. The monster element is what drives the movie and if you’re a genre devotee, you will recognize moments that were an obvious inspiration to later filmmakers. The “eye in the shoulder” segment especially stands out, since it was aped in Army of Darkness, but you can also see a lot of what drove the body horror boom years later. At the same time, it is a melodramatic, silly b movie that is a lot of fun to watch. So yes it was influential, but it is also goofy and has some odd, offbeat moments. I think fans of horror in general, body horror in specific, will find a lot to like with this one.
No nakedness. A little tease now and again, but The Manster keeps the flesh off the screen and in our imaginations. No blood, but we do have some wild makeup effects that steal the show. The effects are of course dated after all these decades, but hold up better than you might think. The most laughable is when Stanford sprouts a second head, as the extra head looks very fake and outlandish. But most of the effects look good, including Suzuki’s deformed wife and the various mutations Stanford endures, such as the eyeball that peeps from his shoulder. The dialogue is often loud and fun to soak in, especially as Stanford’s descent into madness unravels. He is such a loud, boorish guy to start with, let alone once he transforms into a hideous monster. His loudmouth antics are hilarious to me, barking at his host about being a good kisser and pondering if he smacked his wife around enough. The movie also tries to shoehorn in some moral lessons, which are as subtle as a sledgehammer to the face and add some unintended humor. So overall, some fun dialogue to be found here. This one is pretty wacky, from the abominations to the forced moral lessons to Stanford’s ridiculous presence, so while not a total insane asylum ride, it is never dull and has some fun, odd moments.
Overall Insanity: 5/10