‘See the two-headed killer creature!’
The Manster is a 1959 American horror feature film produced by George P. Breakston and directed by Breakston and Kenneth G. Crane (The Monster from Green Hell) from a screenplay by Walter J. Sheldon, based on Breakston’s story. It stars Peter Dyneley and Jane Hylton. The production was filmed in Japan and is also known as Doktor Satan (in Greece), The Split and The Two-Headed Monster.
On August 29, 2017, The Manster was released on Blu-ray by Scream Factory.
American foreign news correspondent Larry Stanford (Peter Dyneley) has been working out of Japan for the last few years to the detriment of his marriage. His last assignment before returning to his wife in the United States is an interview with the renowned but reclusive scientist Dr. Robert Suzuki (Tetsu Nakamura), who lives atop a volcanic mountain.
During the brief interview, Dr. Suzuki amiably discusses his work on evolution caused by sporadic cosmic rays in the atmosphere and professes that he has discovered a method for producing evolutionary change chemically.
Suzuki serves Larry a drugged libation, causing him to fall into a deep sleep. Announcing to Tara (Terri Zimmern), his voluptuous assistant, that Larry is the perfect candidate for his latest evolutionary experiments, he injects an unknown substance into Larry’s shoulder.
Upon waking, Larry is oblivious to the true situation and accepts Suzuki’s invitation to spend the next week vacationing with him around Japan. Over the next few days, Suzuki uses Tara as a beguiling distraction while conditioning Larry with mineral baths and copious amounts of alcohol, exacerbating the pain in Larry’s shoulder.
Meanwhile, Larry’s estranged wife (played by Dyneley’s actual spouse Jane Hylton) has traveled to Japan to bring him back home with her. But when confronted, Larry refuses to leave his new life of women and carousing.
After a few drinks that night Larry examines his painful shoulder to discover that a large eyeball has grown at the spot of Dr. Suzuki’s injection…
” …one of those films that’s considered a bad movie favorite despite the fact it’s actually not really a bad movie. Sure, it’s utterly ridiculous and has some unintentional laughs here and there, but it’s not poorly made and there’s genuine imagination at work here. Some scenes are surprising and borderline surreal…” Justin McKinney, The Bloody Pit of Horror
” …easily one of the sleaziest, most enjoyably awful pieces of late 50s exploitation nonsense ever conceived. The filmmakers refusal to create a sympathetic protagonist was a ballsy move for the time and the blatant extra-marital sex jabs is racy stuff for a trashy monster picture that aspires for little else than shock value.” Cool Ass Cinema
“…it’s not very classy, but it’s certainly exciting, gory, racy, extreme, at times ironically funny, at times shocking and frightening […] The action is steady and body count high. A good score featuring a theremin accentuates the most freakish moments.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers
” …The Manster is a Jekyll and Hyde film – if you can imagine a crosshatch between a two-headed transplant film, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Lost Weekend (1945). This is a Dr Jekyll variant where the decent ordinary man is not just struggling with his dark side but one that is also polarised into a struggle between Japanese and American cultures.” Richard Scheib, Moria
” …beyond its trashy visuals, The Manster is still a sombre tale. As a metaphor for the destructive effects of alcoholism (or any drug in general) the film makes pretty good points; and as a sci-fi tragedy, the movies does work nicely if one gets past its cheap visual look. More ambitious than its budget allowed it to be, The Manster is by no means a great film; however, despite its many obvious flaws, this offbeat “Jekyll and Hyde” tale is certainly worth a watch.” J Luis Rivera, W-Cinema
“Manster is a favorite among campy horror aficionados and for good reason as it is both unintentionally funny and genuinely creepy…Wait till you see the climax, with the hero battling himself on the edge of a live volcano” Hal Erickson, All Movie
“Seeing a guy with a blinking eye on his shoulder, then a ghastly second head, then an actual body split (the second head becomes a furry ape) made this pretty unforgettable. Shot entirely in Japan, the film is talky at times, but the last few minutes are totally insane. There’s also the added bonus of Suzuki’s horrifying (and very loud!) mutant wife (a sagging, protruding fleshy eye socket: nasty!) being kept in a laboratory cage.” George R. Reis, DVD Drive-In
“A very unusual film which is loaded with weird Freudian images and unnerving atmosphere, and found its influence on a generation of horror films, including War of the Gargantuas, Army of Darkness, and How to Get Ahead in Advertising.” Videohound’s Complete Guide to Cult Flicks and Trash Pics
Cast and characters:
- Peter Dyneley … Larry Stanford
- Jane Hylton … Linda Stanford – Circus of Horrors
- Tetsu Nakamura … Dr. Robert Suzuki
- Terri Zimmern … Tara
- Norman Van Hawley … Ian Matthews
- Jerry Ito … Police Supt. Aida
- Toyoko Takechi … Emiko Suzuki
- Kenzo Kuroki … Genji Suzuki
- Alan Tarlton … Doctor H.B. Jennsen
- Shinpei Takagi … Temple Priest
- George Wyman … Monster
Image credits: The Telltale Mind
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