A TOHO rarity

“The Human Vapor” is not only a Science Fiction Story but a love story as well. And not very easy to find. Produced by TOHO the only copy I could find was in Japanese with subtitles.

The story involves a man who is subject to an experiment that has gone wrong. A scientist, Dr. Sano, is working on a way to push the human limits for space travel. He is trying to create changes to the human body. Mizuon had been a pilot at one time until he got lung cancer. Dr. Sano convinces him to be a test subject in one of his experiments. Mizuon is put into a deep sleep and subject to the “experiment” for 10 days straight until he is transformed into “The Human Vapor”. A man who can change from a solid mass to a mist or gas. It’s never clear what the experiment is, just that he is the only one who has ever survived.

With his new powers he has the ability to infiltrate any space. He uses his powers to rob banks. He uses the money to fund the career of a girl he is in love with. Fujichiyo Kasuga is a traditional dancer whose family was prominent at one time. She wants to return to the stage and give a recital. She doesn’t know that he is the “Human Vapor” and she doesn’t know where the money comes from that is supporting her. I don’t believe the movie said what kind of dancer she was but I suspect it was a form of Noh Mai. She performs an elaborate dance at the end of the movie. The experiment that made him a vapor is told in flashback half way through the movie.

"The Human Vapor" was released in 1960 and was directed by Ishiro Honda. There aren’t a lot of special effects but what is there is quite good. When the “Human Vapor” goes through bars, when his face changes and when he disappears as a mist are all done well. The scientific aspects of the story were interesting as well as the way the Vapor man changes from human to mist.

He will kill anyone in his way. He has the ability to cut off their air suffocating them.

I suspect that either the experiment itself or the power that he got from it has affected his mind since he no longer cares about killing and laughs at the police’s inability to catch him. Was it the experiment that did that or was it something already in his character? Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

It’s not a bad little movie but it’s not for everyone. The love story aspect makes it a little slow in spots but it’s necessary for the storyline. If you are a fan of Japanese Science Fiction you’ll want it. Or if you are just in the mood for something different.

English dubbed

Japanese subtitled