The Human Vapor
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|The Human Vapor|
original Japanese poster
|Directed by||Ishirō Honda|
|Produced by||Tomoyuki Tanaka|
|Written by||Takeshi Kimura
John Meredyth Lucas (U.S Version)
|Music by||Kunio Miyauchi|
|Edited by||Kazuji Taira|
|December 11, 1960 (Japan)
May 20, 1964 (U.S)
81 min. (USA)
The Human Vapor, known in Japan as Gas Human No. 1 (ガス人間第一号 Gasu Ningen dai Ichi-gō?), is a tokusatsu film produced and released by Toho Studios in 1960. The film was made by Toho's legendary Godzilla directing/special effects/producing team of Ishirō Honda, Eiji Tsuburaya, and Tomoyuki Tanaka.
The film was recut by Brenco Pictures in 1964, changing the format from that of a mystery to a narrative being told largely in flashback from Mizuno's point of view. Even though this version is dubbed, Tsuchiya has stated that he prefers this cut of the film, which he considers to feature his finest performance.
A sequel to this film was planned called Frankenstein vs. the Human Vapor in which the Human Vapor survives the climax and goes to find a doctor who brought Frankenstein's monster to back to life, in hopes of finding a way to bring back his girlfriend who didn't survive the climax leading to a battle between the two. This was dropped in favor of Frankenstein Conquers the World (the 1957 film Tomei-Ningen To Hae-Otoko or Invisible Man vs. Fly Man is available in North America under the title Vapor Man Meets the Human Fly, but it is not related).
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A high speed pursuit between police and an escaping robber along Itsukaichi Highway was under way. Eventually, the pursued car ends up crashing and overturning down an embankment. Two policemen and Detective Okamoto (Tatsuya Mihashi) exit the squad car to find the robber and are astonished to find nothing inside, not even blood.
The men then hear the strains of music outside the property of a large nearby house. Entering though the garden, the police come upon the front of the house. Okamoto directs one of the men to search about the premises, while the other moves to ring the buzzer at the front door. Investigating the music, Okamoto sees an outdoor stag upon which a dancer wearing a grotesque mask is rehearsing, accompanied by her servant Jiya. As the dancer ends her routine, the buzzer sounds. Jiya answers the door and informs the officer that he and his Lady, Fujichiyo Kasuga (Kaoru Yachigusa), are alone and nobody has been by. The cop tries to take a peek inside, as Jiya informs him they do not have a car.
The next day, Okamoto shares lunch with his girlfriend, newspaper reporter Kyoko Kono (Keiko Sata). Kyoko questions her boyfriend about the details on how the robbery took place. Okamoto revels there are not clues on how or who did it. Kyoko feels she can find out as much information as Okamoto can, and perhaps even solve the case. Okamoto doesn’t take her seriously.
Later at a bank, the police officer who earlier had driven the squad cars being thanked by the bank president for supplying extra guards. The bank president assures the cop that the banks alarm is tested every day. The alarm suddenly goes off as a mysterious robber kills a bank employee and is confronting the police officer. The cop opens fire on him, but the bullets have not effect on the robber. Soon more cops from police headquarters arrive, they observe the dead employee behind the bars that protect the safe. They unlock the bars and it is confirmed that the man is dead. The bank president, overwhelmed with grief, is led away.
At a meeting with editor, lead employee Kawasaki (Kozo Nomura) suggests that Koyko try to get information out of her boyfriend. Although she doubts Okamoto would keep any new developments from her, she gets a call from him inviting her to lunch. They meet whereupon Okamoto asks Kyoko if she's ever heard of the dancer Fujichiyo. She can't give much information, other than that the dancer comes from a distinguished family and was at one time wealthy, but has not danced in some time. Okamoto wonders why, and Kyoko tells him it's because of the dancer's parents and grandparents being responsible, but he doesn’t believe her. Sensing trouble Kyoko leaves the restaurant and calls her newspaper for more information on Fujichiyo.
Later, Okamoto goes to his office where his boss Tabata (Yoshifumi Tajima), informs him of the back robbery and an employee and a policemen have both died of suffocation by the mysteries robber. There are still no clues as to who did it. Okamoto tells his theory to Tabata that the dancer Fujichiyo might be behind the robbery’s, but Tabata does not believe him.
The next day, Okamoto heads to Fujichiyo's house without official permission when Kyoko drives up to him and offers him a ride but he lectures to her and she drives off on her own. Kyoko arrives at the dancers house and sees a brand new car being dusted by a new chauffeur. She meets Fujichiyo and discovers that she will give a solo recital in a month, with a supporting company and she requests that no word be given out yet, as things are not definite. Kyoko points out that the publicity will be helpful. But the dancer insists that nothing official be released at the present time, and that there is no guarantee that any announcement will be made if and when the recital does take place. She makes no promises and guarantees nothing, enters her car and drives away.
As the car carrying Fujichiyo travels down the road, it passes Okamoto. Kyoko drives up and lets him get in and they follow her. They find her at a public library and see her check out a book. The librarian Mizuno (Yoshio Tsuchiya) tells them the book she checked out contained ancient songs, and that she studies the library's ancient engravings.
Fujichiyo leaves and stops at the home of a respected chamber music tutor named Osaki (Kamayuki Tsubono). He informs her that he is too busy training to assist her at present. She then offers him 200,000 yen if he will perform. Osaki is amazed at the amount and gladly takes it.
Upon returning to his office, Okamoto discusses his research into Fujichiyo's affairs with his boss and her plans to stage a comeback. He believes she is getting the money from a sponsor, but it is unknown on who it is. Tabata suggests Okamoto continue his investigation.
Meanwhile, Kyoko's newspaper office revises a call from a man claiming to be the bank robber, demanding to speak with the newspaper editor. The man states that at 3:00 o'clock the next day, he will rob the Kyodo bank in Shhinjuku. He suggests the bank employees be given prior warning so no one will get hurt. The man hangs up the phone before insisting they make sure the story is printed correctly.
The next day the Kyono bank is infiltrated with police, posing as bank employees, waiting for the robbery attempt. Some policemen are positioned right inside the vault. The hour of 3:00 is announced by the clack. A policemen named Hotta (Yukihiko Godo) tells Okamoto the time and the fact that the robbery should have occurred by then. However, Inspector Inao (Yoshio Kosugi) comes inside the vault to tell them that they have caught the thief attempting to rob the bank. The captured man (Rem Yamamoto) is interrogated by the police and he tells him that he is the one who issued the warning on the phone. The police demand to know where the 56 million yen ended up, buy he doesn’t know where the money is.
Later, Okamoto and Kyoko meet at a restaurant where she congratulates him, but he doesn't believe the man's story, and still feels the answer lies with Fujichiyo. Kyoko admits the man's arrest does not answer the question of how or where the dancer got the money. She reasons that she might have gotten it from her family. Another detective enters the restaurant and tells Okamoto he is needed back at HQ. At police headquarters, Tabata announces that a theater hired for the recital has revised money with serial numbers matching those of the stolen money. The police arrive at Fujichiyo's house and search the premises for the money. Okamoto finds the money and the serial numbers check. She is taken to police headquarters and questioned by Okamoto and Inao. They ask her who gave her the money but she refuses to tell them.
Some tome later, the librarian Mizumo enters the police headquarters, where a group of journalists are housing around the Press Room. He then tells them that he was the one who robbed the banks to get Fujichiyo the money, but they are naturally skeptical. He leaves and enters the conference room of the police station. Okamoto recognizes him and Mizuno offers to show the police the method used, on the condition they take him to the site of the second burglary. He is brought to the bank, where the circumstances will be recreated, with the bank president playing the part of the deceased employee. Mizuno walks up to the bars and to everybody's surprise he transforms himself into a cloud of swirling vapor in front of everybody. The police fire at him, but the bullets have no effect. He then goes though the bars and suffocates the bank president, killing him. The Gas Man then opens the bars and takes a stack of money. Inao fires several bullets at the Gas Man, with no effect. The Gas Man throws the money that Inao's face and then wraps around the man's neck, killing him. The gaseous form of Mizuno escapes though an overhead window before telling the police that Fujichiyo is not guilty and they must release hshootsom custody.
A meeting is held in police headquarters, Fujichiyo still refuses to cooperate with them capturing Mizuno. They keep her in custody so that they have a chance of catching Mizuno. However, Mizuno appears suddenly on the room and the police try to catch him. Okamoto shoots him at point-blank range but he escapes in his gaseous form.
Mizuno then heads to the prison where Fujichiyo is being held. He kills two policemen and unlocks the cell where the dance is held in. But Fujichiyo tells him that if she escapes with him she will be consider a criminal. Mizuno insists she comes with him but still refuses. He listens to her and releases all of the prisoners and vanishes. A prison riot erupts between police and prisoners. While all of this happening, Fujichiyo sits quietly in her cell alone.
In the newspaper office, Kyoko get an idea of how to further his cause for Fujichiyo's freedom. She suggest contacting the Gas Man to her editor for an interview. The newspaper prints out invitation to him and an impromptu meeting is set up on the upper floors of an office building. The interview begins with Mizuno assuring the press that he is not from outer space, but an earthling as they are. He is them asked how he became the Gas Man. Mizuno brings up the late professor of biology, Dr. Sano (Fuyuki Murakami).
His story begins as he was working at a college library and that his successful career as a test pilot in Japan's Self Defense Force was cut short, due to the discovery of cancer in his lungs. He is informed that he has a visitor. He meets Dr. Sano outside where he hands him a card reading Professor at Johoku University, Medical Doctor of Japan's Space Research Program. It turns out that Mizuno was referred to the doctor by the Self Defense Force because the training he received makes him a perfect candidate for their Space Pilot Program. Dr. Sano tells him that he they are going to change the existence of the human body which will allow it to withstand the intense heat of the sun. Mizuno was offered 20,000 yen to undergo the experiment but he admits the money was not important to him. A few days later, Mizuno goes to Dr. Sano's lab where he is given an injection and is led into inner room to a large waiting chamber. Mizuno goes in and lays down on a long metal table where he is secured by steel bars. Dr. Sano turns on the machine and Mizuno soon falls asleep for the next 240 hours. Later Dr. Sano opens the chamber to find that Mizuno has become the Gas Man, swirling mist where his body once was. Mizuno then regains his former shape with ease. He then accuses the doctor of deceiving him as to the true purpose of the experiment. Dr. Sano tries to leave but Mizuno catches Dr. Sano who accidentally reveals to him that he was not the first person he experimented on. Realizing that the doctor might have killed them and feeling betrayed, Mizuno kills Dr. Sano.
Resuming his interviews, Mizuno admits that he feels indebted to the doctor. Because of the new-found powers, he can aid Fujichiyo dance again. He also admits that he loved her before he became the Gas Man. The Police suddenly barge and fire rifle grenades loaded with poison gas, but to no avail, he escapes again.
In police headquarters, Fujichiyo is asked by the police to help them catch Mizuno (Okamoto does not participate in the discussion). A Dr. Tamiya (Hisaya Ito) patronizes her, then adds that he does not believe she knowingly received stolen money. Feeling the Gas Man is a threat to society, he and the other officials ask that she agree to help them set a trap for him at her concert. However she does not go along with the plan. The police have no choice but to set Fujichiyo free.
In the newspaper office, it's revealed that an unspecified tragedy had effected Fujichiyo's life, forcing her to live her current existence.
At evening, Fujichiyo meets Osaki and is told that the musicians are to scared to perform for the concert, fearing a confrontation between the Gas Man and police. But Fujichiyo tells him not to worry and that she can do the recital without them. As Osaki leaves. Mizuno appears before her and he says that everything is ready for her recital, but he is upset that the money make her recital was stolen and at the taking of other people's lives. However, Mizuno is not unperturbed by such trivialities. Mizuno tells her that what he did was all for her and that his love for her is an obsession.
Dr. Tamiya meets with Okamoto and Tabata at Dr. Sano's lab. They devise a plan how to do in the Gas Man without harming Fujichiyo. They decide to use U.M. gas which can be detonated in an enclosed area. The theater Mizuno choose as the location for Fujichiyo is such a place.
Meanwhile, Kyoko pleads with Fujichiyo to cancel the concert. But the dancer resists the suggestion, seeing it as her destiny. Kyoko persists in her argument. Fujichiyo has been told by the police they intend to trap Mizuno. In the process, many people may be inured or killed. Kyoko reckons the audience will be mostly thrill seekers, hoping to catch glimpse of the Gas Man. She insists that Fujichiyo to tell Mizuno not to attend, then help the police try to capture him as a later date. But Fujichiyo tells her that she must perform so that she can return the honor for his sake. Kyoko then asks her of she really loves him after all that has happened. Surprised at the question, Fujichiyo replays to Kyoko that she does.
On the night of the recital, an unruly mob and a frenzied media have gathered outside the theater. The police try to keep both groups away from the theater. Fire engines are at the ready once the gas has been detonated. Kyoko manages to break though the police barricade and runs for the theater. Okamoto follows her in. As Kyoko enters, she sees Fujichiyo and Jiya on stage as the dancer performs “Daughter of Fuji”. Mizuno is seen sitting among the crowd watching contentedly.
At the same time, in Sano's lab, Tabata and Tamiya discuss the challenging task of trying to fill the theater with gas, getting everyone but Mizuno out, then setting the theater ablaze.
As the recital continues, the crowd begins to get restless, waiting for the Gas Man to appear. Mizuno stands up and informs them that he is the Gas man, but the crowd is obdurate. Mizuno then transforms into his gaseous state scaring all but one from the theater. During the disturbance, Kyoko runs to the stage pleading with Fujichiyo to leave, but she refuses to stop. Saying that this is her final performance. Her servant also insists on staying with her. Mizuno alerts Okamoto to the fallen man.
At the lab Tamiya suggests to Tabata that they wait until Mizuno is completely alone in the theater. But Tabata is torn for he doesn't quite have the opportunity he needs to set fir to the place. Having not choice, he orders the gas be released.
Meanwhile, Okamoto and Kyoko take the fallen man out of the theater. They then head for Sano's lab with news that Fujichiyo and Jiya insisted on remaining with Mizuno. Tabata decides to throw the switch but Kyoko pleads with him not to do it. But Tabata says it is to late to stop now. The switch is thrown but nothing happens. They find out that the detonating wires on the circuit board have been severed by Fujichiyo. As the recital ends, Fujichiyo bounds off the stage, embracing Mizuno. While savoring the moment with the man she loves, she reaches for a cigarette lighter to burn the theater down along with Mizuno and Jiya. Knowing that they can never live happily together as a normal couple, she ignites the lighter causing the theater to go up in a maelstrom of flame killing Fujichiyo and Jiya.
While everyone outside gazes at the burning theater, they wonder if the Gas Man is dead. They then see the mangled, smoldering clothes of the Gas Man, slowly crawling out of the theater then returning to his original form dead.
- Tatsuya Mihashi - Kenji Okamoto, Assistant Inspector
- Kaoru Yachigusa - Fujichiyo Kasuga, dancer Nichibu
- Yoshio Tsuchiya - Mizuno, the Human Vapor
- Keiko Sada - Kyoko Kouno, journalist
- Hisaya Ito - Dr. Tamiya
- Yoshifumi Tajima - Tabata, Inspector
- Yoshio Kosugi - Inao, Detective
- Fuyuki Murakami - Dr. Sano
- Bokuzen Hidari - Old Tsuzumi player
- Takamaru Sasaki - Metropolitan Police Department executive officer A
- Keisuke Yamada - Metropolitan Police Department executive officer B
- Akio Kusama - Metropolitan Police Department executive officer C
- Minosuke Yamada - Hayama
- Tatsuo Matsumura - Ikeda
- Youyou Miyata - Bank manager
- Ko Mishima - Fujita, Detective
- Yukihiko Gondo - Hotta, Detective
- Kamayuki Tsubono - Osaki, Detective
- Kozo Nomura - Kawasaki, journalist
- Ren Yamamoto - Nishiyama
- Somemasu Matsumoto - Mondayu
- Yasuhisa Tsutsumi - Aizawa, policeman
- Rinsaku Ogata - Nakaya, policeman
- Masaaki Tachibana - Journalist
- Keiji Sakakida - Prison guard of a detention center A
- Shoichi Hirose - Prison guard of a detention center B
- James Hong - Mizuno (voice: U.S Version)
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James Hong provided the voice of the Human Vapor in the dubbed American version. The English-dubbed version was released theatrically in 1964 by Brenco Productions. This version is extensively re-edited. The American distributors created a constant narrative from the title character. The music and sound effects are also toyed with. Despite all these changes, star Yoshio Tsuchiya has stated that this is his preferred version of the film. The American version was released on home video several times throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. MGM, the current rights holder, has yet to release the film on DVD.
- Guy Mariner Tucker. Age of the Gods
- Ragone, August (2007, 2014) Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0-8118-6078-9.