Original Japanese poster
Directed by Ishirō Honda
Kenneth G. Crane (USA)
Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka
Robert B. Homel (USA)
Written by Takeo Murata Starring Momoko Kochi
John Carradine (USA)
Russell Thorson (USA)
Robert Karnes (USA)
Morris Ankrum (USA)
Music by Masaru Sato Cinematography Tadashi Iimura
Lucien N. Andriot (USA)
Distributed by Toho (Japan)
Distributors Corporation of America Inc. (USA)
Release date(s) August 14, 1955
Running time 94 minutes (Japan)
63 minutes (USA)
Half Human, originally released in Japan as Jūjin Yuki Otoko (獣人雪男, lit. "Half-Beast-Half-Man Snowman"), is a tokusatsu film produced and released by Toho Film Productions Ltd. in 1955. The film was made by Toho's legendary Godzilla production team of Ishirō Honda, Eiji Tsuburaya, and Tomoyuki Tanaka. This was director Honda's second assignment in the kaiju (or monster) genre, after the original Godzilla (1954). According to Wikipedia Japan, the movie has been removed from circulation due to the original screenplay describing the inhabitants of the remote village similar to the Ainu people as being deformed from generations of inbreeding. However, no such reference is made in the film's dialogue, but for this reason broadcasters and media publishing companies have refrained from showing it.
The original Japanese story concerns the discovery of a large prehistoric Yeti-like creature in the Japanese Alps by a group of hikers. When a travelling circus crew attempts to capture the monster, they accidentally kill the monster's offspring instead. This enrages the larger snowman who kills the circus men, destroys a native village, and kidnaps the lead female. The hikers, along with the sole survivor of the native village, track the monster to its cave. The native girl saves the female hiker by attacking the snowman. The girl and the monster fall to their deaths inside a volcanic pit. (In point of fact, the original Japanese version has one scientist confirming that (instead of inbreeding) the Smowman population has been decimated over the years because the creatures were feeding on a mushroom that contained a slow-acting poison!)[based on a personal viewing of a Japanese-language print of JUJIN YUKI OTOKO.]
It is assumed that the film was shown in its entirety in the United States, in the Japanese language at Japanese-American ("Chinatown") theaters on the West Coast, as were most other films produced in that country. This release may or may not have included English subtitles. The film itself received no wider release but principal sequences involving the basic plot structure were used to create an American hybrid entitled Half Human.
The 1958 nationwide U.S. release of this film took sequences of Jujin Yuki Otoko and added extensive new scenes starring John Carradine and featuring Morris Ankrum and two lesser-known American actors, and the entire soundtrack was replaced with American stock music cues, sound-effects, and voice-over narration by Carradine replacing all dialogue in the Japanese scenes.
Toho's costume for the snowman's son was even imported by the new film's makers and used in a scene where the creature has supposedly just been autopsied by Ankrum and is seen lying on an operating table. Including the extensive American footage, this version runs only 63 minutes in total.
All original Japanese prints have been banned since the 1960s for any public display, by Toho itself for the reason explained above. However, a print with a time code at the top of the frame has been in circulation on the gray market and on the Internet. While there is much speculation as to the source of this print (such as a screener for a potential home video release at some point, as suggested by a title card after the film discussing the copyright restrictions of "this videogram"), its origin remains unclear.
The U.S. edition of this film is the only version that was officially made available for home video. When Half Human was originally released by Rhino VHS in North America, it was in black and white. That video edition is extremely rare, and almost impossible to find because it has long since been out of print. Now the only way to see the film is in the restored color version, which was released in 1995 by Haunted Hollywood Home Video. Laserdisc releases of the U.S. cut are highly sought after by Japanese collectors and routinely command premium prices on Japanese auction sites.
- Takeshi Iijima - Akira Takarada
- Chika - Akemi Negishi
- Machiko Takeno - Momoko Kochi
- Professor Tanaka - Nobuo Nakamura
- Nakata - Sachio Sakai
- Tribal Chief - Kokuten Kodo
- Oba - Yoshio Kosugi
- Chubby Thug - Akira Tani
- Shinsuke Takeno - Kenji Kasahara
- Villager - Senkichi Omura
- Kurihara - Koji Suzuki
- Shinagawa - Ren Yamamoto
- Matsui - Akira Sera
- Kodama - Yasuhisa Tsutsumi
- Takeno - Tadashi Okabe
- Thug - Yutaka Nakayama
- Dr. John Rayburn - John Carradine
- Prof. Philip Osborne - Russell Thorson
- Prof. Alan Templeton - Robert Karnes
- Dr. Carl Jordan - Morris Ankrum
- Banned films
- Famous Monsters of Filmland. November 1982 (#189), p.56.
- Half Human: The Story of the Abominable Snowman (US version) at the Internet Movie Database
- Half Human at AllRovi
- "獣人雪男 (Ju jin yuki otoko)" (in Japanese). Japanese Movie Database. http://www.jmdb.ne.jp/1955/ce002660.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
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