The Manster

| September 1, 2017

Of the three movies I’ve seen about a guy running around with an extra head on his right shoulder, The Manster (1962) is easily the second best. That may not be the most impressive accolade, I admit, BUT The Manster does have one thing that The Thing with Two Heads (1972)—my favorite—and the gross, rapey The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant (1971) do not: a Blu-ray release from Scream Factory! And that’s one of the greatest honors you can bestow on a horror movie nowadays, Scream Factory being one of the most widely respected distributors of cult cinema on home video.

Unlike the other two-headed man movies mentioned above which are clear products of the 1970s grindhouse scene, The Manster (a.k.a. The Split) owes much to the influx of Japanese film imports in the 1950s, Gojira (1954) in particular. The film follows the misadventures of American journalist Larry Stanford (Thunderbirds’ Peter Dyneley) in Japan, like Raymond Burr in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (1956) except Larry’s actually involved in his film’s central narrative. Thanks to an injection of experimental enzymes from a mad scientist and a heavy dose of Orientalism from the filmmakers, Larry ditches his American fiancé back home in favor of boozing it up with geishas and dancing his nights away in Tokyo. Thus, Larry becomes a figurative and literal monster, as he first transforms into an alcoholic, womanizing jerk and later physically transforms into a hairy, two-headed man-beast! It’s a clear sort of Jekyll and Hyde situation, only this Jekyll’s Hyde happens to be a rubbery puppet head sticking out of his shoulder.

Following a rampage by one of the mad scientist’s earlier creations in the cold open of the film, it does take The Manster a while to really get going. It’s one of those movies where you find yourself waiting a long time for the titular monster to finally appear. When The Manster does pop up, though, it’s so very totally worth it. At first manifesting as an eye on Larry’s shoulder, the monster half of The Manster soon becomes a full-fledged head, emerging from Larry’s shirt onscreen in real time. Thereafter, as is the wont of any monster in Tokyo to do, The Manster goes on a rampage, terrorizing the Japanese citizens and authorities. And it all culminates in an epic, volcano-top climax that had me screaming in amazement.

If you’ve a soft spot for B-grade creature features from the 1950s (The Manster was originally released in Japan in 1959 before reaching the States in 1962), you’ll likely enjoy The Manster immensely. I sure did! Though the Scream Factory Blu-ray may boast little more content-wise than a clean and clear transfer of the film in its appropriate 1.66:1 aspect ratio supplemented by the film’s trailer alone, I highly recommend picking it up. What it lacks in features, the film itself easily makes up for in monstery goodness!

About the Author:

Jef is a writer and educator in Chicago, Illinois. He holds a degree in Media & Cinema Studies from DePaul University, but sometimes he drops it and picks it back up again. He's also the Editor-in-Chief of and is fueled entirely by coffee (as if you couldn't tell).

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