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The Manster (1960)

By Ian Grey | Posted

The Manster is, without question, the finest two-headed monster film ever made. Sure, How to Get Ahead in Advertising had bracing social satire, and yes, The Thing With Two Heads had Rosey Grier and Ray Milland sharing one body. But did those features, fine as they are, skillfully blend film noir, a Freud-for-Dummies übertext, and a transformation scene that starts with a human eye blinking from a man's naked shoulder? No, they did not. But The Manster ("Half-Man, Half-Monster!" the ads informed us) has even more going for it. For example, its am-I-actually-seeing-this? plot, which necessitates boozer journalist Larry Stanford (Peter Dyneley) going to Japan to interview the inscrutable Dr. Suzuki (Tetsu Nakamura), who's trying to re-sequence evolution via the creation of the occasional mutant (like his ex-wife, now a slobbering mess in a cage). For complicated Mad Scientist reasons, Dr. Suzuki re-sequences Larry, creating the titular two-headed thingamajig. While The Manster is undeniably big fun trash, its gorgeous shadow-strewn cinematography, bizarrely mismatched performances, and loopy juxtapositions of Asian and American nightmare iconography make it unforgettable trash that, in its more insane moments, even attains a sort of accidental bargain-bin poetry.

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