Transformed Into… – The Manster (1959)

Perhaps taking its cue from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Manster would find newsman Larry Stanford unknowingly injected with a strange serum that would see his mood start to change from congenial to murderous and the eventual emergence of a second being grown from his body. As bad as it may be for Larry, it is even worse for those around the-manster-3him for they have an uncanny ability to stop breathing in a permanent fashion.

Filmed in Japan, the movie would feature Tetsu Nakamura as the mad scientist Dr. Suzuki, man who did not seem overly such and at times, one who only seemed to want to do well. The problem with Suzuki was the fact that all of his victims were just that and never asked to be transformed into the hideous beings they soon became. Terri Zimmern stars as the beautiful assistant who would be used to keep Larry busy and unaware of what had happened to him. There is a point in the film where the serum has taken effect to the detriment of Larry’s wife Linda and he seems to have fallen for Tara, which is plainly obvious as to why and by movie’s end, those feelings are reciprocated, albeit briefly. Peter Dyneley heads the picture up as the Larry, both hero and victim and he does a great job portraying the man essentially torn in two. There is a the-manster-4good chemistry amongst the players and they really make Walter J. Sheldon’s script come alive.

While it was obviously made on a low budget, the makers of this film including directors George P. Breakston and Kenneth G. Crane, made the best of it and it looked good with some beautiful shots from photographer David Mason. The music that accompanied it all was a little generic, but it did move the picture along and added to the very suspenseful second half. As a horror film, it managed to be successful in one respect while failing in another. The scariest parts were those that featured Larry on a rampage, his temper and his anger sometimes getting the better of him and all of it due to the talents of Dyneley. Though the special effects were good and sometimes a little creepy, the full reveal of the creature was not quite as frightening as it could have been, but with the creative use of lighting and shadow on the set, it made the creature look better than it probably was.

Known alternatively as Sôtô no Satsujinki or The Split, The Manster turned out to be a truly entertaining trip into the darkness of a man’s soul. By the end of the film the hero had won out and it would leave the audience with a question as to what was left of Larry once all was said and done.

3.5 out of 5

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