Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Manster - He Has A Split Personality

By Steve D. Stones

The Manster (1958) is also known as The Split. On the surface, it is a retelling or homage to Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.  The difference here is that Larry, played by Peter Dyneley, is experimented on without his consent or knowledge, which unleashes his evil, Mr. Hyde side.

Larry is an American journalist working in Japan who travels to a mountain top laboratory near a volcano to conduct an interview with Dr. Robert Suzuki, played by Satoshi Nakamura. Larry's newspaper is looking for an exciting news story to increase sales and make the newspaper more interesting. He conducts an interview with Suzuki about his lab experiments, all of which have gone terribly wrong. Larry's real motivation is to get back home to his wife in New York.

After the interview, Larry falls asleep in Suzuki's mountain cabin. Suzuki injects him in the right shoulder with a serum he uses on other lab subjects. He tells his beautiful assistant Tara that his choice to inject Larry is for science and human knowledge, despite her objections.

When Larry returns to Tokyo, his personality starts to change. He begins to drink heavily, mingle with Geisha girls, argue with his boss and cavort with Tara.  An eye starts to grow on his right shoulder and thick hair on his arm, which foreshadows the beast that soon develops in his body.

Eventually, a grotesque head grows out of Larry's right shoulder. He murders a priest at a Buddhist temple. His boss sends a psychiatrist to examine Larry, which he refuses to see. The Tokyo police suspect Larry of many recent murders.

The best scene is saved for the end when Larry returns to Suzuki's mountaintop laboratory to confront him for what he's done.  Suzuki injects him with another serum just before he literally splits in half, releasing his evil self from his good self.  He throws Tara into a volcano before the split.

Not only are there similarities to Stevenson's classic Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, but another obvious similarity is The Wolf Man (1941). In fact, the Wolf Man's real life name is also Larry. Both Larrys are everyday, ordinary men who end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, and later pay a price by becoming evil.  Neither men wants to be evil, but become victims of circumstance. Happy viewing. Watch the infamous eyeball scene below. The entire film is here.

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