Disclaimer: Arrow Video has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections.
Please Note: Both films are included on one disc.
The Invisible Man Appears (1949)
Directed By: Shinsei Adachi, Shigehiro Fukushima
Starring: Chizuru Kitagawa, Takiko Mizunoe, Daijiro Natsukawa
Expensive jewelry is at the center of this tale of invisibility. I think what struck me right away was this movie blends elements from the Whale version but, adds a pulpy crime story. Indeed, the film is just as much about the stealing of jewels as it is with in invisibility itself. The movie also has this romance sub-plot that isn't really that well integrated into the narrative. As far the effects are concerned the trick photography is rather well done with a techniques similar to the original Universal films. I think that the overall movie is engaging and fun enough to gloss over the fact that this is a crime film copy-and-pasted into a invisible man scenario. Furthermore, the film has actually a pretty atmospheric flourish with the use of Noir-style lighting and camera techniques like Dutch-angles. The Invisible Man Appears takes the DNA of it's American counterpart and splices Japanese flare to create a interesting and, in my opinion enjoyable hybrid.
The Invisible Man Vs. The Fly (1957)
Directed By: Mitsuo Murayama
Starring: Ryuji Shinagawa, Yoshiro Kitahara, Junko Kano
Teaming up the Invisible Man with The Fly seems like the most random thing since '66's Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Monster (yes, thats a real movie). This movie really has it all, a serial killer, an invisible man, human flies doing evil biddings and a musical number for good measure! The movie starts out like a mystery then adds a nice serving of of sci-fi lunacy. Like any movie of it's ilk the movie plays up its more outrageous fantastical elements. The movie is bonkers and engaging enough to keep you glued and no matter what you think about the actual narrative, you cannot deny that the film is never boring. The title actually lives up to how out-of-its-mind it is. As with the first feature TIMA's the trick photography is well done and the photography is also moody and pulp-like. Invisible Man Vs The Fly has all the charms of a post-War atomic-age sci-fi film that is campy and a hoot! Out of the two films I think this one is the one I would be likely to want to revisit.
(For Both Films)
Picture: At the start of both films Arrow has the following to say about the restoration:
The Invisible Man Appears and The Invisible Man vs. The Human Fly are presented from the best surviving film elements, which in both cases are from 16mm exhibition prints. As a result, both transfers feature anomalies like picture weaving, scratches and exposed film edges that we felt could not be effectively repaired without further compromising the integrity of the original image.
We sincerely hope these issues do not affect your enjoyment of these two rare pieces of tokusatu history, available outside of Japan for the first time.
Arrow is a label that in my opinion has always maintained a reputation for providing fans with the best possible restorations. So, I think it's safe to say that both films are probably never going to look better unless by some miracle a new print is discovered. As it stands yes, as stated by the label the prints have issues but its nothing that was distracting from the films. You can see that despite it's flaws Arrow seems to have done a lot to make the image clearer and cleaned up as much as they could. Honestly, I think that fans should be stoked that these, as Arrow puts it, rare films were able to be restored at all and brought to a US market.
Sound: Both films have a 2.0 track. Dialogue and sound design come through nicely. Surprisingly there is very little in terms of unwanted background noise or hiss. Mostly a front heavy track on both but a very solid sound experience.
Extras: Transparent Terrors (24mins) a rundown of Invisible Man movies from historian Kim Newman.
The Invisible Man Appears original Japanese trailer.