A Visibly Poisoned Society

Beyond its schlock title, Invisible Man vs The Human Fly has more latitude than Japan’s prior (and disconnected) Invisible Man Appears. Away from American occupation and censorship, the script freely explores numerous themes and post-war concerns from the nation’s perspective. Bizarre as it is to see a miniaturized man floating through the air, committing murders, the basis comes from ingrained anxieties – that the unseen can at any moment paralyze a city.

Created by a cosmic radiation beam, the powers of invisibility become heroic to this story. Local police exhibit bravery even beyond the will to investigate and arrest dangerous criminals. Their best choose to expose themselves to cancer-inducing rays to help their cities, a selflessness indicative of Japanese society, and relevant to the recent Fukushima disaster. Jurisdictional and legal quagmires go unspoken (imagine an invisible police force listening in any room at any time) because Invisible Man vs The Human Fly focuses on more pertinent issues.

Invisible Man vs The Human Fly is more a cultural battle than detective story

For the fly, it’s not radiation but an addictive chemical akin to the methamphetamine given to soldiers and pilots during World War II; the lasting effects left survivors reliant on the drug, and it’s sourced here from a businessman seeking revenge on those who blamed him for war crimes. Cautiously depicting the lingering imperialist values, soon Invisible Man vs The Human Fly is more a cultural battle than detective story. One side seeks to make peace, the other to continue a violent regime under a new capitalist-driven society.

There’s an unusual coping mechanism too. A conversation surrounding the atomic bomb, in correlation to the invisibility ray, dismisses the science-based tragedy as “coincidental byproducts.” Given one side hopes for moral science, the other personal gain, it’s an argument challenging the notion that splitting the atom was inevitably catastrophic. In making the rays a means for good, Invisible Man vs The Human Fly causes a debate at a time when understandably impassioned feelings toward Hiroshima/Nagasaki remained.

Through this, Invisible Man vs The Human Fly makes for a compelling (if at times lumbering) cop procedural. Tracking down a killer that’s barely larger than an insect is pure Japanese sci-fi, but undertones concerning addiction and those willing to use people make for a fascinating dialog. Then, fearlessness akin to soldiers, shown as a means to a positive end, pushes the country toward a better path. In that, Invisible Man vs The Human Fly becomes an engaging document from Japan’s recovery period, and innovative twist on a familiar concept.

Video

Better in appearance than its predecessor, Invisible Man vs The Human Fly presents a cleaner, natural grain structure. Since the master is struck from a surviving 16mm release print, it’s limited but pure. Softer imagery falls within the range of acceptability, while tense close-ups produce notable definition. Considering the source, this is impressive work.

Expected damage and dirt runs the full length, including reel markers. Plus, gate weave poses a challenge too, causing persistent jumping. Some flicker occurs too, another expected anomaly from an exhibition film stock.

Plain gray scale stays in a more medium range, never venturing toward pure white or black. Results end at a murkier contrast, lacking dimensionality and obviously, depth. While not show-stopping, considering the difficult materials, Invisible Man vs The Human Fly debuts Stateside in the best possible state.

Audio

A club scene involves a small orchestra, the first challenge for the PCM track after the opening fanfare. It’s not a positive. Drums warp due to their age and violins collapse on the high-end. Scoring uses intentionally pitchy horror themes, now a greater challenge in today’s audio space. Fidelity is almost totally lost.

While dialog strains, the flatness is at least tolerable compared to the music.

Extras

Nothing specific to this movie, but it shares disc space with Invisible Man Appears’ extras.

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The Invisible Man vs The Human Fly
  • Video
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4

Movie

A smart take on a familiar sci-fi premise, Invisible Man vs The Human Fly engages with multiple social issues to fill its story.

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