Thursday, October 20, 2011

Denso Ningen (1960)

... aka: Electrical Facsimile Man, The
... aka: Electrical Facsimile Transmission Human, The
... aka: Secret of the Telegian, The
... aka: Telegian, The
... aka: Telegraphed Man, The

Directed by:
Jun Fukuda

At an amusement park 'Cave of Horrors' spook show, a man is stabbed to death with a knife. Left behind at the crime scene are a gold-plated name tag, a note from an unknown source asking the victim to meet him there and a piece of Klyotron transistor wire. Reporter Kirioka (Koji Tsuruta), who has a background in science, Detective Kobayashi (Akihiko Hirata), a childhood friend of the reporter, and a slew of other police officers led by Captain Onosaki (Yoshio Tsuchiya) begin investigating... and end up involved with an even stranger case than they could have ever imagined. Clues lead them to the Military-Land Cabaret, a nightclub that serves drinks like "Hand Grenades" and "Missiles," has waitresses dressed in cute little sailor uniforms and a gold-painted dancer as the evening's entertainment. The club is owned by a man named Onishi, who is rumored to run an illegal narcotics smuggling ring out of his establishment and has a few dark secrets in his closet. Something that went down fourteen years earlier right as Japan was about ready to surrender to Allied Forces during WWII that's about to come back to haunt both him and the others who were involved in the ass.

As it turns out, Onishi (Seizaburô Kawazu), along with the man found dead at the funhouse (a former sergeant) and two others; former intelligence agent Takashi (Yoshifumi Tajima) and Construction Corp. foreman Taki (Sachio Sakai), were all militarymen a decade and a half earlier. They had been assigned to help protect scientist / electrical engineer Dr. Kajuro Nikki's top secret experiments in creating electronic weaponry. Instead, the men decided to throw out the doctor's experiment and fill the crates with stolen gold bars. The only opposion they faced was from Lance Corporal Tsudo (Tadao Nakamura), who insisted the gold belonged to the people of his country. Onishi and the others stabbed Tsudo, shot Dr. Nikki and barely made it out of the cave before it's blown up with dynamite. They returned there a year later, only to discover that both men's corpses and the gold were missing. Have Tsudo and Dr. Nikki (Takamaru Sasaki) seemingly returned from the grave for revenge? Well... sort of.

Both Tsudo (now using the alias Goro Nakamoto) and Nikki (confined to a wheelchair and missing both legs) live quietly in seclusion on a remote farm... located near an active volcano! Over the years, Nikki has perfected a transportation device capable of moving matter from one place to another in a matter of seconds. Unbeknownst to the good doctor, a (rightfully) bitter and vengeful Tsudo is secretly using his contraption to leap back and forth from his desired locations to get revenge on Onishi and the others; easily alluding the police in the process. Tsudo sends the gold dog tags as sort of a death sentence, sends audio tapes ("I'm going to send you to hell!") or notes to each of the men informing them when he plans on killing them and stabs each with a bayonette. Because Nikki's experiment still has a few kinks, Tsudo's appeareance after transporting himself sometimes takes on a staticky, holographic look (one of several ideas present here that were cloned by Wes Craven for his shitty 1989 flop Shocker).

A Toho production, this mixture of science fiction, horror and crime-thriller genres was made with a reasonable budget and is a pretty interesting curio if you can track down a copy. Judging by the fact it currently has less than 50 votes on IMDb, it seems that the film hasn't built up much of a reputation (or an audience) over the years. It's fairly well-made, though, and features an intriguing premise, some good ideas and decent special effects that haven't aged too badly over the years. If anything bogs it all down, it's too much time spent with the police investigation and not enough time spent with the doctor / killer.

This was one of the first films for director Fukuda, who'd go on to make GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER (1966), SON OF GODZILLA (1967), GODZILLA VS. GIGAN (1972), GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA (1974) and others in the long-running series. Though Telegian failed to score at the box office, Fukuda co-scripted a second film ("Transparent Man vs. the Flame Man"), which was never made.

There are two versions floating around. One is cut and black-and-white (presumably the one that used to play on television), and the other is nicely shot in color (Tohoscope).

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