BluRay/DVD Reviews

MATANGO

By • Mar 15th, 2005 •

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(Toho)1963. 90 minutes

Not only is MATANGO the creepiest, darkest creature feature film by Japan’s monster movie master, Inoshira Honda, it seems to be the basis for one of the most popular sit-coms of all time- GILLIGAN’S ISLAND.

MATANGO follows seven very diverse adults who encounter a violent storm during a yachting cruise. They are stranded on a deserted island with no communication with civilization. MATANGO’s cast of characters include the skipper, a first mate, a brainy professor, a tycoon, an arrogant writer, a nice girl-next-door and a glamorous movie star. Sound familiar, little buddies?

Instead of building cozy huts, and living in platonic bliss, these castaways find a rotting, beached ship covered with a strange multi-colored fungus. This fungus is their only food. It’s tasty, addicting, and it finally turns them into walking hate-filled mushrooms! Even before the fungus takes it’s wigged out effect, these Gilligan prototypes are doomed! Cabin fever, and the men lusting for the glamour queen turn our castaways into homicidal savages.

The main star here, aside from the mushroom people is the absolutely adorable 25 year old Kumi Mizumo, who plays the glam queen. This mega-cute beauty can be seen in other Inoshira Honda monster-fests. She often played the hero’s vulnerable girlfriend (as in GORATH and GODZILLA VS. MONSTER ZERO) or the fragile lady scientist. Here she’s perfect as a vain singer on the prowl for a sugar daddy. Kumi Mizumo is still active in Japanese films, having recently appeared in GODZILLA- FINAL WARS (2004)

Inoshira Honda received considerable flack from the Japanese Government over MATANGO. When the shipwreck survivors are turning into mushrooms, their discoloring make-up closely resembled what many people looked after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. Honda himself was a soldier stationed in Hiroshima after the blast. The horrors of what he witnessed became his directorial trademarks.

Fans of vintage sci-fi may remember MATANGO when it was grabbed by American International Pictures, re-cut, re-dubbed and titled ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE. Forget you ever saw that disaster, and hunt this gem down. Extras here include a commenatry track by MATANGO star Akira Kubo. Kubo, who appeared in many Godzilla/monster films (I always thought he looked like Speed Racer come to life.) gives neat insight to the working methods of Inoshira Honda and the way the Japanese film industry handles actors. There is also an interview with MATANGO’s f/x cinematographer Teruyoshi Nakano, who uses conceptual drawings and production stills to show how MATANGO’s nightmarish imagery came to be.

Here’s wishing that Tokyo Shock keeps the grand tradition going. We hope they consider THE H-MAN (Honda’s wild take on THE BLOB), GORATH, DOGORA – THE SPACE MONSTER and THE WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS next.


Special Features:
Commentary by actor Akira Kubo.
Interview with Effects Cinematographer Teruyoshi Nakano (with behind the scenes drawings and stills)
Spoken word from “Matango” writer Masami Fukushima

Cast:
Akira Kubo, Kumi Mizumo, Hiroshi Koizumi, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Kenji Sahara.

Crew:
Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka
Special Effects by Eiji Tsuburaya
Written by Takeshi Kimura, Shinichi Hoshi and Masami Fukushima
Directed by Inoshira Honda

Based on the story “Voice In The Night” by William Hope Hodgson, also adapted for the TV series The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

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