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Matango

Matango (1963) Movie Poster
Japan  •    •  89m  •    •  Directed by: Ishirô Honda.  •  Starring: Akira Kubo, Kumi Mizuno, Hiroshi Koizumi, Kenji Sahara, Hiroshi Tachikawa, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Miki Yashiro, Hideyo Amamoto, Takuzô Kumagai, Akio Kusama, Yutaka Oka, Keisuke Yamada, Kazuo Hinata.  •  Music by: Sadao Bekku.
        A group of friends are sailing on the yacht when a storm blows them off course and damages the boat. They soon land on a deserted island where they find a deserted, fungus covered wreck. They then find out that it was a research vessel examining the effects of radiation on plant and animal life. However, they also discover a strange fungus dubbed Matango. They also find out that the crew ate some of the fungus and were somehow driven mad. The group then goes about trying to find food and water without succumbing to the lure of the mushrooms. However, one by one they soon are driven by their hunger and desires to eat the mushrooms with disastrous effects.

Trailers:

   Length:  Languages:  Subtitles:
 2:18

Review:

Image from: Matango (1963)
Image from: Matango (1963)
Image from: Matango (1963)
Image from: Matango (1963)
Image from: Matango (1963)
Image from: Matango (1963)
Image from: Matango (1963)
Image from: Matango (1963)
Image from: Matango (1963)
Image from: Matango (1963)
Image from: Matango (1963)
Image from: Matango (1963)
Image from: Matango (1963)
Image from: Matango (1963)
Image from: Matango (1963)
Image from: Matango (1963)
Matango, or under one of it's alternate titles Attack of the Mushroom People, Curse of the Mushroom People, Fungus of Terror, Matango the Fungus of Terror or Matango: Fungus of Terror as I saw it under, starts off the shores of Japan where five friends including businessman Fumio Kasai (Yoshio Tsuchiya), an author named Etsuro Yoshida (Hiroshi Tachikawa), radio & TV presenter Mami Sekiguchi (Kumi Mizuno), University professor Kenji Murai (Akira Kubo) & his student Akiko Soma (Miki Yashiro) have hired a yacht owned & run by captain Naoyuki Sakeda (Hiroshi Koizumi) & a sailor named Senzo Koyama (Kenji Sahara). They are caught in a vicious thunderstorm, the yacht is damaged & they become lost. They are very lucky that they drift towards an island & potential safety, once ashore they discover another wrecked ship that they use as a base. It appears to be some sort of scientific research ship on a mission to study the effects of nuclear testing & radiation. They also find books which warn not to eat the mushrooms which grow in abundance on the mysterious island but with food running very low, seven mouths to feed & tension growing several of the group cannot resist the temptation. Unfortunately for them the mushrooms have strange side effects, strange mutating side effects & the survivors quickly realise that they have to fight the mushroom men as well as hunger...

This Japanese production was directed by veteran Ishiro Honda, Matango had a great premise & could have made for a good horrormonster film but when the finished product is viewed it has to go down as a big disappointment. The script by Takeshi Kimura & an uncredited Sakyo Komatsu takes itself 100% seriously & is based on the on story 'The Vioce in the Night' by William Hope Hodgson which I have not read so I cannot compare them. The film starts out promisingly enough with the group being stranded on the island & the scene being set but then it goes absolutely nowhere as the following 40 odd minutes is constant moaning & arguing amongst the group trying to decide what to do & petty squabbling as everyone tries to get the upper-hand. OK, listen I'm all for character development & a strong story but I really started to dislike these selfish annoying & irritating people which in turn made Matango hard to watch & like. I just wanted to see the mushroom people attack, unfortunately that doesn't happen until the last 10 minutes or so, until that point the mushroom people only make two brief appearances & are almost inconsequential to the dull melodramatics. I just found it a bit tedious & boring, I actually started to check my watch to see how long was left even though the film only lasts for a relatively short 70 minutes.

Director Honda does a good job & he manages to create a great atmosphere especially the deserted ship with it's rundown equipment & fungus covered walls, it's a pretty creepy place. The mushroom people themselves aren't shown in any great detail & don't feature that much but they're pretty freaky looking & very effective when they make an appearance, I just wish they were in the film more.

Technically Matango is very good, it's competent & generally well made throughout. The version I saw was a panned & scanned English dubbed travesty, huge chunks were obviously cut off each side of the frame & the dubbing was absolutely terrible. I'm not sure an original ratio Japanese language version would greatly improve it but it certainly couldn't be any worse. It's hard to tell whether the acting was good or not since the English dub was hardly the fault of the original Japanese cast, was it?

Matango was a huge disappointment for me, it's not a bad watch I suppose & at least it's short but when 'The End' credit card appeared I couldn't help but feel short changed. Could have been great, as it is it's strictly average at best.


Review by Paul Andrews from the Internet Movie Database.