The cult section of the literary world

Day 3: Matango (1963)

By Sam Reeve

For day three of our Japanese Horror Month, I bring you Matango, directed by Ishiro Honda, famous for having directed several of the Godzilla movies, including Godzilla, Godzilla King of the Monsters, and Mothra.

The story tells of a group of rich people sailing around on a yacht, only to encounter a storm that sends them drifting to a mysterious island. They find a wrecked ship, the insides of which are covered in fungi, and they decide to clean it up and move in. Stranded with little food or supplies and unable to call for help, the group forages for food, fights amongst themselves and tries to figure out why the crew of the old ship went missing.

Of course there are also mushroom people on the island who, for reasons unknown, are lonely and want the others to become like them.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT: I wasn’t super keen on this flick, but I did like the special effects. The weird mushroom forests and creepy ship were pretty awesome, and there were a few parts that were a little spooky.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK: I was imagining these people trying to fight off the mushroom monsters the whole time, which sounded pretty sweet. The primary antagonist, though, ends up just being the stranded folks themselves. The first hour of the film is them fighting over food and the women, which was interesting (survival stories can be pretty cool), but wasn’t at all what I had expected. You don’t even get any real action with the mushroom monsters until the very end, which disappointed me a bit.

The film may still be worth seeing if you’re a fan of Honda’s work, and it was big enough in Japan to have spawned a line of toys:

Many have called it a “great” horror film, but I wasn’t won over. If you decide to check it out for yourself, let us know what you think in a comment below.

One response

  1. I absolutely love this movie. I saw it back when it first came to the US, and afterwards I spent years looking for it, including checking TV Guide faithfully (remember TV Guide?) hoping to catch it on a Friday night horror show. Finally VHS tapes became available and to my joy one day, I found it in a video store of obscure treasures in Austin Texas. It is one of the supreme examples of so-bad-it’s-good movies. It can’t be watched as a serious film, but relished for its camp quality. This is cheese at its best! I enjoy this movie more every time I watch it…a little gem of absurdity. The vapid grins on the girl’s face as she so sensually eats the mushroom, with the cheesy sound effects…great stuff.

    October 4, 2012 at 12:15 am

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