by Mark Az
The early 60s Japanese horror film, Matango, is atypical for Inoshiro Honda, the prolific director of Japan’s most famous Kaiju films. Unfortunately, American International renamed it Attack of the Mushroom People and was dumped to TV - no theatrical release. Of course, with a title like that, I’m thinking it’s going to be one of those super cheesy sci-fi flicks that are great to watch, but they’re silly and forgettable. That is not the case with Matango.
The setting, the mood is darker than you would expect - and just plain odd. When the group of our seven castaways land on this creepy island - and yes, I stand firm on my thesis that Sherwood Schwartz saw this film in 1965 and quickly adopted those characters into the Minnow’s guests and crew — the setting is undeniably eerie. Also, the actors play this completely straight. And it’s not cheesy straight, if you know what I mean. They play it as a serious drama, even when we get to the end and see what has become of the other souls that have landed on this island. The effects are just weird. You’ll maybe laugh at them at first, but then you’ll buy into it and it gets genuinely ooky.
Fans of Japanese horror know this film well. It has been analyzed and commented on for years. But for the uninitiated, like myself, it’s a great find. Burk is such a treasure trove of these kinds of films - I’m thrilled that I can see them from a high quality print. The colors are vibrant, the music spot on, and the acting and direction sharp and crisp.
As for the lame title for this post, who orders pizza with no cheese and extra mushrooms? I think that’s what is called a “flatbread”. Flatbread is a not-as-good pizza for 50% more. That is all.