Thursday, December 10, 2009

Vegetable Matter: Matango(1963)

As a dedicated fan or horror films I spend considerable free time watching "Hammer" horror films and a great deal of horror movies from the 80's on DVD, raiding my DVD racks for "A Nightmare On Elm Street" and "Friday The 13th" films. Toho, which owns the rights to Godzilla, has made a lot of quality horror films as well. One of my favorites is Matango, originally released to Japanese theaters back in 1963, the film directed by Inoshiro Honda, produced by Tomuyuki Tanaka and based on a story called "The Voice In The Night" which was penned by William Hodgson.

The film's story: a group of affluent people aboard a yacht find themselves in harms way after their yacht is damaged during a storm at sea. The yacht runs aground on an island. The survivors of the ship wrecked yacht wade ashore and a short time later discover a rotting, seemingly abandoned derelict ship that is beached close by. An inspection of the derelict, mold covered and dilapidated vessel doesn't reveal much but left over documents on board the abandoned ship suggest some kind of scientific research was being conducted. A night time visit to the derelict vessel by an unknown intruder creates, along with the fog shrouded island and the rising tensions between the group members, an atmosphere of terror and suspense among the human cast of characters.

The group of survivors, when not making tentative forays farther into the island interior, subsist on canned food for a time: after their canned fare runs out they decide to try and find other food sources on the mysterious island. It quickly becomes apparent the island is teeming with mushrooms. Despite being warned by the yacht's captain not to consume them, the other survivors eat the mushrooms anyway, which sets in motion a series of events that may very well kill them all...(no other spoilers)

This moody, atmospheric and creepy horror movie was released to quality Region 1 DVD in March, 2005 by Mediablasters under their "Tokyo Shock" label. The DVD release presents the film in its original 2:35.1 aspect ratio and includes audio options and some great extras, including an audio commentary by cast member and veteran Toho actor Akira Kubo and some production stills.

The film was dubbed in English in 1965 by AIP(American International Pictures) and released as a TV movie with the title Attack Of The Mushroom People. There are a lot of bootlegged VHS tapes and DVD-Rs of the Americanized version around, both on the internet and in bargain bin video stores.

To see the Mediablasters R1 DVD for sale at Amazon click on the above DVD cover art image or click the title of this blog entry.

The Toho trailer for Matango(1963):