Today’s selection: Matango (1963, dir. Ishiro Honda)
Available from: Media Blasters
Based on the William Hope Hodgson story “The Voice in the Night”, Matango (AKA Attack of the Mushroom People) is the third of Honda’s loosely-thematically-connected “mutant trilogy”, after The H-Man and The Human Vapor, and is probably the best of the lot. It focuses on a group of castaways, shipwrecked on an island without food, except for some contaminated mushrooms. If ingested, the mushrooms turn people into freakish mutations, but how long can the group hold out, against hunger, against each other, and against the natives of the island? It’s legitimately spooky in parts.
The movie features Toho’s best genre people of the time: Ishiro Honda, Akira Ifukube, Eiji Tsuburaya, Akira Kubo, Kumi Mizuno, Eisei Amamoto, Kenji Sahara, and naturally, Haruo Nakajima in a monster suit. The movie, as with most of Toho’s golden-age material, is part of the Showa Godzilla canon, which is why the iconic mushroom people show up again in Godzilla Island, Godzilla: Monster of Monsters, and numerous toy tie-ins.