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A yacht is ship-wrecked on a mysterious island leaving the crew stranded and at the mercy of mysterious forces. As the passengers squabble amongst themselves, strange creatures stalk them at night and they become tempted by the deadly mushrooms which grow all over the island…

Matango, also known as Attack Of The Mushroom People has become a real cult favorite over the years but is definitely not what I expected. I expected to see a rather silly film, aimed more at family audiences and perhaps featuring some kaiju-style giant mushroom monster action. Instead, I got a much more mature (albeit still silly) tale of human greed, lust and sex based on a story by William Hope Hodgson (1877 – 1919) an author who dabbled in many genres including horror, fantasy and science-fiction.

The movie begins and ends in a psychiatric ward somewhere in Tokyo, where a professor recounts the story of what happened to him and the other missing passengers and crew from the ship-wrecked yacht. This wraparound story is somewhat reminiscent of the original Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956) and adds to the overwhelming feeling of bleakness and hopelessness which permeates the film. As each of the characters succumb to the almost siren-like call of the mushrooms, their chances of rescue become slimmer and slimmer until only the professor is left to try and escape. Matango is a creepy, atmospheric curiosity which deserves a wider audience and comes highly recommended to connoisseurs of the cult movie experience.

Review by Richard Gladman

 

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