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TRAUMAFESSIONS :: Gillig on Mantango (Attack Of The Mushroom People)

February 19th, 2008 by unkle lancifer · 2 Comments

Once, when visiting my friend Jim in Chicago, we wandered into this little second-floor memorabilia shop to look around (you know, one of those I’m-tired-of-collecting-this-shit-so-I’ll-open-a-store-and-sell-it-to-some-other-loser type places). The place was full of books, comics, models and geeks, of course. Well, to both my joy and horror, I came upon something that dredged up childhood memories both happy and traumatic. When pointing out what I found to my friend Jim, the look of dread upon his face said it all. Finally, I felt validated for all the years of abhorrence that I’d suffered as a kid, someone else had been scarred. What did I find, you ask? Why, just a 16 inch model of one of the hapless shipwrecked members of the cast of MATANGO. Or, as it’s commonly known in America, ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE. MATANGO is a Toho release from 1963 that lived for awhile in the Saturday afternoon matinee/late night chiller TV slot before disappearing completely sometime in the 80’s. This is truly a shame because, after finally getting to see it again with the DVD release, this movie holds up as one of the creepiest and subversive things to ever come out of Japan.Directed by ISHIRO HONDA of GODZILLA fame, everything about this movie holds up 40+ years later.

This movie is the reason I couldn’t eat mushrooms for at least 10 years. Only when I reached adulthood (mentally) could I separate fact from fiction and approach our fungal friends again. Still…the movie never fails to come to mind whenever I do eat them.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Feb 19, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Thanks for this Traumafession Gillig! You know, you are right when you say this film holds up well today. It’s actually rather brilliant. Once you get past the klunky and unfortunate American title this is one atmospheric, beautifully shot film. It really reminded me of Lovecraft’s COLOR OUT OF SPACE with the spreading contamination of unknown origins. The water-logged, barnacle-infested surroundings also reminded me of Lovecraft inspired films like THE FOG and DAGON. It turns out that MATANGO is based on a story by William Hope Hodgson called THE VOICE IN THE NIGHT. Hodgson is best known for THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND and Lovecraft was a big fan of his work.

    I remember catching this on T.V in my youth and as dumb as the American title ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE may be, it certainly was irresistible when spotted in the T.V guide. The slow build up, the gradual recruitment of the crew got to me. Even the H.R Puff N Stuff mushroom costumes were strangely frightening thanks to the environment and the way they were filmed.

    However MANTAGO is a revelation when seen in it’s widescreen format re-mastered on DVD. I actually remembered this movie being black and white because the television version was so bleached and drab. The DVD version is quite the opposite almost exploding in gorgeous color. This is a great movie and deserves wider appreciation thanks for reminding us of that Gillig!

  • 2 VicarOfVHSNo Gravatar // Feb 19, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Well, consider this on my Netflix queue!

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