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.