Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Toho Pack Box Set - The Mysterians Varan and Matango|
Actors: Akihiko Hirata, Kumi Mizuno
Director: Ishirô Honda
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
The Mysterians After a Japanese town is totally destroyed the military arrive to investigate. They encounter a giant robot that is decimating everything in its path. Varan The Unbelievable During an excursion to research... more »
My dream came true - an excellent DVD of Matango!
Steven W. Hill | Chicago, IL United States | 03/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's here. One of my favorite movies - and most eagerly-awaited DVDs - ever. And EVERY single bad scenario I could think of for its DVD release has been stamped out soundly by Tokyo Shock/Media Blasters. Because THIS is exactly what I wanted from a DVD of "Matango" (Attack of the Mushroom People). My dream came true, and it's sitting in my hands.
The movie? Some of you might remember seeing it back when there were things called "local UHF television stations" :) that showed lots of cheap movies - mostly bad ones, some good ones, but almost universally fondly remembered regardless of their narrative quality. Back when we were kids, all we remembered about the movie was the ghost ship, the mushroom people, and the narrator's unforgettable final lines (dubbed in English, of course). And that it was cool. We may not have noticed that the script is very effective, the character interaction and motivations convincing, and the production design truly remarkable... and there's plenty more about the film that elevates it WAAAAY up above your average Japanese monster movie.
The DVD? Well, now we can finally really see the movie and rediscover it. The DVD boasts a beautiful clean print presented in anamorphic widescreen. The aspect ratio is stated as 2.35:1 on the back cover, which is correct for TohoScope, but the ratio actually measures out to be about 2.53:1. Add to that the fact that the image is actually windowboxed (when looking at the full image, say, on a PC screen, there are black bars on the sides as well as top and bottom), and this movie looks VERY wide on a television.
Just like the other recent DVD release of "The Mysterians" (q.v.), there is a wealth of audio selections: the disc includes a 5.1 surround English audio mix, a mono English track, and a mono Japanese track. There is also a commentary track from Akira Kubo, who plays the lead role of Kenji Murai in the film. It is in Japanese, but there are subtitles for the film AND the commentary... and you can even turn them BOTH on at the same time if you want (one subtitle appears at the top, the other at the bottom).
Just a glorious presentation of the film (at last!) would be enough to please me and other fans of the film, but we also get some marvellous extras. There is a 17 minute 41 second piece called "Spoken Word from Matango writer Masami Fukushima" which is a written narrative of the story accompanied by widely varied video - sometimes stills, sometimes behind-the-scenes footage, and so on. There is also a very generous, in-depth and fascinating interview with special effects cinematographer Teruyoshi Nakano. The interview runs 27 minutes 38 seconds and covers the film from all angles, accompanied at times by some great production stills and behind-the-scenes photos detailing the set, makeup, pre-production artwork and more. It's clear from what he says that "Matango" was MEANT to be a cut above the rest, and the loving care they put into its production really shows in the movie itself. Also included on the DVD is a trailer (16:9 WS), plus previews for "Dogora" (1964), "The Mysterians" (1957), "Varan" (1958) and "Gappa" (1967).
One more thing... if you're already familiar with the movie, you'll probably just want to watch it in the Japanese language with English subtitles on. The impact of the ending is undeniably weakened in the Japanese (original) version, believe it or not. So you, and ESPECIALLY those who have never seen the movie before, will want to watch the movie both ways at least once, and I'll even go so far as to suggest your first viewing be of the English dubbed version. (Don't think it to be sacrilege; the Japanese version is right there waiting for your second viewing, which you'll want to do anyway.) Anyway... THANK YOU Tokyo Shock/Media Blasters for having such remarkable respect for the material to present it to us with every bit as much loving care and attention as any other recent Hollywood blockbuster film released to DVD. Buyers, start your debit cards! You don't want to be without this title!
It Grows On You!!!
Bradley Beard | Las Vegas | 04/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I happen to suffer a severe financial disability, I have this incredible urge to purchase almost every 1930's thru 60's classic and not so classic Sci-fi and horror title that hits the market. Last month, I purchased an excellent Toho movie from Tokyo Shock entitled MYSTERIANS which I had always heard good things about but had never seen. I was pleasantly surprized how truly good this movie was when I watched it. After the movie, I watched the trailers and noticed that a movie (which I had always figured in the past MUST be just the cheesiest and worst Japanese sci-fi movie ever made due to the stupid title) entitled "Attack of the Mushroom People" was due for release. Well, being a fan of the genre, I was now excited to have this "screen gem" in my collection which I figured would be filed away with my Ed Wood collection alongside Phil Tucker's ROBOT MONSTER. I never had the chance to see this movie shown on TV so I had no basis for my opinion other than it's title.
Last night, I watched this movie for the first time and let me state how absolutely wrong my pre-conception was. Please keep in mind this movie was inappropriately re-titled for the American audience and that MIS-titling of the movie lowers it's viewer's expectations to the ranks of such Toho "classics" as SON OF GODZILLA. There are many amazing, classic movies of this era that suffer from terrible titles (such as the awesome I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE) but this is a movie whose title suffers from Americanization.
Anyway, let's get back to the movie. Others who have reviewed this seem to have wonderful childhood memories of this movie, something I lacked while viewing it. The nostalgia would have been nice but the absolute freshness of this movie to me was what truly sold me. There is nothing like seeing a movie that you have dismissed as cheesy fodder (don't get me wrong, I do LOVE cheesy fodder) only to discover a brilliantly executed tale. This is a well-acted, well-directed story that really caught me off guard. The actors tensions continue to build realistically throughout the movie as they find less and less to eat. The sequences in the abandoned "ghost" ship are truly gripping but what grabbed me the most were the psycedelic scenes shot in the mushroom fields. As demetia and insanity saturate the minds of the castaways, the wonderful cinematography captures the kaliedoscopic fungal phantasms amazingly well with it's unnatural lighting and frenzied sequencing. These scenes near the end of the movie are actually mildly disturbing. The musical score seems to reflect human voices screaming in agony and torment. What a great added touch. And the surprize ending...I didn't see it coming so I won't ruin it for to those of you who have never seen this hidden treasure.
This morning I sat down to a breakfast of sugar-coated vowels and consonants and ate my words with gusto. Don't be fooled like I had been by this movie's American title. From this day forth, this movie will now be placed in the top rank of my sci-fi collection with the best of the best and it will be filed under "M" for MATANGO!!"
Curse of the Mushroom People
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 05/05/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I think most people have a film that they saw when they were younger, one that stayed with them, perhaps even haunted them, into their adult years. For example, one of my friends can't watch the film Trilogy of Terror (1975), specifically the scenes with that little Zuni doll, without having a full blown freakout ...my youthful cinematic scarring occurred at the hands of Mantango: Attack of the Mushroom People (1963) aka Curse of the Mushroom People, Fungus of Terror, Matango the Fungus of Terror, Matango: Fungus of Terror...I remember seeing it on WFLD in Chicago (before it got co-opted by FOX) on the Son of Svengoolie show in the early 80's, and while I didn't remember much of it prior to watching it last night, certain visuals from the film have been stuck clearly in my mind for the past 20 years. Funny thing is I've hesitated watching this film, as I purchased it back in January of this year, but, there comes a time when one must face his or her demons...looking back, I can see how this could have warped me at a tender young age, given the strength of some of the scenes, but since having learned the true horrors of life (working for a living and such), the film seems more bizarre than frightening now, so many years later. Directed by the legendary Ishirô Honda (The Mysterians, King Kong vs. Godzilla, Godzilla vs. Mothra), appearing in the film is Akira Kubo (Gorath), Kumi Mizuno (Frankenstein Conquers the World), Hiroshi Koizumi (Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster), Yoshio Tsuchiya (The Monster Varan), Kenji Sahara (Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla), Hiroshi Tachikawa (Gorath), Miki Yashiro (Godzilla vs. Mothra), along with Eisei Amamoto (King Kong Escapes), credited as `Skulking Transitional Matango'.
The story begins at the psych ward at Tokyo Medical Center as we listen to what appears to be an internal monologue from a patient, but it's hard to tell as his back is to the camera. This segues into a flashback with some very peppy pop music and 7 people (5 men and 2 women) crusing the ocean on the sailing yacht Aho Dori, which, I think, means short-tailed albatross. Aboard the yacht is Mami (Mizuno), Akiko (Yashiro), Etsuro (Tachikawa), Kenji (Kubo), Fumio (Tsuchiya), Naoyuki (Koizumi), and Senzo (Sahara). Anyway, night falls, a storm hits, one that features giant waves pounding a miniature boat, and the next day we see a very damaged yacht adrift in foggy, unknown waters. Hope arrives in the form of an island, and the group makes their way to shore, and begin searching for food and water, noticing an unusually large amount of mushrooms growing throughout the area. While traversing the seemingly deserted island, they find a derelict, beached, research ship grounded on the beach, one covered with fungus. After finding some canned goods on the ship, they decide to take up residence, and begin making plans to fix their yacht. Tensions build as the food runs out, and it appears they may not be alone on the island as shadowy, lumpy figures visit the ship during the night. What happened to the crew of the research vessel? There weren't any corpses on the ship, and the captain's log offers little in the form of answers...perhaps their disappearance had something to do with the fungus that populates the island (you bet your mold covered bippy it does)...
Someone else mentioned this, and it occurred to me as well, in as far as at times I got a sense I was watching an episode of Gilligan's Island, if David Lynch had directed it. We have a small ship that runs afoul of some adverse weather, and the seven castaways are stranded on a deserted isle. As far as characters go, there's Mami, a professional singer/part time strumpet, who would be the Ginger character, Akiko, the student, is Mary Ann, Naoyuki is the Skipper, Etsuro, the goofball writer, is Gilligan, Kenji, a university professor, is obviously the Professor, Fumio, the rich businessman (who's also the dork dressed in full sea captain gear including the hat), is Mr. Howell, and Senzo, the deckhand would have to be Mrs. Howell only because there's no one else left (sorry Senzo). But seriously, this has to have been one of the strangest films I've seen in awhile. The story was pretty slow throughout, but I found it really interesting as director Honda does an amazing job creating a moody, oppressive, nightmarish atmosphere that permeates the film much like the fog on the island. Looking at the title, one would get the impression of a silly B type movie, but the tone is pretty serious, about as serious as one can get given the antagonistic fungi factor involved. The performances and characters were decent, but what really sells the film is the overall direction, extensive sets, and appropriately creepy musical score, along with some fairly sophisticated special effects (for the time). There were some scenes near the end where I felt like I was watching a Sid and Marty Krofft (the pair responsible for such wiggy 70's television fare as H.R. Pufnstuf, The Bugaloos, and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters), particularly when the giant fungus creatures become more active, but the overall production worked well to overcome any minor silliness attributed to limitations on the visual effects regarding the giant shrooms. Is there a moral implication present with regards to the consumption of the mushrooms (they induce psychedelic hallucinations, among other things) and their harmful after effects? There sure is, and it worked on me...I've never eaten a mushroom I've found in the woods. I think my favorite scene in the film was when we saw Etsuro Yoshida, the goofy writer character (the Gilligan character), sitting in a patch of mushrooms, consuming them with a silly grin on his face. Oh, and by the way, I'd rather eat my left foot than any food I might have found on that wreck of a vessel, especially if I thought the ship was involved in some sort of nuclear research.
Media Blasters presents a superior anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) picture, along with three audio tracks including English 5.1 Surround, English mono, and Japanese Mono (I'd recommend the Japanese mono with English subtitles, but to each his own). There are some worthwhile extras including a commentary track by star Akira Kubo, an interview with chief assistant director of special effects Teruyoshi Nakano, a spoken word piece with scenes and stills from the movie by writer Masami Fukushima, and an original theatrical trailer. There are also previews for other Media Blasters releases including Dagora, the Space Monster (1964), Gappa, the Triphibian Monster (1967), The Mysterians (1957), and Varan the Unbelievable (1962).
Better Than You Might Expect!
Kent | Iowa United States | 06/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have been a long time fan of Japanese sci-fi films. Unfortunately, I have never seen Matango until Tokyo Shock/Media Blasters released it onto DVD earlier this year. And let me tell you, this film is much better than most films Hollywood flushes out nowadays.
Many folks have already told the story of the film here so I will not go into that. I was very surprised, however, how much care was given into this film and how effective the story was at bringing you into the film itself. You don't see the Mushroom people much throughout the film, but the story is just so interesting that, in the end, you really find more interest in the conflicts among the characters than the Mushroom people. The best thing I love about this film is the message it has, that being society is always torn apart by individual wants and needs. No one thinks about society as whole; they put themselves first. It is a message that still works, perhaps better, in today's society. Greed and corruption on the individual level.
Another thing that I love about this film is the atmosphere it creates. It creates an atmosphere that is very mysterious, troubling, haunting, and just downright creepy. It sent chills up my spine in certain areas of the film, and the ship the characters stake as their home, is creepy itself.
Words simply cannot describe how great this film is! Many people may be thinking that since it's a Japanese film, it will have the same ole cliches of other Japanese sci-fi films. That couldn't be further from the truth. The film is just grand at telling a story that just keeps you glued to it and you actually feel for the characters. How many Hollywood films could you say about that nowadays? Also, there really isn't much in the way of special-effects here except the Mushroom people costumes and the makeup used to show some of the characters transforming into Mushroom people.
I highly recommend that everyone see this movie! It is a model for great storytelling and is sure to become a favorite with just about everybody who sees it! After watching this for the first time, it has become one of my all-time favorite films; and I have seen a lot of movies too! Definitely worth renting at least!"