Sunday, October 3, 2010

Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People

I’m not sure what I was really expecting when I bought this, aside from a goofy horror movie that would ideally have guys in rubber suits attacking each other Godzilla style. I don’t know that this was really a lot to ask of the film, given that it’s a 1960s Toho film with monsters portrayed by guys in rubber suits. Unfortunately, director Ishiro Honda (who, it should be noted directed several Godzilla films, including the original) felt somewhat differently, deciding instead to give us a monster movie where the monsters don’t show up until the end of the film.

The film is told in a flashback, as our main character is locked up in a psychiatric institution (cheerfully called a psychopathic institution by the subtitles, which I quickly switched off because they were actually worse than the dubbing) after being the sole survivor of a yacht voyage. We cut to the yachters in happier times, sailing along the sea and singing terrible songs, before a terrible storm shows up and destroys their ship. They eventually manage to land on a mysterious island with several other abandoned ships, where they find some delicious mushrooms and, when exploring another ship, a log warning not to eat the mushrooms. Of course, with food dwindling rapidly, one by one they start eating the mushrooms, and find themselves transforming into the giant mushroom people of the title, leaving only our main character to try to fight his way to safety (which, not to spoil it, but he obviously does, since he’s now in a psychopathic psychiatric institute).

If I had to come up with one main problem for the film, it’s that it’s incredibly dull. For whatever reason, Honda decided not to actually show anyone transforming into a mushroom until 75 minutes into a 90 minute film, and even then they don’t really attack anyone like the title implies, they just wave their arms around and occasionally hug the main character without actually hurting him at all. The movie does try to add some drama prior to this, with a brief gunfight, but it doesn’t really help.

It’s not even one of those so-bad-it’s-good efforts, either. That generally occurs due either to supreme incompetence, which doesn’t happen here, or because the director was trying to make an actual masterpiece and just completely failed, which (obviously) didn’t happen. Sadly, the film is competently made, or at least as competently as any Godzilla film from the time; instead it seems as though Honda simply didn’t have any passion for the material at all, and so made a fully workmanlike effort that achieved basic competence but didn’t try for anything beyond that.

It’s really the type of movie that I’d love to see remade, as it’s a nice amusing premise that simply executed really poorly. It’d be great to see something like this, except that the mushroom people start attacking right at the end of the first act, and y’know, actually attack people instead of just waving their arms around. That would be pretty nice.

1 comment:

katsucurrys14 said...

on the upside, you can use your now tasty friends as flavoring for some delicious hotpot