Matango (マタンゴ is a Matango)1963 tokusatsu horror film directed by Ishiro Honda and written by Takeshi Kimura from a story by Shinichi Hoshi and Masami Fukashima, with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. Produced by Toho, it is a loose adaptation of the 1907 short story "The Voice in the Night" by William Hope Hodgson. It stars Akira Kubo, Kumi Mizuno, Hiroshi Koizumi, Kenji Sahara, Hiroshi Tachikawa, Yoshio Tsuchiya, and Miki Yashiro. The film was released to Japanese theaters by Toho on August 11, 1963. American International Television released an English-dubbed version of the film to American television in 1965 under the title Attack of the Mushroom People.
Matango follows a group of seven wealthy friends from Tokyo whose yacht is caught in a storm and wrecked on a seemingly uninhabited island in the Ogasawara chain. After examining another derelict ship on the island, they learn that its crewmembers were investigating the effects of nuclear testing on the island and gradually vanished after consuming the bizarre native mushrooms growing on the island which they called "Matango." With food and resources becoming more and more scarce, the survivors turn against each other and one-by-one fall under the influence of the Matango, which they find is slowly mutating those who eat it into grotesque fungal creatures.
In the psychiatric ward of a Tokyo hospital, psychology professor Kenji Murai speaks to authorities from a cell about the friends he left behind before he returned to Tokyo. He says that most of them are still alive on that island, and when asked why they didn't come with him, Murai responds that everyone would really believe he is insane if he told the truth. Murai finally decides to tell his story, which begins as he is yachting with a group of friends...
A group of seven wealthy friends from Tokyo, including Murai, yacht proprietor Masafumi Kasai, yacht skipper Naoyuki Sakuta, writer Etsuro Yoshida, singer Mami Sekiguchi, university employee Akiko Soma, and Senzo Koyama, is traveling aboard a yacht in the waters off Japan. The yacht encounters a storm in the waters off Kyushu that badly damages it and blows it off course. When the storm finally ends, the passengers find that the yacht and all the equipment aboard it are broken and that they are adrift in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by endless fog. Finally, they come upon a seemingly deserted island somewhere in the Ogasawara Islands. The seven passengers come ashore and hike through the interior of the island in search of food and water. They find several pools collecting rainwater which, they conclude, had to have been created with human hands. They finally reach the other side of the island, where they see a large ship by the beach. As they approach, they find that the ship is a derelict with rotted sails, with Sakuta stating that it has likely been grounded for at least a year. Everyone except Mami, Akiko, and Yoshida comes aboard the ship, which they find is covered from stem to stern with a sickly-looking mold. They find no one living on the boat, but also no corpses or human remains. They finally come upon a laboratory, which leads them to the conclusion that this is an oceanography ship. Inside a cabinet, they discover numerous samples of sea life mutated by nuclear testing. Another cabinet contains a monstrously huge mushroom, which is labeled "Matango." According to the ship's notes, Matango is a species of mushroom native to this island. There are jugs of a cleaning chemical which was seemingly used on the cabinet to protect the samples from the mold. With this, they believe they can clean the mold off the ship. The other three castaways come aboard the boat and find that all of the mirrors have been removed. They open the door to the captain's quarters, which is buried in even more mold than the rest of the ship. Inside, Murai finds the captain's log, which explains that the crew gradually fell victim to the mind-altering Matango mushrooms growing on the island, and left in groups of two or three after eating them. Fortunately, there is a supply of canned food on the ship which should last them about a week.
After cleaning the ship with the chemicals, the group meets to discuss how to proceed. They agree to begin searching for food for whenever their supply runs out, and Koyama makes smoke signals to try and call for help, while Sakuta makes repairs on the yacht. Murai and Kasai head into the jungle to hunt for food, but find that even birds seem to avoid the island. Perhaps even stranger, they find the missing mirrors from the ship in the jungle lying broken on the ground. As they walk through the Matango-infested jungle, they witness a huge mass of Matango begin to move. Kasai opens fire on the figure with his rifle, but he and Murai have no luck finding any trace of whatever it was. That night, Koyama tries to break into the food storage, but accidentally enters the women's cabin. He defeatedly goes back to bed, while Kasai sneaks into the food storage area and tries to leave with several cans. At the same time, a figure comes aboard the ship and begins making his way to the men's cabin. Akiko and Mami run to the men and warn them that someone is intruding on the ship, while Kasai comes face-to-face with this intruder in the kitchen. He runs to the rest of the group and warns them of the intruder, which rounds the corner to reveal itself as what appears to be a hideously deformed human with fungus-like growths and lesions all over its skin.
The next morning, the group eats breakfast, while Koyama insists that everyone was hallucinating and only saw a "ghost." He takes charge and says they need to double their efforts to find food, even though it is currently raining. Everyone agrees and scours the island, discovering food such as potatoes and turtle eggs. Koyama begins stashing the eggs in the jungle for himself, though Sakuta sees him hoarding them. Back on the ship, Kasai walks in to see Yoshida trying to mix his own alcoholic beverage using the chemicals on board. He asks Yoshida if he is ashamed, but he responds that Kasai should be equally ashamed for trying to steal food, though Kasai responds that the monster was stealing the food and not him. Yoshida grabs the rifle and says he is heading off to the jungle to find this "ghost" himself, though Kasai warns him not to. When Yoshida returns that night, he claims to have eaten several of the Matango mushrooms from the jungle. He corners Mami and begins passionately kissing her, but Koyama walks in and catches him, becoming enraged with jealousy. The two men fight, but the others come in to break them up. Yoshida soon corners Murai, Sakuta, and Koyama with his rifle and begins ranting about how consuming the Matango will make him inhuman, allowing him to kill them all without regret. As he says this, lesions have begun to visibly form on his face. The three men struggle with Yoshida and manage to take his gun away, then throw him into the captain's quarters.
As Sakuta nearly finishes the repairs on the yacht, Kasai comes aboard and suggests the two of them take all the remaining food and leave together in the yacht, leaving everyone else behind. Sakuta is infuriated by the suggestion and orders Kasai to leave the yacht. The next morning, Murai and Akiko find Kasai bound and gagged in the food cellar on the ship. When they untie him, he says Sakuta betrayed them and took all the food before leaving with the yacht. Koyama runs into the jungle to check his stash of eggs, only to become furious when he sees Sakuta stole the eggs as well. Murai, Akiko, and Kasai come above deck where they are held at gunpoint by Yoshida, his face now even more disfigured from his consumption of the Matango. Mami is with him, and he demands that they hand over Akiko to him. Murai and Kasai are helpless, and Akiko is forced to go with Yoshida. Yoshida begins escorting the men away at gunpoint before Koyama returns and confronts him. Yoshida responds by unloading the rifle's bullets into Koyama's chest, killing him instantly. Murai and Kasai take the opportunity to wrestle the gun away from Yoshida, then order him and Mami to head into the jungle and never return. They leave quietly, with Kasai angrily firing warning shots after them. They inspect Koyama's body to find huge amounts of yen, profits from selling eggs from his stash to Kasai. They bury him in a grave marked by a cross made from branches, and remain holed up on the derelict. As the days pass, Kasai becomes incredibly weakened from starvation and begs Murai to kill him, as he is too weak to even end his own life. Murai tells Kasai to stop talking like that and promises that he and Akiko will find him food. The two set off to search for food, while Mami sneaks aboard and approaches Kasai. She promises she will bring him to a place where there is food on the island, and Kasai follows her out of desperation. She leads him deep into the jungle and shows him Matango mushrooms growing on a tree branch. Kasai begins frantically eating the fungus, which causes him to experience a brief hallucinations of the nightclubs and neon lights of Tokyo. As he snaps back to sobriety, Mami says that eating the fungus will turn them into mushrooms themselves, but that it is worth it because they are so delicious. Kasai turns to see Yoshida, his face and hand now consumed by the fungus-like growths, sitting nearby eating the mushrooms, surrounded by fully-assimilated Matango hosts. Kasai sees countless Matango hosts converging on him, all laughing ominously. He tries to get away but is cornered, then collapses from exhaustion.
Akiko and Murai return to the yacht and find it empty and gradually becoming consumed by the mold once more. Sometime later, Murai sees the yacht adrift near the island again and comes aboard. He finds only a note left on the wall by Sakuta, saying that all of the others were dead and that he was forced to jump overboard after running out of food. Murai angrily crosses out the note and returns to the ship. He brings Akiko food in her cabin and tries to encourage her, but she replies that she might as well eat the Matango, as that may be the only way to survive. Murai slaps her, leading her to apologize for her weakness, though he apologizes for hitting her. Suddenly, partially-assimilated Matango hosts swarm the ship and try to break into the cabin. One begins pounding on the door and tries to open it, but Murai shoots it until it backs off. Another tries to break through the window, but Murai closes it tightly shut. A Matango smashes through the door, prompting Murai to try and fight it off with his rifle. He strikes the creature with his rifle in the arm, which is completely severed from the rest of the host and falls lifelessly to the ground. The Matango flees and Murai gives chase, firing after it as it climbs back above deck. Murai pursues it above deck, but is attacked by several Matango. Akiko runs out of the cabin and calls after Murai, but is captured and carried off by two Matango. Once Murai finally fends off his attackers, he realizes Akiko has been abducted and runs to the jungle to rescue her. He hears Akiko calling after him, but finds that she is eating the mushrooms. Murai grabs Akiko by the hand and tries to flee with her, but countless Matango emerge from the jungle and restrain them both. Murai looks in horror to see the hideously mutated Yoshida and Mami as the Matango all fight to hold him still. Overcome with terror, Murai escapes the Matango and runs to the yacht, leaving the island alone.
After several days adrift, Murai was rescued, he says in his cell. But he wonders if it was worth it. He went to all that effort to avoid eating the Matango, but if he did, maybe he would be living happily with Akiko on the island. The scientists observing him say it is fortunate he returned, but Murai turns to face them, revealing the familiar lesions of the Matango growing on his face. Even though he never ate a single mushroom, contact with the fully-assimilated Matango hosts seems to have infected him anyway. Murai then remarks that Tokyo is not so different from the island, as the people from both places have become inhuman.
- Main article: Matango (film)/Credits.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Ishiro Honda
- Screenplay by Takeshi Kimura
- Story treatment by Shinichi Hoshi, Masami Fukashima
- Based on the short story "The Voice in the Night" by William Hope Hodgson
- Executive producer Tomoyuki Tanaka
- Music by Sadao Bekku
- Cinematography Hajime Koizumi
- Edited by Reiko Kaneko
- Production design by Shigekazu Ikuno
- Director of special effects Eiji Tsuburaya
- Assistant director of special effects Teruyoshi Nakano
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Akira Kubo as Kenji Murai, psychology professor
- Kumi Mizuno as Mami Sekiguchi, singer
- Hiroshi Koizumi as Naoyuki Sakuta, yacht skipper
- Kenji Sahara as Senzo Koyama
- Hiroshi Tachikawa as Etsuro Yoshida, writer
- Yoshio Tsuchiya as Masafumi Kasai, yacht owner
- Miki Yashiro as Akiko Soma, university employee
- Hideyo Amamoto as Skulking transitional Matango
- Jiro Kumagai as Takuzo Kumagai
- Akio Kusama as Police personnel
- Yutaka Oka as Doctor
- Keisuke Yamada as Doctor
- Kazuo Hinata as Police Personnel
- Katsumi Tezuka as Police personnel
- Haruo Nakajima as Matango
- Tokio Okawa as Matango
- Koji Uruki as Matango
- Masaki Shinohara as Matango
- Kuniyoshi Kashima as Transitional Matango
- Toku Ihara as Transitional Matango
- Mitsuko Hayashi as Nurse
- Tsurue Ichimanji as Tazue Ichimanji
- Hiroshi Akitsu as Guest at club
- Ryutaro Amami as Guest at club
- Saburo Iketani as Voice of radio announcer
- Yoshio Katsube as Guest at club
- Hideo Shibuya as Staff at club
International English dub
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Ted Thomas as Naoyuki Sakuta
- John Wallace as Senzo Koyama / doctor / radio announcer
- Nick Kendall as Masafumi Kasai
Weapons, vehicles, and races
- Main article: Matango (film)/Gallery.
- Main article: Matango (film)/Soundtrack.
- Attack of the Mushroom People (United States)
- Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People (U.S. DVD title)
- Matango, Fungus of Terror (United Kingdom)
- Matango, the Monster (Matango, il Mostro; Italy)
- Matango, The Island of Death (Matango, A Ilha da Morte; Brazil)
- Japan - August 11, 1963
- Thailand - 1964
- Columbia - 1960s
- Brazil - April 1966
- United Kingdom - 1969
- Italy - November 1973
In 1965, American International Television released Matango directly to television as Attack of the Mushroom People, using Toho's international English dub recorded in Hong Kong. Aside from a shortened opening credit sequence, it was largely unedited. Used TV prints of this version found their way to public domain dealers who issued it on Betamax and VHS. In 2005, Media Blasters' Tokyo Shock label released the original Japanese version of the film on DVD under the title Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People.
Toho DVD (2003)
- Region: 2
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese
- Subtitles: Japanese
- Special features: Audio commentary by actor Akira Kubo, interview with Teruyoshi Nakano (27 minutes), reading of the original treatment by writer Masami Fukushima (18 minutes), theatrical trailer
- Region: 1
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (2.0 Mono, 5.1 Surround), English (2.0 Mono, 5.1 Surround)
- Subtitles: English
- Special features: Audio commentary by actor Akira Kubo, interview with Teruyoshi Nakano (27 minutes), reading of the original treatment by writer Masami Fukushima (18 minutes), trailers
- Notes: Out of print. A 2007 re-release in a Tokyo Shock box set called Toho Pack packaged it with the Tokyo Shock DVD releases of The Mysterians and Varan. The box set is also out of print.
In 2022, Janus Films added Matango to its streaming service, The Criterion Channel, along with six other tokusatsu films directed by Ishiro Honda. A physical Blu-ray release for any of these films has not been announced.
- Matango was theatrically released in Japan on a double feature with Hawai no Wakadaishō.
- Matango is the second screen adaptation of "The Voice in the Night." The first, simply titled "Voice in the Night," was the 24th episode of the 1957-58 NBC anthology TV series Suspicion.
- American director Steven Soderbergh discussed remaking Matango with Toho, but was unable to reach an agreement with the studio.
- Toho approached American director John Carpenter to direct a remake of Matango, but he turned the offer down.
- The giant mushrooms that the characters eat were created by the special effects crew from rice pastries.
- Screenwriter Kaoru Mabuchi - who had previously written the screenplays for Rodan, The Mysterians, and other films directed by Ishiro Honda - considered his screenplay for Matango to be his finest work. Mabuchi was less enthusiastic about his subsequent screenplays.
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