Friday, June 3, 2016

"Matango" (1963) d/ Ishiro Honda

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We've got some Japanese fungi on the menu tonight, courtesy of the folks at Toho, as directed by Ishiro Honda, who helmed all the biggest Godzilla titles over the course of his career for the studio, and starring Akira Kubo, who you'll remember from decades-spanning genre staples like Destroy All Monsters (1968) and Gamera: Defender of the Universe (1995). Also on board is Kumi Mizuno, an actress famous for roles in cult favorites like Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965), War of the Gargantuas (1966), and most recently, Godzilla: Final Wars (2004). If you're expecting giant radioactive lizards squashing fleeing citizens and blowing toes up destruction rays in tonight's entry, you're bound to be disappointed, as the threat is human-sized this time around, though probably doubly weird and infinitely more ambient than most films of that nature, securing its status as an authentic cult classic of horror/sci-fi, to be sure.

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"On a clear day, you really can see the edge of the rear projection screen."
At the outset, we're met by an asylum denizen as he graciously relates his lunacy-packed backstory to the audience, maintaining his own sanity throughout, or so he says...After a mercilous storm (getting pelted in the mush by off-screen buckets of water, you know the type) interrupts a carefree day trip on a yacht full of Japanese personalities, including, but not limited to the celebrity yacht owner Kasai (Yoshio Tsuchiya), the singer Mami (Kumi Mizuno), Naoyuki the skipper (Hiroshi Koizumi), the millionaire and his wife, the professor aaaand...Mary Aaaaaann... Yeah, you get the picture. After all of that, and days adrift at sea with a somber radio broadcast assuring there'd be no rescue parties to mention, they land upon a deserted Gilligan's Island, if by "Gilligan", you mean a thick green fungus wallpapering every thing in sight, and huge mushrooms that nobody'd better eat on account of possible toxicity. You know, I bet you somebody's gonna eat some of those later on, and cause irreparable damage, death, and destruction to all castaways involved, you just wait and see...

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"When we agreed to be Jets, we were Jets all the way from our first cigarette to our last dying day."
After much fruitless hunting and collecting, a search party stumbles across a shipwreck steeped in the aforementioned fungi and surrounded by a wooded area permeated with huge spores, as well as ponds full of collected rainwater, leading our survivors to speculate the area had been used for secretive nuclear testing at some point in the past. Much treachery ensues between them, as a black market for turtle eggs and birds develops(I'd eat a turtle egg, you kiddin' me?), and such luxury items are much too difficult to procure for yourself if you're, say, suntanning all day instead of digging for paltry potatoes and grabbing puny seaweed snacks like the shipwrecked plebeians are forced to exhaustively do. Naturally, Kasai is far and away the most entitled shitface of the bunch, often going on late night raids into the party's rationed food supplies, and it isn't long before...surprise, certain of our heroes, decide to veto the usual potato and seaweed diet, in favor of some of those big, beautiful mushrooms that surround them. Cue: death fungus mushroom people. Score a copy for yourselves and see how it all winds up.

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"Alriiiiiiight! Ze WAAAAANGGGGO MATAAAAAANGO! One! Two! Three! Four!!"
Honda helmed nearly sixty films in his career, with titles like Godzilla (1954), Mothra (1961), King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965), and Destroy All Monsters (1968) to his credit. Special effects were provided by none other than Eiji Tsubaraya, the man responsible for the suitmation technique (man in a rubber suit interacting on a set full of miniatures with the action slowed down slightly to add size to the proceedings) still popular in Japanese film culture today. Tonight's review is an admittedly very groovy and stylized in delivering a nightmarish undercurrent, originally weakened by bad dubbing and a silly re-title for American audiences and later resurrected for the home video crowd in a special remastered, restored edition on dvd (the one I screened for this review, cost me all of five bucks in a used bin at f.y.e.). Matango is just weirdly effective enough in it's bleak outlook to keep your attention throughout it's brisk eighty-nine minute running time. A respectable Two Wops should suffice here. Check it out.

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"I picked you an ounce of these macro caps, breh! Let's party!" 
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1 comment:

CowboyX said...

At first I was disappointed at this Sid and Marty Krofft creation for taking so long to get started, but then I realized it has the perfect timing for a good drive-in flick. Boring at first but then the first and second dream sequences set you up for serious making out or head giving..."you're done with that popcorn, baby"

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