director Ishirō Honda
Ishirō Honda is the king of kaiju, but Matango is a keen reminder of how Gojira (1954) was itself a great classic horror film, not just the progenitor of a rubber-suited cinematic empire. Like Gojira, Matango is infected with the horrors of nuclear radiation. Though unlike Gojira, it’s not a metaphorical revenge of nature or even yōkai, but a body horror, the transformation and corruption of disease, resembling the physical illnesses experienced in Japan due to nuclear fallout.
Matango has been on my list forever. It has to be said that the American title for the movie didn’t do it any favors. “Attack of the Mushroom People” sounds more like some half-baked Roger Corman picture than a genuine, vivid horror film.
The production designs are awesome. There is also an echo (perhaps projected on the film by me) of Alice in Wonderland, the eating of the mushroom invoking change in being, echoed further perhaps by psychedelics and magic mushrooms. Less likely intentional, but hard not to read in this colorful fantasia. And the film is very much eerie.