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  • Ravi Swami

You've Been Matango'd !..."Matango", dir: Ishiro Honda, 1963

Jumping to the past few days, I've been sampling some of the Japanese sci-fi and fantasy films available on Amazon Prime Rental that are unavailable elsewhere on streaming services, outside of purchasing Blu-Rays / DVD's from Criterion etc. 

The discovery that Amazon holds quite an extensive collection of such films caused some excitement, but this diminished rapidly once I'd sampled the content, eg "Latitude Zero" - to be reviewed in a later blog post - the quality is uniformly abysmal and aspect ratios are often wrong and impossible to fix using TV settings, added to which they are mostly U.S over-dubs, with a great deal of editing to suit the U.S market, making the whole experience like 80's VHS. - the low rental charge reflects this.

“Matango” or alt’ title “Attack of the Mushroom People” is a film that’s been on my radar for some time and I was finally able to watch it on Amazon Prime rental (same issues as mentioned before, rubbish quality etc) - it’s actually a loose adaptation of a short story by William Hope Hodgson called “The Voice in the Night”.

Hodgson is noted as a primary influence on writers like H.P Lovecraft, his classic being “The House on the Borderland” - that aside he also wrote creepy maritime tales, of which “The Voice in the Night” is one.

One of the strong points of the film is that it aims for a more serious approach and honours the atmosphere of dread in the source literature - yes, the visual effects and monsters are created by Eiji Tsuburaya ("Godzilla") but the slant is more towards an adult audience.

Given that I’d just plodded through one Japanese monster movie, this film was a struggle and there’s a very long build-up to the climax - luckily I woke up just as the Mushroom People, previously only glimpsed, attacked.

I’d really like to see a good quality un-overdubbed Japanese version and it’s probably available via Criterion.

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