Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Terrifying Tuesdays: Attack of the Mushroom People (1963)

From Movie Goods

"Menacing Mushroom Week" continues with an odd little movie from Japan.  "Attack of the Mushroom People" (1963), also known as "Matango" or "Fungus of Terror", is a movie I remember seeing when I was very young, and it absolutely terrified me!  According to Wikipedia, this movie has developed a cult following due to its bleak and unusual theme, and I for one can understand why.  The story starts in Tokyo, where a professor being held in a psychiatric ward begins to tell a very strange tale.  A Japanese yacht out for a day trip gets caught in a bad storm, and eventually the disabled vessel ends up stranded on a remote island with its five passengers and two crew members (I know this sounds like the beginning of "Gilligan's Island", but bear with me here!).  The stranded yachters include the skipper, his assistant, the yacht's celebrity owner, a writer, two women (a singer and a student), and the professor who is relating this tale.  The group explores the island in search of food and water.  They do find water, but the only potential food source is an abundance of unusual mushrooms, which the skipper warns them not to eat as they may be poisonous.

A fungus-covered ship wreck is found, which the seven people attempt to clean up so that they can stay on the boat.  Some meager provisions are also discovered, and the group tries to survive by rationing out this food source.  However, hunger and fear soon drive some in the group to desperation, and a previously unseen menace begins to threaten them as well.  Slowly but surely group members are killed, commit suicide, or succumb to consuming the mushrooms, which may be the worst fate of all.  The final scenes were the most shocking for me when I first saw this movie, and they still never fail to get to me.  The violence in this film is minimal, but as mentioned previously it is a bleak story, so don't expect a happy ending!  It is, however, a well told tale and certainly made a lasting impression on me, so I do highly recommend it.

You can watch a subtitled version of this movie online here.

Interesting Fact:  This movie is based on a 1907 short story by William Hope Hodgson called "The Voice in the Night", which you can read here.

Gore Guide (0=none to 5=extreme): 0

Terrifying Tuesdays will return on a regular basis in October.  In fact, to celebrate Halloween I plan to watch one terrifying movie a day for the entire month of October -- some will be movies I have already reviewed, but others will be new to my blog, and will eventually be described here.  I hope I am up to the challenge!

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