MUSHROOM MANIA!
BRADLEY MASON HAMLIN REVIEWS MATANGO

After years of pleading with various sources here and across the sea of JapanóMatango has finally arrived! I would like to believe my persistent dedication to seeing this film on DVD played some small part in its production, but maybe many others out there, still affected by that great Creature Feature, prayed for its return as well.

The TV program Creature Feature itself has fallen into relative obscurity, and when I finally got to re-watch Matango I of course immediately wanted to track down all those other great features that had such a great affect on me. I currently live in Sacramento, California but I grew up in Los Angeles. When I mentioned Creature Feature to a few local (loco) friends they nodded their heads as if they understood but I could tell the point of reference differed. They talked of late-night programming, a host named Bob Wilkins in San Francisco, and a show called Creature Features. Notice the plural. Wilkinsís show was popular and obviously very similar, if not the exact same thing. I believe many takes on the creature film show existed as either Creature Feature or Creature Features. A popular Creature Features played in Chicago and still has a loyal fan base. So, it appears, many children (and adults), depending on the airtime, gained initiation to this super fun and bizarre art form during the 1970s.

The Los Angeles series was syndicated and some cities used their own local host to introduce the shows. I donít remember a Los Angeles host, just the great movies themselves. (Of course later many hosts popped up to imitate this concept, Elvira, etc.) A very important aspect of the Los Angeles Creature Feature is that it played on Saturday afternoons right after the great (now classic) morning cartoons. Later the show expanded to two films as Creature Double Featureóbroadcasting classic monster movies through the 1970s and early 1980s. I guess this could explain my absense from many neighborhood football games, but wow: time well spent. The films originated from a treasure trove of monster-making stuidos over the long stretch of a gholish golden age: the Universal films of the 1930s and 1940s, the Hammer Studios films of the 1950s, the Roger Corman films of the 1960s, and the Toho Studio films of the 1960s and 1970s.

In walked Matango!

Matango is a classic Toho Studio film from 1963. In the States it was billed as Attack of the Mushroom People. With a title like that how can you lose? The plot is simple and brillant. A crew consisting of a psychologist, his girlfriend, a wealthy business man, a famous singer, a writer, a sailor and his skipper go on a cruise, get lost in a storm, and marooned on a strange uncharted island.

Sherwood Schwartz, you dog, is this where you got the idea? Letís keep in mind Matango appeared a full year before Gilliganís Island aired on television.

Anyway, this cast of castaways soon learns the only consistent food source on the island is water and mushrooms. Radioactive mushrooms. Well, kids, thatís where the fun begins. Youíve simply got to see it for yourself. If you are a monster and/or science fiction fan Matango is a must-see filmófrom the people who brought you no less than Godzilla himself.

Bradley Mason Hamlin
brad@retrocrush.com

 

 

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