After nearly 10-years from the acclaim of Godzilla (1954) and many other films involving mega-sized monsters director Ishiro Hondo, brought another horror film, in the form of what would later become known as body-horror (think of Bite  and The Fly ) and is based on the story “Voice in the Night” by William Hope Hodgson; which 5-years earlier was adapted for the 24th episode of the 1958 anthology series Suspicion. However, the production now involved Shin’ichi Hoshi a Masami Fukushima working on the adaption portion, before handing it over to Takeshi Kimura (Rodan ) and Sakyo Komatsu, listed as uncredited. As like Godzilla, this film was not without controversary and almost banned in Japan, due to the fact that the makeup appears eerily similar to the wounds and sores that the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki suffered from the remainder on their lives. The film incorporated many elements into it aside from the horror, such as science-fiction and fantasy, which might appear slightly dated from 1962, yet give a blurry version of imagery through the grim tribulations the cast either suffered or emerged from to the displeasure of viewers. When the movie was finally released first in Japan by Toho Company and later in United States the title changed over to Attack of the Mushroom People, and since become a bit of small following which included a DVD from Media Blasters.
A yacht sails out on the open sea for a weekend pleasure cruise, among the passengers ship’s owner, Masafumi (Yoshio Tsuchiya (Destroy All Monsters )), as well as psychologist Kenji (Akira Kubo) and his girlfriend Akiko, singing star Mami, and writer Etsuro; while Fumio’s employee Naoyuki (Hiroshi Koizumi (Godzilla Raids Again )) acts as a skipper who’s aided by sailor Senzo (Kenji Sahara). Their short pleasure cruise consists of trying to escape the classism of society and social norms, however on the vessel and later when shipwrecked these self-imposed controls return quickly when they are faced with many issues. Naoyuki’s inexperience has him battling a brutal thunderstorm, during it the ship’s mast breaks, resulting in them drifting and landing them on unknown fog-shrouded island. I know it might sound like Gilligan’s Island, but that series started one year after this movie. Quickly realizing their peril, Naoyuki takes control of the situation, organizing the tired castaways to gather food and water, while Senzo works on his own behalf to belittle his so-called superiors. Masafumi tries to maintain a hierarchy and ownership as if at his workplace, namely separating his quarters and work details, soon enough they discover an abandoned ship covered in a weird fungus on the island learn about the warning about the mushrooms if you consume one you’re addicted and equally fine in becoming a human mushroom, versa the possibility of starvation and mental fatigue. What little food they collected gets stolen, friendships become sacrificed and distrust grows quickly, hence the story titters on disturbing situations, though not shockingly for most viewers today. Director Honda and writer Kimura focus attention on moral breakdowns, and the turmoil on the island, leading further into the psychological impact rather than the physical body horror, as they likely realized their special effects limitations. It might seem as if I’m skipping a major portion of the story, which I am, as revealing too much of it would expose the overall plot and the fungus hence best to leave it alone, allowing one to discover these delicious shrooms.
The lover of special effects might find a slight letdown in the film, as there’s not much overwhelming, in fact never shown the halfway stage in becoming a mushroom monster, just brief early symptoms and full-blown transformation. However, one key interest point to future special effects individuals, inspirations does and will come in all sorts of places, herein the crew referred back to history of the cultural impact of suffering from radiation burns. This of course also reflected in the script where people ostracized those victims from the unaffected, thereby valuing themselves above them and clutching their vanity dearly. On a lighter note, it is interesting how the connections later match up with the television show Gilligan’s Island just reviewing them from the movie to the show, for example singer Mami becomes movie star Ginger or psychologist Kenji transformed into the Professor, and so on, something someone might like to view in passing.
If one truly takes the time to view this film, which may contain some flaws, it’s still a fine gem, yet it appears often listed under the heading bad cinema, which definitely it is not, then it seems reading the critic reviews it looked through modern eyes rather than that of early 60s. It is the equivalent of someone that a black and white movie is a lousy film, quite the contrary, it’s either due the era or a cinematography/directorial decision for artistic intent. Overall the story contains horrific personal turmoil that battles vanity and morality against survival at all costs, in other words how far would you go, to live another day.
- Attack of the Mushroom People
- Castaway on a forbidden planet…Their craving for the strange exotic fruit…Drives them to madness…And unspeakable horror!
IMDb Rating; 6.5
Baron’s Rating: 6.0