The movie Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People is a very creepy 1963 movie in which fungus causes the transformation of humans into, indeed, Mushroom People. Google translate is no help and one search translated "Matango" into "Attack of the Mushroom People" which seems wrong to me. Google just translates it into English as "matango" which is not very helpful.

The movie is based on a turn of the 20th century short story which is called The Voice in the Night and I am wondering if the original title is somehow related to the word.

I find here: https://wikizilla.org/wiki/Matango#Name that the name is based on the name of a fungus which is called "mamadango" but this might be made up. It does make it seem less likely that the title is related to the original short story.

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    Never heard of it before, but looking at the plot summary, isn't "matango" just the name of the fictional mushroom that causes the infection or whatever?
    – Leebo
    Dec 20, 2022 at 5:37
  • Yes, just added that -- so maybe a nonsense word. I had limited Japanese in school but I thought the "go" part of the name might be related to the "voice" in the old short story's title but maybe not. I wonder how anyone found out about the name of the fungus -- I do not recall the movie well but perhaps this is stated by one of the characters.
    – releseabe
    Dec 20, 2022 at 5:41
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    Jp wikipedia article has a source: 名はキノコの一種であるママダンゴから採られた[33] →^ DVD特典映像「製作ノート(劇場公開時パンフレットより)」. So probably the word is simply adapted from mamadango.
    – sundowner
    Dec 20, 2022 at 8:06

1 Answer 1


The origin of the word 'matango' is mentioned in the film's pamphlet, which refers to a real mushroom called 'mamadango'. This is a reference to the Fukushima dialect 'mamadango', which refers to tuchiguri or tanukino-chabukuro.

  • thanks. but could the name also be a pun? in scifi stack exchange, i found the suggestion that the term might come from the spanish for killer fungus.
    – releseabe
    Dec 20, 2022 at 15:35
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    @releseabe: I think any Spanish derivation is a stretch. 1) There is no Spanish word matango, as we see by the lack of any entry in the Diccionario de la lengua española provided by the Real Academia Española here. Closest we get is matungo, which means instead "said of a horse: that it lacks good physical qualities". 2) This might be a blend of matando ("killing") + hongo ("fungus"), but a) this is a weird coinage, and b) Japanese movie-makers are unlikely to be this fluent in Spanish. Dec 20, 2022 at 18:13
  • @EiríkrÚtlendi: agree, a stretch but japanese tend to speak mto language and the first western language that was learned in japan centuries ago was spanish, i think.
    – releseabe
    Dec 20, 2022 at 18:19
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    @releseabe, in the modern Japanese school system, foreign language education of anything other than English is not common. I speak from first-hand experience teaching in Japanese schools in a couple different prefectures. Consider also that there is a native fungus with a name similar to matango. Just in terms of Occam's razor, Spanish matando + hongomatango seems much more of an unlikely stretch than native Japanese mamadangomatango. Dec 20, 2022 at 18:30
  • Consider too native Japanese mata ("again; also; in addition, moreover") in reference to "something additional, something else", fitting in this movie with the idea of people becoming something else as the fungus takes over. Dec 20, 2022 at 18:33

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