International Title
Music By: Sadao Bekku
Record Label: SLC
Running Time: 46:58 Discs: 1
Release: August 1995 CD Number: SLCS-5065
Anthony Romero
First, thanks goes to Robert Storch for sending this in for review!

For science fiction films, one would be hard pressed to find someone more sought after inside Toho than Ishiro Honda. Even outside companies were well aware of his pedigree within the genre, a fact which led to King Kong being removed from what would become Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966) because Honda wasn't assigned to direct. Because of that, Honda's pictures tend to attract some of the more well known composers of the Golden Age of Japanese cinema, in particular Akira Ifukube and Masaru Sato. There are exceptions to this of course, and Matango is one of those exceptions featuring a score done by Sadao Bekku, who delivers a slightly jazzy score that might work at times to build tension but like most horror films doesn't hold up as well when removed from the film.

Now Bekku himself is a bit of an outliner. Although he did a few soundtracks, Matango marks his only foray into science fiction. In fact, for those outside of Japan, the movies he scored are very obscure, with his only other notable offering to international audiences being Key of Keys (1965), and even that's better known as the heavily edited What's Up Tiger Lily? which completely replaced the score with music done by The Lovin' Spoonful (RE-2167-2). In actuality, Bekku had a diverse career stretching opera and orchestral concerts, where as soundtracks only made up a small part of his overall occupation. Despite this, he is most remembered today for his soundtrack to this 1963 film, something the late composer likely never expected from his legacy. Despite his very formal background, Bekku's style is more of a meshing of classical pieces and some jazz inspired pieces for this particularly score.

In terms of the tracks that work, the score tends to excel when it draws the least attention to itself and heightens the mode, something which Bekku never really mastered as the soundtrack is fairly overt and often times attention grabbing. A great example of this is "Shipwreck", which borders on creepy and almost tragic yet tends to drag the listener out ever so often with a few deep horn blares. "Murai and Akiko ~ The Matango Attack" is another decent cue with a soothing start, before transitioning into a more sinister theme. Speaking of, the "Opening" track is easily the most foreboding of the entire score, although leads into a counter balance theme in the form of the "Title Theme", which captures the upbeat nature of the start before the movie started to get more gothic in tone. In actuality, one of the best cues off this disc is "With Memories" , and not for the singing but the club backdrop music that Bekku creates. In fact, its unfortunate that a karaoke version of the song doesn't exist on this CD.

As far as what doesn't work, well quite a few tracks here miss the mark toward creating an enjoyable standalone experience. The worst offender is easily "Ukulele", although its only a little over 10 seconds but just features some random strings on a Ukulele and should probably have been classified as a sound effect rather than as part of the score. The ongoing theme for the island/titular creatures themselves, seen in cues such as "Isolated Island Shrouded in Fog", "Matango", "SOS Over Flames" and "Akiko is Taken Away", is varied but never really succeeds as an ongoing motif. The theme "Matango" also deserves to be called out, as it has a way too over the top organ sequence which detracts from what could have been a very menacing cue otherwise. "Sea Breeze", the an early musical number, is also lacking due mostly because of the lyrics which consist entirely of "la-la-la-la" over and over again.

Overall, while I defend the movie as one of Honda's classics in the genre, the score for the film was somewhat forgettable, especially when removed from the source.
Rating: Star Rating
  1. Opening
  2. Title Theme
  3. Sea Breeze
  4. The Dark Clouds
  5. Jibe (Change of Course)
  6. Adrift
  7. The Transistor Radio
  8. Illusion
  9. Ukulele
  10. Isolated Island Shrouded in Fog
  11. Landing on a Deserted Island
  12. The Seven Wanderers
  13. Shipwreck
  14. Matango
  15. SOS Over Flames
  16. "With Memories"
  17. Mystery of the Deserted Island
  18. Shadows in the Dark
  19. In the Rain
  20. Throng of Matango
  21. The Failure of Reason
  22. Sakuda's Betrayal
  23. The Matango in the Rain
  24. The Matango Woman
  25. The Countless Matango
  26. The Remaining Two
  27. Sakuda's Testament
  28. Murai and Akiko ~ The Matango Attack
  29. The Terror of Matango
  30. Akiko is Taken Away
  31. Extreme Situation
  32. Ending
  33. Transistor Radio · Material