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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 10:24 pm:   

Followed this link:

http://www.scalzi.com/whatever/archives/001123.html

Found a certain "Jeff Ford" referencing an obscure horror movie which was also one of my favorite movies when I was a kid. Not saying it's you or nuthin, but I eventually found a VHS copy of the thing, which was called ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE on U.S. television and "MATONGO" (I believe) in Japan.

This movie creeped me out beyond all imagining when I saw it (in black & white though it's actually in color) in the 60's. I have it. I'm afraid to watch it. I prize the memory too dearly.

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jeff ford
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 05:25 am:   

Marc: One of my favorite past times when I was just at that age before I stayed out late, smoking the doobie and trying to get with girls was staying up late on Friday and Saturday night and watching any and every Horror/Fantasy/SF film they showed on late night tv. My brother and I became real afficianados of these old flicks. Everything from Brain Eaters From Outer Space to The Mushroom People. The Mushroom People was one of our all time favorites. What a fucking strange, atmospheric, bizarro tale. It always gave me the creeps. Definitely in our top five. I still remember two of our other hits were The Last Man On Earth (with Vincent Price -- a pre-Omega Man version of Matheson's I Am Legend and better in my book) (I could have the title of this one bolluxed), which Sammy got me a copy of on DVD and Ray Milland in The Man with X-Ray Eyes. Mushroom People took the cake for weirdness, though. I'd love to see this one again some time and see if it stands up.
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mike bishop
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 06:04 am:   

Back in the late 60s/early 70s, I used to drive Jeri crazy by making her stay up late to watch old horror movies on Friday night on a local Colorado Springs TV station. She disliked those films intensely, but stayed up with me because I had a thing for 'em and she liked me enough to do so. What drove her crazy was that after the film had been running from twenty-five to forty minutes, I'd nod off, and she'd be left alone to finish watching "Bride of Frankenstein" or "I Married a Monster from Outer Space," hating the experience but unable to stop watching because she had to find out What Happened Next. I've never even heard of Attack of the Mushroom People, but if it ever comes on here, I'll make note and tell Jeri that we need to sit down and watch it . . .
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jeff ford
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 06:28 am:   

Mike: You can't go wrong with The Mushroom People. In a certain way, even though the films were cut to shit and you had all those commercials, I had more fun watching tv back then than I do now. My wife got a satelite dish so she could catch the Yankee games down here in South Jersey and we got HBO with it. Man, HBO is some thin gruel. Five channels of the most boring blah imagineable. I'll take Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman any day over three quarters of the shinola they broadcast. Am I an old fart, or what?
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 08:49 am:   

Old joke from when HBO had only been around for a couple years:

You know what HBO stands for?

"Hey, Beastmaster's On!"

The thing about old TV was how you'd just stumble across stuff and there was absolutely no logic to it whatsoever except for economics. Local stations with no budget played the movies they could get for cheap. So you'd have a Hope/Crosby road movie followed by a low budget Russian sci-fi or fantasy film followed by Matongo, with lots of Sealy Posturepedic advertisements thrown in there to enhance the queasiness of the experience.

The other one of those movies (which many people recommended for the top-50 list) was 5 MILLION YEARS TO EARTH aka QUATERMASS AND THE PIT. This one is cool enough today, holds up really well, but boy...when you're a kid...transmigration of Martian insect souls...right after Jack LaLanne...whew...
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mike bishop
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 09:30 am:   

Speaking of Jack LaLanne, I caught him on some sort of Veg-o-Matic half-hour infomercial recently, looking a little peaked but still pretty good, and then, at the end, they boxed an image of him in his youth in one corner of the screen, singing the same sign-off song that he essayed, a little croakingly, on the infomercial. But, hey, Marc, you're right about the odd mix of stuff you got on those old horror-movie TV nights. And, Jeff, if you're an old fart, I'm an even older one. Still, I don't feel a day over . . . well, thirteen, most of the time.
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 10:16 am:   

Here is a good summary of Matango (not Matongo as I had it):

http://www.midnighteye.com/reviews/matango.shtml

My grandma used to watch Jack regularly although I don't remember her actually exercising...I think she just liked to watch him. She just hit 90, so maybe she got, like, a contact high or something. Also she force-fed us cod liver oil and put wheat germ on everything. Talk about "Fungus of Terror"!
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jeff ford
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 10:31 am:   

Mike: I remember LaLanne's wife was pretty hot -- some big boned blonde bombshell, and he had that white dog. He was like some Sci fi movie character.
There was something wrong with the skin on his neck -- it was like scrotal skin. That I remember, and he was always flexing. I think for his 65th or 7Oth birthday he swam across the East River towing a barge of something. You'd have to be pretty muscular to push the turds out of the way in that lovely body o'water.

Marc: A million thanks for that link. Man, I want to see the Mushroom People yesterday now.
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 11:59 am:   

LaLanne does ads for juicers these days. He also did a "What I've Learned" feature for Esquire magazine. Yeah, he looks peaked, but isn't he like 85 years old or something? Pretty spry for his age.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't "The Mushroom People" star Hugh "Ward Cleaver" Beaumont?

As a young tyke, I was raised on "Creature Features" from WNEW-TV, New York. It is amazing to me how some of these films, which were omnipresent in the day, have completely vanished from the planet today. "Night Caller From Outer Space" was one of my faves, a mysterious, suave alien pretending to run a modeling agency so he could spirit hot babes away to his dying planet. Also, "Not of this Earth" was a biggie, decades before the Traci Lords remake.

Who shows these movies today? Sci-Fi Channel seems to have no use for them. I hear they are producing an all-horror channel that might revive them, but I wouldn't bet on it. Doesn't it seem like they keep on adding new cable channels to recycle the same programs/movies over and over, and no archivists are interested in the great stuff from the 40s-70s? Buy them on DVD (if you can find them) or you're out of luck.
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 02:03 pm:   

Well, Criterion just put out the definitive edition of FIEND WITHOUT A FACE, so there is hope. And I continually come across four-packs of B movies on DVD. (The Vincent Price version of I AM LEGEND (called LAST MAN ON EARTH, see Jeff's post above) is available in several of these.) It was actually harder to find any of these movies a few years ago, before DVD, and before VHS it was totally absolutely flat out impossible. I sort of like them being a little hard to find, actually. My shelves are stocked with things I never watch, while I still think about the stuff I can never find.

I think we're talking about different Mushroom People, Dave. He was in the Mole People though (according to IMDB). For that matter, a "Hugh Beaumont" sounds like it could be a nickname for a particularly rare and savory mushroom.
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jeff ford
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 02:04 pm:   

David: Never saw Night Caller From Outer Space nor Not of This Earth -- new pleasures await. I saw all of this stuff out of New York too. I grew up on Long Island. Was WNEW channel 9 or 5? I think WPIX was 11. Whichever, these stations showed more of this stuff in a week than you can find in any given year on TV today. In the long run, perhaps we are remembering these flicks with a coating of nostalgia. But the late 50's into the 60's was a classic science fiction age and these were a big part of it. If Hugh Beaumont was in the Mushroom People I'd be surprised since I thought it was a wholly Japanese cast. I do recall him showing up in one or two old George Reeves Superman episodes, though.
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jeff ford
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 02:11 pm:   

David: Never saw Night Caller From Outer Space nor Not of This Earth -- new pleasures await. I saw all of this stuff out of New York too. I grew up on Long Island. Was WNEW channel 9 or 5? I think WPIX was 11. Whichever, these stations showed more of this stuff in a week than you can find in any given year on TV today. In the long run, perhaps we are remembering these flicks with a coating of nostalgia. But the late 50's into the 60's was a classic science fiction age and these were a big part of it. If Hugh Beaumont was in the Mushroom People I'd be surprised since I thought it was a wholly Japanese cast. I do recall him showing up in one or two old George Reeves Superman episodes, though.
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jeff ford
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 02:13 pm:   

What I do wrong?
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jeff ford
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 09:43 pm:   

What I do wrong?
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feff jord
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 09:44 pm:   

Did I what wrong do?
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jorf deff
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 09:45 pm:   

Matango! Matango!
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Mole Woman
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 09:46 pm:   

Ward, have you seen the beaver?
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Mushroom Person
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 09:47 pm:   

The beaver is now one of us.
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Strained Man
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 09:47 pm:   

I object in the most strenuous terms!
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 09:47 pm:   

Man...this is just too easy.
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Strained Manroom Mush
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 10:01 pm:   

That was Ward's problem. He had seen the beaver. And because of its grissly insistance he wanted to flee the country on a boat with high roller Japanese folk who represented the elite of society and get shipwrecked on an island where atomic waste is turning people into mushroom people. But what happens is they Attack and then, you know, he gives them the "here's your hat what's you hurry?" and turns into soup -- in June, of course.
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Mixed Up Mycetes
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 10:47 pm:   

The best part is when he bursts into the Mushroom Ward, where all the chairs are covered with little fungi, and screams at everyone about to sit down, "Get offa my seats!"
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Mycetes are Yourcetes
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 10:49 pm:   

http://www.tohokingdom.com/web_pages/reviews/matango_movie.htm
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Your Cology or My Cology?
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 10:50 pm:   

http://www.godzillamonstermusic.com/matango.htm
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 10:53 pm:   

Holy crap, I forgot to point out that the style and feel of the film is pure William Hope Hodgson. And here ya go:

"Based on the creepy short story THE VOICE IN THE NIGHT (1907) by William Hope Hodgson director Ishiro Honda succeeded in transforming the dark, lovecraftian atmosphere of the story to the screen and the result is an astonishingly bleak and downbeat horror thriller that deservedly reached cult status among some fan groups."

That's us, folks.

http://mitglied.lycos.de/uzumaki/reviews/matango.htm

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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 10:54 pm:   

And I love how a Hodgson story had a retroactively Lovecraftian atmosphere. I'm sure in 1907, Lovecraft would have been doing his best to evoke a Hodgsonian atmosphere.
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Ward Fungus
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 10:56 pm:   

You know, now that I think of it, in Kobo Abe's last novel, The Kangaroo Notebooks, I think I remember the protagonist turning into a mushroom or at least sprouting mushrooms from himself. A connection, perchance?
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 10:59 pm:   

Scroll down for actual Matango toys and jewelry.

http://chibigojitoy.hypermart.net/pages/cat6.html

This is bigger than I thought. I'm getting scared now.
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 11:00 pm:   

It's been raining all week after a long dry spell. They are starting to poke their rubbery pale heads up from the lawn.

Just a sec, there's someone at the door.
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jeff ford
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 11:01 pm:   

Laidlaw?

Laidlaw are you there?

Damn it, man! Answer!
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MrcaL
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 11:01 pm:   

...

thmis is Ldailwaw hello

...pleseea keep tklaking it hleps
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WHH
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 11:04 pm:   

http://www.litrix.com/vnight/vnigh001.htm
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 11:09 pm:   

Attack of the Mushroom people is the greatest MOVIE EVER!! EVER!

The first person to send me a bootleg dvd or VCD of ...MUSHROOM PEOPLE gets a complete set of the William Hope Hodgson books i'm editing. PLEASE. I need mushroom people! Hell, even a crappy Hi res quicktime or MPG capture from a bootleg video tape will do.

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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 11:12 pm:   

YOU GOT IT COMING BROTHER! HOLD THOSE BOOKS FOR ME!

(Just make yourself a copy and send it back.)
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 11:16 pm:   

Jeremy, I sent you an email, so you can tell me where to send it.
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 11:30 pm:   

Here's a Matango story that will break your friggin heart. Some years ago, I used to hang out at a little "Weirdcon" in the Bay Area. Don Fryer, Don Herron, Dennis Rickard, all those hip and happening Clarkashtonian types. We had one gathering where everyone brought stuff to trade and I had a few things like Donald M. Grant R.E. Howard books that I wasn't too into, I would have traded them for something cool. I got to talking with one guy who was a book dealer who shall remain nameless, and I went into my usual rant about Mushroom People which was triggered by the lateness of the hour or something. He said he had taped it off some late night broadcast. I flipped out. I offered to trade him something like The Tower of the Elephant with Jeff Jones illustrations for this supposed bootleg, taped off TV, with commercial interruptions, videotape. I gave him the book on the spot, and he swore he'd send me the tape as soon as he got home.

Well...I don't have that book anymore. He never sent the tape, never came to the next one of those little get togethers either. And I didn't have the tape until a few years ago, when someone else with whom I had shared my weird passion, found and sent me a copy.

See the sort of trouble and loss Matango can bring?
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 11:40 pm:   

This is post 37.
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 04:43 am:   

Marc: Did you notice the heading under that one plastic figure -- Loose Pink Matango. I've seen that after a night of heavy drinking and trying to cure it with Pepto Bismol. Seriously, I can imagine being the only kid on my block with one of those 90 dollar Matango plastic beauties. I'm sure my wife will go for that expense.
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Alex
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 06:43 am:   

Any of your guys ever see Track of the Moon Beast? That was one of the Creature Features that stuck with me.
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 07:01 am:   

Alex: Never saw that one, but I dig the title. What exactly was the "track" of the moonbeast -- a place where he ran laps? his/her footprints leading off into the night? or indications that he/she'd been shooting smack?

I doubt it was any good, but one that really scared the crap out of me when I was a kid was The Hideous Sun Demon. If I remember correctly, when he killed people, he stole their heads and took them back to this cave that opened onto the sea. There was a light house. The way I recall it, one of the victims was a little kid -- brutal.
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 09:58 am:   

I see that Track of the Moon Beast was made in 1976...which probably puts its first run on TV right around the time I would have been in college and not watching these things, or watching them cynically instead of in awe...

Yes, Jeff, I need me one of them there Matango toys.

I recently discovered a set of Japanese ghost-story figures sold at a local Asian supermarket. These things are awesome.

http://www.kabaya.co.jp/ganka/ganka3.html

So far the only one I have is #6, the ghost woman coming through the doorway and grabbing that guy by the face...
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Alex
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 11:11 am:   

1976!? Man, it had a burning tennis ball used as an asteroid. Unless my kidhood memories are blended together...
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 11:24 am:   

Speaking of THE VOICE IN THE NIGHT, not only was it the basis for Mantango, but it was the basis for an episode of "SUSPICION" -- sort of a proto "alfred hitchcock presents TV series.

http://www.tvtome.com/tvtome/servlet/GuidePageServlet/showid-15215/epid-221448/

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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 11:36 am:   

Wasn't Mantango one of those Civil War bodice rippers, this one featuring a buxom plantation daughter gripped in the steamy embrace of a mushroom man?
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 11:38 am:   

And don't miss the steamier sequel: Last Matango in Paris.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 11:48 am:   

matango, mantango... you know... whatever... :-)
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Dave G.
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 12:31 pm:   

The Hideous Sun Demon played Coolidge Corner Theater on a double bill with the Peter Graves chiller Killers From Space in Boston's first Psychotronic Film Festival in 1986. the next night it was Carnival of Souls on the big screen.

Ahhhh, memories.

PS: Mole People, Mushroom People...po-tay-toh, po-tah-toh

PSS: WNEW was channel 5...
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 12:51 pm:   

Thanks for the station identification, Dave
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 01:00 pm:   

I'm so proud of this thread. Let's shut the cellar doors and keep it nice and moist and see what else grows down here.
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mike b.
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 05:16 pm:   

Selidor . . . the name of the land in the canning pit . . . fungi grow down there . . . and Friday night creature feature movie fans . . .
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S. Hamm
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 06:34 pm:   

Jeff,

For Christ's sake, that wasn't THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON who took the heads back to the cave. That was THE MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS.

I expect you'll be hearing from both of their lawyers about this.
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S. Hamm
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 06:37 pm:   

A heads-up for the fan base: it's 6:30 PDT (9:30 EDT), and according to my local listings all four networks are going to be showing ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE in about half an hour.
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S. Hamm
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 06:40 pm:   

Jeffy,

Not tryin' to be cryptic or nuthin', but do you have any thoughts yet about the relative merits of Newark and Philly? I'm looking to book.
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 06:43 pm:   

Sam: Is that what that was? I used that sea cave imagery in one of my stories. That stuck with me a long time. Then what the hell was the Hideous Sun Demon? I suppose it was too hideous for me to remember. I'm suppressing it.
And, yeah, the fucking mushroom people. God, when will it be over? Saw your header for the list tonight and it cracked me.
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S. Hamm
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 08:10 pm:   

THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON was Robert Clarke who, in an inversion of the standard formula, sprouted scales and fangs when the sun came UP. They shot him down on a bridge somewhere in the SoCal freeway system.

The original Corman NOT OF THIS EARTH is my personal grail. My cousin Bobby told me the story of it when I was maybe 8 or 9 -- as I recall, we had just watched FROM HELL IT CAME, the movie about the vengeful tree trunk -- and I have been trying to catch it ever since. Without success, alas.

Hey, Marky Marc -- was that bookseller by any chance C. Cockey, who eventually emigrated to eastern Europe to run some Slavic goddam film festival? I used to see F. Leiber navigating his stacks from time to time when I first moved out to SF.
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 08:38 pm:   

Sammy:

Feast 'em: http://home.blarg.net/~dr_z/Movie_Posters/Not_This_Earth.html
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 10:33 pm:   

I wondered when you were going to show up, Sam! It's not the same without you.

No, it wasn't Charlie Cockey. I worked for him for a while at Fantasy Etc. (that's where I had the signing that Fritz attended) and he always treated me fairly. This guy was out of Sacto.

All we need to fully stock this thread is Harry S. "Hal" Robins, who can identify any one of those lost childhood movies based on the slightest hazy memory of some horrid image you saw in the two seconds your parents were hurrying you through the room or flipping channels but which gave you a nightmare that very night.

Thanks to Hal, I am ever on the lookout for Captain Sinbad.
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mike bishop
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 04:29 am:   

Jeff,

That's a great movie-poster site. I'm tempted to buy a couple of posters for my office. Thanks. (Are there any other good sites of this kind out there, by the way?)

Mike
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 05:15 am:   

Speaking of vengeful tree trunks, does anybody remember a move called The Incredible Woman Eater (I think), about the tree covered with, I swear, phallus-looking objects. I think it took place in the Amazon, but am not sure.
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MarcL
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 11:39 am:   

Was it about an incredible woman who eats? Or an eater of incredible women? At any rate, I think Incredible Person Eater is probably a more appropriate title. Notice that Attack of the Mushroom People is already politically correct.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 12:04 pm:   

It was about this tree that had some bullshit name like Matango that ate women. I looked it up, and it's called The Woman Eater. No incredible. But it changed my life...:-)
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MarcL
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 12:27 pm:   

Hm, IMDB is most helpful on this Womaneater film. And I see the director followed it up with "Nudist Paradise"!

"Long Afternoons of the Mushroom People" indeed.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 12:32 pm:   

Nudist Paradise... It was a natural progression.
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MarcL
Posted on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 04:41 pm:   

And then the angry backlash...

"Clothe the Trees!"

"No More Bare Limbs!"

Prudish gardeners covering up the lurid, nectar-engorged sexual organs of plants, while in the seedy parts of town, flower-pimps (aka florists) were wantonly displaying same in tall vases.

I remember it well.
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mike bishop
Posted on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 10:28 am:   

Marc, Ashcroft gardened in your neighborhood?
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MarcL
Posted on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 11:57 am:   

Yes, until he was caught in a flower's bed with his arms around an unripe rose's hips.
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Minz
Posted on Wednesday, September 08, 2004 - 11:58 am:   

Wow, sorry I'm so behind the times on my Nightshade surfin, but Worldcon's too much work for me to be out in the Wet-n-wild.

That being said, without really gettin into full spoiler mode, I'll never forget the end of Attack of the Mushroom People. That jail cell haunts me still . . .
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, September 09, 2004 - 11:42 am:   

"That being said, without really gettin into full spoiler mode, I'll never forget the end of Attack of the Mushroom People. That jail cell haunts me still . . ."

Well it should, Minz. Well it should.

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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, September 09, 2004 - 02:18 pm:   

Yes, when the truffle-hunting pigs arrive, there is nothing like it.

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