Prior to infecting a host animal, Matango appear to be relatively normal but very large mushrooms with large bulbous spores sprouting from them. After a Matango spore infects a human host, the host looks mostly normal but will begin to develop small tumorous-looking growths on their body. Gradually, the host's body becomes covered in grotesque fungal growths as the fungus takes over their mind. When the assimilation is complete, the host's upper body bursts into a large fungal cap while their limbs become deformed and muscular, with very large claws.
The Matango are a type of strange giant mushroom that grows only on an isolated island in the south Pacific devoid of almost all wildlife save for some trees. The Matango produce spores that if consumed by an animal will slowly mutate its body and take over its mind, reducing it into a giant mobile zombie-like fungus. How the Matango came to be is unknown, though it is possible that they were mutated by nuclear fallout released by nuclear tests in the vicinity.
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- The film Matango is actually based on a much older story called The Voice in the Night by William Hope Hodgson, published in 1907.
- The Matango appear as enemies in the 1988 Nintendo Entertainment System game Godzilla: Monster of Monsters! They also appear in the 1997 television series Godzilla Island, where they inhabit an island and manage to briefly infect some of the monsters, and in one episode actually merge with the monster Hedorah into a new monster known as Neo Hedorah.
- In the 1993 Super Nintendo game Secret of Mana, there is a city of mushroom people called Matango. However, the mushroom people here are friendly and helpful.