's Top Ten Fungus Monsters
Digg it!
While the vast majority of monsters are derived from plants and animals, the fungus kingdom has certainly
seen its fair share of moldy, mushy creatures in all manner of media, so having already covered some of the
most interesting
plant creatures, let's do the same for the plant kingdom's paler, creepier ex-family!
#10 - The Lub Lubs - "Mom and Dad Save the World"
This extremely silly 1992 comedy was a miserable flop skewered by most critics, but I always thought it had
some fairly humorous moments and that a lot of real heart went into it - especially in the art department. A
number of goofy creatures are encountered on
Spengo, planet of idiots, but the Lub Lubs are the most
memorable, and in my opinion one of the neatest little alien lifeforms in science fiction cinema. The hopping
mushrooms look cute and innocent at first glance, but what appears to be a toothless smile on their cap is
really more like a big nostril; their actual mouths have quite a few teeth, and even a second, stalked set of
jaws ala
Alien. They inhabit a network of sewers in vast numbers, and even contribute to the defeat of the
evil Emperor Tod Spengo (Jon Lovitz).
written by Jonathan Wojcik
#9 - COSMO - "Bad Channels"
Hailing from another poorly-reviewed but reasonably amusing sci-fi comedy, we never really learn this bizarre
alien's motivation, but we can deduce that it's probably not family friendly; wearing a mushy-headed
humanoid suit and accompanied by a robot (with a visible brain!) named
Lump, Cosmo takes over a
small-town radio station and somehow uses it to zero in on beautiful young Earth-girls, sucking them right
through the radio waves and shrinking them down into specimen tubes. When the suit comes off for the film's
climax, we're treated to a slimy, bug-eyed,
not at all humanoid fungus creature (on stilts!) vulnerable only to
cans of disinfectant. A memorably goofy monster from an obscure but likeable which oddly
shares continuity with the director's own
Demonic Toys and by crossover extension the entire Puppet Master
#8 - The Shrieker and the Violet Fungus - Dungeons and Dragons
One of the oldest and oddest hazards from the gargantuan Dungeons & Dragons universe, this giant purple
mushroom is a rather interesting enemy in that it doesn't necessarily pose a threat itself, but functions like a
living intruder alarm. When the Shrieker detects movement, it does what it does best (I'm sure you can figure
it out) and alerts whatever dragons, trolls or shambling mounds it might be sharing its cavern with. It's a
pretty creative symbiotic relationship, but it gets a bit more complicated than you might think, because
sometimes a big, purple mushroom
isn't even a shrieker at all. The closely related Violet Fungus looks almost
exactly the same at first glance, but trades vocal cords (or whatever) for a bunch of retractable tentacles that
rot whatever they touch, and hangs out with Shriekers just to turn curious interlopers into compost - whether
human adventurer or ravenous monster. Sometimes there are no winners.
#7 - Gas Spore - Dungeons and Dragons
#6 - Paras and Parasect - Pokémon
I swear this will probably possibly be the last time I talk on my website about Parasect, one of my personal
monsters from the Pokémon franchise. Yes, there are several other mushroom-based 'pokeys
running around now, but Paras and Parasect were the first and still boast the most fascinatingly
#5 - The Mycon - Star Control II
In this hit 1992 computer game, the player assumes the role of a starship commander on a mission to save
humanity from the sinister
Ur-Quan, interacting with a wide variety of other alien races in order to gather
allies. Among the most inhuman are the fanatical, fungoid Mycon, who are utterly fixated on something they
call "
Juffo-wup" or "the hot light in the darkness." Talk to them enough, and you'll hear all about how
everything in the universe is either
Juffo-wup or non, and all that is non must transform into either Juffo-wup
void. The Mycon are nothing more than soulless, genocidal terraformers, and something they call the
"deep children" can transform entire planets into volcanic husks (Juffo-wup!) populated entirely by their own
kind (Juffo-wup!!). Sure, they may contribute to the war against the Ur-Quan and help save the universe, but
only so they can continue turning it all into more
#4 - The Thallids - Magic: The Gathering
With its ongoing success since 1993, the strategic fantasy card game Magic: The Gathering has featured
thousands of different spells, lands, artifacts and a diverse selection of imaginative creatures,
including an entire race of delightfully creepy fungi known as the
Thallids. Introduced in the "Fallen Empires"
expansion set, the Thallids were originally bred by forest-dwelling elves as a new source of
food, but as you
might expect, it wasn't long before the multiplying monsters rebelled (successfully) against their pointy-eared
masters. Many different Thallid cards have been featured since, most of them able to reproduce in-game by
producing smaller creatures called "saprolings."
#3 - The Mi-Go - H.P. Lovecraft's "The Whisperer in Darkness"
Quite a bit more interesting to me than Lovecraft's overexposed Cthulhu, the crustacean-like Mi-go or "fungi
from Yuggoth
" hail from the same planet-like-thing we call(ed?) Pluto, and can travel freely between worlds
on their leathery wings alone. Highly intelligent, they travel to Earth to make contact with select humans and
transfer their brains into portable canisters, carrying them through space to witness its many wonders.
Though they aren't known to remove the brains of the unwilling or otherwise display any violence, there's a
distinct implication that their motivations are unfathomably dark. We never really find out WHY these alien
beings take human brains on space adventures, and if it's anything like the rest of Lovecraft's world, we
probably just couldn't comprehend their logic anyway. It's the unknown and unknowable that makes a
monster truly unsettling, and it's how these guys manage to be creepy without even
hurting anyone.

As a side note,
Whisperer in Darkness heavily implies that the Mi-go were the real culprits behind sightings
of the
Yeti or Abominable Snowman, because it's pretty easy to mistake a flying sponge-headed prawn for a
snow gorilla.
#2 - The Mushroom People - Matango
Possibly the biggest horror role ever given to a fungus, Matango was actually adapted by Toho studios
(more famous for
Godzilla) from author William Hodgson's "The Voice in the Night." Following the original
story, the film begins with a Yacht crashing into a small, uncharted island where the wreckage of another ship
is found encrusted with strange mushrooms. With a dwindling food supply, members of the crew gradually
give in to the temptation to consume the growths, which turn out to be addictively pleasurable even as they
slowly transform the victims into mindless, inhuman monsters. It seems popular to mock the "silliness" of
these wobbly, faceless mutants, but to be honest, they're among the few cinematic monsters to
creep me out
- especially with their incessant, low-pitch laughter. The climactic scene of fully and
partially-transformed victims haunting an otherwise fanciful mushroom garden is damn near terrifying, and
must be seen to be appreciated...really, I
#1 - The Goombas - Super Mario Brothers
...and super Mario Brothers 3, and Super Mario World, and Super Mario Land, and Super Mario 64, and Super Mario RPG, and Paper Mario, and
Mario and Luigi, and Mario Kart, and Mario Tennis, and Mario Party, and Mario Sunshine, and Mario Galaxy, and New Super Mario Brothers, and
Super Princess Peach, and Hotel Mario, and Mario's Something Something 4, and Mario's Exploding Dinosaur Circus if Nintendo would listen to
my ideas, and probably some other kind of thing with Mario in it.
You had to have guessed these guys would be here. These pug-faced, waddling goons were the first thing
the world ever stomped to death in the first three seconds of
Super Mario Brothers, and could very well be
the most widely recognized and influential antagonists in video game history. Known as
Kuriboh or "chestnut
kids" in Japan, series co-creator Takashi Tezuka has confirmed that they were conceived as walking
mushrooms, and were actually a
last minute addition to the game when the huge number of Koopas turned
out to be too challenging. As with most of Mario's peculiar friends and foes, very little background is given to
Goomba biology, physiology or culture, but we all know they hail from the magical Mushroom Kingdom, where
they turned against the more peace-loving, humanoid fungi known as
Toads and now serve as bottom-rung
mooks under the evil dragon-turtle-dinosaur,
Bowser. When it comes to video game monsters, Goombas are
just about the lowliest of the low, but when it comes to fungus, they're pop culture superstars.
Our other D&D entry is far from the only other fungus monster in the franchise, but it is by far the most
preposterous; this mindless, floating sack is an almost perfect imitation of the
Beholder, one of D&D's most
powerful and malicious monsters. You would think that this is some sort of clever defensive mimicry, since
nothing that eats fungus is going to mess with
one of these, but you would be wrong, because what we
have here is an organism adapted to an ecosystem based around
experience points. It doesn't imitate a
powerful monster to
repel attackers, but to encourage attack by adventuring barbarians, wizards and other
clichés. One poke from a sword, and the silly thing explodes like a wacky party balloon full of deadly, toxic,
parasitic spores. I'm pretty sure this is the only fungus monster that reproduces through stupidity.
Conceptually, young Paras is patterned after the wingless, immature "nymph" stage of a cicada, but its entire
species seems to suffer from a highly evolved variety of
cordyceps, a real-world genus of parasitic fungi
that can manipulate the behavior of their insect hosts.
Whereas real cicadas eventually develop wings, the evolved form of Paras - Parasect -  is still basically a
cicada nymph, completely overtaken and transformed by its fungal infestation. The
massive mushroom
s as its new brain, forces it to lurk in dark, humid environments and even dusts all of its eggs with
spores. What may have once been like any other "bug" Pokemon now exists entirely as a vehicle for a

sentient infection, host and parasite virtually merged into a single species. One must wonder if any other
"grass" type pokemon are just animals infested with parasitic plants and fungi...maybe even
all of them?
Unlike many Magic races, the Thallids lack anything even close to a consistent design style, varying wildly in
form by artist. Here we've seen two variations on the basic Thallid, a "Thallid Shell Dweller" and two variations
on the "Thorn Thallid," each a very different and highly original design. The bug-faced, armadillo-like Thorn
Thallid was actually the first Magic card I ever picked out for its art, and still a tad sentimental to me, though I
do appreciate the multi-headed brain-devil version.
Pictured: Terror.