Super Mario Bros. (1993): Trust the Fungus – 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Mar 14, 2024
  • Format: 4K Ultra HD
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Super Mario Bros. (1993): Trust the Fungus – 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition (4K UHD Review)


Rocky Morton, Annabel Jankel

Release Date(s)

1993 (February 21, 2024)


Hollywood Pictures (Umbrella Entertainment)
  • Film/Program Grade: C+
  • Video Grade: A-
  • Audio Grade: A-
  • Extras Grade: A+
  • Overall Grade: A+


1993’s Super Mario Bros. is mostly remembered today as what not to do with a video game property when adapting it for the big screen. After all, how much is there really to draw upon when it comes to the original four games (which were all that were available at the time)? A pair of plumbers enter another world to save a princess from an evil reptile/dinosaur creature. Many would be hard-pressed to come with up with something compelling from that. The resulting film was obviously topped in 2023 with a billion dollar-grossing animated feature, but believe it or not, there are many fans of the original live action version who not only appreciate it, even with its obvious flaws, but have loved it for decades. On the other hand, there’s also been a crowd of people who’ve lampooned it endlessly, while others just downright dislike it. But no matter which camp you find yourself in, there’s no denying that Super Mario Bros. is a fascinating film.

Mario (Bob Hoskins) and Luigi (John Leguizamo) are a pair of down-on-their-luck plumbers who incidentally meet Daisy (Samantha Mathis), an archaeology student who’s discovered sets of dinosaur bones underneath Brooklyn, and is fighting to save the site from would-be developers. As Luigi and Daisy begin to fall for each other, a pair of goons, Iggy (Fisher Stevens) and Spike (Richard Edson), kidnap Daisy and take her through a hidden portal to another dimension, whereupon Mario and Luigi follow. There they discover another universe, created after the impact of a meteorite that struck Earth 65 million years prior. In this world, dinosaurs have lived on and evolved into almost human-like creatures, ruled by the evil King Koopa (Dennis Hopper). Koopa, however, wants a precious stone that Daisy has in her possession that will allow him to merge the two worlds and conquer them. Daisy learns that she’s actually a princess descended from dinosaurs, and it’s now up to Mario and Luigi to save her and stop Koopa and his minions.

Unsurprisingly, Nintendo had little to no oversight on the film’s creation. In many ways, it makes Super Mario Bros. an almost subversive film. Its creators wanted to do something radically different from the bones of the game universe’s storyline, incorporating various characters and ideas, but delving into a darker version of the world. This is no Mushroom Kingdom; it’s more of an industrial Blade Runner-esque cityscape surrounded by desert and covered in fungus (Blade Runner’s David L. Snyder also served as production designer on the film). Shot mostly in an abandoned cement factory in North Carolina by cinematographer Dean Semler (The Road Warrior, Dances with Wolves), it’s definitely a gritty-looking environment with many hues and gradations, from top to bottom. There’s also many varied costumes, make-up effects, prosthetics, and in one case, an absolutely wonderful and believable mechanized rod puppet (Yoshi).

As for the story, directors Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel thought of it as a prequel of sorts to the original games, or perhaps a more true-to-life version of what a story from the games would be like. It’s easy to follow and most of the characters have clear motivations, though performances range from lackluster to just fine in some cases. It’s no secret that Bob Hoskins hated the film and regretted taking part in it, going so far as to say he would have had it erased from his filmography if he could. It’s a little perplexing since he and the actors and crew all seemed to get along during the production for the most part. It was a chaotic and sometimes tough shoot, and the directors were let go after principal photography was completed by the producers, but there didn’t seem to be a growing sense of great disharmony, as the still surviving actors, including John Leguizamo, can attest to. It might have been a case of too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to the final product, but the idea that it was a cursed production is mostly overblown due to Bob Hoskins’ latter comments. (To be fair, it wouldn’t the first time an actor would say something so egregious and incorrect after the fact, and likely might have been a ploy cooked up by his agents to help him save face, but that’s pure conjecture on my part.)

One thing is certain: you have to appreciate a film that takes such a radical left turn and does something so wild and creative with a big name property, even if it doesn’t entirely pan out. Aside from an awful animated prologue and narration (added after the fact when test audiences were confused by the plot), it’s a straightforward action/sci-fi/adventure romp that’s actually more entertaining and more imaginative than many today will give it credit for. We’ve had the big screen animated and slavishly faithful to its source material version of Super Mario Bros. (which is enjoyable in its own right), but I think in hindsight, many are looking back at this version and realizing that, after all of the hoopla, it’s not that bad after all.

Super Mario Bros. was shot by director of photography Dean Semler on 35 mm film using Panavision cameras and lenses, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Umbrella Entertainment brings the film to Ultra HD for the first time with a new 4K restoration of the original camera negative, graded for Standard Dynamic Range only, and presented on a BD-66 disc. (According to Umbrella, the rights holder didn’t provide a version graded for High Dynamic Range.)

In fairness, Super Mario Bros. was never a visual stunner in higher definition containers, mostly because of opticals and primitive computer graphics and animation. That’s certainly not the case in the various layered and shadowy environments in both the real world and in the alternate dimension, which allows for far more visual detail, of which Dean Semler takes full advantage of. That all said, this is the best the film has ever looked on home video, featuring light to moderate grain and bitrates that range from 70 to 90 Mbps, maybe even beyond. The aforementioned lower resolution footage, which was likely sourced from later generation elements, appears to have been smoothed out a bit with noise removal to better blend it with the rest of the presentation. As those elements were already lesser in quality to begin with, even for 1993, this was likely the best solution. Even in SDR, contrast is much improved with expanded swatches of color, as well as deeper blacks that soak up detail in the shadows. Everything appears clean and crisp, aside from those lower quality elements. It’s wild that this film looks this good in UHD, and longtime fans should be more than pleased; not just with the newfound clarity, but with the subtle nuances in the costume and set design, much of which was overlooked when the film originally came out. The lack of HDR is a bummer, but it's still a massive upgrade otherwise.

Audio is included in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 2.0 Dolby Digital with optional English subtitles. The film was released in Dolby Stereo, and the 5.1 is a remix from the original stems, though both tracks exhibit many of the same panning and placement qualities. The 5.1 track obviously rules the roost with clear dialogue exchanges, plenty of low end heft, and great support for score, music, and sound effects. Surround activity is frequent, as are various atmospherics. It’s a very muscular and satisfying track.

Super Mario Bros. (1993): Trust the Fungus – 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition (4K UHD)

The massive 3 LB. PLUS! 4K Ultra HD release of Super Mario Bros by Umbrella Entertainment, entitled the Trust the Fungus – 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition, is a massive Limited Edition package containing a number of items. The UHD disc sits in a black amaray case alongside two Region-Free 1080p Blu-rays, one containing the film and one containing an alternative version of the film, as well as exclusive extras. This case also includes two double-sided posters featuring the film’s theatrical release artworks from the US, Australia, Thailand, and Japan; as well as a double-sided insert, both sides of which contain the original US theatrical artwork, with and without a ratings logo. All of this is housed in a slipcover with exclusive artwork.

But wait, there’s more...

There’s also a 480-page hardbound book entitled This Ain’t No Game: A Collection of Behind-the-Scenes Experiences and Art, which features a massive archive of behind-the-scenes photos, pre-production artwork, interviews, and much more. Next is a 200-page softcover book of various drafts of the script. Another cool item is a 36-page reproduction of Super Mario Bros: The Official Movie Magazine, which is thoroughly accurate, right down to the vintage advertisements. Last are 8 lobby card reproductions, a sheet of stickers, and an actual film cel in a collectible case. All of this material is packed into sturdy cardboard packaging featuring more exclusive artwork. As this is a Limited Edition release, 2,500 units have been pressed. Whew.

Bonus materials on each disc include the following:


  • Audio Commentary with Parker Bennett
  • Audio Commentary with Fred Caruso and David L. Snyder
  • Audio Commentary with Craig Edwards, Mark McCoy, and Jeff Goodwin
  • Audio Commentary with Ryan Hoss and Steven Applebaum
  • Deleted, Extended & Alternate Scenes (4K w/HDR and Upscaled SD – 13 in all – 20:19)
  • Ain’t No Game” Trailer (4K – 1:08)
  • I’ve Got The Power” Trailer (4K – 1:45)


  • Audio Commentary with Parker Bennett
  • Audio Commentary with Fred Caruso and David L. Snyder
  • Audio Commentary with Craig Edwards, Mark McCoy, and Jeff Goodwin
  • Audio Commentary with Ryan Hoss and Steven Applebaum
  • Deleted, Extended & Alternate Scenes (HD and Upscaled SD – 13 in all – 20:19)
  • Ain’t No Game” Trailer (HD – 1:08)
  • I’ve Got The Power” Trailer (HD – 1:45)


  • Super Mario Bros: The Lasagna Workprint (Upscaled SD – 111:20)
  • Featurettes, Behind the Scenes:
    • Featurettes:
      • Super Mario Bros.: This Ain’t No Video Game (HD – 55:50)
      • The Making of Super Mario Bros. (Upscaled SD – 18:17)
      • Katabasis of the Lost Girl (HD – 23:05)
      • Anarcho-Dino-Sado Chic: The Fashion of Dinohattan (HD – 20:11)
      • The Hero Moment: Super Mario, Superhero (HD – 13:51)
      • (D)evolution, Dystopia, and Trusting the Fungus (HD – 21:25)
      • 25th Anniversary: Raleigh Reunion Panel (HD – 38:55)
      • LPGE: Movie Props (HD – 5:05)
      • Behind the Scenes: Interviews (Upscaled SD – 31:17)
    • From Storyboard to Screen:
      • Ice Tunnel Chase (HD – 1:02)
      • Interdimensional Merging (HD – :29)
      • Koop’s Demise (HD – 1:28)
      • Lena’s Demise (HD – :36)
      • Brooklyn Bridge Climax (HD – 3:22)
  • Trailers, Videos, Commercials:
    • Trailers:
      • Japanese Theatrical Trailer (Upscaled SD – 1:36)
      • Japanese TV Spot (Upscaled SD – :15)
      • Japanese Home Video Commercial (Upscaled SD – :27)
      • Music Videos:
      • Spike & Iggy’s Revolutionary Rap (HD and Upscaled SD – 1:44)
      • Mojo Nixon: Toad’s Anti-Koopa Protest Song (HD – 3:21)
    • TV Commercials:
      • Character ID” TV Spot (Upscaled SD – :31)
      • Daisy Guard” TV Spot (Upscaled SD – :30)
      • Event” TV Spot (Upscaled SD – :15)
      • Koopa” TV Spot (Upscaled SD – :31)
      • Ultimate Level” TV Spot (Upscaled SD – :13)
      • Ultimate Level 2” TV Spot (Upscaled SD – :16)
      • Jump” TV Spot (Upscaled SD – :31)
      • Power” TV Spot (Upscaled SD – :31)
      • ERTL Action Figures (Upscaled SD – :30)
      • ERTL Crash Action Police Car (Upscaled SD – :30)
  • Photo Gallery (HD – 323 in all)

Spoilers up front: the extras for this release are out of this world comprehensive. If there was a rating higher than A+, this set would be more than worthy of it.

First up are four brand new audio commentaries: one with screenwriter Parker Bennett; another with co-producer Fred Caruso and production designer David L. Snyder; another with production assistant Craig Edwards, special effects crew member Mark McCoy, and key makeup artist Jeff Goodwin; and finally, another with Super Mario Bros. The Movie Archive website authors and archivists Ryan Hoss and Steven Applebaum. Outside of having either of the directors or any of the cast involved, these tracks dive deep into the making of the film from those who were there, while the final track provides plenty of information not offered elsewhere.

One of the most welcome additions is the (until now) unreleased workprint of the film, which has been floating around unofficially for years. The Super Mario Bros. The Movie Archive and The Bigger Pictures Film Restoration have combined their efforts to upscale and clean up this VHS-sourced footage, making it a little more watchable and giving us a look at the film in transit. This early cut of the film features a number of extended, alternate, and deleted scenes, as well as a multitude of unfinished visual effects, alternate score cues (including music from Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit), and missing scenes. It’s certainly an interesting experience to see the film in its rawest form, and these efforts should be applauded.

This Ain’t No Video Game is a 2014 retrospective documentary by David Gregory about the creation and release of the film, featuring interviews with directors Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel; co-writer Parker Bennett; producer Roland Joffé; editor Mark Goldblatt; actors John Leguizamo, Lance Henriksen, and Richard Edson; production designer David L. Snyder; art director Walter P. Martishius; and creature effects creators Rob Burman, Don Coleman, Paul R.J. Elliot, Vincent J. Guastini, and Patrick Tatopoulos. The Making of Super Mario Bros. is a vintage featurette made during the film’s production.

Katabasis of the Lost Girl features discussions on how media literacy, family literacy, and everyday language have been influenced by video games, as well as female empowerment and gender politics in fairy tales and adaptations of video games. Interview subjects include actress Samantha Mathis, Dr. Lori A. Norton-Meier, Dr. Ashley Shelton, Dr. Pauline Greenhill, Dr. Amy M. Davis, and Dr. Emily Zuccaro. Anarcho-Dino-Sado Chic delves into the film’s costume design with deputy editor Rebecca Pahle, costume designer Joseph Porro, costume manufacturing foreman Salvador Perez, and actress Francesca P. Roberts. The Hero Moment features an interview with Dr. Travis Langley who discusses the film and how it relates to the classic hero’s tale origins, as well as comic books, literature, and other media. (D)evolution, Dystopia, and Trusting the Fungus talks to Dr. Anthony J. Knowles about the film’s style and whether or not it fits into particular genres.

The Reunion Panel took place on December 7th, 2018 after a screening of the film at the North Carolina Museum of History, which was hosted by Super Mario Bros. The Movie Archive founder Ryan Hoss, and features actors Fred Allen, Andrea Powell, Tom Corbitt, Karen Brigman, Alan McCoy, and special effects crew member Mark McCoy. Hosted by Redbeard and promoting the Let’s Play Gaming Expo, the next featurette highlights movie memorabilia collector Blake Dumesnil and his collection of props on display at the National Videogame Museum in Frisco, Texas. The Behind the Scenes: Interviews is a collection of EPK material used to promote the film, including various behind-the-scenes footage, B-roll, clips from the film, a trailer, and interviews with actors Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Samantha Mathis, Fisher Stevens, Richard Edson, Fiona Shaw, directors Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel, and producers Roland Joffé and Jake Eberts. Last is a set of five storyboard-to-screen comparisons and a Photo Gallery containing 323 stills of storyboards, props, conceptual design artwork, and costume design artwork. All that’s missing is the Excavating Dinosaurs: Restoring the Super Mario Bros. Workprint featurette, which can easily be found on The Bigger Pictures Film Restoration Youtube page, and is well worth watching.

Few will be swayed by the arguments made here in favor of Super Mario Bros. (though I’d argue for them to give it another shot, if that’s the case), but taking one look at the A/V quality, the extras, and the deluxe packaging will reveal that this is, shockingly, one of the finest 4K UHD packages of the year. Fans of the film will be over the moon for it, and casual viewers will be highly impressed. Whether you like the film or not, this boxed set gets our ultimate recommendation!

- Tim Salmons

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