I have to admit that Joe Dante is one of my favourite directors. Classic titles such as Gremlins, The Burbs, Pirahna and The Howling to name a few have all stood the test of time and his love of cinema shines through.
No more so than in Matinee made in 1993 and a tribute to the masters of cinema showmanship such as William Castle who made film going such fun for youngsters in the 1950s and 60’s. We never really had anything like that in the UK, but that does not stop you enjoying this fun and very underrated gem.
HALF MAN… HALF ANT… ALL TERROR!
So says the advertising campaign for Mant!, the latest low-budget schlock-horror classic from cigar-chomping producer Lawrence Woolsey (John Goodman, The Big Lebowski), who more than makes up for his films’ lack of production values by festooning them with gimmicks that would turn even William Castle (The Tingler) green with envy.
But the most potent gimmick of all is accidental: Woolsey schedules a sneak preview of Mant! in Key West, Florida, in October 1962, unaware that the Cuban missile crisis is about to flare up. Will the threat of genuine nuclear war distract the locals from the movie, or will they find it doubly terrifying?
There is a ton of fun to be had to watching this film, especially if your a fan of 50’s and 60’s sci-fi, John Goodman gives one of his best performances as Lawrence Woolsey a man desperate to promote his latest offering and using all the tricks in the book to promote the showing in Florida. He uses gimmicks such as Rumblerama where the seats will shake and have a man in an ant costume running through the auditorium.
Matinee also has a teenage love tale weaved into the story, with young teen Gene (Simon Fenton) looking to get over the fact that his father is potentially at war with Russia in Cuba, by taking a young girl from his school to the cinema to watch the new film Mant, which itself is great fun as we see clips with fun and corny dialogue and special fx. (The full version of MANT! is part of the special features).
The release by Arrow of Matinee boasts a great 1080p transfer with excellent contrast and solid black levels. Audio is lossless stereo and is clear and precise with the music being especially memorable.
Extras are what Arrow is known for and they don’t let you down with this release.
- Paranoia in Ant Vision, a discussion with director Joe Dante about the making of the film
- Mant!, the full-length version of the film-within-a-film
- Discussion with Joe Dante on the effects of Mant!
- Vintage making-of featurette
- The rare on-set footage, sourced from Joe Dante s personal collection
- Original theatrical trailer
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
A film which lovers of cinema will relish, this Blu ray should be in everyone’s collection.
FILM: 8 PICTURE: 8 AUDIO: 7.5 EXTRAS: 7