Blu-ray: Matinee (1993)
Set against the backdrop of the Cuban missile crisis, Matinee tells the story of Gene Loomis (Simon Fenton), a boy whose obsession with sci-fi and horror movies masks his loneliness at always being ‘the new boy in town’ as his Fathers Navy career moves them from military base to military base around the country. Dragging his younger brother Dennis (Jesse Lee Soffer) into movie screenings adds to Gene’s enjoyment, as he can annoy and scare his younger sibling at the same time.
Salvation for Gene’s sanity is twofold; a burgeoning relationship with fellow student Sherry (Kellie Martin) and the visit to town of movie entrepreneur Lawrence Woolsey (played with gusto by John Goodman); a man whose cinematic gimmicks would make William Castle blush.
Woolsey is bringing to town his latest low budget monster movie ‘MANT!’, which tells the story of when a man and an ants saliva become fused through radiation and the resulting hybrid monstrosity goes on the rampage. Gene gets wise to an early surreptitious promotional stunt and ends up befriending Woolsey. Meanwhile, a group of kids who have befriended Gene (thanks to their interest in his dads involvement in the ongoing situation in Cuba) descend upon the movie theatre to experience a premiere that none of them will ever forget.
Matinee is not only a love letter to sci-fi and horror movies of the 1950’s and 60’s, it is also a snapshot of a time when cinema was losing a battle with its great rival: television. There is a superb speech by Woolsey (delivered with heartfelt passion by John Goodman) about halfway through where he is walking into the movie theatre with Gene and explaining what it means to him to watch something on the silver screen; it is an experience to be cherished and one that is not as passive and disposable as watching something on TV.
Director Joe Dante often brings a whimsical atmosphere to his projects and this prevails throughout Matinee. Despite the constant fear and tension of the ongoing crisis in Cuba, the events of the characters are always accompanied by nods and winks to happier times, even when intertwining relationships go sour and the resulting fallout (no nuclear pun intended) has a ripple effect across everyone…including Gene’s friend Stan (played by Omri Katz, who is probably best known as ‘John Ross Ewing in Dallas and has since disappeared from our screens) whose relationship with Sandra (Lisa Jakub) goes through more changes than the poor bugger who is turning into a giant ant.
Matinee is a ‘feel good’ movie and one which everyone can relate to and enjoy, even more so if you are a fan of 50’s/60’s sci-fi and horror as you’ll get a real kick from watching ‘Mant!’; which is included in one of the many great special features that Arrow Films excel at.
Put this down as a ‘must buy’ and a worthy addition to anyones movie collection.
- High definition digital transfer supplied by NBC Universal
- Lossless stereo audio
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- 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
- 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
- First pressing only: Booklet featuring new writing on the film by David Jenkins
Matinee will be available to buy from 12th September 2016.