Blu-ray Review: Matinee: Collector's Edition | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Matinee: Collector’s Edition

Studio: Shout! Factory

Jan 22, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

It’s October, 1962, and the nation is gripped with fear by the news that American pilots have spotted Soviet missiles in Cuba. Perhaps no one feels closer to the brink of nuclear destruction than the people in Key West, Florida, just an eleven-minute flight north of Havana. For two school-age brothers living on the naval base the ordeal hits particularly close to home, as their father mans one of the ships serving on the blockade. Their only distraction from the dire current events is the arrival to town of famed b-movie director Lawrence Woolsey (John Goodman), a showman more carnival barker than filmmaker, to debut his latest horror flick, Mant!. (The black-and-white schlock film’s tagline says it all: “Half man. Half ant. All terror!!”)

Released in 1993, Matinee – a loving tribute to the z-grade, drive-in monster pics of the ‘50s and ‘60s, as viewed nostalgically through the eyes of children – isn’t the sort of film you’d see come out of a major studio that often. (As director Joe Dante admits in an interview included on this new Blu-ray, foreign funding fell through at the 11th hour, and Universal begrudgingly picked up the full financing rather than lose the money they’d fronted on it as a distributor.) The kids’ stories – first loves, school bullies, et al – can be a little too saccharine for some; the level of enjoyment you’ll take from Matinee will more likely hinge on how big a fan you are of the no-budget creature features the film sends up. Goodman’s Woolsey is a character very much in the mold of the legendary William Castle, and it’s a delight to see him try his darndest to thrill folks with rubber masks and electric buzzers hidden under theater seats. The way he lovingly speaks about these questionably-constructed b-movies will reflect many of the same feelings that lead their fans to hold them so dear.

The funniest bits of Matinee come from Mant!, it’s film-within-a-film about a man turned by radiation into a giant, killer ant. Except that the dialogue is more tongue-in-cheek, the tribute is spot-on from the just-barely-passable special effects to the steady stream of hokey, scientific terminology. It’s clear that Dante spent a good amount of his youth studying these movies. Thankfully, the new Shout Select Blu-ray edition includes the full version of Mant! for separate viewing.

Once again, Shout! has pulled together a comprehensive special edition to a fun cult film – there are people out there who no doubt count Matinee among their favorite movies, and this release is sure to please them with its hours of extra features. New are six on-camera crew interviews and a Making Of documentary, as well as deleted and extended scenes, behind-the-camera footage, stills galleries, and a vintage promo reel. Fans of those oldschool monster movies – an audience Shout! Factory no doubt has cornered as the rights-holders of Mystery Science Theater 3000 – owe it to themselves to give Matinee a watch.


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