dir. Joe Dante / 1993 / 1hr 39min 


In this ferocious satire of Cold War fever and loving ode to B-monster movies, filmmaker Joe Dante pays homage to William Castle, the master of exploitation that provided his audiences with extra frissons by wiring movie theater seats to give electric shocks during The Tingler (1960). John Goodman channels Castle in his role of Lawrence Woosley, a B movie impresario that arrives in Key West, Florida, in 1962 right in the middle of the  Cuban Missile Crisis for a special Saturday matinee preview of Mant, his latest opus, starring a very large mutant and announced by an ad campaign that promises “Half Man…Half Ant…All Terror!!!” The clips of the movie-within-a-movie are dead on, with hilarious in-jokes, surprising cameos (including Kevin McCarthy, the star of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers and fellow independent filmmaker John Sayles) and special attention for historical details from the 50’s and 60’s.

Owen Gleiberman: “In Matinee, Dante has captured the reason that Cold War trash like Mant struck such a nerve in American youth: The prospect of atomic disaster was so fanciful and abstract that it began to merge in people's imaginations with the very pop culture it had spawned. In effect, it all became one big movie. Matinee is a loving tribute to the schlock that fear created".

Dave Kehr is a curator in the Museum of Modern Art's Department of Film.  In a previous life he worked as a critic and journalist for the “Chicago Reader”, the “Chicago Tribune”, the “New York Daily News” and the “New York Times”.

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