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Matinee: Collector's Edition - Blu-ray Review

5 beersSick thrills for hotheaded teenagers! The Cuban Missile Crisis!  Bring in the nuked and still marching ants, too!  My God, I love this film.  I, too, have a serious crush on William Castle, the producer the film is based upon.  His independently made horror films, no matter how schlocky they are, remain mesmerizing documents concerning our attraction to all things horror.  Hell, some of those releases are quite good, too.  Strait-JacketDr. SardonicusThe TinglerThe Night WalkerHouse on Haunted Hill.  I could go on; all are classics of the b-movie matinee.  He was, of course, the master of the matinee. 

Sometimes, though, his ticket-selling gimmicks – ranging from electrified seats to applause-registered endings and beyond – were actually better than the damn movie itself.  But still he believed; still he soldiered on and, because he knew how to work a room and a crowd into a frenzy, wound up producing the classic Rosemary’s Baby.  Yeah, that’s one of his, too. 

His Cuban cigars – popped squarely in his mouth – were always the fattest and he could have lit them with the twinkle in his eyes.  Even if the world was on the brink of atomic destruction during his classic run of movies, he still remained optimistic.   The missiles could scratch the marbled sky.  Let them.  People would still need entertainment.  That’s where Shout Select’s blu-ray release of 1993’s Matinee – director Joe Dante’s marvelously entertaining (and fictionalized) take on William Castle in – comes into play.  This film is still an early nineties classic.  

Thanks to HD and a need to restore these films, Castle’s name is being pushed back into our lexicon.  Good thing, too.  Warner Bros might have originally balked at the idea of the film but it was, ultimately, their loss.  Sure, a wide release probably killed its momentum but, in the long run, I think Matinee fairs pretty damn well.  It's a starry-eyed look at film in times of crisis.   

Matinee, with its Atomic Age panic-causing creature in Mant!, demonstrates exactly why Castle is a master entertainer.  He gives the audience exactly what they want, complete with real long teeth and humor.  Matinee – and its philosophy on horror - is solid gold entertainment.  And, thanks to Universal’s takeover of the project, the film was financed and released to rave reviews.  They probably didn’t understand what Dante was doing but it also looks like they didn’t interfere either, allowing clever lines like “It’s not the Russians, it’s the Rumble-Rama!” dialogue to run strong throughout this movie. 

In the movie, movie promoter Lawrence Woolsey (John Goodman) is a beast at using gimmicks to fill up theaters showing his movies. He may live paycheck to paycheck but he always knows where the next dime is coming from.  He can’t go wrong with his curvy starlet, Ruth (Cathy Moriarty) by his side either.  She’s a big box office draw.  His world, after all, begins and ends inside a movie theater and, with each new release, he lives to save the day. 

The opening few minutes of director Joe Dante’s Matinee, a Charlie Hass-penned ode to all things William Castle, gives viewers a look at some of his other films.  The scares!  The thrills!  The women!  The killers!  The bombs?  We quickly get a crash course lesson in how this magician tricks all the people out in the dark of the theater.  Even if the theater at the center of this flick is managed by the watchful eye of the ever-present and prepared Howard (Robert Picardo), there’s bound to be something unexpected happening.  And boy, does it ever happen.

By way of “Atomo-Vision!” and “Rumble-Rama!” thrills, Woolsey’s latest film, Mant!, about a half-man, half-ant mutant that turns on the human race once he is exposed to some atomic energy, is set for release soon.  It’s a film that spirals out in some pretty unexpected (and destructive) ways..  

As an added bonus for Gene Loomis (Simon Fenton) and his brother Dennis (Jesse Lee), Woolsey is setting up shop in their town of Key West, Florida for the movie’s premiere.  They simply cannot wait for the quivers and electronic buzzes to kick in.  The entire town is pretty pumped for the release of the movie.  But first they have to live through the week of national panic that is the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

Woolsey’s brought in confidents Herb Denning (Dick Miller) and Bob (John Sayles) to help generate buzz about the movie’s premiere by having them protest the movie and the crowd all riled up before it opens.  Genius!  The tickets start selling fast.  And, as this is a movie about the fun response to movies, Matinee actually takes a break from its coming of age story and lets us enjoy a variety of b-minded movies – one featuring retrograde performance from Naomi Watts – and another about a hypnotizing killer.

With barrels of laughs and that cool film-within-film atmosphere, Dante’s magical film is a homecoming of sorts as one young man, awaiting the return of his Submarine-assigned father, discovers more he ever expected to upon first meeting this miracle producer.  Through his eyes, we see shocks and thrills that are simply incomparable; one can only nod as memory takes over.  Yes, the movies are like this…at least they were supposed ot be.

Matinee is more than just another monster show.  It is a work of crowd-pleasing art.  Dante’s film is finally available on blu-ray, complete with BRAND NEW interviews from him and cinematographer John Hora (plus the uninterrupted full-length version of MANT!), with Shout Select’s release.

Keep your eyes open.


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Matinee: Collector's Edition - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: PG for language, and for mild violence and sensuality.
99 mins
: Joe Dante
Charles S. Haas
John Goodman, Cathy Moriarty, Simon Fenton
: Comedy | Drama
Lawrence Woolsey presents the end of civilization as we know it. Make that... Proudly Presents!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Young lady, human/insect mutation is far from an exact science..."
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
January 29, 1993
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
January 16, 2018
Synopsis: It's 1962, and fifteen-year-old fan Gene Loomis (Simone Fenton) can't wait for the arrival of Woolsey, who is in town to promote his latest offering of atomic power gone berserk, Mant! But the absurd vision of Woolsey's tale takes on a sudden urgency as the Cuban Missile Crises places the real threat of atomic horror just 90 miles off the coast. With the help of Woolsey's leading lady, Ruth (Cathy Moriarty), the master showman gives Key West a premiere they'll never forget. Anything can happen in the movies, and everything does in this hilarious tribute to a more innocent (and outrageous) time in American cinema.


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Matinee: Collector's Edition - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray
- January 16, 2018
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English SDH
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Shout Select presents Matinee with a polished visual upgrade from its original DVD release.  The new transfer showcases the draw of the suburbs with a nice, scenic beauty.  White it talks of Florida, the city streets were actually filmed in Oxnard, California and it is quite crisp and expressive.  The film is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  Nicely saturated, there are no dents in its new HD shiny armor.  Colors are strong throughout and are particularly memorable with their inclusion of details and strong edges.  Black levels are clearly defined, too. Shadows are detailed.  The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is solid and aggressive.



  • While highly recommended, it is sad that there are no commentaries for the film.

Special Features:

Complete with NEW interviews from Joe Dante, Cathy Moriarty, Lisa Jakub, Steven Legler, Marshall Harvey, and John Hora, this release is bound to please fans.  We get a fresh look at the making of the movie and other discussions concerning the film’s legacy.  It is a nice touch and fits with the archival information also included.  Fans will dig it.   

  • Master Of The Matinee – An Interview With Director Joe Dante
  • The Leading Lady – An Interview with Cathy Moriarty
  • MANTastic! The Making Of A Mant
  • Out Of The Bunker – An Interview With Actress Lisa Jakub
  • Making A Monster Theatre – An Interview With Production Designer Steven Legler
  • The Monster Mix – An Interview With Editor Marshall Harvey
  • Lights! Camera! Reunion! – An Interview With Director Of Photography John Hora
  • Paranoia In Ant Vision – Joe Dante Discusses The Making Of The Film
  • MANT! – The Full Length Version Of The Film With Introduction By Joe Dante
  • Vintage Making Of Featurette
  • Behind The Scenes Footage Courtesy Of Joe Dante
  • Deleted And Extended Scenes Sourced From Joe Dante’s Workprint
  • Still Galleries
  • Theatrical Trailer


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Matinee: Collector's Edition - Blu-ray Review