Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of the Cuban Missile Crisis, so naturally thoughts immediately turn to Joe Dante.
Dante’s 1993 masterpiece Matinee combines a nostalgic coming of age yarn with a lovely tribute to silver screen showmen like William Castle, while pitting the real world fear of nuclear annihilation against the fantastic fear of mutants and monsters. It’s one of the best films ever made about movies, escapism, and youth.
The movie’s centerpiece is the movie-within-the-movie Mant!, the story of a sad sack exposed to dental x-rays, with results that may horrify you. It’s a dead-on parody of B-grade atom age creature features, with appearances from genre veterans William Schallert, Robert Cornthwaite, and Kevin McCarthy. (It’s fitting that Matinee was released by Universal, home to most of the sci-fi thrillers that inspired it.)
The original laserdisc release of Matinee contained a complete, “uncut” version of Mant! as an extra, allowing fans to check out the fake film in greater detail. While that feature has been absent from DVD releases, it’s found its way online. Lawrence Woolsey thinks you should check it out.
Bonus! The Mant! trailer, which opens Matinee, can be found here. Presented in Atomovision! With Rumblerama!