MATINEE (1993) Reviews and overview

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Matinee is a 1993 comedy film directed by Joe Dante (Burying the ExTrapped Ashes; Gremlins; The Howling; Piranha) from a screenplay by Jerico Stone (My Stepmother Is an Alien) and Charlie Haas (Gremlins 2: The New Batch; Martians Go Home), the latter also portraying a schoolteacher.

The film is an ensemble piece about a William Castle-type independent filmmaker, with the home front in the Cuban Missile Crisis as a backdrop.

Joe Dante has said that the financing of the movie was difficult:

Matinee got made through a fluke. The company that was paying for us went out of business and didn’t have any money. Universal, which was the distributor, had put in a little money, and we went to them and begged them to buy into the whole movie, and to their everlasting sorrow they went ahead and did it. [Laughs.]” (the film took $9,532,895 at the box office in the United States)


Main cast:

John Goodman (Kong: SkullIsland; 10 Cloverfield Lane; Arachnophobia), Cathy Moriarty (CasperWhite of the Eye), Simon Fenton, Omri Katz, Lisa Jakub, Robert Picardo and Kellie Martin. Genre regulars Dick Miller and Kevin McCarthy have cameo roles.

A then-unknown Naomi Watts (Shut In; King Kong; The Ring) has a small role as a character in film within the film, The Shook-Up Shopping Cart.

Matinee is coming as a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray on January 9, 2018, via Shout Factory and the special features have been announced:

  • NEW Master Of The Matinee – An Interview With Director Joe Dante
  • NEW The Leading Lady – An Interview with Cathy Moriarty
  • NEW MANTastic! The Making Of A Mant
  • NEW Out Of The Bunker – An Interview With Actress Lisa Jakub
  • NEW Making A Monster Theatre – An Interview With Production Designer Steven Legler
  • NEW The Monster Mix – An Interview With Editor Marshall Harvey
  • NEW 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

Buy Blu-ray:

In Key West, Florida in October 1962, boys Gene Loomis (Fenton) and his brother Dennis (Lee) live on a military base (N.A.S. Key West); their father is away on a nearby submarine.


After hearing the announcement of an exclusive engagement of Lawrence Woolsey’s (Goodman) new sensational sci-fi horror film Mant! (“Half man! Half ant!” “in Atomo-Vision and Rumble-Rama!”), including Woolsey’s appearance in-person, they arrive home to President Kennedy’s television interruption, stating the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba.


Woolsey concludes that this atmosphere of fear and paranoia is the perfect environment in which to open his atomic-radiation-themed film…

In the UK, the film was released on Blu-ray by Arrow Video on 12th September 2016



  • 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


“Joe Dante has always been a clever, witty and subversive film-maker, and Matinee is one of the best of his films to display these talents. His love for the cinema of the period means that Mant!, our film-within-a-film is spot-on for a 1950s monster movie…” John Llewellyn Probert, House of Mortal Cinema

“There are a lot of big laughs in Matinee, and not many moments when I didn’t have a wide smile on my face” Roger Ebert


“The scenes from “Mant”, shot in black and white, that Dante and Haas have cooked up are some of the best movie satires on film. It’s not easy to parody a genre that’s already close to self-parody but the filmmakers triumph again and again. Actors such as Kevin McCarthy turn up in cameos for that all important deja-vu effect, and the special-effects are imperially tacky.” Peter Rainer, Los Angeles Times


Matinee, which devotes a lot of energy to the minor artifacts of American pop culture circa 1962, is funny and ingenious up to a point. Eventually, it becomes much too cluttered, with an oversupply of minor characters and a labored bomb-and-horror-film parallel that necessitates bringing down the movie house…” The New York Times

“The charm of Matinee, a witty and affectionate homage to the sci-fi trash of yesteryear, is that director Joe Dante (Gremlins) appreciates both the tackiness and the awe.” Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly


“At the same time that Dante has a field day brutally satirizing our desire to scare ourselves and others, he also re-creates early-60s clichés with a relish and a feeling for detail that come very close to love.” Jonathan Rosenbaum



“Dante’s movie is a romp, no doubt, but its nostalgia is a heartier variety than what we usually get, and it leaves us with an undercurrent of uneasiness that is unusual for a genre most often content enough to look back through amber. Woolsey’s words resonate for every youngster who has searched for reasons to explain their attraction to the scary side of cinema and memories of the places where those images were first encountered, but in Matinee there’s another terror with which to contend, one not so easily held at bay.” Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule


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Buy Ghouls, Gimmicks and Gold: Horror Films and the American Movie Business, 1953 – 1968 |


The original score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith (Poltergeist; AlienThe Omen).

Several cues from previous films were also used, arranged and conducted by Dick Jacobs, including music from Son of Dracula (1943); It Came from Outer Space (1953); Tarantula (1955); The Deadly Mantis (1957); This Island Earth (1955), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954); Revenge of the Creature (1955); The Creature Walks Among Us (1956).

Cast and characters:

  • John Goodman as Lawrence Woolsey
  • Cathy Moriarty as Ruth Corday / Carolescreen-shot-2016-12-28-at-14-47-04
  • Simon Fenton as Gene Loomis
  • Omri Katz as Stan
  • Lisa Jakub as Sandra
  • Kellie Martin as Sherry
  • Jesse Lee as Dennis Loomis
  • Lucinda Jenney as Anne Loomis
  • James Villemaire as Harvey Starkweather
  • Robert Picardo as Howard, the Theater Manager
  • Jesse White as Mr. Spector
  • Dick Miller as Herb Denning
  • John Sayles (writer of Alligator; The HowlingPiranha) as Bob
  • David Clennon as Jack
  • Lucy Butler as Rhonda
  • Belinda Balaski as Stan’s Mom
  • Naomi Watts as Shopping Cart Starlet

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