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Matinee
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English Dolby Surround
  • English PCM Stereo
  • English subtitles
  • 2 Discs
FEATURES
  • REGION B
  • Newly edited interviews with director Joe Dante and select cast and crew members
  • Paranoia in Ant Vision, a discussion with Joe Dante about the making of the film
  • Mant!, the full length version of the film-within-a-film
  • Introduction to Mant! by Joe Dante
  • Vintage Ďmaking ofí featurette
  • Rare on-set footage, sourced from Joe Danteís personal collection
  • Deleted and extended scenes sourced from Joe Danteís workprint
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys

Matinee

Dual-Format Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Joe Dante
1993 | 99 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: £15.95 | Series: Arrow Video
Arrow Films

Release Date: September 12, 2016
Review Date: September 10, 2016

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SYNOPSIS

HALF MAN... HALF ANT... ALL TERROR!

So says the advertising campaign for Mant!, the latest low-budget schlock-horror classic from cigar-chomping producer Lawrence Woolsey (John Goodman, The Big Lebowski), who more than makes up for his films' lack of production values by festooning them with gimmicks that would turn even William Castle (The Tingler) green with envy.

But the most potent gimmick of all is accidental: Woolsey schedules a sneak preview of Mant! in Key West, Florida, in October 1962, unaware that the Cuban missile crisis is about to flare up. Will the threat of genuine nuclear war distract the locals from the movie, or will they find it doubly terrifying?

Directed by the legendary Joe Dante (The Burbs), this delightful film isnít just an affectionate love-letter to the sci-fi and horror films that he grew up with in the 1950s and 60s, itís also a witty and intelligent exploration of the way that the most successful genre films worked by preying on the very real fears of their audiences about everything from Soviet satellite launches to atomic mutation.


PICTURE

Joe Danteís Matinee receives a new Blu-ray edition from Arrow Video, who present the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The 1080p/24hz high-definition digital transfer is presented on a dual-layer disc. This disc is Region B locked and North American viewers will need a Blu-ray player that can play back Region B content.

It admittedly looks like an older master, though am unsure where it comes from: I received a check disc and as of this writing I was unable to get my hands on a digital copy of the booklet. Despite I was still quite pleased with what we get. Grain can look a little muddled but it doesnít come off pixilated or noisy and the image looks and moves smoothly. The image is fairly sharp delivering decent details and depth, and thereís a decent film-like quality to it.

Colours look very good, the film offering an excellent array of reds, blues, purples, and more, all of which are rendered beautifully. Flesh tones also look decent, though maybe a bit reddish in a few places. Black levels are very good, and the black and white sequences scattered about the film (primarily through the movie-within-the-movie Mant!) also look terrific, with great contrast and gray levels. The print is in great shape and I donít recall any major blemishes, or even any minor ones at that.

Though it may be an older scan it still looks quite nice and Arrow does a great job presenting it here.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

Presented in lossless PCM 2.0 stereo surround, the filmís audio is rendered well. Itís not the most action packed film but it has a few moments that deliver in the audio department: some of the in theater stunts (the rumbling, smoke canons, etc.) deliver, as do a dream sequence involving a possible nuclear explosion and the filmís climax. The rest of the film is more subdued and dialogue heavy, but the track is still strong. Said dialogue sounds clear and sharp, delivered with excellent fidelity and depth, and the filmís score (by Jerry Goldsmith) is very dynamic, nicely dispersed throughout the environment. Itís a nice track, also free of any damage or noise.

8/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Arrow puts together a rather solid special edition here, including a few new features along with some carried over from previous releases. Exclusive to this release are two collections of interviews: Bit Parts! The Joe Dante Players (featuring director Joe Dante and actors Robert Picardo, Archie Hahn, Belinda Balaski, John Sayles, and Dick Miller) and Atomo-Vision! Making Matinee (featuring cinematographer John Hora and editor Marshall Harvey). Running 10-minutes and 8-minutes respectively we get a great feel as to what itís like working on a Joe Dante picture. The actors, who have all appeared in bit parts (hence the title) through Danteís films talk about their respective working relationships over the years, even recalling how they first came aboard, while also sharing why they think Dante enjoys working with them. Hora and Harvey talk about their work with him through the years as well, even covering how Dante has evolved since The Howling, admiring his ability to shoot only what he needs (pinning that on his editing days for Roger Corman). I guess Iím a bit shocked the interviews are so short but theyíre at the very least still informative and free of fluff.

Carried over from Franceís Blu-ray edition of the film is a 2011 interview on the film with director Joe Dante, running a whopping 32-minutes. Itís a very dense but entertaining interview with the director, who recalls in painstaking detail the history of the production, from its origins as a screenplay about a theater with a vampire projectionist to its eventual disappointment of a release (Universal, who kind of got stuck with the ball after financiers bailed out, didnít have their heart in it and didnít really know how to market the film). But the interviewís best aspect is when Dante simply goes down memory lane, recalling the time, as a kid, where he would go the matinees, seeing various films along the lines of what Mant! is (and awful Disney films like those represented by the other film-within-the-film, The Shook Up Shopping Cart, which even my young daughter said looked terrible). He talks about William Castle and the various stunts he would pull in theaters, like the shocker seats for The Tingler (he even shows off the instruction manual that the theaters showing the film would have received) and so on, explaining how they influenced this. Itís a fantastic interview, very in-depth and personal, the latter of which makes it even more engaging. I hadnít seen the French Blu-ray release so Iím very happy Arrow pulled this one over.

The coolest feature, though, is the inclusion of what is supposed to be all of the footage shot for Mant!, presented in high-definition and looking to be in fantastic condition. Though fans will probably be disappointed I was not surprised to find itís not a complete film. Dante of course only shot the footage needed for Matinee, and did not create an entire film so you only get 16-minutesí worth of material. But itís great! Seeing it on its own, outside of the main feature, you can see the love letter that it is to those creature features of the time period and itís certainly a load of fun. Fans should still be happy, though, as there is actually quite a bit of footage here that you ultimately didnít get to see in Matinee, including a moment later on where we get the cheesy moral lesson to the film. Included with this is also a 6-minute foreword featuring Dante talking about Mant! and the balance he had to pull off with special effects (this looks to have also been pulled from the French Blu-ray) and then we also get the theatrical trailer for Mant!. This on its own is a fantastic addition to the release and should still make fans happy.

The disc then finishes off with a handful of short features, starting with the original EPK, running under 5-minutes, and itís your standard studio behind-the-scenes advertisement. Much better is 8-minutesí worth of Behind-the-scenes footage, which I believe is exclusive to this release, where we get to see some of the filming of Mant!, the ant running down the aisle sequence in the theater, and then the scene along the beach where the military is gathering. Sadly there are only 2-minutesí worth of deleted and extended scenes, which look to be more trims from already existing scenes (the last two deleted scenes are literally a second or two each), showing that the comments on Dante only shooting what he needs to be pretty on point. The disc then finishes off with the filmís original theatrical trailer.

The first pressing will also come with a booklet that will feature an essay by David Jenkins. I wasnít able to get my hands on it at the moment, but when I do I will surely update this article.

In all, after the film pretty much getting the shaft ever since its release, Iím more than pleased with what we get. Iím a bit surprised nobody decided to add material about the nuclear scare of the time, but with the inclusion of the material from Mant! and Danteís fabulous interview, I donít think thereís much more that could have been done to make me that much happier. A lovingly put together special edition.

8/10

CLOSING

Itís a film that hasnít received a lot of love from Universal for whatever reasons: in the early DVD days it was dumped onto a lackluster Image Entertainment release and then received a mild special edition from Universal years later (it was released on Blu-ray in France and Germany, though). Thankfully Arrow gives it the edition it deserves, providing a nice looking presentation (if dated) and some great supplementary material. Very highly recommended.

(Again, please note that this is a region B release and North American viewers will require a Blu-ray player that can play back region B content.)




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