Just the Features: Matinee (Arrow U.K.) Blu-ray Review + Screenshots

One of the holy grails of the collecting community has been given the royal treatment from Arrow Video

Blu-ray + DVD

Released by: Arrow

Release Date: Jan. 29th, 1993 (Theatrical)
                        Sept. 12th, 2016 (Blu-ray)

Region Code: B (locked) (blu-ray)
                        2 (locked) (dvd)

Run Time: 1h 39m

Audio: English: LPCM 2.0 

Video: 1080p (1.85:1 Aspect Ratio)

THE FEATURES: [3.5 out of 4]

Bit Parts! The Joe Dante Players (10m 7s, HD)

Joe Dante, Robert Picardo, Archie Hahn, Belinda Balaski, John Sayles, and Dick Miller talk about working together. We get some nice stories about how each one became Dante’s go to actors. Each of these actors have appeared in multiple Joe Dante films and each has earned the right to be remembered.

This is a nice featurette focusing on the actors that don’t always get the praise they deserve. We have seen each of these actors in films outside of Dante’s and I always have a great time trying to remember where I have seen them before running to imdb.com to find the answer.

Atomo-Vision! The Making of Matinee (8m 4s, HD)

The titled of this featurette is deceiving in that it is not a making of. We get to interviews spliced together: the first is with John Hora, the cinematographer of Matinee and Marshall Harvey who is the editor of Matinee. Both of them share fond memories of working on the film and we get a little bit of insight into how Dante directs and works with the various departments that help make a film possible.

Paranoia in Ant Vision (31m 21s, HD)

This is a discussion with Joe Dante that was recorded in 2011 for the Carlotta Films blu-ray release. Here we learn a lot about the original script, which was more of a fantasy film, and how they had to reshape the script numerous times before anyone would want to finance the film. We also learn about shadiness of the financer who almost screwed the film completely. The interviewer then dives into 
Dante’s past and how it closely resembles some of the events in the film.

This is a great interview. The interviewer asks many great questions and Dante gives really detailed answers. It is clear that Dante loves film, especially monster films from the 50’s and 60’s. I wasn’t that big a fan of Dante, but after watching this, I have started to see him in a different light. This is the best special feature on the disc.


-Foreword by Joe Dante (6m 18s, HD)

This foreword is culled from the same footage as the last interview was. Dante talks about the idea for Mant and how they shot the film within a film.

-Mant! (16m 9s. HD)

This is the one feature that U.S. fans of the film have been asking for since the advent of dvd. Since this is a U.K. release, U.S. fans will have to wait longer, but obtaining this version will not be as hard as other releases have been.

This is all the scenes for Mant that were shot to be shown in the film. I was surprised by how much of Mant we actually see in Matinee, but there is plenty to discover here. I love the way the film was shot, in glorious black and white, and how the actors ham it up. Going into this release I thought that this would have been my favorite special feature. It isn’t but I am happy to have finally see the footage, and in HD to boot.

-Mant! Theatrical Trailer (3m 22s, HD)

This is the trailer that we see towards the beginning of the Matinee. This is a wonderful trailer that sells Mant incredibly well and is a great reminder of all the great trailers from the 50’s and 60’s.

Original EPK (4m 26s, Upconverted SD,  1.33:1)

I love these EPKs from the 80’s and 90’s. These were used to help sell a film to theaters and video stores. Sometimes these would be shown on tv. This is a quick summary of the film with some behind the scenes footage thrown in. I miss these.

Behind the Scene Footage (8m 21s, Upconverted SD, 1.33:1)

This footage was sourced from Dante’s archives and gives us a look at how Dante interacted with his 
cast and crew. We also get to see some of the scenes of Mant being shot.

Deleted and Extended Scenes (2m 27s, HD)

We get bits and pieces of scenes but nothing that is worth the time. Move on.

Theatrical Trailer (1m 55s, Upconverted SD, 1.33:1)
I remembering seeing this trailer all the time. Any time that I rented a Universal Pictures VHS, this was one of the trailers that would play before the film you rented. It is a decent trailer, decent enough that I wanted to see the film, but it doesn’t sell the film all that well.

THE PACKAGING: [3.5 out of 4]

I love Arrow Video. They always give us something extra with every release. We get some newly commissioned artwork on the cover and the flip side gives us the original theatrical poster (which I love.) The artwork is very well done.

Inside we are given two discs: a blu-ray and a dvd. Also inside is a nice booklet that contains an essay from David Jenkins that is a nice read.

The booklet is on the right and the card that Arrow puts in every release is on the left.
The case is the wider U.K. cases and honestly I love these cases. Sure, they take up more room, but it is easier to see the title of the film and it looks nicer on the shelve.

The blu-ray disc is region locked ‘B’ and the dvd is region locked ‘2’

THE FILM: [4 out of 4]

I love Matinee. I remember seeing the film when it was released on VHS. My parents were going to take me to see it, but the film left theaters really fast. I also wanted to get the film on laserdisc, but I could only afford so many of those due to them being really expensive. (a typical laserdisc would be between $30 and $40, with the Criterion discs being more than $100.)

As a kid of the 80s I remember watching the 50s and 60s monster movies on tv. The cable channels USA, TBS, and TNT would play these things like they were going out of style. Joe Bob Briggs gave kids like me introductions to all types of films and I loved them all. There is something about the way the films were made that made them entertaining to everyone.

Around this time I also got to know who William Castle was. Castle was known for ‘gimick films’ where a film would have something extra that would enhance the viewing of the film. For the film ‘The Tingler’, Castle had theaters put buzzers underneath some, or all, of the seats. Then at certain moments in the film the buzzer would buzz the seat, scaring the viewers. Castle did this for the films that he made in the 50’s and 60’s. Soon the fad wore off and never really came back. I wish that studios and theater owners would something like this today, but someone would sue and that would be the end to that.

The character that John Goodman plays in the film, Laurence Woosley, is modeled around a few filmmakers, but the most apparent on is Castle. Goodman is one of the highlights of the film and really has fun with the role. Goodman is an actor that can make any film better just by being in it.

The film takes place during the last weekend of the Cuban Missle Crisis. Fear was at an all-time high, but the movies were there to help chase away the fear, with more fear, even if it was only a few hours. 

We are shown the drills that the kids back then had to go through that was supposed to save their lives. All the adults knew that these drills were bullshit and a character in the film, one of the kids, knows this too and tries to tell everybody.

Matinee is a comedy with some dramatic elements sprinkled throughout. The big show piece of the film is the showing of Mant, Woosely’s knew film. He employs everything from smoke and mirrors to an actual person dressed up as the titular character. We get to see some of the film and experience as much of the theatrics as possible. Woosely is played as a man who loves scaring the shit out of his audience.

The film is gorgeous to look at. DP John Hora added a lot of colors to the film that wouldn’t normally be there, creating an nostalgia for some viewers and a safe zone for others. Nothing really bad can happen because everything is so bright and colorful.

Dante, in the big interview in the special features, says that this is his most personal film. You can tell. Dante never frames his actors in a menacing angle, even when they are supposed to be. He also takes the time to set up believable characters before giving us the film within a film. We know the characters and want them to be safe and happy. We are also happy because we are watching a great film by a director who kept getting knocked down with each flop, but getting right back up to do it again. Dante’s films will be remembered as films made by someone who was in love with film. 
Matinee is one of the best films of the 90’s and holds a place in this reviewers heart.

OVERALL: [3.5 out of 4]

Matinee is a wonderful film and Arrow has given us a really good package. I really wish that Dante recorded an audio commentary for the film, but the half hour interview will have to suffice. I think that this is a really good package overall and wish that some of Dante’s other films would get the same treatment.

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