Speaking of 1962 as a great movie year...
Now is the time to praise "Matinee," which happens (perhaps not so coincidentally) to be set in 1962.
Paying homage to genre shlockmeister William Castle, Joe Dante - a genre filmmaking giant himself - resurrects the peerless movie year, 1962, for this astute, affectionately detailed imagining of a shameless, C-level mogul whipping his teen target audience into a frenzy over his latest gimmick flick.
Light and vivacious on the surface, but with a subtle undercurrent of melancholy and regret, "Matinee" is irresistible to anyone who has been transported - and who sorely misses - such Castle-style diversions as "The Tingler" and "Homicidal" with their one-of-a-kind novelty props. ("The Tinlger" had the auditorium seats wired to goose the audience at apt times, while "Homicidal" came with its nifty "fright break," offering patrons a chance to get out of the theater or be scared to death.)
That effortless actor John Goodman uses his size and his winning personality to play the Castle on-screen surrogate here, a man of sheer force, one Lawrence Woolsey, who pulls out all stops and breaks all the rules of showmanship to unveil his latest kitschy horror effort, "Mant," to the teens of Key West, Florida.
Lurking in the background are the Cold War and the Cuban Missle Crisis which, Woolsey, of course, exploits for all they're worth.
Dante faves, Robert Picardo and Dick Miller, pop up as expected, adding to the fun, and there are game turns by Jesse White, David Clennon, Kevin McCarthy, William Schallert and filmmaker John Sayles in supporting roles. But there's also memorable work here by the women - Cathy Moriarty and Kellie Martin, a talented, fetching screen presence who seems to have all but disappeared.
"Matinee" is one of two criminally neglected films by Dante, the other being "The 'Burbs"," a funny film with Tom Hanks and Carrie Fisher. Both films have made it to DVD, "The 'Burbs" apparently in a "director's cut" version, and are definitely worth adding to your film library.
BTW, in time for Halloween, HBO will telecast "Matinee" at 6 a.m. (est) on Saturday, 31 October, but probably the the HBO pan-and-scan style.