Set in Key West, FL during the Cuban Missile Crisis and the main character is a boy who loves watching monster movies at the local theater. Right at the height of the Crisis a new movie opens, MANT! It's about a radioactive accident that turns a guy into a half-man/half-ant creature. Even better yet is the director of the film (John Goodman channeling William Castle) is appearing in person and he's rigged the theater full of surprises like electric shock seats, giant speakers, air cannons shooting shit all over the joint and a guy in a ant suit running around scaring kids!
Beyond the storyline of the movie premiere is some coming of age stuff that I really enjoyed, like him getting a girlfriend; the theater owner's bomb shelter; bomb drills at school and his best friend dating a chick with a crazy ex-boyfriend who likes to yell out bad poetry while attacking people.
MATINEE director Joe Dante made a few of my favorite films like GREMLINS and ROCK N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL but after he made MATINEE in 1993 he really hasn't made much of anything. Sad. It's strange how people in the film industry can just disappear. Maybe he should make a GREMLINS 3.
I wasn't alive or even close to being alive back in the early 60's/ late 50's, but I love the romanticized idea of a simpler era where people were innocent...yes, I know that it's a complete lie made up by Hollywood, but still it's a pleasant thing to dream about. If you like the idea also or you just like a good movie then you should check out MATINEE...and if you're feeling extra frisky then you should also read Robert McCammon's "Boy's Life".