Film (1993). Universal. Directed by Joe Dante, screenplay Charlie Haas from a story by Jerico and Charlie Haas. Starring John Goodman, Cathy Moriarty, Simon Fenton, Omri Katz and Lisa Jakub. 99 minutes. Colour.
Not so much an sf movie as a movie giving a cultural critique of sf movies. The setting is Key West, Florida, during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, when nuclear war for a time seemed imminent. Teenager Gene Loomis (Fenton) is new in town, and the son of a naval officer who has been posted to a Cuban blockade ship. A Monster Movie buff, Gene is excited by the arrival in town of exploitation movie director Lawrence Woolsey, played with tacky, genial charisma by John Goodman; Woolsey appears largely modelled on real-life film producer William Castle, and perhaps to a degree on Roger Corman also. Woolsey's new movie, premiering here, is Mant ("Half man! Half ant! All terror!"). The film deftly explores the paranoias and sociopolitical fears of real-life 1962, and their relationship to the paranoias of the monster movies of that time, with a lot of sharpness though no great profundity, and is intelligent and amusing throughout. We see almost twenty minutes of Mant, the film within a film, an extraordinarily accurate Parody of early 1970s monster movies, made by Joe Dante with great affection. The film's subject is partly the cultural cusp that was 1962, with the greater openness to experience and liberality we associate with the 1960s slowly coming into view. But the film is slightly weakened by the conservatism on display being so exaggerated as to seem more mid-1950s than 1962. [PN]
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