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Joe Dante (Gremlins) directs this affectionate homage to 1950s sci-fi cinema, with John Goodman as a cigar-chomping B-movie producer trying to cash in on the Cuban missile crisis.
Director: Joe Dante
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 of the kind popularised by notorious producer William Castle (The Tingler). 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 isn’t just an affectionate love-letter to the sci-fi and horror films that he grew up with in the 1950s and 60s, it’s 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.