(Richard Martin, 1988)
Here's a genre film that is S-M-A-R-T and really puts it out there to be seen. The self-reflexivity of the horror-film-at-the-horror films setup is neither pompous nor diversionary; at all times it is actually about something. The narrative foregrounds and literalizes the eternal horror motif of repression, the milieu absolutely nails the 'quiet' small town myth in abundant and cynical detail, and as the former greases the wheels of the latter in scene after scene, the movie shows off its comprehension of the genre it addresses. Not respect, mind you, not exactly - the films within the film are explicitly moronic straight down the line. And in spite of a some well-handled suspense sequences, the tone is too even and the dynamic too cerebral for "Matinee" to really come off as gut-level horror qua horror. Instead, with Ron White's moral detective up front, and plenty of vivid and viable suspects coming and going - arrogant filmmaker, uptight mom, supernally annoying young punk, a couple impressively non-stereotyped small town queers - its sensibility winds up more Chandler than Craven. Not as complex in its narrative mind you, so that, yes, you are likely to get out a bit ahead of the whodunit, and the resolution bites off a bit less than it can chew. But what it lacks in dynamism it makes up in control, invention, and wit.