John Goodman is ideally cast as B-movie fright king Lawrence Woolsey, a character inspired by William Castle, who lured audiences to his black-and-white cheapies in the Fifties and Sixties with gimmicks that included wiring seats for shocks. Director Joe Dante (Gremlins) captures that irreplaceable tackiness in Woolsey's half-man, half-ant film, MANT. Cathy Moriarty also catches the spirit as Woolsey's tootsie, Ruth, who doubles as the bombshell in distress in his cheese-ball epics.

But Charlie Haas's script inexplicably buries this beguiling parody in a dull story about four teenagers discovering sex in Key West, Florida, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis. Woolsey figures it's an ideal time to open MANT in theater-rumbling Atomo-Vision. But even Atomo-Vision wouldn't rouse audiences after exposure to toxic teen twaddle that reduces a great idea to gray ash.