When you talk about legendary directors, it’s no stretch to put John Landis in that category. Let me just run down a few of the classic films he’s given us – National Lampoon’s Animal House. The Blue Brothers. An American Werewolf In London. Trading Places. Spies Like Us. Three Amigos. Coming To America. It’s a pretty amazing cv, isn’t it? This is the man who directed Thriller, the greatest music video of all time. Hell, he even co-wrote Clue, which is one of the most beloved films of the 80s.
A few years ago, John Landis added author to his list of credits with Monsters In The Movies, a gorgeous DK coffee table book that delivers what’s on the cover. I’d been hoping to talk to him about the book, his movies and the horror genre, and I’m happy to say, the interview finally came to pass, thanks to the folks at DK and the Toronto International Film Festival, who are putting on Toga! The Reinvention of American Comedy, a monthlong film fest which includes among its featured directors, John Landis. It’s all worked out so nicely. Let me preface our chat by saying that, of all the interviews I’ve done on our site, this was the most freewheeling, and in many ways, the most fun.
So, without further adieu, check out our interview with the one and only John Landis.
Andy Burns: I’ve been waiting to talk you about Monsters In The Movies for a few years now, since DK sent it to me, so thank you for taking the time. First of all, how did you wind up writing the book. It’s a gorgeous book.
John Landis: I was in London making a movie, and in the U.K., An American Werewolf In London is a big movie. It’s like being in Chicago with The Blue Brothers. When you’ve made a lot of movies, certain movies have more resonance in certain countries. I was approached by four different publishers asking me to write a book about horror films. And I thought, “gee, I don’t want to”(laughs). But they were offering me money. Then, totally coincidentally, I met a woman named Loretta Dives who runs with her husband The Kobal Collection, which is the largest collection of motion picture photography in the world, and she asked me if I wanted to do a picture book. And I didn’t want to write a book about horror films, but the monsters themselves are so interesting visually that I thought that would make a fun book. She said, “Great, let’s do that”, and she went to several publishers, and we chose DK mainly because of the quality of their books.
It took about three months. I was doing other things too, but the writing of it went rather smoothly. I mean, it’s written in a conversational tone. I wrote the chapters, and then I thought that I wanted to hear from important and influential people in the monster world. So the ones who were in the book – Rick Baker, Ray Harryhausen, who sadly just passed, Christopher Lee, Sam Raimi, Guillermo Del Toro, Joe Dante, John Carpneter – they’re all friends of mine. I’ve known all those guys for 35, 40 years, so I did these conversations where I sat with them and recorded it. I enjoyed those, but unfortunately because of the limitations of the book ,I had to heavily edit them, because they were quite lengthy. The two most interesting things about them were that, they’re old friends, so they can’t bullshit me. I can challenge them. And two – I think they all had really interesting and insightful things to say.
Dream crushed. Dream stomped on, chewed up, spit on. Hollywood, you fickle mistress, you have disappointed me again. Just once, once, I would like to see a sequel that lives up to the potential of the movies that came before it. (Arm yourselves with your Aliens comments below) I loved The Hangover. Most people did. It was a brilliant in that it was a raunchy mystery that we were solving right along with the cast. Couldn’t be repeated, but damn if Hollywood was going to let that stop them. Instead we are subjected to The Hangover Part III.
February is Tainted Love Month here at Biff Bam Pop!, which means we are celebrating love, but not the way most of the mainstream Valentine’s Day crowd see it. We’re bringing you tales of twisted romance, unrequited love, outrageous passions, and even the beasts whose names we dare not speak. We’ve been to space, seen vampires and werewolves, brothers and zombies, gods and super-villains, and even super stalkers. Yeah, tainted love, baby.
Now I’m going to take you to the glory days of Hollywood. Director Tod Browning (1880-1962) is perhaps best known for the 1931 Dracula, but the true highlights of his film career were in the 1920s silent film era, where along with the brilliant acting of Lon Chaney, and the twisted screenwriting of Waldemar Young, he created some of the most monstrous love stories known to man. Welcome to Tod Browning’s tales of tainted love, after the jump.
Christmas is in the air and it’s time once again for the studios to throw whatever they have at us in hopes we’ll make it to the theater. It was with great enthusiasm that I sat down to watch Hitchcock, the film about that director we all know and love in what had to be the coldest theater on the planet. It’s winter in LA - stop it with the God-*@//&#$ air conditioning! I’m not sure what I thought I was going to get out of this film – maybe some sordid details about Hitchcock’s supposed affairs with his leading ladies, or a window on a tortured genius – but the film certainly wasn’t that.
Check out the trailer and find out what it was after the jump!
It was one of the slowest box office weekends of the year, which meant small returns for the new releases. Here’s how the weekend turned out.
The Possession scared up enough money to become the number one film at the box office this weekend, debuting with $17 million. While not an amazing number, the film did manage to make back its $14 million budget opening weekend, which is a definite accomplishment. It may no be big money bragging rights, but its still bragging rights.
Find out how the rest of the weekend went down after the jump!
The last weekend of the summer typically doesn’t have much to show in the way of box office, so expect the new releases to not do much business. Regardless, here’s what you can check out in theatres.
The Possession is yet another supernatural demon/ghost possession style flick, though one with an admittedly strong cast, including Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgewick. Last week’s horror entry, The Apparition, did absolutely nothing in terms of dollars, so The Possession could find itself an audience this last week of summer. Look for a first place showing with $13 million.
Find out what else is out there after the jump!
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Yesterday we lost one of the greats in film, undeniably one of the giants in the action film genre, director Tony Scott. The British born younger brother of director Ridley Scott, Tony Scott was 68, and jumped to his death from the Vincent Thomas Bridge in Los Angeles. A suicide note was left, and sources say that Scott had been diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. His frenetic quick cut directing style has been credited with making the action film what it is today.
Scott broke through in 1983 with the erotic vampire flick, The Hunger, taking his cues from the literature of Anne Rice to create a new type of vampire. Rice wouldn’t make it to the screen for decades, so Scott brought her style to the screen with this. In a day when vampires are a dime a dozen, he reinvigorated the concept with the erotica that was inherent in the genre’s source material. Much of our current vamp ideas owe a debt to this film’s realization.
Even though my biggest fear in life is sharks, I have put together a special schedule for you Shark Week fanatics. The Discovery Channel celebrates its 25th year of Shark Week with a jam packed all new line-up of shark infested television. Read on for the full list along with what’s happening with your regular tv viewing schedule.