Joe Dante

"At his best, Dante manages to capture in his work the wonder - and humor - of 1950s and 1960s movies that first turned him on: his films are overflowing with in-jokes for like-minded movie buffs." - Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia, 1995

Joe Dante

Director / Editor
(1946- ) Born November 28, Morristown, New Jersey, USA

Key Production Country: USA
Key Genres: Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi Comedy, Parody/Spoof, Creature Film, Horror Comedy, Science Fiction, Family-Oriented Comedy
Key Collaborators: Dick Miller (Character Actor), Robert Picardo (Character Actor), Jerry Goldsmith (Composer), Michael Finnell (Producer), John Hora (Cinematographer), Marshall Harvey (Editor), James Spencer (Production Designer), Zach Galligan (Leading Actor), Phoebe Cates (Leading Actress), John Sayles (Screenwriter), Charlie Haas (Screenwriter), Jamie Anderson (Cinematographer)

"Joe Dante is a U.S. director best known for his darkly comic horror and science-fiction films, including Piranha (1978), The Howling (1981), and the monster hit Gremlins (1984). Dante started out as a cartoonist on magazines, before focusing on filmmaking. An avid movie fan, Dante wrote film reviews for several publications prior to his first job in the film industry as an editor at New World Pictures." - William Sean Wilson (501 Movie Directors, 2007)
"Tied to a strong script, Dante's anarchic black humour and subversive send-ups of movie stereotypes provide a delightfully imaginative alternative to Spielberg's manipulative mawkishness; Inner Space, however, exhibits the way his weak plot-sense can occasionally result in indulgent mayhem and irritating in-jokes." - Geoff Andrew (The Film Handbook, 1989)
"Multi-talented director Joe Dante is a bit like one of the juvenile heroes of one of his best films, Explorers, tinkering about with various cinematic bits and pieces and the found parts of miscellaneous cultural artifacts to assemble unique vehicles which sometimes take flight to new and astounding fantasy worlds. It’s no wonder personalities similarly steeped in America’s cinematic and pop cultural past (such as Roger Corman and Steven Spielberg) were among the first to recognize Dante’s unique attributes… At his best there’s no one like him, and even misfired Dante is more interesting than most other genre work done in the Hollywood mainstream in the last decades of history’s most complex, commercial, and culturally bewildering century." - Ross Care (International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, 2000)
"American director of effects-driven fantasies, comedies and horror films… Dante's boyish enthusiasm for the cinema of his childhood is still evident." - David Quinlan (Quinlan's Illustrated Guide to Film Directors, 1999)
“Dante's achievement is considerable. His films constitute a canon of work which has continually undermined and subverted American mythologies, pointing up the particular complicity of the arts and media in the United States in perpetuating unsustainable ideological and socio-cultural agendas. His playful yet black comic sensibility, allied to his encyclopaedic knowledge of popular culture, has enabled him to critique the conservatism of American political and social experience, and lament the triumph of late capitalism over distinctive and imaginative cultural identities… Acclaim for the consistency and creativity in Dante's oeuvre is long overdue.” - Paul Bamford (Contemporary North American Film Directors, 2002)
“Although known chiefly for Gremlins (1984) and Innerspace (1987), the two films he directed for Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment in the 1980s, Joe Dante is far from being simply a ‘director for hire’ or a carbon copy of Spielberg. Despite his films sharing superficial similarities with Spielberg’s work (the suburban settings disrupted by fantastic events, the childlike protagonists at the centre of the story), Dante is one of the most distinctive mainstream filmmakers of the 1980s. With his jack in the box visual style, in-joke movie references and satirical swipes at American institutions (principally suburban Middle America and the US military), Dante’s films are great fun. Like Quentin Tarantino, Dante’s love of movies—particularly B-movies—oozes off the screen and you get the sense that he wants to share that love with his audience as well.” - Marytn Bamber (Senses of Cinema, 2003)
TSPDT Guide
Recommended
Gremlins (1984), The 'Burbs (1989)
Worth a Look
Piranha (1978), The Howling (1981), Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990), Matinee (1993), Small Soldiers (1998)
Approach with Caution
Explorers (1985), Innerspace (1987), Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003), Masters of Horror: Homecoming [TV] (2005)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
Joe Dante / Favourite Films
Citizen Kane (1941) Orson Welles, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) Stanley Kubrick, 8½ (1963) Federico Fellini, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) John Ford, Mulholland Dr. (2001) David Lynch, The Night of the Hunter (1955) Charles Laughton, Psycho (1960) Alfred Hitchcock, Rosemary's Baby (1968) Roman Polanski, Sunset Blvd. (1950) Billy Wilder, To Be or Not to Be (1942) Ernst Lubitsch.
Source: Empire (2017)
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    The Howling
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