Is That a Joe Dante Film or a John Landis Film? Hell if I Know


Some Gremlins and Joe Dante

More than anything else the purpose of the following post is to help me once and for all distinguish the differences between directors Joe Dante and John Landis. Not sure if anyone else has this problem, but whenever someone starts talking about one of their movies I almost always will say the wrong director’s name. Quite frankly, I’m tired of referencing the wrong person all the time, thus sounding like a wishy washy admirer of their works, of which I am a huge fan of both, by the way.

Well, after doing a little research on these two it turns out that there are actually some solid legitimate reasons for my ongoing confusion as to whose film belongs to whom. Looking back at their filmographies I have noticed many similarities. I figure if I were to make a list of these similarities the intertwined Dante/Landis file stored in my brain might finally untie itself. My hope is that by making the following list I will no longer have to say sentences like “Gremlins is such a great Joe Dante movie, uh… I mean, a great John Landis movie… no… wait, Joe Dante. Yeah, pretty sure it’s Dante, or is it Landis. Shit!”

Follow the jump to see the comparison list I made of Dante’s and Landis’ film careers.

  • Wolf movies (1981): In April Joe Dante’s The Howling premieres. In August John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London premieres.
  • The Twilight Zone (1983): Joe Dante directs segment 3. John Landis directs the prologue and segment 1.
  • Amazon Women on the Moon (1987): Joe Dante directs 6 segments. John Landis directs 5 segments.
  • Masters of Horror (2005): Joe Dante’s horror film Homecoming premieres. John Landis’ horror film Deer Woman premieres.
  • Masters of Horror (2006): Joe Dante’s horror film The Screwfly Effect premieres. John Landis’ horror film Family premieres.
  • Documentaries: Holy shit! I think I found the main culprit for my inability to differentiate between the two. I watch a lot of documentaries and it turns out both directors appear together in 25! documentaries, 12 of which in the last 4 years: The Horror Hall of Fame (1990), The Famous Monsters 1993 World Convention Souvenir Video (1993), A to Z of Horror (1997), Mario Bava: Operazione Paura (2004), Edgar G. Ulmer – The Man Off-screen (2004), Ray Harryhausen: The Early Years Collection (2005), Shadows in the Dark: The Val Lewton Legacy (2005), RKO Production 601: The Making of ‘Kong, the Eighth Wonder of the World’ (2005), The Perfect Scary Movie (2005), Famous Monster: Forrest J. Ackerman (2007), Spine Tingler: The William Castle Story (2007), Trailers From Hell (2008), Starz Inside: Fantastic Flesh (2008), Pure in Heart: The Life and Legacy of Lon Chaney Jr. (2010), American Grindhouse (2010), Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010), The Man Who Saw Frankenstein Cry (2010), Trials From Hell Volume 2 (2011), The Future of Fear (2011), Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan (2011), Zombies (2011), Best Wishes (2012), The Ackermonster Chronicles (2012), Out of Print (2013), Into the Dark: Exploring the Horror Film (2013 or 2014)
  • Their names: Joe Dante – 3 syllables. John Landis – 3 syllables.

Other ways to tell them apart:


  • If it’s in 3D you can bet it’s a Joe Dante film: The Hole 3D
  • If Dick Miller (Pictured above) is in it you can bet it’s a Joe Dante film: Piranha, The Howling, Amazon Women on the Moon (also Landis), Innerspace, The Burbs’, Gremlins 2: A New Batch, Small Soldiers, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, The Hole
  • If it stars early SNL alumni you can bet it’s a John Landis Film: Animal House (John Belushi), The Blues Brothers (John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd), Trading Places (Eddie Murphy, Dan Ackroyd), Spies Like Us (Chevy Chase, Dan Ackroyd), Three Amigos (Chevy Chase, Steve Martin), Coming to America (Eddie Murphy), Beverly Hills Cop III (Eddie Murphy), Blues Brothers 2000 (Dan Ackroyd), Susan’s Plan (Dan Ackroyd)

Okay, having compiled a significant amount of research on the two I think I’m one step closer to confidently identifying which film belongs to which director. Go ahead, quiz me.


Tags: , , , ,

Categories: Features


  1. Un monolito pieno di mostri | strategie evolutive - September 27, 2013

    […] Is That a Joe Dante Film or a John Landis Film? Hell if I Know ( […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: