Joe Dante  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Joe Dante (born November 28, 1946) is an American film director and producer of films generally with humorous and scifi content.

Joe Dante started his film career at Roger Corman's New World Studios as a promotion specialist editing trailers. He soon became a protege of Cormans editing his first film, The Arena, in 1973 and directing his first film in 1976, the highly acclaimed Jaws spoof Piranha. Next came The Howling, still regarded by many as the greatest werewolf film ever made, and Joe was pushed into the limelight. One fan of The Howling is Steven Spielberg who sought out Dante and started the joint ventures which still carry on today.


His films include Piranha (1978) and The Howling (1981), both from scripts by John Sayles; Segment 3 of Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983); Gremlins (1984), his first major hit, and its sequel Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990); Explorers (1985), Innerspace (1987), Amazon Women on the Moon (1987); The 'Burbs (1989), Matinee (1993), Runaway Daughters (1994), The Second Civil War (1997), The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy (1997), Small Soldiers (1998), Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003), and Homecoming (2005). In 1995-1996, Dante worked on The Phantom, and when he was removed from the film, he chose screen credit (as executive producer) rather than pay. He wished he had chosen pay when he saw the resultsTemplate:Fact. He was creative consultant on Eerie, Indiana (1991-1992) and directed five episodes. He played himself in the series finale.


Dante was born Joseph Domenick Dante in Morristown, New Jersey. Dante began his movie career working for Roger Corman, similar to Francis Ford Coppola and James Cameron. He worked as an editor on films such as Grand Theft Auto before codirecting Hollywood Boulevard with Allan Arkush. His first full feature film, Piranha, was released in 1978. After the release of The Howling, he was noticed by Steven Spielberg for whom he directed the third segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie, wherein a woman is 'adopted' by an omnipotent child. His first really big hit, Gremlins, which was also produced by Steven Spielberg, was released in 1984. He would work with Spielberg again on Innerspace and Gremlins 2. His films are well known for their movie injokes and their special visual effects.

Dante's wife, Sylvia, portrays one of the nuns at the concert in Arkush's Rock 'n' Roll High School, which Joe co-wrote and directed five scenes when Arkush was ill. Joe's garage is frequently mentioned in audio commentaries as holding many of the props from his various films, such as the Peltzer Peeler Juicer from Gremlins, and where the mock-pornographic scene in The Howling was shot.

Because Dante rarely writes his own screenplays, he has developed a reputation as an auteur in the "a posteriori" Bazinian sense of utilizing and transforming existing works toward his own artistic vision. Dante also developed a stock company of actors who worked with him over a long period of time, in the Woody Allen mode. Dick Miller, for example, has been in all of Dante's feature films and most of his television work, while Belinda Balaski, Archie Hahn, and Robert Picardo come in at close second, third, and fourth, with one less production each, respectively. Other actors Dante has worked with more than once include John Astin, Paul Bartel, Phoebe Cates, Roger Corman, Cory Danziger, Rick Ducommun, Kevin Dunn, Corey Feldman, Carrie Fisher, Joe Flaherty, Courtney Gains, Zach Galligan, Henry Gibson, Charles S. Haas, Heather Haase, Phil Hartman, Bob Holt, Rance Howard, Chuck Jones, Jackie Joseph, Omri Katz, Denis Leary, Sarah Lilly, Kevin McCarthy, Mark McCracken, Michael McKean, Don McCloud, Cathy Moriarty, Ron Perlman, Jason Presson, Kathleen Quinlan, Neil Ross, Diane Sainte-Marie, John Sayles, Wendy Schaal, William Schallert, Michael Scheehaan, Dan Stanton, Don Stanton, Christopher Stone, Dee Wallace-Stone, Meshach Taylor, Kenneth Tobey, and Alexandra Wilson. In addition, he "discovered" Ethan Hawke in the grand Hollywood tradition. His respect for the screenwriter extends to the point where, in order to make sure he can confer with the writer on-set and provide some minor, additional remuneration, he always casts the writer in a small part of the production itself. The studio is normally unwilling to pay to have the writer on-set in any other way.

He has cited among his major influences Roger Corman, Chuck Jones, Frank Tashlin, James Whale, and Jean Cocteau, as well as an admiration for the film, Hellzapoppin', from which he frequently borrows jokes because of how difficult the film is to see in the United States.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Joe Dante" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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