Whatever Happened To Joe Dante?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

One of my favorite directors of all time. He did Hollywood Boulevard and Piranha for Corman, then he did a certified genre classic, The Howling. From there Joe Dante hit the big time. Gremlins was one of the biggest hits of its day and he had Spielberg backing him. After that?

Joe did a series of movies that were hit and miss with the pubic, but I liked them all. Explorers, The 'burbs, Amazon Women on the Moon (MUCH funnier than the over-hyped Lost Skeleton of Cadavra), Innerspace and Gremilns 2 and Matinee.

Small Soldiers was a modest hit. And then?

Looney Tunes Back in Action, which was a huge flop. It's not really my bag, but I liked it and thought it was hip, sharp and funny. Very respectful of the old cartoons and SF movies. Personally I think the movie is too smart for the multiplex masses.

In Hollywood, you're only as good as your last film. I don't think Joe Dante has done a studio movie since Looney Tunes Back in Action. He did wraparound sequences for the long-shelved, mediocre Trapped Ashes. He did some Masters of Horror and some other television work. Danta has a website called Trailers from Hell, which is pretty cool. And there are some unpromising indie movies in various stages of preproduction for him.

It sucks. Joe Dante seems like one hell of a nice guy and he has proved that he can make a good movie that scores with genre fans and the general public. Good God, Gremlins was made for eleven million and it earned nearly 150 mil at the box office and that's not counting merchandising, home video and television.

It sucks that Spielberg doesn't give his old associate another shot at a real movie. It's not like he can't afford to take a chance.

There's one project that Joe Dante wants to make that would be a dream come true for me. It would have absolutely no commercial potential, but would be a great movie for us, the fans. It's The Man With The Kaleidoscope Eyes, and it deals with Roger Corman and the making of The Trip. Corman, ever the trouper, ingested LSD as research for the project. Tim Lucas, of Video Watchdog fame, has written a screenplay for The Man With The Kaleidoscope Eyes. Get down on your knees and pray to the Movie Gods with me that this will, somehow, get produced and distributed.


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