Tag Archives: joe dante

Marshall On Dante

“I am aware that I have to please the comic fans, the Mignola fans, I gotta appease the Del Toro fans and somehow keep everybody happy or at least give them something new. The bottom line is I just gotta make a really great movie.”

Seven years is a significant number. It’s the number of years it took Richard Sherman to get an itch. It’s how long Brad Pitt spent in Tibet. It’s the amount of time Max Linder was doomed to suffer after breaking that window. (You can deep dive imdb for alternative examples if you so desire.)

It may not be a big round number, but we still wanted to mark the occasion with something significant, and that we did: this episode marks the first time that our guest was once our filmmaker of the month! It’s a milestone we’ve been hoping to reach for quite some time, and after contacting Neil following our coverage of his films in the April episode, were delighted when he agreed to join us!

After Sophie and Lee chat about some of this month’s new releases – including Jordan Peele’s horror comedy Get Out, Ridley Scott’s presequel Alien: Covenant, the latest Pirates of the Caribbean entry Dead Men Tell No Tales, and British comedy Mindhorn – Neil joins us from LA (not Vancouver).

We take this opportunity to, somewhat indulgently, ask him about what it was like to listen to the episode about his films, how strange it is to hear people talk about your work, and whether or not we got anything significantly wrong. Neil has also just been announced as the director of the next Hellboy film, following on from Guillermo del Toro, and the reaction to news of the reboot probably got him more press than any of his films. We get a little bit out of him about Hellboy, and his insights into what it’s like to be at the centre of a media storm is fascinating.

Dante’s two most frequent on-screen collaborators, Dick Miller and Robert Picardo, appear together as garbage collectors in The ‘Burbs (1989)

Then Neil takes us into the works of his own selected filmmaker of the month: Joe Dante. Neil grew up watching Dante’s films, and finds it surreal that he is essential now a colleague of Dante, directing him in an anthology film and even contributing to Dante’s website Trailers From Hell. But here Neil talks about why he loves Joe Dante’s films so much, and the effect they had on him at a young age. What inspiration did the director of Dog Soldiers draw from the director of The Howling? You’ll have to listen to find out!

Further reading:

Outro music: “New York, New York”, written by John Kander & Fred Ebb and performed by Tony Randall, from Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

The latest episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Neil Marshall talking the films of Joe Dante, can be heard on Stitcher Smart Radio, subscribed to on iTunes, or downloaded/streamed via our website.

After covering John Landis, Steven Spielberg and now Joe Dante on the show (in that order, too), we just need a George Miller episode to complete our collection of Twilight Zone: The Movie directors.

Hell Is For Hyphenates – May 2017

It’s the 7th anniversary of Hell Is For Hyphenates, and to mark the occasion we are joined by a guest who was, just last month, the subject of our filmmaker of the month segment: horror filmmaker Neil Marshall! We kick off this episode with reviews of some of this month’s films, including Jordan Peele’s horror comedy Get Out, Ridley Scott’s sequel-to-a-prequel Alien: Covenant, the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film Dead Men Tell No Tales, and the British comedy film Mindhorn. Then Neil talks about what it’s like as a filmmaker to listen and read criticism of his films, and what influences that has on his work. Finally, Neil takes us through the films and career of one of his biggest inspirations, a director of comedy, horror, fantasy, and much more besides, Joe Dante!

The Joe Dante Cheat Sheet

Want to become an instant expert in our filmmaker of the month without committing yourself to an entire filmography? Then you need the Hell Is For Hyphenates Cheat Sheet: we program you a double feature that will not only make for a great evening’s viewing, but will bring you suitably up-to-speed before our next episode lands…

THE ’BURBS (1989) and GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH (1990)

Don’t let the fact that The ’Burbs is incredibly silly and funny distract you from the fact that it is also an incredibly clever satire on the veneer of the American Dream. At the tail end of the Reagan era and the Cold War, Joe Dante made a film about white America’s fear of foreigners, set in an idealised neighbourhood whose pristineness belies a rotten, ugly heart. Tom Hanks stars as the quintessential middle-class husband and father who has a growing suspicion of his unusual neighbours, and, egged on by the mob mentality of other members of the suburban cul-de-sac, ignites chaos and destruction. It’s possibly Dante’s cleverest work, and a potential insight into his worldview. Your evening continues with a viewing of Gremlins 2: The New Batch. The original Gremlins is widely considered the superior film, but we’re going to make a case for the sequel. The point of the Cheat Sheet is to give you everything you need to know about the director in the space of two films, and Dante’s predilection for Looney Tunes-inspired wackiness and meta-textual gags that trample uncaringly over the remains of the fourth wall make Gremlins 2 the irresistible choice. Film critic Leonard Maltin appears at one point in the film, trashing the original Gremlins on screen before he himself is attacked by Gremlins, who then stop the actual film we’re watching as we’re watching it, taking over the cinema we are presumably in! The first Gremlins felt like Dante meeting the audience halfway; the sequel feels like Dante Unleashed. Watching these two films back-to-back should tell you everything you need to know about what makes Joe Dante tick.

Substitutions: If you can’t get or have already seen The ’Burbs, track down Innerspace (1987). It’s not exactly the suburbam satire that The ’Burbs is, but it’s the perfect mix of action and comedy, and one of the most eminently rewatchable films Dante has made. Who doesn’t want to see Dennis Quaid shrunk to microscopic proportions and injected into Martin Short’s arse? Crazy people, that’s who. If you can’t get or have already seen Gremlins 2: The New Batch, get yourself a copy of Looney Tunes: Back In Action. After years of emulating the Bugs Bunny aesthetic on screen – and collaborating more than once with the great Chuck Jones – Dante fulfilled what was surely a prophecy from the mists of time, directing the 2003 live action Looney Tunes film. Though it doesn’t quite reach the peak of the original cartoon (but what since 1964 has?), it’s still far more in the spirit of the classic series than every hipster’s favourite ironic go-to reference Space Jam. You know it’s true.

The Hidden Gem: Want to see something off the beaten path, a lesser-known work from Joe Dante’s filmography? We recommend you take a look at 1993’s Matinee. Dante’s love letter to William Castle features John Goodman as a schlocky film producer promoting his horror film Mant! in southern Florida as a group of movie-loving kids try to cope with the Cuban Missile Crisis. We’ll likely never see a movie-length dramatisation of Joe Dante’s childhood, so Matinee is probably the next best thing.

The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Neil Marshall talking Joe Dante, will be released on 31 May 2017.

Our Next Hyphenate Neil Marshall

Writer, director and Hi4H May 2017 guest host Neil Marshall

A big question kicking around Hi4H headquarters since we released our first episode in May 2010 has been this: who will be the first person to be both a guest and a filmmaker of the month? We’ve talked about a lot of very talented and very still-alive filmmakers on the show… and have tried to lure many of them on as guests, coming awfully close a couple of times, but to no avail. Until now!

Those who listened to our most recent show – featuring Scott Weinberg talking the films of Neil Marshall – heard the revelation that our next guest will be none other than Neil himself!

If you are yet to listen to last month’s show, a) hurry up, and b) here’s a rundown of Neil’s bonafides: he is an English filmmaker best known for horror films such as Dog Soldiers (2002), The Descent (2005), Doomsday (2008) and Centurion (2010), as well as his high-profile television work that has included Game of Thrones, Hannibal, Constantine, Black Sails and Westworld. And about 24 hours ago it was announced he’s directing the reboot of Hellboy with David Harbour in the lead role! (The timing of the Hellboy announcement with this announcement is complete coincidence, although we’re more than willing to pretend we were in on it the whole time and this was deliberately-timed synergy.)

Of course, all of that is far less important than his next role: that of Hell Is For Hyphenates guest host!

So which filmmaker will Neil be joining us to talk about?

None other than Joe Dante!

Dante is a beloved director for cinephiles who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s. This was the era in which high-concept fantasy and self-aware comedy merged to push big budget Hollywood films into what would eventually be referred to as “geek” cinema, with directors such as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas helping to turn the niche into the mainstream.

Joe Dante was one of the key figures of this movement. From his beginnings directing episodes of the groundbreaking comedy series Police Squad!, to his early films such as Hollywood Boulevard (co-directed with Allan Arkush), Dante was quickly established as someone with a sincere love of genre films and a keen sense of humour.

With a career including Piranha, Twilight Zone: The Movie, The Howling, Gremlins, Innerspace, Explorers and The ’Burbs, he defined the movement of multiplex cinema that was exciting, fantastical, smart, and above all fun.

So what is it about Dante’s films that specifically appeals to Neil? Join us on May 31 when we find out!

Our next filmmaker of the month, Joe Dante