Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video that explores the early filmography of horror director Joe Dante.
If you wanted to make a film about the Hollywood horror scene in the early 1980s, you couldn’t pick a more fruitful subject than Joe Dante.
The man’s early career plays like a Forrest Gump-style who’s who of genre film: from a pivotal internship with low budget legend Roger Corman to multiple stints with Rick Baker’s protégée, Rob Bottin, to a fatefully friendly partnership with Steven Spielberg.
But Dante’s early films also speak to a tonal truth that not only feels characteristically early-’80s but also defines the gait and appeal of Dante’s later filmography. Namely: a gift for balancing the frightening and the fun.
From the get-go, Dante was never pretentious when it came to reveling in B-pictures. Like his contemporary Sam Raimi, Dante had a knack for lacing genuine genre beats with a lighter touch. So, for instance, when Piranha‘s genetically engineered monstrosities gnaw a swimmer’s legs down to the bone, it’s as much a gorefest as it is a live-action Looney Tunes gag.
For a more in-depth introduction to Dante’s pre-Gremlins career, we recommend a peek at the following video essay, which covers Dante’s output from the copyright nightmare of Movie Orgy to his ghoulish contribution to Twilight Zone: The Movie.
Watch “The Early Films Of Joe Dante – Piranha, The Howling & More!“:
Who made this?
Andrew J. Wright (a.k.a. Dr. Urdu) is a Canadian video essayist devoted to horror history. The channel aims to shed light on the deeper intricacies of an often derided genre by presenting these films as more than just cheap thrill rides. You can subscribe to Dr. Urdu on YouTube here. You can follow Wright on Twitter here.
More Videos Like This
- Here’s another sample of Dr. Urdu’s work: why Spielberg’s unmade Close Encounters of the Third Kind sequel was still incredibly fruitful and wormed its way into a number of other projects (like the Amblin-produced Gremlins).
- Another sample of Dr. Urdu’s work on how Peter Jackson‘s career began with horror films.
- And another, on the societal influences and cinematic origins of body horror films.
- In Praise of Shadows has a look at why Gremlins is a cultural landmark and how the film impacted the way the horror genre depicts “scary little things.”
- Here’s Dante on Mick Garris‘ show Post Mortem. He discusses what it’s like to work on no-budget horror films and his characteristic sense of humor.
- Given his history in trailer-making, it’s no surprise that Dante appears frequently on Trailers From Hell. Here he is introducing Orson Welles’ miraculously recovered The Other Side of the Wind.
- Here’s Dante talking about his first big job for Corman. Internships with Corman were an early career experience also shared by Francis Ford Coppola and James Cameron.