JOHN LANDIS BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:
John Landis was born August 30, 1950 in Chicago, Illinois. When he was only four months old his family moved to Los Angeles, where he spent the rest of his childhood. Landis began his Hollywood career in the mailroom of 20th Century Fox. In 1969 he went to Yugoslavia to serve as assistant director for “Kelly's Heroes” (1970), a World War II comedy starring Clint Eastwood, Donald Sutherland, Telly Savalas, Carroll O'Connor and Don Rickles. He remained in Europe for a few years, and then returned to the US where he made his debut film as director in the satirical horror “Schlock” (1973). It was a failure, and consequently a number of years went by before Landis was given another opportunity to direct.
Four years later he released “Kentucky Fried Movie” (1977), which showcased a series of skits that spoofed multiple media forms and a number of film genres. He followed up with one of his most remembered movies, the teen sex comedy “Animal House” (1978) starring John Belushi and Tim Matheson. It was a smash hit, earning large box office numbers and international recognition for Landis. The director served up an ever larger success next, “The Blues Brothers” (1980) starring Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Carrie Fisher and John Candy while featuring musical numbers by R&B and soul singers James Brown, Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and John Lee Hooker. The film, which is now hailed as a comedy classic, was trailed by “An American Werewolf in London” (1981), marking his return to horror comedy. Thanks to the picture, in 1983 pop icon Michael Jackson asked Landis to direct his thirteen plus minute long music video “Thriller”, which is often regarded as one of the greatest music videos ever made.
Next the director made the rags-to-riches comedy featuring Eddie Murphy, “Trading Places” (1983). It was a high grosser at the box office, and also established Eddie Murphy as a rising star. Landis’ high flying career took a bit of a downward dive, however, with his next project, “Twilight Zone: The Movie” (1983). Only the prologue and first segment were finished, for there was an accidental on-set death of star Vic Morrow and two bit child actors when special effects caused a helicopter to crash and kill its three passengers. Landis and three other technicians were tried for involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment, but all were acquitted.
His next few pictures, “Into the Night” (1985), “Spies Like Us” (1985), “¡Three Amigos!” (1986), and “Amazon Women on the Moon” (1987) (in which he only directed five segments) were rather tepid comedies. In 1988 he came out with his first commercial hit in quite some time, the Eddie Murphy film “Coming to America”. Unfortunately, it was followed by the disastrous slapstick “Oscar” (1991).
Landis once again worked with Michael Jackson in 1991 to direct his music video “Black or White”, which aired simultaneously in 27 countries with an estimated viewing population of 500 million. He next directed “Innocent Blood” (1992), a film about a sex-crazed she-vampire. In 1994 the director made “Beverly Hills Cop III”. The Eddie Murphy vehicle did not fare too well, but most still considered it of better quality than the second installment of the action series. After directing the forgetful “The Stupids” (1996), Landis made the comedies “Blues Brothers 2000” (1998) and “Susan’s Plan” (1998), both of which also tanked.
The only real success that the director found during the nineties was with his show on HBO, titled “Dream On” (1990-1996). It was a popular cult adult comedy show and winner of two Primetime Emmys. In other television matters he directed episodes of series such as “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show” (1999), “Masters of Horror” (2005-2006), “Fear Itself” (2008), “Pysch” (2007-08), and “Franklin & Bash” (2012). He also helmed some documentaries, including “Slasher” (2004), about a shady car salesman, and “Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project” (2007), a taping of comedian Don Rickles’ show, as well as a number of interviews about him. After nearly a decade of absence, Landis returned to the motion picture industry with “Burke and Hare” (2010), a black comedy about two 19th century grave robbers.
The director is married to Deborah Nadoolman, an Oscar nominated costume designer, and they have two children.
2012 Franklin & Bash
2010 Burke and Hare
2008 Fear Itself
2007 Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project
2006 The Great Sketch Experiment
2005 Masters of Horror
2003 Michael Jackson: Number Ones
2002 The Kronenberg Chronicles
1999 Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show
1998 Susan's Plan
1998 Blues Brothers 2000
1997 Michael Jackson: HIStory on Film - Volume II
1996 The Stupids
1995 Michael Jackson: Video Greatest Hits - HIStory
1994 Beverly Hills Cop III
1993 Dangerous: The Short Films
1992 Innocent Blood
1991 Black or White
1990 Dream On
1990 Disneyland's 35th Anniversary Special
1990 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color
1988 Coming to America
1987 Amazon Women on the Moon
1986 ¡Three Amigos!
1985 Spies Like Us
1985 George Burns Comedy Week
1985 Into the Night
1985 Disneyland's 30th Anniversary Celebration
1985 B.B. King: Into the Night
1983 Twilight Zone: The Movie
1983 Trading Places
1982 Coming Soon
1981 An American Werewolf in London
1980 The Blues Brothers
1978 Animal House
1977 The Kentucky Fried Movie
1970 Kelly's Heroes