The Egyp­tian pays trib­ute to long­time crea­ture-fea­ture fan, film­maker Joe Dante.

Los Angeles Times - - SUNDAY CALENDAR - By Su­san King

Di­rec­tor Joe Dante is one of the “mon­ster kids”— peo­ple who grew up watch­ing the Univer­sal hor­ror films on TV in the 1950s.

“A lot of peo­ple from that group ended up be­ing movie pro­duc­ers and even run­ning stu­dios,” said Dante, the di­rec­tor of such clas­sic hor­ror/ come­dies and sci-fi ad­ven­tures as 1981’s “The Howl­ing,” 1984’s block­buster “Grem­lins” and 1987’s “In­nerspace.”

“The most loyal au­di­ence for movies is the hor­ror au­di­ence,” noted the 68-year-old Dante, who, like such film­mak­ers as Fran­cis Ford Cop­pola, Ron Howard and James Cameron, got his start with the “King of the B’s” in­die pro­ducer Roger Cor­man’s New World Pic­tures.

“That’s the one au­di­ence you can ex­pect will show up the first week­end be­cause they re­ally love this kind of stuff.”

Be­ing a genre di­rec­tor, Dante said, has stood him in good stead the past four decades. Even when he goes into meet­ings with pro­duc­ers who prob­a­bly weren’t even born when “Grem­lins” was re­leased, they knowhim and his movies many of which have ac­tu­ally grown in pop­u­lar­ity over the years.

“They say, ‘We love you, you’re our fa­vorite di­rec­tor’ — and then they hire some­body younger,” he said, laugh­ing. “But the meet­ings are usu­ally cor­dial, and there’s al­ways a lot of re­spect and ad­mi­ra­tion for the ca­reer, which is a good thing be­cause ev­ery once in a while it gets you a job.”

Dante is so pas­sion­ate about movies he calls his love of cinema a “re­li­gion.”

Be­sides watch­ing “Drac­ula,” “Franken­stein” and “The Wolf Man” on tele­vi­sion grow­ing up in New Jer­sey, Dante would bike to a lo­cal movie the­ater for the Satur­day mati­nee. “The first boy and girl in line would get in

free,” re­called Dante, who charm­ingly talked about his life in movies at the Amer­i­can Cine­math­eque’s Egyp­tian The­atre.

“If you got in free you could use your quar­ter for candy. You could buy one pop­corn, one soda and two boxes of candy for 25 cents. Those were the days! I was at the movies al­most ev­ery week­end.”

Dante was so de­voted to cinema that while at­tend­ing the Philadel­phia Col­lege of Art he put him­self some­what in harm’s way when he’d fre­quent the iron­i­cally named Fam­ily The­ater.

“It was triple bills,” said Dante. “They would turn up the heat re­ally hot dur­ing ‘The Day the Earth Caught Fire,’ so peo­ple would drink more. But the rule of thumb at the the­ater was that you could never go down to the bath­room be­cause leg­end had it that peo­ple had gone dow­nand never came back.”

There was even a stab­bing in themid­dle of a hor­ror film di­rected by the in­flu­en­tial Ital­ian film maker Mario Bava.

“Luck­ily, they didn’t turn the lights on no mat­ter what hap­pened,” said Dante. “So even when the po­lice came, the movie didn’t stop. This was my only chance to see the­movie. I moved down to a dif­fer­ent part of the the­ater and­was able to still watch.”

Dante’s pas­sion for cinema has in­fused his films. Part of the fun of watch­ing one of his movies is to pick out his homage to clas­sic films whether it be nam­ing char­ac­ters af­ter were­wolf movie di­rec­tors in his were­wolf clas­sic “The Howl­ing” to clev­erly us­ing clips from Ge­orge Romero’s 1968 zom­bie thriller “Night of the Liv­ing Dead” for a com­i­cally grue­some ef­fect in his new zom-com “Bury­ing the Ex,” which is be­ing re­leased in the­aters and VOD on June 19.

And his pop­u­lar “Trail­ers from Hell” Web se­ries fea­tures Dante and sev­eral other film­mak­ers in­tro­duc­ing and dis­cussing vin­tage com­ing at­trac­tions of sem­i­nal genre movies.

“Joe is an im­por­tant di­rec­tor be­cause he has the so­phis­ti­ca­tion and the smarts to si­mul­ta­ne­ously pull off suc­cess­ful genre films— and spoof them at the same time,” said Stephen Ujlaki, dean of the Loy­ola Mary­mont School of Film and Tele­vi­sion, via email.

Au­di­ences, he added, “can en­joy his films at a cou­ple of dif­fer­ent lev­els. That’s re­ally hard. He’s also a nat­u­rally very funny guy whose films are al­ways en­joy­able— and sub­ver­sive.”

From Wed­nes­day through June 14, the Cine­math­eque is pay­ing trib­ute to the film­maker with “The A tomo-Vi­sion of Joe Dante” ret­ro­spec­tive. The fes­ti­val, which opens with “Grem­lins” and the un­der­rated 1990 se­quel “Grem­lins 2: The New Batch,” will of­fer a sneak pre­view of “Bury­ing the Ex” on Thurs­day with Dante and stars An­ton Yelchin and Ash­ley Greene ap­pear­ing in per­son.

Penned by Alan Trezza, “Bury­ing the Ex” is pure Dante. Yelchin plays an un­abashed movie geek named Max who dis­cov­ers his beau­ti­ful girl­friend (Greene) is a neu­rotic con­trol freak af­ter she moves in with him. But he’s afraid he’ll hurt her feel­ings if he breaks up with her. When she dies in a freak ac­ci­dent, Max moves on and finds love with a spunky yo­gurt shop owner (Alexan­dra Dad­dario). But things get com­pli­cated when his late girl­friend re­turns from the dead and wants to carry on their re­la­tion­ship.

Dante shot the film in L.A. in just 20 days. Greene, who played a vam­pire in the “Twi­light” se­ries, said the di­rec­tor’s “en­ergy is con­ta­gious.”

“He is so calm and sweet and then he cre­ates these kind of fan­tas­ti­cal, out­ra­geous, quirky, some­times grue­some worlds. I think if I would have met him on the street, I would never ex­pect him to cre­ate these type of films.”

KirkMcKoy Los An­ge­les Times

“THE MOST loyal au­di­ence for­movies is the hor­ror au­di­ence,” says film­maker Joe Dante, who en­joyed a steady diet of mon­ster movies as a kid in the 1950s.

Warner Bros.

“GREM­LINS,” Joe Dante’s 1984 hit, opens the Egyp­tian The­atre’s trib­ute.

Avco Em­bassy

DANTE’S WERE­WOLF clas­sic “The Howl­ing” fea­tures char­ac­ters named af­ter di­rec­tors of such fare.

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