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Posts Tagged ‘John Landis’

Darkman

Thursday, January 13th, 2022

After his horror breakthrough, his failed comedy, and his knockout horror sequel, Sam Raimi finally made it to the semi-big-time. He’d really wanted to do a movie of Batman or The Shadow, but could never get the rights. Then he came up with the idea for his own dark avenger, one with the ability to change his face. His 40-page treatment The Darkman was greenlit by Universal Studios in 1987.

Raimi brought in NAVY SEALS writer Chuck Pfarrer to flesh out the treatment as a screenplay, which was then rewritten by Raimi and his brother Ivan (under the theory that Ivan, a doctor, could help make the medical sci-fi aspects plausible). The studio brought in the team of Daniel and Joshua Goldin (up-and-comers they also had working on PROBLEM CHILD) to bring the various drafts together before the Raimis went at it again. By the time the movie was made and released at the end of August, 1990, Tim Burton had made his BATMAN movie and all the studios were trying to mimic that success. Surely that was an influence on Raimi’s choice of composer Danny Elfman, and on the minimalist marketing campaign based around a silhouette and the question “Who is Darkman?”

I’m sure at the time I would’ve been interested in this movie anyway, but I was specifically excited when I read that it was the genius behind beloved video favorite EVIL DEAD II taking his first shot at a large scale mainstream movie. Seeing the posters, reading about it in magazines, seeing it on the big screen, I accepted it as a big time summer blockbuster alongside DICK TRACY, BACK TO THE FUTURE III and DIE HARD 2. But Raimi having four times his budget on EVIL DEAD II still meant about a third or a fourth of the budgets of those films. Even Cannon’s DELTA FORCE 2, released the same day as DARKMAN, had a slightly higher budget. I think it’s a testament to Raimi’s exciting directorial style that his many green screen and miniature techniques, which have dated technically more than any of those other movies, still seemed flashy enough to stand toe-to-toe with them. (read the rest of this shit…)

Into the Night

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

A while back, when I reviewed INNOCENT BLOOD and got into a bit of a John Landis run, I realized I’d never seen his 1985 movie INTO THE NIGHT. Didn’t even know anything about it. I guess you could say it’s kind of a thriller, but of the happening-over-one-night variety, and with some humor. Ed Okin (Jeff Goldblum, DEATH WISH) is a regular boring aerospace engineer guy who’s unhappy and doesn’t know why. He hasn’t been able to sleep for a long time and he feels disconnected from his wife (Stacey Pickren, RUNAWAY TRAIN). Then he starts dozing off at work, getting himself in trouble, so he decides to go home for a nap, and I think we are all familiar with what happens in movies any time somebody goes home in the middle of the day when their spouse doesn’t expect them. It’s just like in TOY STORY how the toys are always having meetings and playing games and shit whenever you’re out of the room. Similar thing with movie spouses when you’re at work. (read the rest of this shit…)

Innocent Blood

Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, I’m saying it now: when it comes to balancing horror and comedy, AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON is the goal. I mean, there ones I love just as much that I consider a little heavier on the goofiness, like RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and EVIL DEAD 2, but AMERICAN WEREWOLF is that ideal where it’s a perfectly serious horror movie and also it’s funny because of the situations and the way the story is told, and neither quality takes away from the other, in fact they only enhance each other.

Well, what seemed like a million years later, but was actually only eleven, director John Landis did a far lesser known but confidently crafted horror-movie-that-is-funny, this time in the vampire realm. INNOCENT BLOOD tells the story of an out of control couple of nights in Pittsburgh when a well(ish)-intentioned bloodsucker named Marie (Anne Parillaud, LA FEMME NIKITA) decides to feed on the local mafia, and it turns into a big mess. (read the rest of this shit…)

Michael Jackson’s “Black or White”

Monday, August 29th, 2016

tn_borwHappy Michael Jackson’s birthday, everybody! What did you get me? I got you this thorough illustrated analysis of the “Black or White” video from the album Dangerous!

The “Black or White” music video is the sort of weird, messy, well-meaning, overreaching, and fun piece of mainstream art that only the lightning rod known as Michael Jackson could’ve attracted. It was directed by John Landis (who had already done “Thriller,” of course) and shot by Mac Ahlberg (TRANCERS, GHOULIES, RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND, STRIKING DISTANCE). Like “Thriller” it was a short film (11 minutes in its longest version), and its first broadcast (November 14th, 1991 simultaneously on MTV, VH1, BET and Fox) was a heavily hyped event. It was a Thursday night, playing right after The Simpsons on Fox (specifically, the soapbox derby episode “Saturdays of Thunder”), and receiving that network’s highest ever ratings at that time.

It had celebrity cameos (including The Simpsons), groundbreaking special effects, meta elements, and (still puzzling to this day) controversy that caused (or was the excuse for) the best part to be removed for subsequent broadcasts. While Michael sang and danced and visually symbolized in earnest about the lack of racial barriers in eligibility to be his “baby” or his “brother,” it became common to joke about not being able to tell if he was black or white due to his vitiligo-lightened skin. Most of the world could accept that “it don’t matter if you’re black or white” in theory, but that was not gonna stop them from making judgments about Michael’s racial identity.

Like the feature length MOONWALKER, this mini-movie is a jumbled mix-tape of stylistically clashing segments. For convenience I will break it down into four main sections. (read the rest of this shit…)

Twilight Zone: The Movie

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

spielbergtn_twilightzoneWell, this is depressing. I skipped over Spielberg’s stone cold masterpieces RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and E.T. OF THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIALS ’cause I’ve seen ’em a bunch before, but decided to watch TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE because I don’t think I’ve seen it since the ’80s. Turns out it’s Spielberg’s first bad movie, at least for his segment. And that’s small fish compared to John Landis’s, since it was an actual legitimate tragedy that ended lives and derailed a great filmatist. Bummer. Not worth it. (read the rest of this shit…)

Slasher

Saturday, December 4th, 2004

Remember John Landis? John fucking Landis? The guy who directed THE BLUES BROTHERS and AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON back to back? I was never much of an ANIMAL HOUSE man myself and I know most of the rest was a mixed bag but MAN, those two movies– that’s enough to call the guy a genius I think. At least, a former genius.

But then there was the helicopter accident, and there was the ’80s, and he hasn’t had a hit since COMING TO AMERICA. In fact his last movie that got any attention was BLUES BROTHERS 2000 which I think we all agree he shouldn’t’ve made, unless he just made it as a personal home video for him and his friends. Then it would’ve been pretty great. (read the rest of this shit…)