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Also Known As: Died:
Born: November 28, 1946 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Livingston, New Jersey, USA Profession: director, actor, editor, film critic, cartoonist, magazine editor, screenwriter, TV creative consultant, advertising professional

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Though often erroneously considered to be a protégé of Steven Spielberg, director Joe Dante actually emerged from the low-budget world of Roger Corman to become a sly practitioner of witty genre films and television shows that were obvious by-products of a youth spent watching movies. After working as an editor on several Corman projects like "Student Teachers" (1974) and "Grand Theft Auto" (1977), Dante made his directorial debut with the camp classic, "Piranha" (1978), a satirical take on "Jaws" (1975) that served as a calling card for more mainstream Hollywood movies. He made more of a cult splash with "The Howling" (1981), a comic horror take on the classic werewolf tale that featured then groundbreaking special effects. Dante had arguably his greatest success with "Gremlins" (1984), a landmark comedy-horror film that became a monster box office hit that managed to spawn a 1990 sequel and several unworthy imitators. From there, Dante's career hit a downward slope with "Explorers" (1985), "Amazon Women on the Moon" (1987) and the darkly comic satire "The 'Burbs" (1989). Though he showed exuberant life with "Matinee" (1993), the critically hailed coming-of-age tale was dismissed by moviegoers....

Though often erroneously considered to be a protégé of Steven Spielberg, director Joe Dante actually emerged from the low-budget world of Roger Corman to become a sly practitioner of witty genre films and television shows that were obvious by-products of a youth spent watching movies. After working as an editor on several Corman projects like "Student Teachers" (1974) and "Grand Theft Auto" (1977), Dante made his directorial debut with the camp classic, "Piranha" (1978), a satirical take on "Jaws" (1975) that served as a calling card for more mainstream Hollywood movies. He made more of a cult splash with "The Howling" (1981), a comic horror take on the classic werewolf tale that featured then groundbreaking special effects. Dante had arguably his greatest success with "Gremlins" (1984), a landmark comedy-horror film that became a monster box office hit that managed to spawn a 1990 sequel and several unworthy imitators. From there, Dante's career hit a downward slope with "Explorers" (1985), "Amazon Women on the Moon" (1987) and the darkly comic satire "The 'Burbs" (1989). Though he showed exuberant life with "Matinee" (1993), the critically hailed coming-of-age tale was dismissed by moviegoers. Following a brief sojourn into television, Dante returned to the silver screen with the overly violent "Small Soldier" (1998), followed by the rather tame "Looney Tunes: Back in Action" (2003). Though he failed to repeat the success of "Gremlins" later in his career, Dante remained a stylish director of genre pictures who unabashedly displayed his love and obsession with film.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
2.
3.
  Hole, The (2009)
4.
5.
6.
  Small Soldiers (1998) Director
8.
  Second Civil War, The (1997) Director
9.
  Runaway Daughters (1994) Director
10.
  Matinee (1993) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Fuller Life, A (2014)
4.
7.
 Beverly Hills Cop III (1994) Jailer
8.
 Silence Of The Hams, The (1994) (Cameo Appearance)
9.
10.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
At age seven, suffered a bout with polio
1968:
Served as a reviewer and managing editor for FILM BULLETIN, a trade magazine (dates approximate)
1974:
Moved to California with future producer Jon Davison, Jonathan Kaplan and some other people recommended by Martin Scorsese
1974:
Began working in film advertising
1974:
Started working at Roger Corman's New World Pictures making trailers; first assignment "Student Teachers"
1974:
First feature credit, editor of "The Arena", a New World period actioner directed by Steve Carver
1976:
Co-directing debut (with Allan Arkush), "Hollywood Boulevard"
1977:
Served as editor on Ron Howard's "Grand Theft Auto"
1978:
Appeared as an interview subject in the documentary "Roger Corman: Hollywood's Wild Angel"
1978:
Solo directing debut, "Piranha"
:
Offered $50,000 by producer Dino DeLaurentis to direct "Orca II"; project was canceled
:
Invited to direct "Jaws: 3--People: 0", a "National Lampoon" horror-comedy spoof produced by David Brown and Richard Zanuck; left the project due to excessive studio interference
1979:
Co-wrote (with Arkush) story for "Rock 'n' Roll High School"
:
Replaced the director attached to a project entitled "The Howling"; had John Sayles rewrite the screenplay
1980:
Directed critical breakthrough feature, "The Howling"
1982:
Helmed episodes of "Police Squad!", a spoof of cop shows from producer-writers David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker
1983:
Directed "It's a Good Life", a segment of "Twilight Zone - The Movie"; first collaborations with producer-directors Steven Spielberg and John Landis
1984:
Directed commercial breakthrough feature, "Gremlins"; produced by Steven Spielberg
1981:
Feature acting debut, "The Slumber Party Massacre"
1985:
Directed "The Shadow Man", an episode on the revival of "The Twilight Zone"
1986:
Helmed an episode of "Amazing Stories", a Spielberg-produced fantasy anthology series, entitled "Boo" starring Eddie Bracken and scripted by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel; directed another episode the following season
1986:
Appeared as an interview subject and provided assistance for "The Fantasy Film World of George Pal", a documentary directed by Arnold Leibovit about the innovative and influential producer-director
1986:
Provided assistance for "The Puppetoon Movie", a compilation film of George Pal's animated shorts from the 1940s, directed by Arnold Leibovit
1987:
Helmed the sci-fi comedy "Innerspace", about a Naval officer who participates in an experiment wherein he is miniaturized and then is accidentally injected into the body of an unsuspecting civilian
:
Formed Renfield Productions
1990:
Helmed the sequel "Gremlins 2: The New Batch"; first film under the Renfield banner
:
Served as creative consultant and directed the pilot and five subsequent episodes of "Eerie, Indiana", an NBC teen fantasy adventure series
1991:
Credited as "Face on the Cutting Room Floor" in John Landis' Sylvester Stallone vehicle, "Oscar"
1991:
Received a creator's credit (shared with Arkush) on the direct-to-video sequel "Rock 'n' Roll High School Forever"
1991:
Appeared as an interview subject on "Naked Hollywood", a British documentary series broadcast on A&E
1992:
Performed a cameo as a lab assistant in "Stephen King's Sleepwalkers"
1992:
Appeared as an interview subject in "The Magical World of Chuck Jones", a documentary cum compilation film devoted to the celebrated animation director
1993:
Returned to films after a three-year absence with "Matinee", a semi-autobiographical look at the movie showmen (like William Castle) of the 1960s
1994:
Delivered a cameo as a jailer in Landis' "Beverly Hills Cop III"
1994:
TV-movie directing debut, "Runaway Daughters", a remake of a 1957 American International Pictures release, shown as part of Showtime's "Rebel Highway" series
1995:
Appeared as an interview subject on "The Roger Corman Special" on the Sci-Fi Channel
1997:
Directed the HBO satire "The Second Civil War"
1998:
Returned to features at in the director's chair of "Small Soldiers", a somewhat violent tale of action figures that mistakenly are implanted with state-of-the-art military technology and develop minds of their own
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Education

Philadelphia College of Art: Philadelphia , Pennsylvania -

Notes

Dante's production company is named Renfield after the crazed henchman of Bram Stoker's "Dracula".

From "The Ultimate Joe Dante Interview" by Maitland McDonagh, SCI-FI ENTERTAINMENT, June 1994:

McDONAGH: So it all began when you were in college with the "All-Night-Once-in-a-Lifetime-Atomic-Movie-Orgy", right?

DANTE: The seven-hour-movie-designed-to-be-walked-in-and-out-of-at- any-time-and-you-wouldn't-really-miss-anything. It was made up of about seven different movies all cut together, plus intros to TV shows, commercials, outtakes...a real melange. And because we presented it year after year, the components changed. TV shows from the early days of the medium were a particular revelation to an audience that have never seen them. I spent my childhood parked in front of the television, absorbing the most amazing things, and with the "Movie Orgy" I felt, in a way, as though I was exporting my culture.

From McDonagh, SCI-FI ENTERTAINMENT, June 1994:

McDONAGH: You've worked on a number of projects with Steven Spielberg, who's known for his sense of childlike wonder. You come out of an exploitation background. Do you see a contradiction?

DANTE: That's what everybody says. The line on "Gremlins" was that it was mean-spirited, and I do have a darker view than Steven does. But I think he likes that, likes the fact that there's a contrast. I don't think the pictures I make for Steven are just like all the other pictures other people make for him. And the great thing about working for Steven is that when you work for Steven you don't have to work for anybody else.

"Gremlins", I think, would not have been made quite the same way if he had made it. It was his idea, and what amazed me was the amount of Spielberg-type stuff you could and turn on its ear....

From McDonagh, SCI-FI ENTERTAINMENT, June 1994:

McDONAGH: "Matinee" is actually rather sad. It's a love letter to a type of filmmaking that doesn't exist anymore.

DANTE: There's no doubt about it. It's a nice little movie, very personal to me. The kid is sort of the way I was at that age, going to the kind of movies I went to see, reading the kind of magazines I used to read. It doesn't seem like that long ago to me, 1962, but I guess to kids today it's like ancient history. That kind of moviegoing is utterly gone. You could send a child to the movies and know that what he'd be seeing would be okay, not have any bad stuff in it. The whole experience was different. I don't think there's a theater left in the country that has a real kids' matinees on a regular basis. It does make me sad, because it was having that kind of childhood that set me on the path to wanting to make movies.

"My model has always been James Whale. . . . His pictures sometimes jump between being very violent and being very funny, very black. I've always enjoyed that juxtoposition." --Joe Dante quoted in "Dante's Peaks" by Michael Freidson, TIME OUT NEW YORK, July 16-23, 1998

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