On this past Tuesday, November 28, director Joe Dante turned 60. Before you rush out to pick up one of those "Oh Crap! I Missed Your Birthday!" cards, the purpose of this post is to point you to the Joe Dante blog-a-thon, spearheaded by Video Watchdog magazine editor and publisher Tim Lucas over at Video Watchblog. Lucas tossed out the suggestion last Wednesday that the occasion be commemorated by a large-scale discussion of the man's work, and a handful of dedicated and knowledgeable bloggers answered the call.
- First up is Lucas's posting (and you can link to all the other blog-a-thon posters from here). Lucas and Dante are longtime colleagues, with Dante having contributed to Video Watchdog, and the two hoping to one day bring to fruition a film project they've been working on for some time. Lucas takes an in-depth and affectionate look at Dante's films from his first directorial effort Hollywood Boulevard (a personal favorite of mine, in which Dante and co-director Allan Arkush marry action scenes from the Roger Corman catalog with new footage to make an exploitation classic) all the way up through Homecoming, which was the director's contribution to Showtime's Masters of Horror series.
- Richard Harland Smith calls for a reunion of Dante and writer John Sayles over at Turner Classic Movies' Movie Morlocks blog. The pair collaborated on only two films, the Roger Corman produced Jaws knock-off Piranha ("They're Here and They're Hungry!"), and The Howling, based on the novel by Gary Brandner, but Smith thinks the two should give it another try. Since both movies mixed the scares with a sense of fun to good effect, I'm inclined to agree.
- Over at Film Ick, Brendon Connelly discusses films he thinks would have been improved had Dante directed them, most notably E.T: The Extraterrestrial and Goonies.
- Exploding Kinetoscope has a posting titled "Hellzapoppin'!: The Infernal Comedy of Joe Dante." Author Chris Stangl discusses satire in Dante's Explorers, anarchy in Gremlins and a deleted scene from Gremlins 2 involving a flying frying pan that may well be the funniest joke known to man.
- The Horror Blog's "Half Dan, Half Ante" discusses non sequiturs in Dante's films, with the briefly seen stop-motion creature from Piranha being the primary example.