Joe Dante

Joseph James “Joe” Dante (born November 28, 1946) is an American film director and producer of films generally with humorous and scifi content.

His films include Piranha (1978) and The Howling (1981), both from scripts by John Sayles; Segment 3 of Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983); Gremlins (1984), his first major hit, and its sequel Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990); Explorers (1985), Innerspace (1987), Amazon Women on the Moon (1987); The ‘Burbs (1989), Matinee (1993), Runaway Daughters (1994), The Second Civil War (1997), The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy (1998), Small Soldiers (1998), Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003), and Homecoming (2005). In 1995-1996, Dante worked on The Phantom, and when he was removed from the film, he chose screen credit (as executive producer) rather than pay.  He was creative consultant on Eerie, Indiana (1991-1992) and directed five episodes. He played himself in the series finale.

Always casts Dick Miller in a cameo or supporting role.

Frequently has films/TV shows with themes similar to the movie in various scenes.

Always includes a reference to the Warner Bros. cartoons somewhere in each of his works.

Frequently casts Robert Picardo in supporting roles or cameos.

Frequently casts William Schallert in supporting roles or cameos.

Frequently hired composer Jerry Goldsmith.

Frequently casts Kevin McCarthy.

Frequently casts Ron Perlman in supporting roles or cameos.


Former Roger Corman protégé. Also helped by Steven Spielberg.

Directors he has cited as his principal influences include Chuck Jones, Frank Tashlin, James Whale, Roger Corman, and Jean Cocteau.

Was interested in directing Batman (1989).

Was scheduled to direct a Jaws (1975) parody (under the National Lampoon banner) in the early 1980s called “Jaws 3 People 0”. Universal Pictures dropped this concept in favor of a “straight” film (which became the critical and financial flop Jaws 3-D (1983)).


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