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Chat Transcript: Director John Landis
on Home Theater Forum


The following is a complete transcript of the on-line chat with director John Landis, held on Wednesday, October 24th on The Home Theater Forum. Thanks to Ron Epstein, Parker Clack and the staff the HTF for all their hard work, and for providing the transcript for all to read. Enjoy!

Subject: DIRECTOR JOHN LANDIS chat
Date: October 24th, 2001

[RonEpstein] At this time it is my pleasure to welcome John Landis to, I believe, his first live internet chat. Mr. Landis, you are amongst a group of movie and DVD enthusiasts who reside on Home Theater Forum. Thanks for agreeing to spend some time with us this evening.

[JohnLandis] Actually, I did one for People several years ago to promote a movie. But this is the first one for me that I am actually doing myself from home. It's kind of scary.

[RonEpstein] Well, relax. We are going to make this very easy for you. I'd like to start with a question that comes from Bill Hunt of THE DIGITAL BITS... He says..."I'm a huge fan of The Blues Brothers, and I was wondering if you would describe in more detail the footage that's now believed lost of the band singing at Bob's Country Bunker. And by the way, thanks very much for all the restored footage of the film on DVD.

[JohnLandis] The Band sang another number at Bob's Country bunker, SINK THE BISMARK, it was good but I've no idea where that footage is.

[MatthewChmiel] Thanks for coming tonight John (may I call you that? :)). I've been a fan of yours since I was a kid (but in some aspects, I'm still a kid, but that's beside the point :)). Has New Line ever contacted you or have you contacted New Line about participating in a DVD release of The Stupids? I know many people (some who are memebrs of this forum) who'd love to see a DVD release of the film with you involved.

[JohnLandis] No. I like that movie, it got royally screwed on release because New Line refused to sell it as a children's film which it most decidedly is. It even has Captain Kangaroo!

[DerekBedard] Hi Mr. Landis, nice to have you here tonight Just a couple of questions for you, one...what is the odds that we will see Michael Jackson's "Thriller" on DVD? I loved that video, and the video & the making of could make a nice DVD. Also, how do you feel about NBC mis dating "Trading Places" calling it 20 years old this year, instead of 18 years old, during thier TV showing?

[JohnLandis] The company that put out the home video, VESTRON, went bankrupt long ago. I'll call Michael and see if we can license it to Anchor Bay or somebody.

[RonEpstein] John, any comment about the NBC misrepresentation?

[JohnLandis] As for NBC, I've learned long ago that most of what is reported in the media is incorrect.

[JeffreyGray] Hi, John Landis! Have you ever considered pushing for a 2002 DVD release of Trading Places (preferrably with involvement, on a documentary and/or commentary, by both Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy)? Paramount has announced that this title is being worked on, but they said it wasn't going to be released until 2003. I know that directors sometimes have influence on the DVDs of their films, and I wonder if you could try to push for Trading Places on DVD.

[JohnLandis] Paramount has been the slowest of all the majors to get into the DVD business in any serious way. I can call, but I doubt I'll have any influence on that beauracy.

[Jesse_Shanks] Hi Mr. Landis! You have made films in a lot of different genres. Is there any type of film that you would like to tackle that you haven't yet done?

[JohnLandis] My dream project would be a film version of Mark Twain's A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT. One that would try to be faithful to the dark and funny vision of the author. But that's expensive and it has a downbeat ending, so it's been a tough sale. I've almost gotten it made twice with big stars, but both times the stars wanted compromises in the character of Hank Morgan to make him nicer that I would not do. Also, filmmakers are typed just like actors - I'm MR. COMEDY but I would like to work in all genres. I love westerns!

[JamesGarner] Glad to have you here. are there any plans to do a new dvd of Blues Brothers 2000 with deleted footage?

[JohnLandis] Hi James Garner! The actor?

[JamesGarner] No, not the actor

[JamesGarner] I'd love to see the original context of the "please please please" number & some other scenes that got deleted. :-) It seems like it was meant to be longer.

[JohnLandis] BB 2000 didn't make enough money domestically for them to spend more money. Maybe in the future.

[Esten] Thank you for coming to the chat tonight, Mr. Landis. Of the top horror franchises from the last 20 years which one do you really like in terms of the concept and which you would like to take a shot at directing another installment of, if the opportunity arose. Also,what would you do with that series story-wise? Thanks.

[JohnLandis] Horror franchises of the last 20 years? I've have to really think about it.

[ScottWeinberg] First off, it's a real pleasure to chat with one of my favorite filmmakers, and it was really tough to come up with just one question. You've given movie fans some truly classic films (Animal House, Trading Places, Blues Brothers, AMWIL) as well as some that didn't "go over" as well (Oscar, BB2K, BHC3). I'm wondering which movie you consider your "most successful" (by your definition of success) and which film you had wish you "passed" on. P.S. Thanks for making my home town look so lovely in Trading Places!

[JohnLandis] There are lots of movies I would do differently now, but AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONON, INTO THE NIGHT AND INNOCENT BLOOD I think are successful on their own terms. I like stuff in all my films, but movie making is constant compromise.

[RonEpstein] Mr. Landis, I have another question from Bill Hunt of THE DIGITAL BITS. He writes...."At a VSDA panel discussion a couple of years ago, you mentioned this great script you wanted to direct for a Lone Ranger movie - The Lone Ranger and the Valley of Gold, I think it was called. Can you talk about that a little bit, and what ever happened to the project?

[JohnLandis] George MacDonald Fraser wrote me a lovely screenplay for that project at Universal but there was a rights mix-up and Fox Family Films owns The Lone Ranger now. They want to make it contemporary! What can I say?

[MarkMcLeod] I was wondering if there was a new release of Animal House planned now that the CE is out of print?

[JohnLandis] I don't know about an ANIMAL HOUSE rerelease. What does "CE" mean?

[RonEpstein] There was a Collectors EDition released about a year or more ago. Mark was just wondering if the studio was talking to you about doing anything further with that movie for DVD.

[JohnLandis] Out of print? I wonder why. I guess they figure to rerelease it much later in some new edition - remember all of the studios want to sell you essentially the same product over and over again.

[RonEpstein] And you heard that from John Landis!

[PatrickMcCart] What are some movies and directors that inspired you to become a director?

[JohnLandis] So many, I couldn't possibly remember. Off of the top of my head in no particular order, Leo McCarey, George Stevens, Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, Kurosawa, Fellini, Viscounti, Leone, Howard Hawks, Michael Curtiz, Frank Capra, Walt Disney, Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, Frank Tashlin, Sam Peckinpah, Don Siegel, Truffaut, John Schlesinger, William Wyler....I can go on like this for days. Vicent Minneli, Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen.........

[PeterMFitzgerald] Pleased to meet you, Mr. Landis...this is wild, because you're both the first director I've chatted with, and the only one I've seen in person (back in summer '84, you were directing a night scene for INTO THE NIGHT, with the Elvis car on Hollywood Blvd towed behing a camera truck, with stand-ins for Jeff Goldblum & Michelle Pfeiffer). Anyway, as for my question...

[JohnLandis] Those weren"t stand-ins unless we were lighting. It was probably Jeff and Michelle.

[PeterMFitzgerald] ...Since you're a movie fan as well as a director, what are some films (any era, genre) you like that you wish were better-known, and would like to see released on DVD?

[JohnLandis] Again, if given time I could come up with quite a list. I'd like to see a good DVD of Pontecorvo's BATTLE OF ALGIERS.

[TerryW] Mr. Landis, thanks for coming here tonight. I just want to thank you for An American Werewolf in London. It is truly a perfect blend of comedy and horror like no other movie I can think of. And your use of music...I'll never be able to hear Van Morrison's Moondance without picturing the beautiful Jenny Agutter. My question: Dario Argento had a cameo in Innocent Blood, what is your relationship with him and have you ever discussed any projects together? And weren't you originally involved in Two Evil Eyes?

[JohnLandis] Dario gave an interview in which he said that he "waited hours" to do his bit in INNOCENT BLOOD and complained about the way he was treated in America. Although I did see him and his daught Asia in Gerardmer in France a couple of years ago and he was very friendly. I think he's pretty funny in INOCENT BLOOD. Dario and I have never discussed any projects together.

[Chucky_P] Nice to talk you Mr. Landis! I'm a big fan (I was on a bowling team called Shlock!) of yours and I wanted to know what was the last good movie you saw in a theater.

[JohnLandis] I saw MUHOLLAND DRIVE, David Lynch's new movie last week, and we're seeing FROM HELL this weekend. Wait a minute...define "good"

[Chucky_P] anything that you liked

[JohnLandis] I can like movies that are in fact not good. What can I say? I'm only really offended by a picture when it's politically too fascist or racist for me.

[VanP] Hi its great to talk to you!!!!!(1st time Ive talked to a person in the business!) Anyways I was wondering what you think about and what your experiences were like making one of my favorite comedies from the 80's, Coming to America. Also what do you think of the current condition of gross out and teen marketing comedies?

[JohnLandis] There will always be good and bad comedies. I enjoyed shooting COMING TO AMERICA although becuase it was rushed out to meet a release date, I think it's a little fat. I would like to trim 7 or 8 minutes out of it.

[RonEpstein] Thanks, John. The follow-up question was: John, will we see you return to the horror genre?, and any plans that you know of for an Innocent Blood S.E.?

[JohnLandis] Innocent Blood again wasn't that successful in the States for Warners to spend any money on it. I really enjoy that picture.

[JohnLandis] I did an interview with National Public Radio today about the sound on the new WEREWOLF DVD, it will air on Halloween.

[RonEpstein] Cool! Will try to find out what station will air it here

[WesRay] Thanks for coming, Mr. Landis! I was just wondering about a comedy nobody has asked about yet. You co-wrote the story and co-exec produced Clue: The Movie. How'd you come up with the story (fitting in all the game characters and such) and are there any memories of that production that you have?

[JohnLandis] Clue was written and directed by Jonathan Lynne. I just set up the mystery based on the characters in the game and he solved it. I was shooting in Europe when it was shot in Hollywood. The DVD has all four endings.

[JeffKleist] I've noticed you shoot most of your films 1.85:1, have you just never had the budget to go anamorphic, or do you just prefer a taller frame? And what is or your opinion on Super35 as an aquisition format for widescreen, do you feel the theatrical picture degredation is worth the tradeoff of being easier to work with? Thank you again for coming, I love your films!

[JohnLandis] I was tempted to shoot THREE AMIGOS in Panavision, I probably should have. I never shot one before because most people will see your movie on their TV and I can't tolerate "pan and scan". However with letterboxing becoming more accepted I would shoot anamorphic now.

[JackBurden] Hey Mr Landis, if you were shrinking one inch every hour, how long would it take before you noticed?

[JohnLandis] If this would be happening during sex - right away!

[RonEpstein] hahahahaha

[DerekMiner] Greetings, thanks for chatting with us tonight! Has anyone talked to you about doing another film like KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE or AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON? Do you have a desire to do more films of this type? I suppose these usually become "cult" type films, but I certainly like the sketch/spoof style.

[RonEpstein] I can't begin to tell you how many time I saw KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE while in High School. It remains one of the funniest films I have ever seen!

[JohnLandis] Those movies are fun, but extremely hard to write. A sketch movie is like watching too many cartoons at one time, they tend to blur together and the whole feels less than the sum of its parts. The Kentucky Fried Movie DVD has my favorite Commentary, it's Bob Weiss, Jerry Zucker, David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and me sitting on a couch watching the movie. It's funny.

[MikeEagen] Hey John, this question is from my friend: how was it behind the scenes on the set of 'Honey I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show'?

[JohnLandis] Honey, I Shrunk the Kids was also fun. I only directed one of those, very ambitious shows - the only Science Fiction Action Adventure Comedy Family Show on TV!

[MichelleM] Hi Mr. Landis, you always have Frank Oz and other Film Directors make cameos in your films how did that start and why?

[JohnLandis] I've always done that, Animal House is the only film of mine with not directors (although Tim Matheson, Tommy Hulce and Kevin Bacon all became directors later). Why? For my own pleasure, it's never important to the movie. I do like it though that at the party that John Amos gives at his house in Queens in COMING TO AMERICA, Tobe Hooper is a guest!

[carl_k] Hi, thank you very much for coming, your work is amazing!!! My question is about one of my favorite films, Animal House. Was there anything that ended up on the cutting room floor that you might like to restore or add as deleted scenes to a future dvd release? And is the story true that you tried to talk playmate Martha Smith into doing a nude scene but she refused? :)

[JohnLandis] By the way, I think Martha is terrific in Animal House. done

[RonEpstein] Is the story true that you tried to talk playmate Martha Smith into doing a nude scene but she refused?

[JohnLandis] No.

[JustinStokes] Hi,what do you think of The Howling? Fans constantly debate if it, or AAWI:L is better. I'd just like to hear your thoughts.

[JohnLandis] I like THE HOWLING. I'm a big Joe Dante fan. At the time I wasn't happy that Rick Baker's ideas for An American Werewolf were being used, but Rob Bottin is brilliant (see Carpenter's The Thing) and Joe is a wonderful director and they made a funny and scarry film with very little money.

[RonEpstein] Mr. Landis, I realize that you have to go. We all appreciate the 90 minutes you spent with us this evening. I realize you had a tough time with your connection, but we had a lot of fun here with you, and we hope you enjoyed yourself. Thanks for coming. I wish to thank Universal Home Video for arranging this chat and Ned Vogler who moderated it!

[JohnLandis] Thank you. And I really appreciate you guys watching my movies. Bye.

Session Close: Wed Oct 24 22:34:49 2001

Copyright 2000-2001 Home Theater Forum. Reader may not modify, publish, transmit, participate in the transfer or sale or in any way exploit any of the content of transcript, in whole or in part, without the express prior written permission of the copyright holder.


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