John David Landis (born August 3, 1950) is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, and occasional actor.
He's known for having directed some of the most beloved comedies of the late 1970s and early '80s, including Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Trading Places, Coming to Americanote and ˇThree Amigos!, as well as the horror classic An American Werewolf in London and Michael Jackson's groundbreaking music video for "Thriller." He also developed and produced Clue, the All-Star Cast mystery/comedy based on the popular board game.
More controversially, Landis is known for his reckless direction when filming his segment for Twilight Zone: The Movie, which killed Vic Morrow and two (illegally employed) child actors. Filming late at night and violating child labor laws, he ignored the helicopter pilot's warning against flying low to the ground and close to pyrotechnics, resulting in the helicopter crashing and the three actors getting violently killed in the process. Landis plead guilty to the illegal child labor, but not manslaughter, of which he was acquitted despite all evidence against him; still, the controversy tarnished his name, and once he started a rotten streak with Oscar his film directing career would eventually grind to a screeching halt. Since then, he has mostly worked in television.
He is also the father of Max Landis, a screenwriter and also a director.
Works directed by John Landis:<!—index—>
- The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)
- Animal House (1978)
- The Blues Brothers (1980)
- An American Werewolf in London (1981)
- Trading Places (1983)
- Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983, first segment)
- Michael Jackson's Thriller (1983)
- Into the Night (1985)
- Spies Like Us (1985)
- ˇThree Amigos! (1986)
- Amazon Women on the Moon (1987, 5 segments)
- Coming to America (1988)
- Dream On (1990–96, 17 episodes)
- Oscar (1991)
- Innocent Blood (1992)
- Beverly Hills Cop III (1994)
- The Stupids (1996)
- Blues Brothers 2000 (1998)
- Masters of Horror (2005–06, 2 episodes)
- Psych (2007–08, 3 episodes)
- Fear Itself (2008, 1 episode)
- Burke & Hare (2010)
- Franklin & Bash (2012, 1 episode)
- Stan Lee's Superhero Kindergarten (2021, 1 episode)
His works provide examples of:
- Arc Words: "See you next Wednesday," a Shout-Out to his favorite film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- Author Appeal:
- Loves to include other directors in cameo roles in his films. Animal House is his only movie which lacks this feature.
- Classic music. After The Blues Brothers, Landis has been able to work with pretty much any musician he's wanted to, leading to lots of musician cameos in his films too.
- The "Visit Universal Studios. (Ask for Babs)" end card that often appears at the end of his films.
- Working in an appearance of the phrase "See you next Wednesday".
- Creator Backlash: Understandably, he's not proud of his segment from Twilight Zone: The Movie causing the deaths of three actors, though he's said that he's more ashamed of employing the children illegally than indirectly causing their deaths (to be fair, who would want to take the blame for something like that?).
- Production Posse: Although he's worked with a lot of different actors over the years, certain faces do keep popping up:
- Dan Aykroyd: The Blues Brothers, Blues Brothers 2000, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Trading Places, Into the Night, Spies Like Us, Susan's Plan
- John Belushi: Animal House, The Blues Brothers
- Peter Riegert: Animal House, Oscar
- Mark Metcalf: Animal House, The Stupids, Oscar
- Eddie Murphy: Trading Places, Coming to America, Beverly Hills Cop III
- Henry Gibson: The Blues Brothers, The Kentucky Fried Movie
- Chevy Chase: Spies Like Us, ˇThree Amigos!
- Frank Oz: The Blues Brothers, Blues Brothers 2000, Trading Places, An American Werewolf in London, Spies Like Us, Innocent Blood.
- Surreal Humor: Including the overly supernatural nun in The Blues Brothers and the singing bush in Three Amigos!
- Video Credits: Obviously fond of this trope as he used it several times.