Director John Landis authors book on movie monstersWritten by Jason Mack | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Director John Landis explores the evolution of monsters from Edward Scissorhands to Edward Cullen in his book “Monsters in the Movies: 100 Years of Cinematic Nightmares.”
Landis is best known in the United States for comedies such as “Animal House,” “The Blues Brothers” and “Spies Like Us,” but in England his 1981 horror-comedy “An American Werewolf in London” is a cult classic.
“While shooting ‘Burke & Hare’ in London and Edinburgh, I was approached by several publishers to write a book on horror films,” Landis said. “I was separately approached by Lauretta Dives of the Kobal Collection, the largest collection of film stills in the world, and thought of this book. Monsters appear not only in the horror genre, but in science fiction, fantasy and suspense, and it is a much broader subject than just horror.”
The 320-page book is separated into categories based on type of monster. It features photographs from the Kobal Collection as well as interviews with those involved with monster movies, such as Sam Raimi, Guillermo Del Toro and Rick Baker. Baker won an Oscar in makeup design for his work on “An American Werewolf in London.” The transformation of the main character from man to werewolf was done without the use of CGI. Their work landed Landis and Baker the job of creating Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video, and Landis later embraced CGI when he directed the video for Jackson’s “Black or White.”
“Computer-generated imagery is just another tool in the filmmaker’s box,” Landis said. “From the earliest cave paintings to the most sophisticated CGI, humans still feel the need to paint monsters.”
He enjoys using CGI, but Landis was happy to have made “An American Werewolf in London” before the technology was readily available.
“It’s a different time, and so many films later it would be received differently by a contemporary audience,” Landis said.
It’s only natural for Landis to chronicle the evolution of monsters since his favorites range from giant gorillas to reanimated corpses.
“I have many favorites when it comes to monsters and all for different reasons,” Landis said. “As [‘Gremlins’ director] Joe Dante points out in the book, monsters are metaphors. Joe suggests a game; name the monster, name the metaphor! A few of my favorite monster movies are ‘Frankenstein,’ ‘Island of Lost Souls,’ ‘King Kong,’ ‘The Exorcist,’ ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ ‘The Re-Animator,’ ‘Jason and the Argonauts,’ ‘The Monster and The Girl’ and ‘Mighty Joe Young’ and so many more.”