John Landis Introduction - Essay

Introduction

John Landis 1950–

American film director and screenwriter.

Landis is noted for zany comedies that poke fun at contemporary culture. Containing a combination of slapstick, sight gags, and satire, Landis's films effectively convey his sense of the absurd. Landis first gained critical attention as a director for The Kentucky Fried Movie. This film, similar to Ken Shapiro's The Groove Tube, consists of fast-paced vignettes that parody commercial television, sex education courses, and such film genres as the martial arts and the Blaxploitation movies produced during the early 1970s.

National Lampoon's Animal House was an enormously popular film that greatly advanced Landis's career. Primarily a satire on collegiate life, Animal House is a direct assault on authority and self-imposed stratification of social fraternities. Landis's next film, The Blues Brothers, which he wrote with comedian Dan Aykroyd, is a rhythm-and-blues musical whose epic structure has been compared to the MGM musicals of the Depression era. An American Werewolf in London is a spoof of the werewolf films popular during the 1930s and 1940s. Although this film contains many of the same comic elements used in Landis's earlier work, it is noted also for its realistic special effects.

Because of the tone of his films, Landis's work is considered buffoonery by some critics. However, Landis insists that his work contains serious social commentary, claiming that "all movies are political, no matter how silly they are."