John Landis Biography

John Landis photo

Born: August 03, 1950


Date of Birth: August 3, 1950

An incurable King Kong fan, Chicago native John Landis was moved early on to work in films. His early teens were spent writing for the defunct newsletter Castle of Frankenstein, a publication bathed in Famous Monsters of all shapes and sizes. Starting in the mailroom at Fox and then working in films as a stuntman and actor, Landis eventually gathered the money for his first feature as a director by borrowing from family and friends. The resulting film, Schlock, would in many ways set the basics for almost every Landis movie from then on: a zany sense of humor and a dash of… monkey business.

All of his movies, no matter what the subject, display an ever-present sense of humor, be it the pure comedy of Animal House and Trading Places or the genre-bending mix of horror and laughs of An American Werewolf in London. Landis has worked with some of the biggest stars in comedy, from Eddie Murphy to frequent collaborator Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, John Belushi and a host of others. He is also one of those who, for better or worse, helped establish the "comedy of the outrageous" style that is so prevalent today. Despite his definite influence on the comedy genre and on a generation of filmmakers, Landis' most well known work is the landmark "long form" video for Michael Jackson's 1983 "Thriller." The piece changed the art form forever and Landis worked once more with the king of pop for Jackson's 1991 "Black or White."

Tragedy struck in 1983 on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie on a segment Landis was directing. During a pivotal scene, a helicopter crashed, killing actor Vic Morrow and two child actors. Landis, his associate producer, unit production manager, pilot and special effects supervisor were all charged with involuntary manslaughter in a trial that lasted for several years. They were all acquitted.

After his 1988 comedy Coming to America starring Eddie Murphy, Landis has had trouble finding comparable success on the big screen. Instead, he started devoting more and more of his time to television, both as producer and director. Among the series that he's worked on are the Movie-centric sitcom Dream On and the sci-fi success Sliders.


Susan's Plan (1998)
Blues Brothers 2000 (1998)
The Stupids (1996)
Beverly Hills Cop III (1994)
Innocent Blood (1992)
Oscar (1991)
Coming to America(1988)
Amazon Women on the Moon (1987)
¡Three Amigos! (1986)
Spies Like Us (1985)
Into the Night (1985)
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) (prologue & segment 1)
Trading Places(1983)
An American Werewolf in London(1981)
Blues Brothers, The (1980)
National Lampoon's Animal House(1978)
The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)
Schlock (1973)

Filmography (actor):

2001 Maniacs(2004)
Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby (1999)
Laws of Deception (1997)
Mad City (1997)
Silenzio dei prosciutti, Il (1994)
Venice/Venice (1992)
Body Chemistry II: The Voice of a Stranger (1992)
Sleepwalkers (1992)
Darkman (1990)
Spontaneous Combustion (1990)
Into the Night (1985)
Muppets Take Manhattan, The (1984)
Eating Raoul(1982)
An American Werewolf in London(1981)
The Blues Brother (1980)
The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)
Death Race 2000(1975)
Battle for the Planet of the Apes(1973)
Schlock (1973)

Filmography (writer):

Susan's Plan (1998)
Blues Brothers 2000 (1998)
An American Werewolf in Paris(1997)
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
An American Werewolf in London(1981)
The Blues Brothers(1980)
Schlock (1973)

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