Joe Dante‘s movies root themselves into your psyche and refuse to let go. Those little guys with eating restrictions (Gremlins), watching movies during a national crisis (Matinee), having creepy neighbors (The ‘Burbs), and accidentally getting shrunk down and injected into someone (Innerspace) remain some of the most memorable of all time. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that his latest film, The Hole, is pretty much for kids, just not the ones who are faint of heart.
Here are the great films that inspired this fantastic filmmaker. Watching them is kind of like going to film school for free. You can send Joe a thank you card.
Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958; 95% Tomatometer)
This mesmerizingly brilliant film noir was Orson Welles’ last Hollywood movie. Dumped into second feature playdates, it’s finally become more popular than Citizen Kane. It was recut and reshot by the studio but a longer preview version surfaced a few years ago and is preferable to the well-meaning but bogus “reconstruction” edit which seems to be the extant version. Both are available on the dvd box set.
Sam Peckinpah followed The Wild Bunch with a deeply personal, lyrical western love story which was promptly buried by its distributor. Its failure to find an audience nearly caused the director to abandon westerns altogether, but over the years its reputation has grown and it stands as one of Peckinpah’s finest.
Originally issued as Reign of Terror, Anthony Mann’s Classics-Illustrated-meets-film-noir treatment of the French revolution is one of the most striking low budget period pieces to come from Hollywood, abetted by graphic b/w imagery from the great d.p. John Alton and striking production design from the always reliable William Cameron Menzies. Plus it’s witty moves like lightning.
Sergio Leone cashed in his Dollars chips to make the Euro western to end them all. Thematically rich and generally regarded as the greatest spaghetti western of them all, brilliantly choreographed to Ennio Morricone’s unforgettable music. Impressive set-pieces abound and, combined with iconic casting and eye-filling US locations, mark this as a dreamscape of an Old West about to be invaded by “progress”.
The Hole is in theaters and concurrently available on home video now.