John Landis was bitten by the film bug when he was eight years old watching The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958). A voracious movie-watcher ever since, Landis pursued his favorite directors wherever he could while growing up in Los Angeles. After dropping out of high school, he landed a job in the mail room at 20th Century Fox, where he found himself on countless sets and sneaking into projection booths to watch dailies with studio executives. When the opportunity arose to work on the set of Kelly’s Heroes (1970) in Yugoslavia, Landis jumped at the chance, and worked on that film and many others in Europe over the next two years in a variety of roles from production assistant to stuntman to dialogue coach.
After returning to America, Landis began his directing career with Schlock (1973), a parody of low-budget horror films. Johnny Carson was a fan of the film, and an appearance on The Tonight Show introduced Landis to Jim Abrams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker who were then producing their theater show, Kentucky Fried Theater. Landis directed a film adaptation of the stage show called Kentucky Fried Movie (1977), and then landed his first studio film, National Lampoon’s Animal House, which became a huge box-office success.
Through the 1980’s Landis directed many more blockbuster films such as The Blues Brothers (1980), An American Werewolf In London (1981), Trading Places (1983), Spies Like Us (1985), ¡Three Amigos! (1986), Amazon Women On The Moon (1987), and Coming To America (1988). Landis also directed the cultural touchstone music video for Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1983), and later collaborated with Jackson again for the video Black Or White (1991).
Landis also directed 2 segments for Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), Into The Night (1985), Oscar (1991), Innocent Blood (1992), Beverly Hills Cop III (1994), The Stupids (1996), Blues Brothers 2000 (1998), Susan’s Plan (1998), and Burke and Hare (2010). His television directing credits include George Burns Comedy Week, Dream On, which he was also an Executive Producer of, Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project (2007), Psych, and Franklin & Bash.