If Joe Dante never made another movie, his legacy would be forever secure as one of the foremost practitioners of ’80s B movies.
“The Burbs,” “Gremlins” and others have a permanent place in the pantheon.
But Dante is still going strong. His latest tongue-in-cheek horror comedy, “Burying the Ex,” is in theaters and on VOD, and it concerns a man (Anton Yelchin) who has trouble moving on from his dead ex-girlfriend (Ashley Greene) when she comes back to life and torments him.
amNewYork spoke with Dante.
You’ve said elsewhere this film is inspired by EC Comics. Why has that aesthetic impacted you so much?
It’s not just EC Comics. It’s comics in general. I was a comic book kid. I was particularly partial to Disney comics and when I went and made “Explorers,” I thought of it as a Huey, Dewey and Louie movie. So, this movie has a comic book quality to it partly because it takes place in a Comic Con, L.A., cinéaste subculture, which it doesn’t often get shown in movies.
This is your first feature since 2010. Why this one?
It had two good female characters in it and it was something that I thought could be made. It made sense. It was not a budget breaker. It was something that, if we were intelligent about making it, we could probably do it for not a great deal of money and not much time, which is how we ended up making it.
It’s a VOD world now. What do you make of it?
None of us got into this business to make movies to be seen on computer screens. You basically wanted to see them in theaters, with audiences. And for comedies, it’s particularly deadly. … I think that sadly, the wave of the future is theatrical movies are going to be blockbuster-oriented, eventually virtual reality oriented, and the smaller movies are going to be made for small screens.
Audiences are more snarky now, don’t you think? What’s the impact of that?
It is a different world now and people are snarky because there’s more information and people know more stuff. … It becomes very difficult to straight-facedly make another one of a movie people have already seen. There’s a new “Poltergeist” out, which I haven’t seen, but basically people are telling me that it’s sort of a pale shadow of the original movie, where they just have more of everything. Which is kind of the recipe now.
What’s the latest on a potential “Gremlins” remake?
Well, there’s always talk about remaking “Gremlins.” It’s pretty much like clockwork. It’s every couple of months, there’s another story. I don’t know anything about it. I don’t control it. So, it’s not something that I have any knowledge about. … I think it’s inevitable, I just don’t know when or how. My first big hit was “Piranha” and it was a ripoff of “Jaws” so I don’t see how I have any standing to complain about somebody remaking my movie.