Born: November 28, 1946
Most Frightening Movies: Piranha (1978), The Howling (1981), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), Gremlins (1984), Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990).
Why He Scares Us: No, the horror-comedy genre was not created by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez with their Grindhouse double feature. Nope, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s Shaun of the Dead, was not the first either. The man responsible for pioneering the horror movie without genre boundaries has to be Joe Dante, who made “B” movies at “A” movie quality. From Piranha, his hilarious take on the Jaws franchise (scripted by John Sayles) about a summer resort’s infestation of man-eating fish, to his outrageous Gremlins movies, Dante’s importance to the horror genre is in crossing genre lines and, in doing so, showing us just how funny horror can be. Sometimes seeing someone being eaten by a fish is just plain funny.