Joseph James Dante Jr. (born November 28, 1946) is an American film director, producer, editor and actor. His films -notably Gremlins (1984)- often mix fantastical storylines with comedic elements. Dante’s films also include Piranha (1978), The Howling (1981), Explorers (1985), Innerspace (1987), The ‘Burbs (1989), Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990), Matinee (1993), Small Soldiers (1998), and Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003). His work for television and cable includes immigration satire The Second Civil War (1997) and episodes of anthology series Masters of Horror (“Homecoming” and “The Screwfly Solution”) and Amazing Stories, as well as Hawaii Five-0.
Dante was born in Morristown, New Jersey, and grew up in nearby Livingston. His father, Joseph James Dante, was a professional golfer, though Dante was more interested in becoming a cartoonist. Dante began his film career working for legendary, low-budget producer Roger Corman, who provided similar opportunities to future directors Francis Ford Coppola and James Cameron. He made The Movie Orgy in 1968. He then worked as an editor on Grand Theft Auto after co-directing Hollywood Boulevard with Allan Arkush. His next feature film, Roger Corman-produced Piranha, was released in 1978. Inspired by Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, the film was written by John Sayles. Dante then invited Sayles to rewrite the script for werewolf tale The Howling, loosely based on the novel by Gary Brandner.
Dante directed episodes of cult television series Police Squad!, before Steven Spielberg invited him to join the directing team on anthology movie Twilight Zone: The Movie. Dante’s segment, ‘It’s a Good Life’, featured cartoon-style special effects, and revolved around a woman (played by Kathleen Quinlan) who is ‘adopted’ by an omnipotent boy. Gremlins proved one of Dante’s biggest hits to date, being the third-highest-grossing film of 1984. Combining horror and comedy elements, the film revolves around Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan), who is given a strange creature he calls Gizmo as a pet. After Billy fails to follow the rules for looking after Gizmo, the creature spawns other creatures, which transform into destructive monsters who then begin rampaging through the local town. Six years passed before Dante directed the even more anarchic Gremlins 2: The New Batch, set this time in a New York high rise. Aside from the Gremlins films, Dante also worked with producer Steven Spielberg on comedy adventure Innerspace (1987), in which Dennis Quaid’s character is miniaturised and injected inside a human body. His 1985 boys meet alien tale Explorers marked the film debuts of actors River Phoenix and Ethan Hawke. Dante would later work with Tom Hanks on The ‘Burbs (1989), a black comedy in which Hanks’ character deals with nightmare neighbours.
Dante directed the 2003 live-action/animation hybrid, Looney Tunes: Back in Action. A box office bomb, the film received mixed reviews. In 2007, Dante launched the web series Trailers From Hell, which provides commentary by directors, producers and screenwriters on trailers for classic and cult movies. He is also a contributor to the website. Dante’s 2009 film The Hole received positive reviews, and was awarded the Premio Persol at the 2009 Venice Film Festival. The new award was for the “3-D feature deemed the most creative among those produced globally between September 2008 and August 2009.” With Roger Corman producing, Dante also directed the interactive web series Splatter for Netflix. The series stars Corey Feldman as a rock star seeking revenge on those he thinks have wronged him. Various projects Dante is officially involved in are struggling with funding for years, among them the anthology film “Paris, I’ll kill you”, the werewolf feature “Monster Love”, and the Roger Corman biopic “The Man with Kaleidoscope Eyes”. In 2014, Dante made Burying the Ex, a horror comedy about a young man whose controlling girlfriend suddenly dies in a freak accident but when he tries to move on with his life along with his new partner he discovers that his now undead Ex has come back. The film stars Anton Yelchin and Ashley Greene. It was selected to be screened out of competition at the 71st Venice International Film Festival, and was released in 2015. Dante served as executive producer on the independent feature length thriller Dark, starring Whitney Able and Alexandra Breckenridge, directed by Nick Basile. The film is set in New York City during the 2003 blackout. The film was released by Screen Media Films on June 7, 2016. In 2019, Dante released Nightmare Cinema, a horror anthology film starring Mickey Rourke and featuring shorts directed by Dante, Alejandro Brugués, Mick Garris, Ryūhei Kitamura, and David Slade. In 2020, Dante returned to the world of Gremlins serving as a consultant on the HBO Max prequel series Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai.
Feldman started his career at the age of three, appearing in a McDonald’s commercial. In his youth, he appeared in over 100 television commercials and on 50 television series, including The Bad News Bears, Mork & Mindy, Eight Is Enough, One Day at a Time, and Cheers. He was in the films Time After Time and Disney’s The Fox and the Hound. In 1981, he appeared in NBC’s musical comedy children’s special How to Eat Like a Child alongside other future child stars Billy Jayne and Georg Olden.
Feldman was featured in several consecutive high-grossing movies in the mid-1980s. The movies included Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984), Gremlins (1984), The Goonies (1985), and Stand By Me (1986) as Teddy Duchamp, the latter alongside River Phoenix, Wil Wheaton, and Jerry O’Connell. In 1987, Feldman appeared with Corey Haim in The Lost Boys, in which he played Edgar Frog, a role he reprised in two sequels, Lost Boys: The Tribe (2008) and Lost Boys: The Thirst (2010). The Lost Boys marked the first onscreen pairing of Feldman and Haim, who became known as “The Two Coreys”. The pair went on to star in a string of films, including License to Drive (1988) and Dream a Little Dream (1989). Feldman also voiced the character of Donatello in the original live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.
Career as an adult
After a public battle with drugs (which began shortly after filming concluded for The ‘Burbs in 1989), Feldman fought to re-establish his life and career by working with youths, starring in several lesser-known films, and branching out with an album titled Love Left. He returned to the big screen with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, once again providing the voice of Donatello, and starred in the Richard Donner/Robert Zemeckis/Joel Silver film Tales From The Crypt Presents: Bordello of Blood opposite Dennis Miller and Angie Everhart. He continued working with his friend Corey Haim on independent films, including a sequel to their last mainstream film together, Dream a Little Dream 2. In 1996, Feldman directed his first and only motion picture, a slapstick comedy called Busted where Haim played a leading role. This was the last film that they did as The Two Coreys. (Haim died in 2010). In the late 1990s, Feldman starred in the CBS series Dweebs and then released his second album, Still Searching for Soul, with his band Corey Feldman’s Truth Movement. In 1996, Feldman appeared alongside his former Stand By Me co-star Jerry O’Connell in “Electric Twister Acid Test”, an episode of the Fox Network series Sliders. In 1999, he appeared as Officer Corey Feldman in the music video for the New Found Glory single “Hit or Miss”. In the same year, he made an appearance in the television series The Crow: Stairway to Heaven. In 2002, Feldman released a solo album, Former Child Actor, and promoted it with a second US tour. In 2003 he appeared in the first celebrity-driven reality series The Surreal Life on The WB. On the show, he publicly married Susie Sprague. He also made a cameo appearance in the film Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star starring David Spade. He appeared in the music video for the Moby single “We Are All Made of Stars”. In 2004, Feldman made a cameo appearance in the independent sci-fi comedy Space Daze which was distributed by Troma Entertainment in 2005, and starred in the made-for-television slasher crossover film Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys which aired on December 18, 2004 through NBCUniversal’s Syfy network. In 2005, Feldman made his stage debut in the positively reviewed off-Broadway play Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy (directed by Timothy Haskell), a parody of the seminal 1987 film Fatal Attraction. Feldman played the lead character, named Michael Douglas. Feldman appeared in the theatrical release My Date with Drew and was the voice of “Sprx-77” in the Toon Disney/ABC Family series Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!. In 2007, Feldman and Corey Haim began a scripted reality television series titled The Two Coreys on the A&E Network. Haim and Feldman began taping on December 4, 2006. The show premiered on July 29, 2007. In the winter of 2007, Feldman’s new film, Terror Inside, was released after the premiere of the A&E series. It was filmed in the Greater Orlando area by Minott Lenders, an independent film company based in Florida. In January 2008, Feldman, his wife, and Haim started production on the second series of The Two Coreys. Feldman was also executive producer for both seasons. In 2010, Feldman made an appearance in the music video for the single “1983” by Neon Trees. He served as an official festival judge in May 2011 for the 4th annual Noor Iranian Film Festival in Los Angeles. In 2011, Feldman also appeared in the music video for the Katy Perry single “Last Friday Night”. In summer 2011, Feldman started shooting for the horror film Six Degrees of Hell in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. The majority of the film was shot at the Hotel of Horror haunted attraction. In January 2012, Feldman joined the British television series Dancing on Ice with American pair skater Brooke Castile, and was eliminated in the fourth week of the show. Feldman appeared in an episode of the television series Border Security: Canada’s Front Line aired in September 2012; he was entering Canada at Vancouver International Airport to work on the USA Network series Psych. In April 2013, Feldman also appeared in the music video for the Mac Miller single “S.D.S.”. In October 2013, Feldman appeared in the music video for “City of Angels” by Thirty Seconds to Mars. On October 28, 2013, Feldman released his first memoir, Coreyography. The book details his early life as a child actor all the way up to the death of his best friend Corey Haim. It also discusses his struggles with addiction and as a victim of Hollywood child sexual abuse. In January 2014, Feldman started hosting a show on Battlecam.com called Corey’s Angels Talk Live. In 2015, Feldman and his then-girlfriend, Courtney Anne Mitchell, appeared in episode 11 of the fourth season of the reality television series Celebrity Wife Swap. His girlfriend swapped with actor/comedian Tommy Davidson’s fiancée, Amanda.
Corey’s Angels is a musical group created by Corey Feldman. In September 2016, Feldman made an appearance on the Today program to support his album Angelic 2 the Core, which sparked backlash for its unusual nature. Also in 2016, Feldman stated that he had created a “360 management development and production entity” known as Corey’s Angels “to help girls who were kind of lost and needed help to find their way.” Feldman represented to the public that he needed 10 million dollars to fund the My Truth film project. Shortly after the release of the My Truth: The Rape of 2 Coreys documentary film project, many of the former band members came forward to expose the challenges that each experienced while working with Feldman on the project.
Lifetime Achievement Award
In April 2018 Feldman was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the third annual Young Entertainer Awards.
Marriage Boot Camp and lawsuit
In October 2019 Feldman appeared in an episode of Marriage Boot Camp. 11 months later In September 2020 Feldman filed a lawsuit against We TV and Think Factory Media for emotional abuse. claiming he was held ‘hostage’ on the set. Feldman, also claimed that We TV “falsified information to the public, and discredited Mr. Feldman as a liar on their show.” and alleged that Marriage Boot Camp “glamorized abuse.” and caused “distress” to wife and family.” In March 2021 Feldman dropped his lawsuit against We TV. Court papers did not specify whether this was due to Feldman reaching a settlement, or he dropped the suit for other reasons.