(US - 1985)
Directed by John Landis. Written by Ron Kosnow. Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Michelle Pfeiffer, Richard Farnsworth, Irene Papas, Kathryn Harrold, David Bowie, Paul Mazursky, Vera Miles, Roger Vadim, Clu Gulager, Dan Aykroyd, Bruce McGill, Carl Perkins, Stacey Pickren, Carmen Argenziano, David Cronenberg, Domingo Ambriz, Jake Steinfeld, Art Evans, Michael Zand, Beruce Gramian, Hadi Sadjadi, John Landis, Ali Madani, Houshang Touzie, Reid Smith. (R, 115 mins)
Just out on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory, John Landis' INTO THE NIGHT has often been compared to Martin Scorsese's AFTER HOURS, another 1985 film with a similar concept of an ordinary guy finding himself in increasingly strange situations in the wee hours of the morning in unfamiliar and dangerous parts of the city. Where AFTER HOURS was set and shot in NYC, INTO THE NIGHT represents the west coast, taking place in and around Los Angeles (there's even a couple of chances to see some vintage TV commercials for legendary L.A. car dealer Cal Worthington). In hindsight, INTO THE NIGHT is often relegated to the sideline and viewed as a lesser AFTER HOURS knockoff, even though it opened seven months earlier. Landis had been on a hot streak going back to 1977's THE KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE, with a string of huge hits that included 1978's ANIMAL HOUSE, 1980's THE BLUES BROTHERS, 1981's AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, and 1983's TRADING PLACES, plus he was at the helm of Michael Jackson's "Thriller," the groundbreaking and probably the most famous music video of all time. INTO THE NIGHT grossed a very modest $7 million, not awful by 1985 standards but far below the box office Landis films generated in that period. While TRADING PLACES became a blockbuster thanks largely to Eddie Murphy, INTO THE NIGHT didn't have that kind of star power to headline it. This meant Landis' name was the main focus, and the deaths of Vic Morrow and two children on the set Landis' segment of 1983's TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE were still fresh in everyone's minds, particularly the director himself, as Landis was officially charged with involuntary manslaughter three weeks into filming INTO THE NIGHT, with a trial spread out over 1986 and 1987. Though Landis and three co-defendants were eventually acquitted, and he continued working in Hollywood (having hits with 1985's SPIES LIKE US, 1986's THREE AMIGOS, and 1988's COMING TO AMERICA), Landis' career never really recovered. His subsequent work in the '90s ranged from middling (1992's INNOCENT BLOOD) to quick paycheck (1994's BEVERLY HILLS COP III, six years after he and Murphy clashed on COMING TO AMERICA, prompting Murphy to quip "John Landis has a better chance of working with Vic Morrow than with me") to desperate (1998's BLUES BROTHERS 2000) to completely unwatchable (1996's THE STUPIDS). Landis has worked very sporadically over the last two decades, with a couple of acclaimed documentaries (2004's SLASHER and 2007's MR. WARMTH: THE DON RICKLES PROJECT), but that nearly 20-year stretch has only seen Landis directing one narrative feature with 2011's dismal, little-seen Simon Pegg horror comedy BURKE AND HARE. His last directing credit to date is a 2012 episode of the TNT series FRANKLIN & BASH.