Lunching with director John Landis proves an interesting experience, recalls MJ Simpson.
Picture the scene. John Landis is in Manchester as special guest of the Festival Of Fantastic Films, the UK’s number one convention for fans of SF and horror movies (see Live!, page 114). This is a major coup for the FFF – and everybody wants Landis’ autograph.
So it’s in fits and starts that he makes his way to the front door of Sacha’s Hotel, where I’m waiting to take him to lunch. Except that – doh! – I’ve left my cheque book in my room.
“In that case,” says Landis in the brief pause between signings, “I’ll take you to lunch. McDonald’s okay?”
Outside, it’s a sunny Sunday lunchtime and the centre of Manchester is bustling, but nobody recognises my guest. After all, what would the director of The Blues Brothers and An American Werewolf In London be doing in Manchester?
However, there’s a greater threat. Three streets away, just over a fortnight ago, the IRA detonated a large bomb. And John Landis, as has been frequently observed over this weekend, is a dead ringer for Gerry Adams. It’s a relief that we get through the interview without anybody asking for autographs or a fight.
Landis treats me to a Big Mac and fries, chooses Chicken McNuggets for himself, and we look for a place to sit, but McDonald’s is packed. Upstairs, we spot an empty table and approach, only to discover that it is, in fact, Kiddies’ Corner. But there’s nowhere else to sit and so John happily sets the tray down on a plastic table which could charitably be described as knee-high. We settle ourselves onto tiny plastic chairs, our knees tucked up under our chins, and I start the tape recorder.
With the likes of American Werewolf and Innocent Blood , John Landis has scared the pants off millions of cinema-goers, but nothing he’s ever committed to celluloid could ever be as scary as what I’m now facing. For over his shoulder leers, Big Brother-like, a giant Roy Lichtenstein-style painting of... Ronald McDonald.
Like I said, it’s a bizarre interview...