happy death day influences

(Welcome to Cinematic Inspirations, a series where filmmakers talk about the movies that inspired their latest release. In this edition: Christopher Landon talks about the movies that influenced Happy Death Day.)

In the new horror movie Happy Death Day, a young woman is murdered. And then she wakes up the morning of the day she was killed. And then she is murdered again. And then she wakes up. Will solving her murder and catching her killer end the time loop?

If that premise sounds like a few other movies…well, you’re right. And director Christopher Landon is happy to admit it. In fact, he sat down with us to talk about the movies that influenced Happy Death Day, which range from an obvious Bill Murray comedy to a few horror classics to John Hughes.

bill murray relives groundhog day

Groundhog Day

The Movie: You know this one. Harold Ramis’ comedy masterpiece about an a-hole TV weatherman who gets stuck in a time loop and learns to be a better person is one of the best movies of the ’90s. It’s the genre comedy that launched a thousand imitators. Plus, it features what may be Bill Murray’s all-time best performance.

Christopher Landon Says: “Well…duh. Of course this movie was immensely influential as it is the grand-daddy of time-loop movies. I love this movie so much. Sharp wit, clever, with a heart, it’s about as perfect as a comedy can get. I had to reference it in Happy Death Day to pay my respects.”

Scream Ghostface

Scream

The Movie: Wes Craven’s massively influential 1996 horror gem led a wave of self-aware horror movies. In this film, characters are very much aware of genre tropes and actively defy the expected in ways both thrilling and hilarious.

Christopher Landon Says: “Another strong influence for me. It is one of the best movies to combine genuine scares with big laughs. Wes Craven’s balance of tone and Kevin Williamson’s amazing script created a movie that defined its time. Post-modern horror was never the same again.”

halloween jamie lee curtis

Halloween

The Movie: It’s only one of the most famous horror movies of all time and the film that set the (still untouched) standard for every other slasher film in existence. Every single horror movie of the past 40 years owes a debt to director John Carpenter and masked killer Michael Myers.

Christopher Landon Says: “All bow-down at the altar of Carpenter. The master of suspense and horror. This movie is still a must-see every October.”

Sixteen Candles

Sixteen Candles

The Movie: Writer/director John Hughes crafted so many definitive portraits of high school life in the ’80s that his influence spreads across genres and decades. Just about every modern movie set in a school environment has some of his DNA.

Christopher Landon Says: “This might seem like an odd choice as an influence for a horror movie, but Happy Death Day is also a coming-of-age love story and nobody captured the joy and comedic angst of being young better than John Hughes.”

Back to the Future - Movie Title Name Drop Supercut

Back to the Future

The Movie: One of the most enduring and popular movies of all time, Robert Zemeckis’ time travel comedy is a dazzling science fiction spectacle and a warm, silly comedy and, well, a movie about what happens when your mom gets the hots for you.

Christopher Landon Says: “I love this movie so much for its ability to blend a high-concept, sci-fi premise with comedy and heart. This could have easily been a disaster of tone, but it rides the line between genres so well and is so much fun. I really wanted Happy Death Day to be, above all things, a really good time. Robert Zemeckis gave us that in spades.”

e.t.

All Things Amblin

The Movies: E.T. the Extra-terrestrial. The Goonies. Gremlins. An American Tale. Innerspace. The production company founded by Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall, and Kathleen Kennedy in 1981 evokes a very specific type of movie: adventurous, whimsical, and big-hearted.

Christopher Landon Says: “I grew up watching these movies and to say they had an impact on my work would be a huge understatement. There’s a wonder and charm to these movies that’s really hard to capture.”

tucker and dale vs evil

Tucker & Dave vs. Evil

The Movie: Eli Craig’s 2010 horror comedy may not be famous, but it has developed a passionate cult following in the years since its release. This bloody tale of two lovable rednecks and the air-headed teens who think they’re backwoods killers is both hilarious and gruesome, providing comedy and horror in equal measure.

Christopher Landon Says: “This movie sort of came out of nowhere for me and I love it. Big laughs and genuine heart. I always recommend this one to fans of horror-comedy.”

black christmas

Black Christmas

The Movie: Forget about the lame 2006 remake – the 1974 original is a horror gem. Although it has been imitated countless times over the years, Black Christmas stands out as a defining horror classic, even though it doesn’t get the same adoration as some of its brethren.

Christopher Landon Says: “Bob Clark made the two best Christmas movies of all time. One that’s hilarious [A Christmas Story] and then this oft overlooked gem that is scary as hell. When a Stranger Calls gets all the love for the caller-in-the-house premise but this movie did it first and frankly did it better. Great performances elevate this movie.”

Heathers show

Heathers

The Movie: It’s been adapted into a stage musical and an upcoming TV series, but it’s hard to imagine anything topping the original. This pitch-black high school comedy pushes buttons that would never get touched in 2017, letting it act as both a shocking time capsule and a breath of fresh air.

Christopher Landon Says: “Acerbic wit and some of the most memorable dialogue ever. This is the OG Mean Girls and I love it.”

bill murray relives groundhog day

Groundhog Day

The Movie: You know this one. Harold Ramis’ comedy masterpiece about an a-hole TV weatherman who gets stuck in a time loop and learns to be a better person is one of the best movies of the ’90s. It’s the genre comedy that launched a thousand imitators. Plus, it features what may be Bill Murray’s all-time best performance.

Christopher Landon Says: “You’re in a time loop and this list is starting again.”

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