Though often erroneously considered to be a protégé of Steven Spielberg, director Joe Dante actually emerged from the low-budget world of Roger Corman to become a sly practitioner of witty genre films and television shows that were obvious by-products of a youth spent watching movies. After working as an editor on several Corman projects like "Student Teachers" (1974) and "Grand Theft Auto" (1977), Dante made his directorial debut with the camp classic, "Piranha" (1978), a satirical take on "Jaws" (1975) that served as a calling card for more mainstream Hollywood movies. He made more of a cult splash with "The Howling" (1981), a comic horror take on the classic werewolf tale that featured then groundbreaking special effects. Dante had arguably his greatest success with "Gremlins" (1984), a landmark comedy-horror film that became a monster box office hit that managed to spawn a 1990 sequel and several unworthy imitators. From there, Dante's career hit a downward slope with "Explorers" (1985), "Amazon Women on the Moon" (1987) and the darkly comic satire "The 'Burbs" (1989). Though he showed exuberant life with "Matinee" (1993), the critically hailed coming-of-age tale was dismissed by moviegoers. Following a brief sojourn into television, Dante returned to the silver screen with the overly violent "Small Soldier" (1998), followed by the rather tame "Looney Tunes: Back in Action" (2003). Though he failed to repeat the success of "Gremlins" later in his career, Dante remained a stylish director of genre pictures who unabashedly displayed his love and obsession with film.