Born in Chicago but raised in Southern California, John Landis was once the most in-demand and sought after comedy director in Hollywood.Landis began his career as an assistant director to Hollywood productions filmed in Europe, doing a little bit of everything. InGiulia D'Agnolo Vallan's 2008 book "John Landis," the director offered up a sample of his early resume...

I worked on some pirates movies, all kind of movies. French foreign movies. I worked on a movie called Red SunwhereToshiro Mifunekills me, puts a sword through me... I worked as a stunt guy. I worked as a dialogue coach. I worked as an actor. I worked as a production assistant.

His first feature directorial effort was the 1971 micro-budget creature feature comedy Schlock, which caught the attention of Johnny Carson, who featured excerpts from the film, as well as Landis himself, on The Tonight Show in 1973. From there, his projects only got exponentially bigger, peaking with 1980's The Blues Brothers, which cost a whopping $30 million. He's been at the helm of some of Eddie Murphy's most beloved comedies and brought a cine-literate sci-fi/horror geek's sensibilities and attention to detail to the table, elevating him above many of his peers.

Landis' career has not been without its fair share of controversy, however, and the director's reputation for bending the rules took a turn for the absolute worst on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie. Since that's a skinless affair, we won't be touching on that here, but you can read about the horrific accident for yourself. Needless to say, it was one of many factors that contributed to Landis working less and less as the years progressed.

Let's lighten the mood by going all the way back to Landis' sophomore feature and what is probably the best sketch comedy movie ever made, a collaboration with the comedy team that would bring us everything from Airplane! to The Naked Gun...

The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)

A SKIN-depth Look at the Sex and Nudity of John Landis' Movies

Jerry and David Zucker, along with their friend Jim Abrahams, founded the Kentucky Fried Theater in Madison, Wisconsin in the early 70s and began honing their unique brand of humor.After seeing Landis on The Tonight Show, they contacted him to see if he might want to help them make a feature film. They secured the film's $650,000 budget by creating a ten minute short film that showcased the film's brand of humor. All of the seeds for the comedy revolution of the late 70s and early 80s were sown here, with the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker team eventually earning their own equally successful brand thanks to their films like Airplane!

Comprised of 26 short films, The Kentucky Fried Movie hits more often than it misses, and perhaps the only thing about it that doesn't work now is the sheer number of gags and character names (like Airplane's Rex Manning) they recycled from this film into their later films. The first really hilarious moment comes 9m minutes in when they unleash the skin-flick parody trailer "Catholic High School Girls in Trouble." This Samuel L. Bronkowitz production features the immortal sight of skin legend Uschi Digard getting her huge hooters pounded against a shower door...

Then we get the topless trio of Lenka Novak, Nancy Mann, and Betsy Genson, who flaunt their fun bags in two different scenes in the trailer...

A SKIN-depth Look at the Sex and Nudity of John Landis' MoviesA SKIN-depth Look at the Sex and Nudity of John Landis' Movies

An hour and eleven minutes in, we're treated to a trailer for another Samuel L. Bronkowitz production, "Cleopatra Schwartz," where Marilyn Joi's sexy Pam Grier-esque blaxploitation heroine marries an Orthodox Jew...

The film ends with a couple—the woman played by Tara Strohmeier—who start to get busy during the nightly news broadcast. Before long, however, the anchor starts to notice the couple, calling other guys from the station (played by those pesky ZAZ boys) over to check out the hot sex happening during their broadcast, with everyone climaxing together...

Yes, the movie has its fair share of problems, namely that it's centerpiece is an overlong parody of kung-fu movies with a guy who sounds like Bruce Lee with a speech impediment. There's some classic gags in there like hearing classy voiceover announcer Shadoe Stevens say "enormous genitals" but it's overall too weak to sustain a third of the film's total run time. Nevertheless, this proved that Landis was a guy who could use nudity to both sexy and comedic effect, often at the same time. This would serve him well when he lands his next and biggest assignment to date.

National Lampoon's Animal House (1978)

A SKIN-depth Look at the Sex and Nudity of John Landis' Movies

During our SKIN-depth Look at the National Lampoon's Theatrical Movies, we covered this flick pretty extensively. It's a film I hold near and dear, and I have seen it more times than I've seen any other movie. If I sat you sat down, I bet you I could roll through every line of dialogue in about thirty minutes—and yes, I can do D-Day's throaty rendition of the William Tell Overture. Point being, everything there was to say about this movie is in this article, so read that and then come back.

The major thing to come out of Animal House was that the film's enormous box office success led to Landis getting bigger budgets, bigger stars, and yes, bigger problems. I won't completely cheat you out of the NLAH experience completely, though, as here are some sexy GIFs of great nude moments from Mary Louise Weller...

Sarah Holcomb (who would pop up as Irish lassMaggie O'Hooligan inCaddyshack two years later)...

and Lisa Baur as poor Fawn Liebowitz's unsuspecting but randy roommate...

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

As mentioned in the first David Cronenberg SKIN-depth Look a few weeks back, Universal had an incredible three year run for groundbreaking horror films beginning with this 1981 film, continuing with John Carpenter's The Thing the following year, and concluding with David Cronenberg's Videodrome in 1983. What a time to be alive! Landis' film is the most overtly comic of the three—though I will admit that Videodrome keeps getting funnier every single time I see it—though I would say it's more horror than comedy.

American pals David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are hiking across the moors of Yorkshire when they happen upon what We Hate Movies once dubbed, rather appropriately, a Werewolf Bar. They're warned not to keep to the roads as they continue their journey, but of course they wander off course and are attacked by a werewolf. Jack is killed, but David is only injured by the creature. Of course, according to werewolf lore, this now damns him to become a werewolf himself at some point.

The difference between this film and prior werewolf films is all in the transformation scene. Special effects men of the golden age of Hollywood were unable to accomplish a realistic looking transformation, but Landis and makeup master extraordinaire Rick Baker could use modern technology to transform David Naughton right before our eyes. It remains one of the most incredible displays of practical effects in the history of cinema and won Baker and his team a well-deserved Oscar for their work.

On to the skin! In the hospital, David meets and falls for a young nurse named Alex, played by the gorgeous Jenny Agutter, who is also rather taken with the injured hitchhiker. She offers him a place to stay after being released from the hospital and, before long, the two get down to business. There's some dim looks at Agutter's breasts, but check out Nicolas Roeg's Walkabout for much better nudity from this ethereal beauty...

A SKIN-depth Look at the Sex and Nudity of John Landis' Movies

After discovering he's a werewolf, David hides out in an adult movie theater where he has a conversation with the bloody ghost of Jack who has been haunting him for some time. The film playing on screen features the seriously stacked Linzi Drew flaunting her fun bags...

A SKIN-depth Look at the Sex and Nudity of John Landis' Movies

Landisshot a cheeky cameofor the film's climax, but ended up not using it. However, it was available on the film's home video releases and is a Buster Keaton-esque clash of comedy and pornography...

There was once talk of a remake of this film being penned—and potentially directed—by Landis' son Max Landis, but the MeToo Movement thankfully swept Max and his alleged despicable behavior into the dustbin of history. The upside, of course, is that it staves off this potential remake for the time being. It'll come up again at some point, guaranteed.

Trading Places (1983)

Not long after the accident that ended Landis' involvement with Twilight Zone: The Movie, he dove right back in to this mismatched buddy comedy starring established comedy star Dan Aykroyd and the current hottest actor in the world, Eddie Murphy, whowas at the start of a monumental climb to the top of the comedy world. Aykroyd and Murphy are the pawns of two rich older brothers who ruin the former's life all over a dollar. The fun of Aykroyd's half of the movie is watching him go from upper class twit to a man who loses all faith in humanity—only to later use his financial savvy to ruin the men who ruined him.

While at rock bottom, Aykroyd's Louis ends up staying with another one of those darned hookers with a heart of gold, this time played by Jamie Lee Curtis. When first accompanying her home, she casually strips off her top to reveal her amazing rack before telling him that she's a working girl and there will be no hanky-panky...

Ten minutes later, she gets in bed with him and we get a look at one of Landis' longest running gags. There's a movie poster on the wall for a film titled "See You Next Wednesday." This is also the title of the film shown in "Feel-A-Round" during Kentucky Fried Movie. It's also the nudiemovie David goes to see in American Werewolf in London, and you can find it in virtually every single one of Landis' films. The line originates in Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, as it's the last thing Frank Poole's father says in the recorded birthday message for his son. Anyways, it rears its head once again here...

A SKIN-depth Look at the Sex and Nudity of John Landis' Movies

Barra Kahn also appears topless in the film, presented as a gift to Eddie Murphy's character as a gift from his new bosses Randolph and Mortimer...

A SKIN-depth Look at the Sex and Nudity of John Landis' Movies

The film was a smash hit, becoming the fourth highest grossing film of 1983—behind only Return of the Jedi, Terms of Endearment, and Flashdance—but the next few films Landis directed would not be so fortunate.

Into the Night (1985)

Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pfeiffer make for one of the most mismatched yet brilliant pairings of the 80s, and their chemistry is at full tilt in Landis' second film of 1985, Into the Night. Goldblum's harangued engineer meets Pfeiffer's jewel thief on the run and the two set out on a "night in the life" film as he helps her evade various attempts on her life. 24 minutes in, Sue Bowser from Scarface and Stripes goes topless on a yacht in front of the Body by Jake guy...

A SKIN-depth Look at the Sex and Nudity of John Landis' Movies

And at the 49 minute mark, Goldblum gets an eyeful of Peggy McIntaggart's breasts as she exits a bathroom stall in the men's room with her dress down around her waist...

A SKIN-depth Look at the Sex and Nudity of John Landis' Movies

Of course, the real highlight is the brief glimpse we get of Michelle Pfeiffer's completely nude body as she walks from her bathroom to her bedroom, grabbing Goldblum's attention...

Landis' film is sort of a spiritual cousin to Martin Scorsese's After Hours, the L.A. version of that film's distinctly New York narrative, and they would make one hell of a double feature. I prefer Scorsese's film, but Landis' has the better cast: Goldblum, Pfeiffer, David Bowie, David Cronenberg, Paul Bartel, Jonathan Demme, and literally a dozen other recognizable directors.

Coming to America (1988)

Arguably Eddie Murphy's best performance comes in this 1988 comedy classic, with the actor hilariously inhabiting multiple characters—for my money, only 1999's Bowfinger features a better Murphy performance. Murphy's fish out of water antics as African Prince Akeem who travels to Queens, NY to "sow his wild oats" are matched every step of the way by a never better Arsenio Hall, also playing multiple roles.

Sadly, the film's only nudity comes very early in the film. It's a good thing the rest of the movie is so great, otherwise I'd recommend turning it off after this scene. Just four minutes in, as we get to see Prince Akeem's daily routine, we see him being bathed by some naked women, including FeliciaTaylorand Midori...

A SKIN-depth Look at the Sex and Nudity of John Landis' Movies

Then Victoria Dillard pops up from under the water and utters the immortal line, "The royal penis is clean, your highness."

Despite the film's quality and its success both critically and commercially, it was apparently a very challenging shoot.In a 1990 interview in Playboy, Murphy laid out the problems he had working with Landis on this film. Murphy knew his friend was struggling and offered him the job directing the film, thinking he'd come in and be grateful for the job. Instead, as Murphy says...

He came in demanding lots of money. Paramount was saying, “Hey, come on, Eddie, we’re getting fucked here,” but I made them pay his money. They bent over backward. But after he got the job, he brought along anattitude. He came in with this “I’m a director” shit. I was thinking, Wait a second, I fucking hired you, and now you’re running around, going, “You have to remember: I’m the boss, I’m the director.” One of his favorite things was to tell me, “When I worked with Michael Jackson, everyone was afraid of Michael, but I’m the only one who would tell Michael, ‘Fuck you.’ And I’m not afraid to tell you, ‘Fuck you.’” And sure enough, he was always telling me, “Fuck you, Eddie. Everybody at Paramount is afraid of you.”

For his part, Landis gave a completely different account of the working relationship in a 2005 interview with Collider...

The guy onTrading Placeswas young and full of energy and curious and funny and fresh and great.The guy onComing to Americawas the pig of the world – the most unpleasant, arrogant, bullshit entourage… just an asshole.However, Eddie is brilliant, and he and I have always worked together well; there’s never been an issue created.OnComing to America, we clashed quite a bit because he was such a pig; he was so rude to people.I was like, “Jesus Christ, Eddie!Who are you?”But I told him, “You can’t be late.If you’re late again, I quit.”We had a good working relationship, but our personal relationship changed because he just felt that he was a superstar and that everyone had to kiss his ass.He was a jerk.But great – in fact, one of the greatest performances he’s ever given.

To paraphrase the great Robert Evans, there are clearly three sides to this story:Eddie's side, Landis' side, and the truth. And none of them are lying.

Innocent Blood (1992)

A female vampire with a strong moral compass who only feasts on the criminal element, then blows off their heads to prevent them from becoming vampires? Sounds like a John Landis horror comedy to me! Innocent Blood, aka A French Vampire in America, is the only analogue to An American Werewolf in Londonin Landis' career, but it's substantially less memorable than that 1981 classic. French fox Anne Parillaud plays Marie, the aforementioned vampire attempting to take down organized crime.

She ends up forming a tenuous partnership with a detective (Anthony LaPaglia) who was recently outed while doing undercover work for Robert Loggia's crime family. An hour and twenty three minutes into the film, the two get down to business, with Marie handcuffing herself to show submission to him. However,she gets so horned up during their lovemaking that she snaps the handcuffs off like they were nothing...

The film's climax finds all parties converging on a strip club where Teri Weigel and friends show off their substantial assets...

A SKIN-depth Look at the Sex and Nudity of John Landis' Movies

Landis' career more or less takes a dive off a cliff after this.Even reunions with Eddie Murphy (Beverly Hills Cop III), Dan Aykroyd (Blues Brothers 2000), and Animal House's Neidermeyer himself, Mark Metcalf, (The Stupids) all proved critical and financial disappointments. He has continued to work, but it's been much more sporadic since the late 90s. One wonders if he'll ever return to his former glory, lord knows he's got the talent for it, just perhaps too tarnished a reputation at this point. Still, you can't argue with his output in the 70s and 80s, it's among some of the best comedy in America during that time. Not to mention how much nudity he put in his movies!

John Landis Movies with Content Not Covered in This Column

Spies Like Us (1985)

Amazon Women on the Moon (1987)

Susan's Plan (1998)

Masters of Horror: Deer Woman (2005)

Check out the Other Directors in Our Ongoing "SKIN-depth Look”Series

Ingmar Bergman

David Cronenberg: Part One

David Cronenberg: Part Two

François Truffaut

Bernardo Bertolucci

Roman Polanski

Mike Nichols

Louis Malle

Steven Soderbergh

Kathryn Bigelow

Oliver Stone

Nicolas Roeg

David Fincher

Francis Ford Coppola

Ken Russell: Part One

Ken Russell: Part Two

Pier Paolo Pasolini

Park Chan-wook

Robert Altman: Act I

Robert Altman: Act II

Adrian Lyne

Martin Scorsese

Jane Campion

Bob Fosse

Dario Argento

Wes Craven

Tobe Hooper

Todd Haynes

Danny Boyle

Stanley Kubrick

Paul Thomas Anderson

David Lynch

Brian De Palma

Paul Schrader

Paul Verhoeven


Non-nude images courtesy of IMDb