The 13th Floor

UNDER THE SHADOW Director Babek Anvari Discusses His Favorite John Landis Movies

The new movie UNDER THE SHADOW is quickly becoming a festival darling with fans clamoring to see this Iranian haunted-apartment movie set in 1988 Tehran. We caught up with the director Babek Anvari who penned a passage for us about his love of John Landis films and what a strong influence Landis had on Babek’s own career. Read on below.

For those of you in the Los Angeles area, UNDER THE SHADOW is screening this Sunday (August 14th) at 4pm at the Ace Hotel as part of the Sundance Next Fest. The director will be present as well as actress lead actress, Narges Rashidi, and special guest filmmakers John Landis and screenwriter Simon Barrett.  Tickets are $15. More info go to-

UNDER THE SHADOW opens in theaters on October 7th. Check out the trailer here


Director Babek Anvari:

“I shall start with my number one favorite John Landis film, which is THRILLER (more like a music video in this case), and one of the major sources of nightmares in my childhood! We used to have it on a Beta Max tape – it was part of a compilation of music videos. I clearly remember that Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean used to play right before it. So every time my brother or family members were watching the compilation, I used to run away and hide, covering my head under a pillow, near the end of the Billie Jean video. 

In fact, when my brother heard that I’m having a conversation with John Landis, he reminded me that I was even afraid of the Beta Max tape that THRILLER was recorded on. I used to think that the “werewolf” might jump out of the tape and kill me. And after sun down, I couldn’t cope if the tape was in the same room as me. Yes, I was that crazy!

It was only later, when I was 11 or 12, that I fell in love with the video. That’s when I started to watch it on repeat, over and over, and badly dance in front of it! 

I tried to pay a homage to THRILLER in UNDER THE SHADOW. In the script, I had Dorsa (the little girl in the film) watching THRILLER at some point, but unfortunately we couldn’t get the rights, so we had to change it to another music video. 

My second favorite John Landis film is of course AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. It’s an awesome film! And when I first moved to London, I used to imagine myself as the “Persian Werewolf in London” (it does help that I’m quite hairy). I remember first time that I went to Piccadilly Circus I was so excited because of the final scene in AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF. 

My third favorite John Landis film is THE BLUES BROTHERS. I grew up watching it over and over again. My brother was obsessed with it. He used to put it on at every occasion possible. We also had the soundtrack on tape and used to listen to it all the time and make my parents play it in the car when they were driving us around. I have so many fond memories of that film. 

On a side note, I’d like to mention TRADING PLACES as one of my uncle’s favorite films of all time. In fact, he thinks it is one of the best films ever made in the history of cinema. I am not exaggerating!  He used to enjoy telling us the plot from beginning to end. So unfortunately when I finally got to watch it, it was already spoiled for me. But still, what a fun film! So I’m sure my uncle will be super excited when he finds out I’m having Q&A with the director of his favorite film.”