JOE CHAPPELLE (Director) marks his second fulllength
feature film with PHANTOMS, Dimension Films' terrifying new suspensehorror
picture based on Dean Koontz's bestselling novel.
Chappelle burst onto the cinematic scene in 1994 with his debut
filmnoir "Thieves Quartet," an intimate,
characterdriven kidnapping caper he directed from his own
screenplay. Shot in and around Chicago, the film marked an auspicious
debut for the New Jerseyborn, Northwestern Universityeducated
Of that film, Variety film critic Steven Gaydos wrote:
"Add firsttime writer director Joe Chappelle to the
list of talented young filmmakers (Quentin Tarantino, Nick Gomez,
John Dahl, Whitney Ransick)...'Thieves' makes a fine showcase
for Chappelle's directorial chops and is a sturdy crime drama
filled with tension and firstrate performances." New
York Times film critic Stephen Holden wrote "...("Thieves
Quartet") has a conviction that is missing in many of its
slicker Hollywood forerunners...(it) sets out with a vengeance
to demystify the romance of the caper movie..." San Francisco
Chronicle writer Joe Bob Briggs, in a film roundup piece,
described "Thieves Quartet" as "better than 'Reservoir
Dogs'." And The Hollywood Reporter's reviewer, Frank
Schenck, wrote: "...crisply written and directed..."
Joe Chappelle has, in fact, been making movies, "real or
imagined, 35 mm or Super 8," since he was a 12yearold
in the suburbs of northern New Jersey. Although the distance between
PHANTOMS and his childhood experiments represents many miles and
years of growth, his latest challenge represents a continuation
of his driving desire to put riveting motion pictures before the
To gather the skills he needed, Chappelle completed his Master
of Fine Arts in Film from Northwestern University in 1985. The
filmmaker's program culminated with his thesis short film, "Descent,"
a gritty drama focusing on a young man's search for his sister
in an underworld of radical politics. Criticallyhailed,
the film captured numerous awards, including the Golden Athena
Award in the Best Short Film category at the 1986 Athens International
Film Festival. Ian Christie of the British Film Institute called
"Descent" a "serious and substantial work that
does not hide behind its visual sophistication...a powerful fantasy."
Since leaving school, Chappelle has divided his time between the
artistic and commercial filmmaking communities. In 1987, for example,
he was selected to direct a 15minute film for use in Sam
Shepard's "Suicide in BFlat," produced by Chicago's
Open City Theater Company, an effort which was lauded by Chicago
Tribune drama critic Richard Christiansen, among others. To
put bread on the table, and to continue to work in the film medium
he loves, Chappelle became a successful director of television
commercials. His work in the commercial arena has won him numerous
awards, including a gold Hugo "Best of Show" at the
1990 Chicago International Film Festival.
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