Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Fantasy projects

A random list of projects based on things you may have heard of that I'd love a shot at making or even just seeing someday.

A remake of Shock Waves (1977) directed by Ken Wiederhorn. It's an interesting concept, a group of boaters get trapped on an island with a nearly unkillable troop of Nazi super-soldiers. The imagery of the shock troopers rising out the water with their skin wrinkled from years beneath the sea. It has a lot of room to create mood and shock as well as draw on the socio-political ramifications, only a little of which is done in the film itself.

An adaptation of The Food Of The Gods by the great H.G. Wells is fascinating and well-worth adapting. Unfortunately, the Bert I. Gordon movie had no idea why. Aside from one truly horrifying moment where a mosquito sucks a horse rider dry, this movie lacks for shock or story.

For myself, I'd do it as period piece, bucking the trend that's carried on through cinema history, sci-fi adaptations are always contemporary and horror adaptations are always done in period.

Apparently, despite early rumors to the contrary, the Spielberg/Cruise adaptation of The War Of The Worlds will be continuing the trend and going modern. How uninteresting.

Bram Stoker wrote Dracula as a contemporary story, and yet I don't know if a single one of the dozens of movies that adapted his story have set it as contemporary to the film itself. What kind of modern ramifications could be found?

I'd love to see someone much more talented than myself adapt The Wizard Of Oz and possibly even others of the books by L. Frank Baum into something more magical than the familiar Warner Brothers musical. Something, well, something like the books themselves. I'm sure all studio executives immediate crap themselves with fear whenever this idea is brought up, so I'm not betting it'll happen any day soon.

I've always thought an adaptation of Robert Bloch's novel Psycho that specifically left in the elements that Hitchcock (and, to a much lesser extent, Joe "Hacky Hackerton" Stefano) altered for that movie. It would probably work best as a TV movie, possibly on HBO. Follow it up with an adaptation of Bloch's funny and clever Psycho II and possibly even a well-adapted version of the somewhat lesser Psycho House. I'm sure Gus Van Sant's movie killed any chance of seeing that.

I've also always thought a TV maxi-series that told the re-imagined Robots/Empire/Foundation Epic by Isaac Asimov would be kick ass. Start it off with Harlan Ellison script for I, Robot, which is back in print now and has to be better than that silly movie they made instead. Then do a series of the Baley/Olivaw stories followed by Robots And Empire, The Empire Series right into The Foundation Series, allowing the movies to smooth over the edges where the later books try to make sense of the joining of disparate series. I think the rights are split all over hell and gone, not to mention that the crappy movie undoubtedly will either have its own follow-ups or convince producers not to make more Asimov for some time... Neither would be good for this kind of plan.

Lastly, at least for now, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. As far as I'm concerned, and not too awful many agreed, this is the best thing Philip K. Dick ever wrote. It's a psychotic '60s drug trip and Van Vogt-ian pulp space opera. It's a religious tract. It's a consumer satire. It's all things.

Now, that's exactly why it would be such a bitch to adapt right. Blade Runner only succeeds in adapting Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by cutting out a significant portions of the more esoteric and obviously philosophical material. I wouldn't approach it in the same manner exactly... the look, the texture, the tone would be much different, but it would have to work from that same "story first" methodology, probably leaving some things farther under the surface than many people would be willing - or able - to look, much like Blade Runner, but finding its own kind of balance...

Yep, nobody wants to fund that. The shorter the Dick story, the easier it is to adapt. He has so many ten page, one idea stories, we'll be seeing those coming for years to come.

Oh, well, it's fun to fantasize, especially when it allows you to avoid doing any of the work you need to be doing to succeed as a creative artist, which could someday allow you to do at least one of these...

One day when I'm in a similar mood, I'll touch on comic adaptations... For example, I have this idea for an Green Arrow animated series that... Oh, yeah, never mind.

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