With Hollywood finally realizing what fans want to watch, it is time to revisit some story-lines that have been pushed to the wayside for too long: Army of Darkness 2; Deadpool; Preacher; Spawn; Sandman; Glamorama; Freddy Vs Jason Vs Ash. Trust me. I’m a fan-boy.
As a film critic (some would say self-proclaimed), I am very demanding of the movies and TV shows I take the time to watch. Two classes of film analysis at two different schools have made me so cynical that most of my friends can’t even watch anything with me anymore. Remember that South Park episode where Stan thought everything was s#*t and the gang took him to see X-Men: First Class? That’s me. I’m not proud of it, but that’s the truth. That’s how critical I am.
It’s not that I hate everything. I just hate how so many things I loved watching were cancelled for, well, s#*t.
- American Gothic: amazing ghost story, cancelled after 1 season.
- Carnivale: amazing fantasy show about circus freaks, cancelled after 2 seasons.
- Arrested Development: amazing dark family comedy, cancelled after 3 seasons (but is returning for 1 more).
- Sports Night: amazing sports comedy, cancelled after 2 seasons.
Now with the success of shows like American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, Bates Motel, Game of Thrones, and (hopefully) Defiance, I can dream about stories that still need to make it to film and television and give me hope for the human race.
Evil Dead 4/Army of Darkness 2
The Dream: The Evil Dead franchise has had an amazing life. The series seems to evolve, not just from movie by movie but from age to age. When I first saw the trailer for Evil Dead, I almost pissed my pants, literally. That’s right, it was just the trailer. Back in the day, Pay Per View’s sole purpose of existence was to play horror movies and soft-core porn. Luckily, the previews were enough to scare me s#!tless when I was 7 years old. I particularly remember running away from the TV whenever Deadite Cheryl was banging on the basement door of the cabin. Yes, every time. Pay Per View played the previews on a loop. These days, my love of Evil Dead has evolved into an “LOL” as Bruce Campbell continued to get more…Campbell-y, but it is a love nonetheless.
When I heard there was to be a remake, I was heartbroken. When I heard the rumor that, out of this remake, Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell may rise from Hollywood holding the Necronomicon and the fate of the horror world in their hands with Army of Darkness 2, my pants got wet again, but for a completely different reason.
The Reality: The script for Army of Darkness 2 may very well be Sam and Ivan Raimi chasing the Hollywood dragon. The starring chin of the Evil Dead series, Bruce Campbell, broke all of our hearts when he spoke to Shock Til You Drop at the SXSW Film Festival about this:
“Sam threatens this every six months. I’ve heard this a thousand times, because in the back of his mind, he never wants to let go, because he loved making these movies.”
Is Army of Darkness 2 a 20-year-old dream by a director who has grown out of horror? The jury is still out, but that won’t stop Fede Alvarez from scripting a sequel to his own Evil Dead rendition.
The Dream: You can tell a lot about a person by their answer to, “Who is your favorite super-hero?” If your answer is Superman, you may feel the need to fit in. If your answer is Batman, you may have trouble accepting situations you can’t control. If your answer is Wonder Woman, you may have led the feminist movement against Uncle Sam (which I will admit is an awesome replacement for that cranky old man). The one thing that these heroes have in common is, they’re heroes. They help others whenever they can to make the world a better place.
My favorite hero doesn’t fall into that category. He’ll save the universe, but only if it’s something that happens as a result of other plans. No big deal. He’s not even classified as a hero. He’s usually a villain, until Marvel saw how fans couldn’t get enough of him. Then they made him an anti-hero. His name is Wade Wilson. Codename: Deadpool.
When I found out that Deadpool would be in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, my first question was, “Who the hell is going to pull that off?” I was OK with the answer of Ryan Reynolds. That cross-eyed Canadian makes me laugh, even when I’m not supposed to. That’s the way Deadpool works: uncomfortably.
Unfortunately, X-Men Origins: Wolverine turned Deadpool into Baraka, among other, horrible things that the X-Men franchise is still trying to recover from. Apparently Ryan Reynolds thought the same, and took the Deadpool character with him to pitch as a stand-alone movie. It has been 4 years and a Green Lantern movie since that happened.
The Reality: At this point, it’s all up to Marvel Studios to pull the trigger on Deadpool the way that the script has been written and pushed, which coincidentally is how fans of the “Merc with a Mouth” want to see it: R-rated. The movie has been classified as “in development” since X-Men Origins: Wolverine was released, and only Ryan Reynolds has been conceptually cast (the only picture on IMDB.com for the movie has forever been of Ryan Reynolds). They don’t even have a real director, with David S. Goyer going on to bigger things and Robert Rodriguez turning down the film for another Spy Kids sequel. The good news is that a whole 8 minutes of test footage were shot for Twentieth Century Fox Film. Hopefully, it doesn’t gather too much dust.
The Dream: When I went to New Orleans for Spring Break, I did two things: ran around Bourbon Street like a hurricane by night, and read Garth Ennis‘s Preacher series by day. Both the trip and reading material were stereotypical New Orleans. On one hand, I partied so hard that I got on a plane with a hangover for the first time (but not the last. Now I drink before, during, and after the flight.) On the other hand, I was reading Preacher, a comic book series about religion gone awry in the South. You couldn’t get more obvious unless Bob Saget sat his ass down on a bed to talk about family values in a Full House reunion.
Preacher was the greatest comic book series known to man, angel, and devil. Vampires lifted right out of The Lost Boys? Check. A Kurt Cobain-obsessed kid named Arseface using fart noises as dialogue well before that South Park Episode with The Thompsons? Check. A demon bumping uglies with an angel to create the embodiment of Genesis? A hard-drinking, smoking, and screwing preacher empowered by Genesis to make all who hear his voice obey? An epic modern-day western which can serve as a modern expansion of the Book of Revelations for believers and good old dark humor for non-believers? Double-check. A badass Angel of Death cowboy who shot The Devil down? F#*k yeah!
With so much praise for the series, Preacher was ripe for its own screen adaption. The details had nothing to do with “should,” but had to do with “how.” Could one movie pull it off? Would this be another Lord of the Rings-like trilogy? What actor could possibly capture Rev. Jesse Custer’s swagger? Does a cable station have the balls to take this on as a television series?
The Reality: Garth Ennis agreed with his fans, and sold the film rights to Electric Entertainment. Unfortunately, the religious overtones of Preacher didn’t get investors falling over each other to throw their money in the pot. Kevin Smith brought the film idea to the attention of Miramax, but was denied due to character adaptions and, probably ultimately, money (Miramax would have to share earnings with Electric Entertainment).
After that, HBO flirted with the idea of a Preacher series, where each episode was set-up by the corresponding comic book issue. The idea was abandoned in 2008 due to “dark subject matter” and “religious overtones” once again. With the success of Game of Thrones, American Horror Story, and The Walking Dead, those excuses should be dead and buried, so we may see another push for a Preacher film or series. At the moment, Columbia Pictures holds the film rights ball.
The Dream: Todd McFarlane has always enjoyed torturing me. He dropped out of the The Amazing Spider-Man series to start his own, brilliantly dark Spider-Man series, one of the last comic series I collected religiously. Then he jumped ship to start the last comic series I collected religiously: Spawn. Then he went and mailed in that atrocity that was labeled a live-action movie. I didn’t know whether to scream or cry. Instead, I stopped collecting in protest. Obviously, Todd heard how pissed I was, and launched an animated series that could go up against The Maxx. Well, not quite, but it was enough to appease me.
Unfortunately, the animated series ended. Ended, as in, left us all holding our balls over hot coals. What could it mean? Was the world not ready for Spawn, or was McFarlane ready to give live-action another go? Spawn was never for the children, and with how dark and violent super-hero movies have become (to rave reviews, I might add. See Watchmen and Super for context), he is due for a film face-lift…metaphorically.
The Reality: Not only is Spawn expected to return to the big-screen, but it will not be a sequel. Instead, Todd McFarlane plans to re-invent the ridiculous Spawn from the 1998 film. The idea has allegedly been kicked around since 1998, but the screenplay was only publicly announced by McFarlane in 2011. McFarlane has even mentioned that an Oscar winner was interested in being Spawn. This is all fine and dandy, but let’s not forget that the new animated series has been stuck in film rights limbo for a few years, and has yet to be actually animated. He’s doing it to me again, dammit, like a sinister ex-girlfriend.
The Dream: To enjoy Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, you first have to understand what Sandman is all about. Dream, aka Morpheus, is not your average superhero. He’s not even much of a hero. He’s one of the Endless, gods of gods, and does what he must to bring order to his realm. It’s kind of like Lord of the Rings meets Alice In Wonderland with an unhealthy dose of hallucinogens. What it is not (unless Gaiman is playing a cruel joke) is Robert Smith of The Cure in his own comic book. That would be crazy. Just because the comic series came out at the peak of The Cure’s popularity, has a goth feel lifted straight out of their audience, and probably helped jumpstart the Steampunk fad, doesn’t mean the comic series is about a super-hero musician. As a matter of fact, Neil Gaiman looks as goth-y as Robert Smith and creates dreams in his writing rather than music. Whether it is worse form to make yourself or a musician the hero of your own comic is up for debate.
The series is deeper on the surface than your normal comic book as well. It’s a story, not just a series of heroic events. This is probably why it ended up on on the New York Times Best Seller List. This also why, no matter how loud we scream for a film adaptation, it hasn’t happened yet. The Maxx had a similar issue, and it became an animated series on MTV’s Liquid Television slot.
The Reality: The idea of a Sandman movie has been kicked around by Warner Bros. since the ’90s. Unfortunately, Neil Gaiman has not seen a script that is worthy of telling the story, or even part of the story. One script was called “not only the worst Sandman script I’ve ever seen, but quite easily the worst script I’ve ever read.” But hope is not lost. At Comic-Con 2007, Gaiman said, “I’d rather see no Sandman movie made than a bad Sandman movie. But I feel like the time for a Sandman movie is coming soon. We need someone who has the same obsession with the source material as Peter Jackson had with Lord of the Rings or Sam Raimi had with Spider-Man.” The idea of a television series has also been tinkered with.
Now that Gaiman is working on a prequel to his Sandman series, the push for a screen adaptation may be even closer to reality than a dream.
The Dream: Before Max Brooks stirred the zombie craze with World War Z, Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis was the book that pop culture critics prayed would become a feature film. You may remember Bret Easton Ellis from such novels made into films like Less Than Zero (starring Andrew McCarthy and Robert Downey Jr.), American Psycho (starring Christian Bale), and The Rules of Attraction (starring James Van Der Beek). It was like a giant mountain of awesome for fans of the books, and an easy way to join for people who don’t like to read much. Don’t like words? Here’s some pretty pictures.
It worked so well that fans of both the books and films were drooling about a Glamorama movie. At least, I was. Pop culture satire combined with sex, dark humor and secret agent action could very well be the greatest social commentary movie ever made. They could cast Paris Hilton, and it would be even better! When is the last time you could say that and keep a straight face?
The Reality: The idea of a Glamorama movie hasn’t gained much ground since The Rules of Attraction was released. Director Roger Avary shot Glitterati, a film that follows Victor Ward (played by Kip Pardue) during his time in Europe, which only gets a fast, five minute segment in The Rules of Attraction. The film was never released, but it helped grease the rumor mill that the next obvious set would be a Glamorama film adaptation. In 2010, Bret Easton Ellis squashed all leftover rumors, telling us that, “I think the days of being able to make that movie are over.” Then a year later, he’s talking about Roger Avary writing a script for the movie. Who knows what to believe?
For now, Zoolander must remain our satirical commentary on modeling and pop culture. It could be worse.
Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash
The Dream: Ok, maybe I’m beating a dead horse by talking about Bruce Campbell in two pipe dream movies, but it needs to be done. Ash Williams and his interchangeable hand of mayhem needs to return to the screen. His recent roles in the Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness and Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash comic books confirm this. The latter has a better chance of becoming a film because it would follow up another movie idea that had been on the table for years and finally became a reality: Freddy Vs Jason.
Say what you will about Freddy Vs Jason. I happen to say, “That movie was a pile of crap” all the time, but I also understand what that movie was: good, horrific fun for horror fans pitting two icons of horror together in one movie. I may think the movie was awful, but I love a lot of awful movies because they entertain me even while I laugh at them. A film adaptation of Freddy Vs Jason Vs Ash would be campy, but the inclusion of Ash Williams (who would have to be portrayed by Bruce Campbell, period) would make it a campy horror movie that we could laugh with.
The Reality: Bruce Campbell has moved on to bigger and better things. With only a credits cameo in the Evil Dead remake, it would be surprising if he joined in the hilarity that would be Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash. Add that to the fact that Sam Raimi has not released his approval for Ash to join the harbingers of horror, and you have a dream that will only rest in the pages of comic books. At least the comic had a sequel.
Patrick Emmel has been known to write numerous letters to authors and directors asking them to make certain movies. Unfortunately, most of them are sent to the paper shredder since he doesn’t have mailing addresses. You can see some of his work at www.theineptowl.com or heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.