Johnny Depp is obviously living out his childhood dream of playing all the bad-ass characters he must have grown up watching on television. I damn well know he's living out mine.
Putting all controversy and preconceived opinions aside, Depp is playing the iconic vampire Barnabas Collins, in the upcoming Tim Burton adaptation of the hallowed Dan Curtis (RIP) gothic-horror soap opera, Dark Shadows.
Depp is also playing Tonto, arguably the single most recognized Native
American character in film, in the big budget Lone Ranger. With Armie
Hammer as the masked rider, you can bet this is going to be Depp's, and
Tonto's, film all the way.
Then it looks like Depp goes from blood starved velvet clad anemic, to wielding a stake and mallet as the monster hunting news reporter, Carl Kolchak, in the big screen take on the classic television horror film/series The Night Stalker. While I am not sure how to take that - Depp in my opinion has been hit or miss - the potentially great news is Edgar Wright has signed on to direct.
Now, if you read ScreenAnarchy with any regularity Mr. Wright needs absolutely no introduction. His films are pretty much regarded as godhead around here, his mega-classic Shaun Of The Dead occupying the dame mental dvd shelf space as Romero's classic initial Dead trilogy. Disney is looming in the picture though, the conglomerate Mouse House co-producing with Depp's Infinitum Nihil imprint. We'll see how that may affect the overall tone, hopefully they don't trade demographic projections for scares. Let's also remember, Wright is penning Ant-Man for Marvel pictures (owned by Disney of course), so this could very well be the British director's entry into a much higher income bracket.
With all due respect to newcomer director Josh Trank (Chronicle), why Wright hasn't been offered The Fantastic Four boggles my mind...but I digress.
It's going to be interesting to see the direction Wright and Depp take the material in. Given the hardboiled yet goofy, threadbare, and almost bumbling nature of McGavin's original characterization of Kolchak, I'm afraid it is going to be all too easy for things to be played for laughs. The pilot film remains, surprisingly, one of the scariest vampire flicks ever, and as a fan of both the series and the creative forces behind this redux, I'd love to see Wright stretch his wings and really try to scare the pants off of us, no holds barred.
Like Dark Shadows, The Night Stalker was originally a Dan Curtis production. Back in the 70's Curtis ruled the horror genre on tv, and the ABC-TV premiere of this surprisingly terrifying vampire flick about a bloodsucker loose in modern day (albeit a now very retro 1972) Las
Vegas, wracked up record setting ratings, and quickly spawned a sequel, then an entire series. Starring the always amazing Darren McGavin (RIP), Kolchak: The Night Stalker is a major, and I mean major influence on an entire generation that went onto to become genre filmmakers themselves, and can be traced as the direct inspiration for shows such as The X-Files, and Supernatural. For people in my generation, and I can clearly remember being a terrified 5 year old watching The Night Stalker premiere on my little black and white while my mom dozed. This is Holy Grail stuff for a monster kid like me, right up there with Universal Monsters and Hammer Films.
To see what kicked off all this hoopla, and my geek mini-rant, check below the break for some original Night Stalker love, and see one of the single greatest openings in horror movie history. Janos Skorzeny forever!
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