Got a Frankenstein itch you just can't scratch? Anxious over the lack of electrode-adorned living corpse movies? Hollywood feels your pain and is coming to your rescue ... in a big way!
In the world of the dream factory, nothing exceeds like excess. Why settle with one or two competing Frankenstein projects when you can have half a dozen? (Mary Shelley must be blushing in her grave right now at all the attention.) Driven by the morbid fear of missing out on the next monstrous franchise after every zombie and vampire story is squeezed dry of creative potential, Tinseltown has no less than SIX big-screen adaptations of Shelley's original 1818 gothic horror novel in their crosshairs.
James Whale's startlingly good 1931 and 1935 versions have never been topped, but that's never stopped studios from trying. Hit the rewind button and cringe at De Niro's stoic attempt in Kenneth Branagh's valiant but flawed 1994 adaptation.
Sadly, most projects will die an ignoble death in development limbo before they rise. Many will stumble, many will stall, and only those with the fortitude of champions will prevail. So a hearty handshake to all Frankensteins involved and may the best projects win ... or be burned alive in a creaky old windmill.
Behold the main players ...
THE CASEBOOK OF VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN
This one seems the favorite, with Timur Bekmambetov (Apollo 18, Wanted, Night Watch) clamped down to direct. David Auburn, Pulitzer-winning playwright of "Proof," will adapt Peter Ackroyd's The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein for Sam Raimi's Ghost House Productions.
The atmospheric 2008 novel is an origin story for the ambitious Oxford doctor, where he befriends Percy Bysshe Shelley and budding writer Mary Shelley and their hedonistic literary pal Lord Byron. The first-person narrative covers the youthful formations of Baron Frankenstein, who begins experimenting with dismembered corpses and musing about immortality beside the hearth. Not a bad way to spend an evening.
Universal is developing a new version of its 1931 studio classic with Guillermo del Toro and Scott Stuber on board. With its loaded stable of memorable movie monsters, Universal should lead the charge to the silver screen, although its latest The Wolfman gave people fits and frights of a different kind. Del Toro is prepping his Paciifc Rim battle-of-the behemoths movie and could be in just the right mood to slip some magic into Frank's big boots.
THIS DARK ENDEAVOR
Summit Entertainment purchased screen rights to This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, Kenneth Oppel's novel due to be published this summer. The project is fortified with the producing muscle of the Twilight Saga's Karen Rosenfelt and directing duties of Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In).
It's an adventure yarn of young Victor Frankenstein and his attempt to save his dying twin brother, Konrad. Victor searches for a reclusive old alchemist who sends Victor and his friend Elizabeth on a quest to find three rare ingredients needed to create the Elixir of Life. There are obligatory betrayals and a steamy love triangle between Victor, Elizabeth and Konrad. Universal, which plans to remake its own Frankie film with del Toro, was also interested, but Summit struck first. Hey Uni, stop hoggin' all the good material!
Sony Pictures and producer Matt Tolmach have acquired Frankenstein, based on a pitch by new screenwriter Craig Fernandez (From Prada To Nada). The movie will be another highly modernized (always a scary prospect) version of the Mary Shelley novel. Tolmach is a former Sony chieftan and involved as co-producer in the upcoming 3-D Spider-Man reboot. Fernandez is developing twin animation projects at Dreamworks and his script The Courageous, a sci-fi adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's Captains Courageous, is being shopped 'round Hollywood. No stars or director yet attached to this longshot.
WAKE THE DEAD
Frankenstein rocks! Former Guns n Roses guitar-god Slash is ramping up his slate of horror flicks for newly formed Slasher Films. Slash has teamed with Scout Productions on Wake the Dead, a Frankenstein fable adapted from the slick graphic novel by Steve Niles (30 Days of Night).
Director Jay Russell (The Water Horse) is linked to the contemporary re-imagining project with a script by James V. Hart of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Variety reports famous spook-spotter Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense, A.I.) is signed to star. Osment will play Victor Franklin, a curious college student who experiments with bringing the dead back to life. Never underestimate the benefits of a proper education.
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW
In case you still haven't eaten your fill of Frankenstein pie, don't forget Fox 2000 Pictures' remake of 1975's transsexual musical, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Fox execs nabbed Glee's Ryan Murphy to direct Dr. Frank-N-Furter and his horny extraterrestrial clan after he finished an entire episode devoted to the original movie, broadcast last Halloween.
Rocky Horror is a massively popular property with international appeal. It's grossed over $139 million and considered the longest running theatrical release in history due to perpetual midnight showings around the world. Are you ready to do the Time Warp again?
So which version of Frankenstein are you looking forward to the most?