The mere idea of Nic Cage of all people starring in an H.P. Lovecraft adaptation already makes for one hell of a headline. But don’t look past the craziest aspect of today’s announcement that Cage will star in an adaption of Lovecraft’s 1927 short story The Color Out of Space—the fact that the film will be directed by none other than Richard Stanley, the infamous South African filmmaker who hasn’t directed a proper feature in more than 20 years.
Deadline is reporting that The Color Out of Space will re-team producer SpectreVision, which was behind last year’s Mandy, with its star, Cage. Principal photography is apparently only a month away, in fact, in a film that will star Joely Richardson, Tommy Chong (?), Elliot Knight, Julian Hilliard and Q’Orianka Kilcher alongside Cage.
The Color Out of Space is a Lovecraft story whose influence has been felt in a bevy of other fantasy and science fiction adaptations over the years, notably in last year’s Annihilation. It’s about a New England family who move into a small farmstead, and are disturbed by a meteor that falls to Earth nearby. The space rock “seems to melt into the Earth, infecting both the land and the properties of space-time with a strange, otherworldly color, and to the family’s horror they discover the alien force is gradually mutating every life form that it touches, including them.” Reading that, the Annihilation comparison is an easy one, although a modern adaptation would probably be evoking everything from Cabin Fever to From Beyond as well.
“Lovecraft is the dark father of modern horror, and we have been searching for an adaptation that captures the true scope of his cosmic dread for years,” said SpectreVision’s Daniel Noah in a statement. “Richard Stanley, a wizard in his own right, will at long last bring Lovecraft’s humbling power to the screen unfiltered.”
That sounds great, but director Stanley is the true question mark here. After directing British cult classics Hardware and Dust Devil in the early 1990s, Stanley was given an opportunity to move into the big leagues by taking on the Hollywood adaptation of The Island of Dr. Moreau in 1996, anchored by Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer. Instead, Stanley seemed to crumble under the pressure of shooting on a small Australian island, delaying production indefinitely as the project fell apart around him, as depicted in the documentary Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s The Island of Dr. Moreau. In the end, Stanley was very publicly fired from the film by New Line, who replaced him with John Frankenheimer to finish shooting.
Dr. Moreau went on to become a major box office bomb, and Stanley hasn’t directed a non-documentary feature since. Here’s hoping that The Color Out of Space proves to me a most unexpected return to the public eye for Stanley.