Below is the treatment for a movie adaptation of Arthur Machen’s late 19th Century horror novel THE GREAT GOD PAN. It’ll be run in three parts over the next weeks while I’m on the road.
Looking over it again, it certainly brings back memories of the kinds of things people come up with when heavily caffeinated. Oh well.
The original intro and outline were originally posted on BETWEEN DEATH AND THE DEVIL, the unofficial Richard Stanley website.
Richard Stanley is a horror director of visionary conviction and mad ideas. He is primarily known for Hardware (1989), an android-on-the-rampage-in-a-house flick, and Dust Devil (1991), a visionary serial killer arthouse flick that combined magic, murder and South African politics in the Namibian desert. Even the badly-recut version of the film released on video in the US could not suppress the sheer sense of madness and Tarkovski-esque grandeur of Dust Devil.
In the summer of 1996, Richard Stanley had returned from the debacle of the production of The Island of Doctor Moreau (I won’t go into that story here, as it’s been discussed in so many places already) and was hanging out with me in London’s Soho at a loose end. He was being offered loads of terrible scripts which he didn’t want to touch. He would even be offered the Spice Girls Movie, which he would turn down.
Richard and I were sat outside Bar Italia. Sometimes we alternated with Café Boheme on Greek Street. He in his black suit and cowboy boots, black cowboy hat and long black hair that made him look like Trent Reznor’s long-lost brother. He consumed much coffee, sugar and cigarettes as we talked about Horror, his fantasy of one day making a proper sequel to The Wicker Man, our admiration for the novels of Arthur Machen, and we got to talking about Machen’s The Great God Pan. We noted that it was in public domain. We talked about the misoygny and sexual hysteria of the book, which were part of its time, and how one might try to adapt it for today. We joked about how we might update it to the present day, and incorporate some of Richard’s ideas for his Wicker Man sequel. Richard talked about his preference for pessimistic, downbeat — and preferably apocalyptic — endings, they were in his bones. We laughed and laughed. But we were also taking notes. I went away and typed it all up.
The result is an outline for a complete movie that never got made, never even got scripted because we both moved on to do something else, the outpouring of two film nutters drinking Capucinnos and laughing at each other’s jokes in Soho during the leisurely British summer of 1996, where strippers and fabulous young things and cocaine-encrusted media- types ambled up and down Frith Street.
Richard has since completed an epic documentary, The Secret Glory, about Otto Rahn, the Nazis’ Medieval History expert who led their unsuccessful search for the Holy Grail. He also directed an episode of a BBC documentary segment about Voodoo. He recently acted in an independent horror film shot last December in London, where he played a raving maniac who gets bloodily massacred and dumped in the Thames. He is doing very well. He is currently finishing several scripting assignments for a strange and minor horror boom in British film, and there’s a strong possibility that Richard will be making another horror film soon.
He still consumes massive amounts of coffee, sugar and cigarettes.
Adisakdi Tantimedh New York City, Spring 2002
THE GREAT GOD PAN
An Outline by Richard Stanely and Adi Tantimedh
– PROLOGUE. 1969. Hippy chick, tripped out on LSD, has sex with something not human… it has horns and a tail, and walks like a man…
– Bacchanalian orgy (Credit sequence) — turns out to be fashion shoot.
MIRANDA QUILL introduced as hot young thang model. Typical fucked-up lost-girl model type, immersed in lifestyle of drugs, drinks and messy, destructive relationships with sleazy men. Weird reputation, adds to her mystique.
ROBERT DANE, jaded photojournalist, benevolently macho, protective of women but hopeless at understanding them, becomes curious about her. Especially after witnessing contretemps with latest sleazy abusive boyfriend.
– Robert rescues Miranda from weird tattooed pagan type on streets of Soho. Miranda convinced all sorts of weirdoes following her. Robert writes it off as drug-withdrawal paranoia.
– Miranda’s sleazy boyfriend found dead. Suicide? All over the news. Journos and paparrazzi after her. Miranda stressed out. Robert is shoulder to cry on. Miranda has weird dreams. She becomes convinced it’s something to do with her past: a mystery… her mother died, she was taken into care, always had weird visions and dreams, not to mention certain effect on men. This is not the first time a sleazy boyfriend dropped dead on her. Robert curious. Miranda won’t say anymore.
– Some of Miranda’s stalkers beat up Robert. They’re not pagans, but claim to be Christians. Obviously, he thinks, they’re nutters stalking her, obsessed by her supermodel image. They warn him to stay away from her.
– Robert starts to dig around. Wonders if he’s being watched as well. Finds Miranda’s birth records: Father unknown. Abused by foster parents. Lots of sad stuff, but nothing weird.
– Robert tells Miranda what little he found. Huge chunks of questions still unanswered. She’s pissed he dug up her dirt. He reveals he’s in love with her. She falls in his arms, a little girl. Pagans come after them. Big chase. Robert fights, gets knocked out.
– Robert comes to. Dead pagan guy. What the fuck happened while he was out? Miranda missing. Where’s she gone?
Outline © Richard Stanley and Adisakdi Tantimedh
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