Joe Dante will be out at Fantasia Fest's Frontières International Co-Production Market this year, looking for financing. The project in question is Casting the Runes, an updated version of an MR James ghost story, modernised somewhat by screenwriter David Tully.
I've put the full blurb for this new version at the foot of the story, courtesy of the Shivertown Films website.
Simon Pegg is attached to star in the film. I do love that Pegg has worked with John Landis and is now moving on to Joe Dante – it's definitely something I'd have wanted to do, in his position. I assume he'll be playing the role of Mark Dunning, "celebrity gossip blogger," though he could do Karswell too, depending on how he's been written in this "reimagining."
You may have seen Jacques Tourneur's almost entirely fantastic Night of the Demon, or Curse of the Demon in the US. It was based, if a little loosely, on Casting the Runes. Dante is a great fan of that telling, last year recommending it as a horror classic to AV Club. He added:
It's such a good movie that I'm actually involved in another movie based on the same story. The original story by M.R. James, is ripe for reimagining, but I would never imagine that I would do as good as job as Jacques Tourneur.
Well, the original film isn't perfect. There is, as always, room for improvement. And for a new idea or two, as Dante says. I do look forward to finding out how he brings this all together.
And yes, I know that Drag Me To Hell did some of the same ideas. There's still space for more.
Here's the blurb.
When up-and-coming actor Jake Harrington inexplicably hurls himself in front of an oncoming subway train, celebrity gossip blogger Mark Dunning smells a story in Harrington's connection to self-help guru Simon Karswell. What Dunning isn't prepared for is the secret behind Karswell's motivational-speaker success: a command of dark occult forces that reveals his following to be more cult than therapy.
Interweaving elements of a noir crime tale with the chills of an occult thriller, Casting the Runes is a contemporary spin on the classic story by M.R. James, employing elements not only from that tale, but also offering a veritable greatest hits of James's classic nightmares. Nobody made spectral monsters like M.R. James, and Casting the Runes brings the greatest ghost stories – and the greatest ghost story writer – of all time firmly into the twenty-first century.