Every director working in Hollywood has failed projects. Regardless of their talent or clout in the industry, some films just never get made. We all know the most famous ones: Tim Burton’s Death of Superman, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune, Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon, The Lord of the Rings starring The Beatles, Kill Bill 3 and almost every single project Guillermo Del Toro or Orson Welles ever said wanted to do. Seriously, this entire list could be comprised entirely of Del Toro and Welles failed passion projects.
With the news that Tim Miller is directing the stuck-in-development-hell-forever adaptation of Neuromancer, let’s take a look at 10 lesser known dead projects that might some day happen.
10. Hit Somebody
Kevin Smith has a long list of films that never make it to the screen (Is Mallbrats still a thing?) But I think the most interesting one that could’ve happened was his hockey film Hit Somebody. First it was to star Sean William Scott who left the project to do the similar sounding Goon, then it was going to have the younger cast of his film Red State as the leads, then it went from a 2 part series to 1 film, then it went to being a film to a show to now being nothing. Regardless of whether you like his input as of late, there was a time he had a strong, unique voice and this being announced after his horror film Red State showed promise. I don’t know if the director of Red State still exists but if he does, I would still love to see this film.
9. The Creature From The Black Lagoon
Of all the Universal Monster movies that have been remade, it’s kinda of mind boggling to me that this film still hasn’t been touched. But that doesn’t mind people haven’t tried. Joe Dante was attached in the mid 80’s and I believe Del Toro tried to throw his hat into the ring at some point (There’s a popular theory that The Shape of Water is a reworking of his original script) but we’re going to be highlighting John Carpenter’s take. Carpenter, besides being of the greatest directors of all time, is unfortunately always ahead of the curve.
His films always take 10 years to find an audience and even though that’s great for the fans living today, that didn’t exactly put any coin in his pocket back then. Almost every one of his films after Halloween was either a commercial or critical flop. The man had no clout but there was a time in the earlier 90’s that John Landis tried to help produce a version of the creature with Carpenter directing. Carpenter’s take involved scientists trying to find the missing link between man and his early ancestors, and the creature was to be the evolutionary link between man and fish.
It was also going to have a strong H.P Lovecraft influence. Maybe a giant creature at the end being Cthulhu? One could dream. Nobody knows whether it was disagreements over whether the film should be shot in 3D or the box office failure of Memoirs of an Invisible Man but suffice it to say, it never happened. But just imagine a film where Jack Burton fights a Cthulhu. That’s the world I wanna live in.
8. Giraffes On Horseback Salad
The master of surrealism directing a film starring the masters of absurdism. Salvador Dalì, along with Luis Buñuel, created the first surreal film Un Chien Andalou. A film comprised entirely of illogical one upsmanship between the directors. A girl getting her eye sliced open by a straight razor, ants crawling out of an open palm wound, a man dragging a dead horse, just crazy images that don’t mean anything but what you add to them. The Marx Brothers are the cinematic equivalent to a live action Looney Tunes. Chaos incarnate.
Pairing these two unique and totally different visions together would’ve made for one hell of a film. Whatever the plans were, didn’t get past the planning stages, so there’s no script available. We have no idea what it could’ve been but the mind is drunk with possibilities.
7. Silver Surfer
James Gunn, Tim Story, Oliver Stone and a huge director I’ll get to in a minute, all showed interest in making a Silver Surfer film at one time but we’re going all the way back to the 80’s with Lee Kramer and his wild idea. Lee Kramer was the producer of Xanadu. That sentence alone should clue you into the kind of craziness Kramer is into but Xanadu was but the tip of the iceberg of crazy. Floating under the ocean of sane were his plans for a Silver Surfer movie.
“We’re going to make an epic picture on the scope of 2001: A Space Odyssey with the kind of soundtrack that that film had, only using contemporary rock and roll,” Kramer said at the time. “It’s even conceivable that the Surfer might have a chant or a fanfare made up of one thousand electric guitars. Doing the Silver Surfer has always been a dream of mine, and now it’s going to be realized.”
It was going star Olivia Newton-John and was going to be scored by Paul McCartney. Oh 80’s. You and your cocaine.
6. Blood Meridian
Thought by many to be an unfilmable masterpiece, Blood Meridian tells the story of “The Kid”, a teenager running with a gang of outlaws and Judge Holden, a new edition to the gang. It’s an exceptionally violent novel about nihilism and the end of the West. It deals with many themes and would be extremely controversial is adapted correctly. The Proposition directed by John Hillcoat comes the closest to the bleak tone of the novel. Hillcoat would’ve made an amazing choice for director.
But he wasn’t. Ridley Scott was actually interested in bringing the story to the screen. For some, Scott is a hit and miss director and truth be told, I’m not super into all of his films but I believe in him as a filmmaker. He has a vision and he knows exactly how to realize that vision on screen. He’s had some violent scenes in his films but nothing on the scale of Blood Meridian. It’s hard to imagine the director of Thelma and Louise tackling this subject matter but the director of Re-Animator wrote Honey I Shrunk the Kids, so crazier things have happened.