Heading toward mainstream film production where genre reigns supreme, Amazon Studios has hired “Hellraiser” creator Clive Barker to rewrite “Zombies vs. Gladiators.” Let’s hope it turns out better than “Cowboys and Aliens.”
The project set in ancient Rome has spurred enormous fan support online at Amazon Studios’ website. This marks the first time Amazon Studios director Roy Price has brought in an established writer to “develop” a project. “’Zombies vs. Gladiators’ is now in the hands of someone who has written genre-defining material throughout his career,” said Price, who has yet to push one of his projects through at Warner Bros, which has a first-look deal with Amazon Studios, or any other studio. Amazon Studios recently branched into TV development as well.
While the popularity of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” continues unabated and Brad Pitt is starring in Marc Forster’s upcoming zombie epic “World War Z” (which is undergoing seven weeks of reshoots), “Zombies vs. Gladiators” features a shaman who faces death in the Coliseum and casts a spell that springs the first zombies on the world. A gladiator must stop the zombies and save Rome.
Said fantasist Barker, who is also a painter, playwright and poet: “I’m excited by the opportunity to interweave two very rich narrative threads. One of them concerns itself with the reality of the decadence of Rome and its rise and fall. The other is a fantastical narrative element – the living dead. My brief to myself on this project is to give the audience not only zombies they have never seen before but also a Rome they have never seen before.”
Barker added, “Amazon Studios offered up the dream ticket with this project. In twenty five years of working in this town, I’ve rarely had people listen to what I had to say as closely and as carefully as they did and then simply give me the freedom to go do it. Amazon Studios is an innovative creative concept. I am looking forward to providing my own perspective to make Zombies Vs. Gladiators a highly commercial and entertaining movie.”
The author of the plays “The History of the Devil,” “Frankenstein in Love” and “Crazyface” and “The Books of Blood” short fiction collections and novel “The Damnation Game” moved to film in 1987 when he directed “Hellraiser,” based on his novella “The Hellbound Heart,” which spawned sequels, comic books and merchandising. In 1990, he adapted and directed “Nightbreed” from his short story “Cabal.” Two years later, Barker executive produced the housing-project story “Candyman,” as well as the 1995 sequel, “Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh.” Also that year, he directed Scott Bakula and Famke Janssen in the noir-esque detective tale, “Lord of Illusions.” He also executive produced 1998’s “Gods and Monsters,” which won a screenplay Oscar.