John Landis: big in Europe. You wait years for the “Trading Places” director to make one film that will restore karmic balance to the universe and make amends for “Blues Brothers 2000,” and two come along at once. Well, sort of. Given the tepid response since its release in the U.K. almost a year ago, it’s unlikely that the director’s upcoming knockabout Simon Pegg-starring black comedy “Burke & Hare” is going to be the film that catapults him back to his creative heyday of the 1980s. More promising perhaps is what he recently told the guys at Bloody Disgusting. He’s working on an untitled “little monster movie” due to shoot within the next two years in Paris. Though the details remain sketchy, certainly, as one of the individuals who saw an upturn in his fortunes since contributing to both the “Masters of Horror” and “Fear Itself” television series a few years, it makes sense that he’d want to go back to the well that has generated the most goodwill for him in the past, especially with “An American Werewolf in London”’s deft blend of horror and comedy. Discerning genre fans will remember the last time someone tried to trade on that film’s legacy in the French capital, the result was the abominable hatchet job, “An American Werewolf in Paris.” Landis himself will hopefully have more success in the Gallic setting, albeit using different subject matter.
Pushed for more details on the project, all he had to say was, “It’s interesting…my cast has to be bilingual because it’s being shot in French and English. We know who’s gonna star in it, but this is all off the radar right now [so I can’t tell you who they are].”
As you can tell, Landis hasn’t given us much to go on, though we’re guessing he doesn’t have Kirstin Scott Thomas or Juliette Binoche in mind. As an émigré director, apparently unable to get meaningful work inside the US that doesn’t involve shooting episodes of “Psych,” he’s in good company, with Joseph Losey, Richard Lester and Woody Allen before him all finding themselves in a similar situation.
Whatever the case, the director’s creative drought since 1998 – self-imposed or not – seems finally to have broken and that’s minor cause for celebration, even though his horror rep is largely predicated on a handful of successes. Now if we can just sort out the ailing careers of other similarly floundering horror auteurs like Stuart Gordon, John Carpenter (no, “The Ward” doesn’t count), Tobe Hooper, Dario Argento, Larry Cohen and Don Coscarelli, all will be well with the world.