Dirk’s Five – Canned Classics

Dirk was disappointed to hear that AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS has been canned. Universal bottled it in face of an unmarketable R-rating.

A $150 million budget, James Cameron as producer, Tom Cruise as the lead and visionary director Guillermo del Toro were going to bring H.P. Lovecraft‘s great Cthulhu novel to life in glorious 3D. It could go down as the greatest film never made.

This week’s Friday Five considers some more for the unseen canon.


1) Terry GIlliam’s THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE stands at the gates of development hell, thankfully the excellent documentary LOST IN LA MANCHA (2002) chronicled the epic failure.

2) Orson Welles’ DON QUIXOTE was a pet project that was never completed. To lose on Quixotic film is unfortunate, to lose two …

3) Alfred Hitchcock‘s KALEIDOSCOPE was also stopped by Universal as they didn’t think there was an audience for a protagonist serial killer with an acid bath. What’s not to like?

4) Stanley Kubrick‘s A.I. was picked up by his Padawan, Spielberg and made into a strangely affecting film, one can only imagine what Stan’s version of the Flesh Fair would have been like.


5) BLADE RUNNER sequel/ prequel has been mooted for years and last week the copyright clearance has been granted and Ridley Scott has given his consent. For anyone thinks that it might be a good idea, I have three words: Jar Jar Binks.

What would you like to see coming off the drawing board?

14 responses to “Dirk’s Five – Canned Classics

  1. Tom Cruise?!? That’s the first I’ve heard about this. Ah well, we’ll have to make do with ‘Re-Animator’.

    * Rendezvous With Rama – Arthur C. Clarke’s masterpiece was tantalisingly close to being adapted by David Fincher and celebrity penguin-botherer Morgan Freeman but now times are tough in Hollywood it looks like this has been chucked back on the “unfilmable” pile
    * Preacher – apparently this is on again, albeit without Darren Aronofsky, but I won’t hold my breath. If it ever does get made it’s hard to imagine how they’ll be able to avoid watering it down to homeopathic levels.
    * Fitzcarraldo featuring Sir Michael Jagger – OK so ‘Fitzcarraldo’ was actually made and remains a masterpiece but Jagger had to go off touring in the middle of shooting after numerous production delays. Herzog dropped the character of Fitzcarraldo’s assistant and reshot the whole thing from the beginning.
    * Orson Welles’ ‘Heart Of Darkness’, David Lean’s ‘Nostromo’ – what is it about Joseph Conrad?
    * Ghostbusters 3 – Ah, g’wan.

  2. “It’s All True” – When Orson Welles had finished The Magnificent Ambersons, he left the editing to Robert Wise (he wishes he hadn’t,he lobbed 51 minutes out of it and shot a new ending in Welles absense) and popped down to Rio for the carnival to make a film on it, it never got finished and Ambersons was bastardised in his absense!
    “London After Midnight” Lon Chaney as a vampire in London, Tod Browning directing, did it actually get shot? Well photos of it exist, but the film mysteriously went mising in the 60’s, there are rumours of a collector having a copy in Canada, but who can say whether they are true!

  3. Welles seems to have done lots of Orson about over various projects didn’t he?

    The mention of Rendezvous With Rama and Preacher reminded me of a number of swords and sorcery films that have been spoken of but have never seen the light of day. Of all genre authors, Michael Moorcock has been largely ignored by film makers despite having a visual style to his fantasy works. There was the appalling FINAL PROGRAMME (1973) a low-rent adaptation of his Jerry Cornelius character and he did write the novelisation of THE GREAT ROCK AND ROLL SWINDLE (sort of).

    As a fan of Moorcock and his Elric novels I have always been excited at the prospect of a film. In my imagination, I have directed a version of the film with David Bowie playing the lead role. In 2007 this article was published in Empire magazine:

    So his adaptation of The Golden Compass is already being hyped by studio New Line as the new Lord Of The Rings (rather inaccurately if you ask us, since the books share little in common). But that’s not enough fantasy limelight for the guy who, up until now, was best known for small-scale comedies like American Pie and About A Boy. Nope, along with his brother and former co-director Paul, Chris Weitz is going to take on the biggest fantasy-literature property as yet untouched by movieland: Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga.

    Elric of Melniboné, aka Elric Kinslayer, aka The White Wolf first appeared in print in 1961, and is the anti-hero of more than a dozen books. A physically weak, perpetually sickly albino who’s the outcast Emperor of a race of cruel, ancient decadent people, he’s no musclebound Conan-type, instead drawing his power from the spirit-sucking runesword Stormbringer, an evil entity with whom he struggles for his own soul. And he’s frankly one of the greatest fantasy characters out there – albeit one who’s going to be fiendishly hard to make work on screen.

    “Of the great classic fantasy series it’s the one that hasn’t been done yet,” Weitz tells Empire online. “My brother Paul and I liked those books growing up and we’ve met Michael Moorcock and he trusts us to take those books forward.” The Weitz’s Depth Of Field production company will be behind the adaptation, although no director is yet attached. Weitz does have one in mind, though: “I’d really like it if my brother directed them,” he says.

    Of course, THE GOLDEN COMPASS fell on stoney ground, and everything has gone very silent about Elric…

  4. Mention the Lord of the Rings just once more,
    And I’ll more than likely kill you.
    “Moorcock, Moorcock, Michael Moorcock”
    you fervently moan.
    Is this a wok that you shove down my throat,
    Or are you just pleased to see me?
    Brian Moore’s head looks uncannily like London Planetarium.

    I’ve had ‘Behold The Man’ on my to-read pile for a while but it’s Philip K Dick season on my bedside table at the moment.

  5. Ah Dickie Davis eyes …

    Hawkwind did a musical version on their Black Sword album (great cover). Note to self – must listen to it and give it back to Eddy who leant it to me over twenty years ago … *awkward*

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