Bubba Ho-Tep, starring Bruce Campbell as an aging Elvis fighting a mummy in an East Texas nursing home, is one of the true cult classics of the past decade, and for fans of author Joe R. Lansdale, it’s confirmation of something we’ve known for a while -- Joe’s stories would make great movies. Many of his books and short stories have been optioned over the years (Don Coscarelli was attached to The Drive-In for a while and David Lynch’s production company had the rights to The Big Blow), but there’s been no forward momentum getting them from the written page up onto the silver screen.
That will all change later this year with the low-budget zombie flick Christmas with the Dead and a scheduled feature film adaptation of Cold in July, which Lansdale says (via Twitter) will begin shooting in late Fall or early 2013. Christmas with the Dead, co-written by Lansdale’s son Keith, was filmed on location in Lansdale’s hometown of Nacogdoches, Texas, with local cast and crew helping bring the Holiday zombie story to festering life. Cold in July sees a family man gun down a stranger during a random break-in, and the burglar’s ex-con father seeking swift revenge. That tense connection between the two men opens up a lingering mystery, and leads them down a trail of sex and violence that neither could’ve possibly imagined. Cold in July will be brought to the screen by director Jim Mickle (Mulberry Street, Stakeland) and collaborator/screenwriter/actor Nick Damaci.
On the same day, Lansdale mentioned that a screenwriter was hard at work on adapting The Pit, an ultra-violent tale of underground fighting, and that his most recent novel, Edge of Dark Water, had also been optioned. Edge of Dark Water is pitched as “young adult” fiction, but sounds as ominous as any of Lansdale’s thrillers. In it, a wannabe movie starlet turns up dead and her closest friends decide to carry her ashes to Hollywood, but a stash of stolen money complicates their trip.
It’s exciting to finally see some real movement on Lansdale adaptations. Maybe this will bring us that much closer to seeing Lansdale’s long-running Hap & Leonard series to life someday.