Having cut my teeth on Kathy Acker’s Blood & Guts in High School, I find it difficult to believe the film version of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies will ever be able to beat the judge demanding of Hester Prynne, “Now pretty please tell us who you fucked?”
Nonetheless, I think it’s Hollywood’s Jane Austen craze as much as its zombie craze that has led the film version to get pushed along. There’s been a fever to make the perfect date movie by adapting this “novel,” which added text by Seth Grahame-Smith to Jane Austen’s original, based on an idea by QuirkBooks editor Jason Rekulak. The infectious desire to make P&P&Z has been been infecting Hollywood almost as much as the drive to completely fuck up World War Z.
Signed on now is director Craig Gillespie, of Lars and the Real Girl fame, who “finalized” a deal yesterday, which in Hollywood means virtually nothing at all, since people leave projects they’ve “finalized” constantly.
But just in case not everyone understands how thoroughly dead Hollywood is, note that:
“Gillespie recently wrapped a remake of the ’80s cult classic Fright Night, with Colin Farrell as the unfriendly neighborhood vampire.”
…which would probably hurt my brain to think about even more than it does, if I could remember who the hell Colin Farrell is, other than the scary face in my nightmares.
Gillespie “plans to begin shooting Pride & Predjudice & Zombies at the end of the summer,” which in Hollywood is a bit like saying you plan to have “Marty” over for dinner at your loft the next time he’s in L.A. Gillespie did an interview with Entertainment Weekly in which EW, as usual, really kicked out the jams when it comes to asking thought-provoking questions:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I’m trying to think of a common thread between your three recent films – Lars and the Real Girl, the Fright Night remake, and now Pride and Prejudice and Zombies — and all I can figure is that you’re fascinated by things that aren’t really alive.
Ow!!! Ow!!! Ow!!!! The banality!! Teh vapidity! It burnsess us!!!! Fat, stewpid HOBBITSESS!! I know the finer points of monster symbolism tend to be lost on mainstream writers, but zombies and vampires are not even remotely the same thing. Jeez, EW, get your shit together!
Gillespie confirms that they’re (supposedly) using the same script that Three Kings/The Fighter/I-Heart-Huckabees director David O. Russel planned to use before he departed the project:
[W]e have a really great script that we’re just going to do a polish on and then get going, really…. David Russell wrote the script off the book, and it has such a great mix of humor and horror. I just love being able to juggle those two aspects. The humor is inherent in the Pride and Prejudice side, but taking that and accenting it with zombies is just a brilliant and fun idea. And there are such strong female characters, which is nice to have. It’s a great clash.
Okeedokee, then. He also said:
There’s a lot of action in this. There are a lot of big set pieces in this film, which is exciting. Basically, as I said to the studio, at the core it’s a love story between Elizabeth and Darcy. If that’s not working, and we’re not rooting for those two get together through all this craziness, the movie is not going to work. That’s key to me, to have this great emotional story going on, and all this craziness.
…I love the propriety of the Jane Austen novels, which you want to keep. The language, what’s appropriate and not appropriate. The customs, and the hierarchy. They had very witty dialogue with a lot of undertones to it. You need the juxtoposition. There’s going to be a strong gothic undertone, which ties the two genres together. It’s more in the world of [Tim Burton’s 1999] Sleepy Hollow, where it’s somewhat stylized. We have that creative license because of the zombies. I’ll certainly do my homework and explore genres to see what might work, but it’s going to have that strong gothic sense, I think.
Incidentally, Grahame-Smith’s first book was The Big Book of Porn, a nonfiction history of adult movies that I haven’t read and therefore can’t really make fun of — at least not very effectively. The follow-up to the zombies book was Dawn of the Dreadfuls, but Grahame-Smith didn’t write it. His next novel was Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.