S. Craig Zahler Announces New Film Projects and a Western Miniseries
S. Craig Zahler has been quiet since he unleashed Dragged Across Concrete to much critical acclaim and a whole lot of controversy in 2019. That said, he hasn’t been enjoying downtime by any means. In the last year, he’s penned a new novel and a comic book (The Slanted Gutter and Forbidden Surgeries of the Hideous Dr. Divinus, respectively) but he hasn’t forgotten about his filmmaking ambitions, either.
In a recent interview with Word Balloon, Zahler revealed that he has three film projects in various stages of development. The first is Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric of an Anomalous Child, which is an adaptation of his novel of the same name. The story follows an orphan who was born with several deformities and must deal with the prejudice and the dangers of the world, including scientists who adopt him as a pet. Think Charles Dickens meets David Lynch’s The Elephant Man and you have a brief idea of what to expect. It’s probably the closest Zahler will ever come to making a family-friendly movie, but if it’s anything like the book then it won’t be for the faint-hearted.
Hug Chickenpenny has been in development for a couple of years now. While details surrounding it are being kept close to the vest, for now, it’s already known that the film will be black-and-white and almost three hours long. Furthermore, as Deadline pointed out, the Jim Henson Company is involved, and the central character will be an animatronic puppet. It remains to be seen if Vince Vaughn, Fred Melamed and other regular Zahler players will star in the Gothic tale. However, the director told Word Balloon that some familiar faces, as well as other big names, have already signed on.
Zahler also confirmed that Fury of the Strongman is “going around.” This is another movie that he’s had in the works for quite some time. The screenplay is even available to read on his website if you don’t mind spoilers. I won’t ruin it for you, but it’s another gritty crime movie in the vein of Brawl In Cell Block 99 and Dragged Across Concrete, albeit much more mean-spirited and nasty. Set in the 1970s, the twisted tale revolves around a travelling circus that ruffles the feathers of the racist locals of a small Louisiana town. As is the case with all Zahler movies thus far, things get pretty violent.
The third project, meanwhile, is a horror movie which he didn’t give any details on. Then again, it was only a matter of time until he got his teeth sunk into something scary. Of course, Zahler has already dabbled in fright fare with his script for Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich, Forbidden Surgeries of the Hideous Dr. Divinus, and The Narrow Caves audiobook. The final third of his western Bone Tomahawk is essentially a cannibalistic gorefest as well. The genre certainly agrees with Zahler’s brutally grim storytelling sensibilities, and it’ll be interesting to see what he does with a fully-fledged horror movie that he directs.
Those films are Zahler’s priority at the moment, but he also opened up about two other projects that are on the backburner. One is an “enormous western” that he intends to release as a miniseries on a streaming service. In an interview with Curzon back in 2019, he said Tory Kittles and Don Johnson will lead the cast in this one.
During his conversation with Word Balloon, Zahler also revealed that he’s adapted an old western novel, which will be announced soon. This appears to be a writer-for-hire gig, however, as he also confirmed that he won’t direct the feature.
For those of you who are interested in his literature, you’ll be pleased to learn that he’s currently working on a sci-fi comic, too. Much like his debut comic, he will write, draw, and ink the new one. Zahler has already explored the sci-fi genre in his Corpus Chrome, Inc novel, which tells the story of a corporation that inserts the minds of dead people into robotic bodies. Hopefully, that gets its own movie adaptation someday as well — it’s excellent.
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