For fans of the seminal horror anthology “Tales From The Darkside,” the news that “Star Trek“/”Sleepy Hollow” producers Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman were bringing the show back for The CW seemed like a dream (or nightmare) come true. Add in critically acclaimed author Joe Hill shepherding the project, and things only got better from there.
But first, a few corrections on those previous news stories:
“Well, for starters, the show is just called ‘Darkside,’ ” Hill told MTV News via e-mail. “And it really is a reinvention, not a reboot. My feeling is, in the wake of shows like ‘The X-Files‘ and ‘Fringe,’ the days when you could do a straightforward horror anthology are over.”
Hill describes the new show as a “descendant, not a reanimation,” adding that while he is writing the pilot, if the show does get picked up, he’ll be more of a “curator” than a lead writer due to commitments writing novels.
That doesn’t mean the show won’t embrace some of the anthology aspects of the original. In particular, “Darkside” will still draw on short stories for some of its structure and plots. Hill notes the creators have already discussed authors Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link, and C. Robert Cargill, though no official offers have gone out. “I would love if director Amanda Boyle could remake Pop Art’ at the 22-minute length, but that’s just an idle thought,” Hill added, citing a short film made from one of Hill’s own short stories.
Speaking of connections to the past, the reboot has a surprisingly deep history, not just with the original but also with Hill. In 1982, legendary director George A. Romero and writer Stephen King created an anthology film titled “Creepshow.” The movie spawned interest in a TV series, but because Warner Brothers owned rights to the name, Romero created “Tales From The Darkside.”
Nearly three decades later, Hill was approached by “Tales From The Darkside” Producer Mitchell Galin, and asked to write a pilot for a reboot of the show. After Hill had sketched out a rough script, he showed it to Kurtzman, who had produced a TV pilot for Hill’s comic “Locke & Key” and is currently working on the movie version of the same.
“Alex got excited and said he had a deal with CBS and CW and if Mitchell was okay with it, he wanted to help it get made,” Hill said. “That was kind of a no-brainer. Alex and Bob tell the right kind of genre stories, heartfelt, character driven adventures full of one-of-a-kind moments. Everything they bring to the table is right for ‘Darkside’.”
Oh, and here’s the kicker that brings everything full circle: Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son.
“I don’t know about passing any torch, but ” ‘Creepshow’ is the reason I said yes,” Hill said. “‘Creepshow’ is also, in an odd way, the reason for ‘Locke & Key’ (the comic, not the unreleased pilot). I, uh, had a small part in the original film, and fell for my first rock star: Tom Savini.”
Though the show is clearly still very much a work in progress, Hill says the 2014 premiering project will have 11 to 13 episodes, “unless the pilot sucks, in which case I would expect zero episodes.”
In the meantime, Hill, Orci, and Kurtzman are still hard at work bringing their other property, “Locke & Key,” to the screen; though that prospect won’t be easy.
“It’s been snared in an endless series of contractual negotiations. Universal took a long, long time to come through with an acceptable contract for myself and IDW,” said Hill. “Now they’re dealing with a bureaucracy as labyrinthine and implacable as their own: FOX TV. Uni wants to avoid spending $25 million on a movie, and then have FOX steal their thunder by releasing a three-year-old pilot.
“FOX wants to see some coin on all the money they sank into the pilot in the first place. The lawyers all have to validate their salaries. That said, Alex and Bob are the two most tenacious people I’ve ever met, and if anyone can see ‘Locke & Key’ through the contractual maze, and on into production, it’s them.
“Of course all this could’ve been avoided if FOX had just made the series. I know I’m biased, but I kinda think they bet on the wrong ponies that season.”
Those ponies? “Terra Nova,” “Alcatraz,” and “The Finder,” all three of which were cancelled after a season. Only time will tell if “Darkside” repeats history, and if it does, whether it will mirror the fate of “Locke & Key” or the original “Tales From The Darkside.” Until then, try to enjoy the daylight.