The horror community has been rampant in discussion this week in light of horror legend John Carpenter declaring his desire to direct a feature film based on the popular video game, Dead Space. The bestselling sci-fi/horror game follows engineer Isaac Clarke as he fights his way through the USG Ishimura, a starship infested with human corpses reanimated and mutated by an alien virus, also known as “Necromorphs”. From the brief synopsis alone, genre fans can see that Dead Space is right up Carpenter’s horror/sci-fi alley, as it would return Carpenter to his extraterrestrial roots, which began in Dark Star, continued with Starman and The Thing and was last displayed in They Live. Carpenter, also an avid fan of video games and contributor to both The Thing’s video game sequel and the F.E.A.R. series, told Game Informer:
“I maintain that Dead Space would just make a great movie because you have these people coming onto an abandoned, shut-down space ship, and they have to start it up, and something’s on board. It’s just great stuff. I would love to make Dead Space [into a film], I’ll tell you that right now…”
While the fan in me would love to see John Carpenter apply his The Thing instincts and skill to Dead Space, my skeptical side looks at Carpenter’s less than stellar track record as of late. The notorious Ghosts of Mars immediately comes to mind, and while his Masters of Horror entries further polarized his fan base, The Ward was also a critical and commercial failure. One must also consider the myriad films in the past few years that never came to fruition, like RIOT with Nicolas Cage, a Se7en-esque thriller entitled The 13th Apostle, the perpetually-in-development Darkchylde and Fangland with Hilary Swank.
So the question remains: does John Carpenter still have sufficient horror chops, the likes of his past, greater efforts to get this project off the ground? Could this be both his valiant return to sci-fi horror and a video game film adaptation worth anticipating?
Only time will tell; if this becomes more than mere speculation and the wheels get moving, Diabolique Magazine will be there to let you know.
– By Robert Vaughn