Well, this could be confusing. The third Transformers film is subtitled Dark of the Moon, but there’s an older tale that shares that name, and now a film based on the original Dark of the Moon is edging towards development. This alternate story with the same name features no giant bearded robots on the moon, but it might be just the thing for those who have no interest in that sort of thing.

The earlier version is set in the Appalachians and follows John, “a witch boy who seeks to become human after falling in love with a human girl, Barbara Allen.” Classic setup, right? In 1939 Howard Richardson dramatized a folk song ‘The Ballad of Barbara Allen,’ and in 1945 his friend William Berney did some additional work on the script and the play premiered on Broadway.

So there’s a supernatural Appalachian musical floating out there, and producers have bought the rights to develop a stage musical and feature film based on the story. Richard Alfieri will write both versions; that’s the only name attached right now. Regardless, how soon until Paramount and DreamWorks lawyers get in touch?

Sadly, this sounds like the more interesting story, but that won’t give pause to the Transformers juggernaut. But if this goes forward, attracts good talent, etc., all that has to happen is a title change. Then we’d have another potentially good ghost story on the way, with a hell of a lot of subtext about faith, tolerance and community, and that would be just fine.

Here’s a wiki recap of the first act or so of the story. It gets pretty messed up — there’s a rape in a church — which, perversely, only makes me more hopeful that the adaptation(s) will move forward.

The witch boy John approaches the Conjur Man and says he will pay any amount and agree to any terms if he can become a human. Only as a human can he be with his mortal love, the beautiful Barbara Allen. When Conjur Man denies his request, John goes to Conjur Woman. She agrees, as long as he will marry Barbara Allen. If Barbara is faithful to him for a year, then John can remain a human. Conjur Woman reveals that she knows Barbara is already pregnant with John’s child. As a human, John runs off to join the humans of Buck Creek. Secretly, however, the Fair Witch and the Dark Witch hope that John fails and that Barbara Allen will pay for stealing John away from Baldy Mountain.

At Buck Creek, John approaches Barbara at a dance while she is accompanied by Marvin Hudgens. John tries to dance with Barbara, but Marvin attacks John. A lightning bolt strikes; John wins the wrestling match by using his witch powers. He is then welcomed into the town by the unsuspecting townsfolk, who believe he was simply strong. John marries Barbara in a general store, unable to enter a church even as a human, and Barbara’s parents are so desperate to have her married, they agree.

[Variety]

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