Posted on Monday, July 13th, 2009 by Brendon Connelly
Originally, the Weinstein Brothers’ planned for their option on Stephen King‘s novel Cell to translate into a feature film directed by Eli Roth. Recently though, Roth has confirmed that he’s moved on from the project in favour of self-created works. So what next? According to a new report from Fangoria, the plan to realize the Cell adaptation as a big screen movie left with him and now, John Harrison is scripting an adaptation to be shopped around the networks as a 4-hour miniseries. There’s no suggestion he’ll be using any of the material Scott Alexander and Larry Karazewski developed for the Roth movie.
Harrison’s horror film legacy is already substantial, unravelling backwards from his new Books of Blood feature film to his work in Romero’s Dead films as composer, actor and assistant to Romero. Indeed, he is credited as the assistant director of Romero and King’s Creepshow and made his feature directing debut with Tales From the Darkside, a portmanteau horror picture for which he realised Romero’s script of King’s short story Cat From Hell.
I think he’s a very encouraging choice for the project. Speaking to Fangoria, however, he revealed that he is, so far, only contracted to script the series, though he would “certainly like to” direct it too. His experience on the Dune miniseries probably stands him in good stead there.
I don’t know if we can assume this would be a production for a cable network or if it would have to be pitched at a more PG-13 level – compare, for example, Masters of Horror to Fear Itself. King’s books do tend to be rather sprawling and perhaps well suited to the miniseries format, at least in theory, though all of the great King adaptations, Salem’s Lot aside, have been stand-alone motion pictures.
The earlier scenes of Cell, establishing the story’s context and the premise of horrific threat, should make for tremendously dramatic stuff. ‘The Pulse’ spreads across the world, via the networks of cell phone companies, transforming people into zombie-like crazies nicknamed ‘phoners’. Roth was planning some epic business for these moments, and while I’m sure Harrison’s budget will be somewhat more restrictive, I expect he will make a decent fist out of them too.