Talk about a resurrection. Screen rights to Wake the Dead, Steve Niles' modern-day Frankenstein graphic novel first published by IDW in 2004, once resided over at Dimension Films with Trick 'r Treat's Mike Dougherty attached to adapt. The project was ultimately kicked into turnaround which has allowed Niles, in the last few years, to find other interested parties.
And it appears he has. Niles reveals director Jay Russell (Ladder 49, The Water Horse) is now on board the film with screenwriter James V. Hart (Bram Stoker's Dracula).
"The one lesson I've finally learned is the projects are more important than the announcements," Niles tells ShockTillYouDrop.com, referring to the timespan shortly after rights to 30 Days of Night were picked up and it appeared nearly every one of his graphic novels was in some stage of film development. "Me and Jay have been working for three or four years now to get this going. All through him doing The Water Horse. And we've just been steadily hammering away at it. He's always had a consistent vision and he knows this is a modern re-telling of Frankenstein. It's grim death. It's about as far from My Dog Skip as you can get."
Niles believes Russell will bring a unique vision to the horror genre, but what is also charging his excitement is Hart's contribution. "This team we've assembled is amazing," he exudes. "People are going to wonder why I'm not even going to take a crack at writing it. After doing 30 Days of Night and the heartbreak of being the powerless writer...if it wasn't for [Sam] Raimi and [director David] Slade I would've been brushed under the carpet. They kept me in the loop. With this I want to have a little more say."
The author will act as a producer on Wake and teases big news regarding studio and FX involvement is on the way.
In the IDW series, illustrated by Chee (with contributions by Milx), Niles introduces his readers to a young man named Victor who works to reverse death, even if it means using spare parts from some of his friends. "It's Frankenstein, but it's not the novel, it's not the movie. It's the gist of Frankenstein. It's such a part of our psyche and I want to get it out there. And it's a shame because every time people put it out there, it's another period piece. For some reason or another, the kids today reject it. So, I'm hoping this will be more a more accessible and more visceral telling."
Hart has a lot of wiggle room to flesh out the story since Wake was told as a four-issue mini-series. "We're keeping a lot of the key beats, but there's going to be more character development. We're still keeping where the brain came from, the relationship, the med students. What inspired this whole thing was my love of Franktenstein and the monster is the one taking the shit. In the end, the villagers take Victor Frankenstein away and the innocent victim is burning in the windmill. It was a reaction to that. The bad guy in our story is the one playing with the dead."
Below you'll find a video montage created by Russell that evokes the tone of the film.