Yesterday, we learned that the Nicolas Winding Refn-produced remake of legendary B-movie Maniac Cop was zooming full steam ahead. And now the Danish filmmaker is throwing his weight behind a remake of 1968 British historical horror film Witchfinder General. What’s next? Shriek of the Mutilated? Food of the Gods?
Better not be. At least—at the very least—his support for Witchfinder General in Name Only Because Vincent Price Died in 1993 appears to come from a deeply personal place. For one thing, Winding Refn tells Deadline that he identifies strongly with original Witchfinder director Michael Reeves and is a huge fan of the cult classic, about a ruthlessly evil 17th-century witch hunter:
[Winding Refn] sees Reeves as a sort of version of himself, going “against the kitchen sink” and wants to do justice to what he believes was already a “very visual and contemporary film” which he calls “fascinating in its physical and emotional violence.”
And another: Winding Refn is partnering on the project with producer-distributor Rupert Preston, who was instrumental in bringing Winding Refn’s first film, 1996's Pusher, to a wider audience—a lucky break that helped jump-start Winding Refn’s now-thriving career. As Deadline notes:
Refn remarks that loyalty is important to him and that he’d been keen to hook up with his friend as co-producers. Both have a deep fondness for Reeves’ original work and spent time securing the remake rights from Tigon Films. “It’s kind of full circle,” he says, noting that he didn’t want to lose the connection with Preston in this “crazy business.”
Well. That is some very nice motivation, but it doesn’t answer the fundamental question of WHY REMAKE WITCHFINDER GENERAL IN THE FIRST PLACE? Sigh. No writer or director has been announced yet, but the film—with a budget estimated to be in the $5-10 million range—is set to begin shooting next year “with a view to bringing a new audience to the story.” You’ve been warned.