Take an iconic camp horror director. Add an actor known for his love of iconic camp horror. Give them a classic ghost story to work on. Sit back and enjoy. That’s basically what’s happening with the proposed film adaptation of the M.R. James ghost story Casting The Runes. Simon Pegg has been set to play the lead whilst horror hero Joe Dante is going to direct.
Casting The Runes begins with an actor throwing himself in front of a subway train, leading celebrity gossip blogger (in this iteration) Mark Dunning to investigate the actor’s connection to a self-help guru. The secret to the guru’s success? Dark forces, of course.
Obviously James, who died in 1936, did not write Dunning as a gossip blogger. According to the Casting The Runes website, the film will interweave various elements of James’s signature creepy-crawlies into a contemporary narrative. As well we might expect, given the attachment of both Pegg and Dante.
What horror fan does not remember at least one Joe Dante film with love and admiration? My personal favorite is The Howling, but this is the guy behind Gremlins and The ‘Burbs, those scary/not-scary/totally demented tales of suburban invasion by the forces of darkness. M.R. James’s work is made for him – as it is made for Pegg, no stranger to camp horror himself.
Of course, Casting The Runes might not be camp at all. It might be a very straight horror flick. I doubt it, though. You do not attach Joe Dante and Simon Pegg and not give it at least an edge of humor.
In any case, I will await the fun of Casting The Runes. We have not had a decent Joe Dante film in years (I do not count the straight to DVD The Hole) and his partnering with Pegg makes exceptional sense. Why didn’t anyone think of this before?