Thursday, May 1, 2008

Deal tied up for Art of the Devil remake

I have never understood the allure of the Art of the Devil film series -- the main premise being revenge dished out by means of horrendous, disfiguring torture at the hands of an enraged black-magic sorceress.

I haven't seen any of the films. And though the current one in the series, Art of the Devil III (Long Khong 2) is still lurking about in local cinemas, I don't think I'm about to start -- unless star Napakpapha "Mamee" Nakprasit comes to me right now, forcibly binds me and drags me away from the keyboard, takes me to a screening room, straps me to a chair, forces my eyelids open and sits next to me with eyedrops to keep my peepers moist as I watch the film.

But a whole lot of other people are going to get a taste of the series when the remakes start. Yes, as if the originals weren't torture enough, there will be remakes. Following in the ghostly footsteps of Shutter and The Eye, Five Star Production is getting in on the remake game, selling the Art of the Devil franchise to Cerenzie-Peters Productions.

Bloody Disgusting was the first with the news:

CP will begin by focusing on the second installment [Art of the Devil II, aka Long Khong], which featured a group of high school kids who fall victim to supernatural tattoos.

The latest movie, released April 3 in Thailand, earned more than $2.5 million during its first weekend to lead the domestic box office. That beat out the $2.1 million raked in by Jumper and the $1.8 million grossed by 10,000 BC.

Devil, which cost less than $1 million to make, has already been sold to more than 40 countries.

CP will produce the project via its genre division, which just signed a $100 million production financing partnership with Ghostrider Entertainment. Thompson, who recently joined CP to head the new genre arm, was responsible for acquiring the franchise from Bangkok-based Five Star Production, one of Thailand's oldest production and distribution houses.

Colin Geddes will co-produce. Geddes is also the film programmer of the Midnight Madness selection at the Toronto International Film Festival where he has introduced genre directors such as Eli Roth (Cabin Fever), Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes), Prachya Pinkaew (Ong Bak), and Takeshi Miike (Ichi the Killer). Last year's selection included the world premieres of George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead and Dario Argento's Mother of Tears.

"There is a wealth of material that we feel culturally translates extremely well from the pan-Asian regions, and we feel we have an amazing franchise on our hands," Peters said.

Yuthlert Sippapak's ghost comedy-drama Buppha Rahtree was another of Geddes' choices for Midnight Madness.

The Art of the Devil series began in 2004 with Khon Len Khong, directed by Thanit Jitnukul and starring Supaksorn Chaimongkol.

Art of the Devil II came out in 2005, directed by a crew of seven directors that dubbed themselves the Ronin Team. They included screenwriter Kongkiat Khomsiri, who has since gone on to pen The Unseeable for Wisit Sasanatieng and direct Muay Thai Chaiya. Called Long Khong in Thai, Art of the Devil II was a different storyline than the first film, but had similar themes of a female using torturous black magic to exact revenge. This was the film that introduced the fiery actress Mamee to the series, and she garnered much critical acclaim for her performance. It's this film, about a teacher taking black-magic revenge on some students who pulled a prank on her, that will be focused on for the remake.

Art of the Devil III (Long Khong 2) is actually a prequel to the second film, showing how the teacher Phanor came to acquire her sorcery skills.

The first two original Art of the Devil films are available as a box set with English subtitles and optional English-dubbed soundtrack.

More information:

(Via Twitch and Kaiju Shakedown)

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