DARKLANDS, the 1996 debut feature by Julian (THE LAST HORROR MOVIE) Richards, is to be rereleased in a new director’s cut. Transfering the basic plot of THE WICKER MAN to the industrial landscape of South Wales, the film (covered way back in Fango #164) stars Craig (CLIFFHANGER) Fairbrass and was part of a three-picture deal between the actor and Metrodome Films, the other movies being PROTEUS and BEYOND BEDLAM (a.k.a. NIGHTSCARE).
“When [producer] Paul Brooks left for the U.S., he sold Metrodome [and its assets] to new owners who quickly shifted its focus from production to distribution,” Richards explains to Fango. “International rights were controlled by a separate sales company, Victor Films, who sold DARKLANDS for DVD distribution in Asia and Europe. Victor liquidated in 2002 and international rights reverted to the production company—Metrodome.
“I met with Metrodome last week and negotiated a contract to represent world sales through my new sales company, Jinga Films,” Richards continues. “This ended a very frustrating period when many distributors of THE LAST HORROR MOVIE were also interested in DARKLANDS, but nobody knew who controlled the rights. I was approached by several North American distributors, but was unable to close any deals because of this rights issue.”
In the decade since he made DARKLANDS, Richards has helmed both the thriller SILENT CRY and THE LAST HORROR MOVIE, and this version reflects that additional experience. “DARKLANDS: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT is probably a first, in that it is several minutes shorter than the original version, which was often criticized for being slow to start,” the director says. “Benefit of hindsight is always a good thing, so I took the film back into the editing room, and pruned and juxtaposed several scenes in the first 45 minutes. Overall, the changes make for a much more entertaining watch. I like to think that it’s a genuine director’s cut rather than some contrived marketing ploy. It’s a filmmaker revisiting and improving his work as opposed to including deleted scenes on the basis that there has been some pseudo-dispute between director and producer.
“After the success of THE LAST HORROR MOVIE, the timing couldn’t be better,” Richards states. “American genre fans are eager to discover my previous work, and the forthcoming release of Neil LaBute’s WICKER MAN remake as well as the new OMEN will clearly add interest to DARKLANDS and its subject matter. Some people might go so far as to say that DARKLANDS was the first WICKER MAN remake!”
The new cut will have its premiere in June as part of the annual Fantastic Film Weekend at Britain’s National Museum of Photography, Film and Television. A British DVD will follow, and negotiations are already underway to find a U.S. distributor. Meanwhile, Richards is in preproduction on his fourth feature, SUMMER SCARS, which will reunite him with THE LAST HORROR MOVIE’s Kevin Howarth, this time playing a psycho who takes a group of school truants hostage.