Ice Cube places John Carpenter in director jail and swallows the key.

John Carpenter, the legendary director of Halloween and The Thing, has been mostly MIA these last few years. Other than popping up to direct two episodes of Showtime’s hit and (mostly) miss series Masters of Horror, the director has been taking it very, very easy after watching his last theatrical release, Ghosts of Mars, sputter and wheeze at the box office. Apparently, he’s been TiVoing basketball, playing video games (seriously), and collecting royalty checks from the just god-awful remakes of his classic films. (The Fog remake has to be one of the worst theatrical releases of this decade. Holy. Shit.) Since Carpenter’s last truly interesting flick was made waaaay back in 1995 (the underrated Lovecraft love letter In the Mouth of Madness), it looked like we were sadly committed to a Carpenter-less future. Well, put aside that bottle of sleeping pills and drop those suicide blades, boys and gals. The ex-Mr. Barbeau has decided to shake loose the warm tentacle embrace of retirement and get back to doing what he was born to be doing: making movies with personalized synth scores!

Late last week, The Hollywood Reporter mentioned that Carpenter was close to signing on to direct a prison potboiler titled Scared Straight. And that the once (and future?) great Nicolas Cage had signed on to star. Now, that’s a pretty interesting combo, right? Cage used to be an actor that could infuse even the shallowest of roles with quirks that worked. Unlike his name suggests, the man simply could not be contained – he would practically bounce off of celluloid. Cage’s early work, like Carpenter’s, reads like an honor roll. But, lately, his M.O. seems to be 1) apply weird wig, 2) go through the motions, 3) collect payday, and 4) give son Superman’s Kryptonian name. Cage still has some fire left in him, though. I believe it, at least. Say what you will about that Wicker Man redo (…), but his performance in it is at least flies completely off the map. Still, all you need to do is watch the trailer to Bangkok Dangerous (which was fatally the one preview they played before Atlanta’s The Midnight Meat Train showings this weekend) to see an actor that has misplaced his soul slightly. This team-up with Carpenter makes me happy, though – especially if Cage is on board BECAUSE of Carpenter, or had something to do with bringing the fright-haired director onto the project. 

Here’s the plot of the jail tale, according to The Hollywood Reporter:

Straight follows a troubled youth who’s sent to prison off the Scared Straight crime-prevention program, which imprisons delinquent teens for a short period in the hopes of deterring them from a life of crime. While the teen is there, a riot breaks out and the prisoners take him hostage. A lifer, played by Cage, is forced to help the young man out.

Shades of Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 and Cage’s Con Air. What’s not to be excited about here, honestly?



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