I really wish Paul Bartel wasn’t dead.

I have this thought often. These days it’s usually just one beard having empathy for another. But right now it’s because based on looks alone, Bartel would be perfect* to play Richard "The Ice Man" Kuklinski in a film likely to be directed by the Hughes Brothers.

Los Bros Hughes are, unfortunately, no strangers to tales of mass murder. They were last seen in cinemas fleeing the scene of a crime called From Hell. Having tried — I really tried! — to watch that film again while thinning my DVD collection last year, I have to admit I’m skeptical about their return.

But Lorenzo di Bonaventura, the producer I can’t stop writing about this week, feels differently. He and partner Jason Blum have picked up the rights to The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer, Philip Carlo’s book about the extraordinary and very grisly life of Kuklinski. (Buy the book from CHUD!)

And it’s a cinematic story, no doubt: the 300-lb killer worked as a contract hit man for the Gambino family for over 30 years, amassing anywhere from 30 to over 200 assassinations, depending upon which confession you choose to read. I can’t even get 30 kills in a goddamn Halo game. This guy was a madman! More so because he whacked all those guys but managed to keep his true calling secret from his wife and three kids. I remember one interview where his wife explained that he’d sometimes just get a call and take off, no questions asked. I’m sure there was no spousal intimidation involved in the subterfuge. At all.

di Bonaventura and Blum haven’t settled on a writer yet, and are said to be following the solid business plan of choosing one before hitting on a major studio, though Variety gamely mentions their first-look deal with Paramount. Why do I bet that Fox won’t bite if Paramount passes?

*Good thing Bartel has already done his own great mass murderer flick: Eating Raoul, the absence of which on the Essentials list I’m at a total loss to explain.