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‘Frailty’ Fans Rejoice! Bill Paxton Will Step Behind the Camera Again for Joe Lansdale Adaptation

By  · Published on February 7th, 2014

Whenever film lovers are asked which actor turned director they’d like to see get back behind the camera for a second film the top choice is quite frequently Charles Laughton. Unfortunately, Mr. Laughton passed away over half a century ago and won’t be following up The Night of the Hunter anytime soon. By contrast, Eddie Murphy is still alive, but no one is asking for a follow-up to Harlem Nights.

One other name that frequently shows up on these lists is Bill Paxton, the beloved character actor, occasional leading man, and only performer to have been killed by a Terminator, a Predator, an Alien, and a Liberal with a knife. To be fair, even he doesn’t fit the criteria above as he’s already directed a second movie with 2005’s golf-related period film, The Greatest Game Ever Played. That movie is easily forgotten though, in part because it stars Shia LaBeouf, and in part because Paxton’s feature debut, Frailty, is so goddamn good. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it yet do yourself a favor and seek it out immediately. It even stars Matthew McConaughey, and you love him now.

Finally, thirteen years after delivering that powerfully dark and twisted gem, Paxton is apparently ready to get dirty once again. Even better, he’s reuniting with Frailty’s screenwriter, Brent Hanley, to adapt a Joe Lansdale novel. Keep reading for the details on this extremely welcome and kickass news.

Per Deadline, Paxton and Hanley will be adapting Lansdale’s critically lauded novel, The Bottoms, with shooting planned to begin sometime later this year. The book won the Edgar Award in 2000 for Best Suspense Novel, and while it appears to lean more dramatic than horrific, the story appears to be just as dark, gruesome, and affecting. The synopsis is as follows:

Its 1933 in East Texas and the Depression lingers in the air like a slow moving storm. When a young Harry Collins and his little sister stumble across the body of a black woman who has been savagely mutilated and left to die in the bottoms of the Sabine River, their small town is instantly charged with tension. When a second body turns up, this time of a white woman, there is little Harry can do from stopping his Klan neighbors from lynching an innocent black man. Together with his younger sister, Harry sets out to discover who the real killer is, and to do so they will search for a truth that resides far deeper than any river or skin color.”

Paradise City, the relatively new production house behind the deal, has quickly become the go-to home for adaptations of Lansdale’s work. They also produced the upcoming Cold In July directed by Jim Mickle and starring Michael C. Hall, Don Johnson, and Sam Shepard. (Check out our Sundance review.)

Prior to Cold In July, Lansdale’s fiction has been turned into feature films twice before. The little-seen (and barely heard of) Christmas With the Dead is based on one of his short stories, while Phantasm’s Don Coscarelli brought the higher profile and far weirder Bubba Ho-Tep to life in 2002. Yes, that is the one where Elvis and JFK team up to fight an evil mummy in an old folks home.

Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.