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Reviving RKO’s horror heyday

Andy Fickman to shepherd remakes of classics

Andy Fickman has made a deal with Roseblood Movie Company and Twisted Pictures to godfather four remakes from RKO’s horror heyday, including three that were produced by horrormeister Val Lewton. Fickman will direct at least one of the films.

Roseblood is the horror/thriller division of RKO Pictures, and Twisted is the horror division of Evolution Entertainment, financiers and producers of the “Saw” series. The companies will co-finance the films.

The remake properties are the Jacques Tourneur-directed “I Walked With a Zombie” (1943); the Robert Wise-directed Bela Lugosi-Boris Karloff starrer “The Body Snatcher” (1945); the Mark Robson-directed Karloff starrer “Bedlam” (1946); and the John Farrow-directed Lucille Ball-John Carradine starrer “Five Came Back” (1939).

The first three pics were produced by Lewton when he ran the horror division of the original RKO. Lewton co-wrote both “Bedlam” and “The Body Snatcher” under the pseudonym Carlos Keith.

RKO chairman Ted Hartley is producing the remakes with Twisted’s Mark Burg, Oren Koules and Carl Mazzocone. Jonathan Marshall is executive producer.

It’s the second recent multipicture deal for Fickman, who recently made a first-look deal with Disney, where he directed “The Game Plan” and is currently wrapping “Race to Witch Mountain.” Fickman became steeped in monster lore while working as a Universal tour guide and was intrigued with the way Lewton scared up fright hits on relatively small budgets.

“After Frankenstein and the Wolfman came Lewton and RKO, and what they lacked in budgets they made up for with atmosphere, imagination and great directors making horror with psychological flair,” Fickman told Daily Variety. “It was on the heels of WWII, when Nazi Germany showed that the scariest enemy might be the person who looked like your next door neighbor. It didn’t have to be some creature.”

: Said RKO’s Hartley: “I have never met a filmmaker who has the level of appreciation and passion for films that Andy has for Lewton’s incredible creations.”

RKO last produced “Are We There Yet,” a remake of the 1946 RKO Cary Grant comedy “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House,” and produced the upcoming “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” with Michael Douglas, to be released next year by After Dark Films.

Twisted Pictures next releases “Saw V” on Oct. 24, followed by the Nov. 7 release of the horror musical “Repo! The Genetic Opera,” starring Sarah Brightman, Paris Hilton and Paul Sorvino. Lionsgate distributes both pics.

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