CANNES: John Landis Developing Biopic Of 1950s EC Comics Crusader William Gaines

Burke and Hare 2John Landis, who’s in Cannes to promote Ealing Studios’ comedy Burke and Hare, tells me he’s lining up the financing for a movie about EC Comics publisher and co-creator Bill Gaines, who was driven out of the comic book business by 1950s  morality policers after his unapologetic testimony before a U.S. Senate subcommittee investigating  juvenile delinquency. Gaines retaliated by converting one of his titles Mad into a satirical magazine which specialized in skewering all aspects of uptight society. Joel Eisenberg has written the screenplay Ghoulishly Yours, William M Gaines.

Entertainment will release Burke and Hare in the UK on October 29 — just in time for Halloween. Ealing is handling international sales. Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) and Andy Serkis (Sex&drugs&rock&roll) star. Landis says he wanted to work at Ealing partly because of its tradition of dark comedies. Kind Hearts and Coronets was a comedy about a serial killer, while The Ladykillers ends with multiple deaths.

Landis says that he went through around 40 British scripts before he picking out Burke and Hare. Piers Ashcroft and Nick Moorcroft’s script is based on the true story of a pair of grave robbers in early 19th century Scotland. Not only did they dig up corpses, but they murdered to order. Landis saw the pair as Laurel and Hardy types who turn into dashing romantic leads. He says, “I’m thrilled with the movie. It’s a sweet and charming film about a couple of killers.”

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