RKO reawakening with the 'Dead'


RKO Pictures is bringing new life to the Boris Karloff cult film "Isle of the Dead," hiring writers Brian Horiuchi and Matt Lazarus to adapt a remake.

In the 1945 film directed by Val Lewton, Karloff played a Greek military commander on an island where a plague breaks out. He orders the isle quarantined and as residents fall ill and die, some begin to suspect that a vampire-demon might be the cause of the deaths.

RKO plans to set the remake against the backdrop of a viral outbreak in Afghanistan.

"Val Lewton made his name by taking the horror genre to a new place," said RKO chairman and CEO Ted Hartley, who will produce. "Brian and Matt have the same kind of genre-bending sensibilities that will give this classic tale the perfect blend of contemporary themes and timeless scares."

No director has been set.

RKO Pictures vp Kevin Cornish is overseeing.

RKO Pictures at one point was among the greatest of the legendary Hollywood studios. Hartley is leading a revitalization that includes producing new content and repurposing its library. The company recently signed a deal with Twisted Pictures to remake RKO classics "Bedlam" and "The Body Snatcher," both of which originally were directed by Lewton. The latest RKO productions include "Are We Done Yet?" a remake of "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" starring Ice Cube, and "Curtains," an original Broadway musical starring David Hyde Pierce, recently nominated for eight Tonys.

Horiuchi recently wrote "Rainey the Assassin" for director Miguel Sapochnik. His screenplay, "Oskar Fishman," which he co-wrote with Tony Kunewalder, is set up at Groundswell Entertainment. He is repped by the Gersh Agency, Untitled Entertainment and Behr, Abramson & Kaller.

Newcomer scribe Lazarus was a junior executive at Platinum Studios. He is repped by Preferred Artists, manager Dannie Festa and Nelson, Felker, Tocek, Davis.