As a UK script consultant and leading script writer for hire, I’ve been around the UK film industry on and off since the mid 1990s. Someone else who’s been around a long time (on and off) is Richard Stanley, the director of Color out of Space (US spelling).
Richard stated out making Super 8mm films, and then graduated to the low budget sci-fi feature ‘Hardware’, which was very creative on almost no money, and had a few extraordinary visual sequences that belied it’s very small budget.
He then moved onto Dust Devil (1992) which is one of the most underrated horror films of all time, in ‘Dust Devil’, Stanley had a bigger budget, a better realised script and he created a great horror film. It wasn’t a massive success, but Hollywood noticed, and before long he was set to helm a big budget version of ‘The Island of Dr Moreau’ – it’s hard to work out what happened (even watching the documentary on the subject ‘Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau‘ ) But Stanley was removed from the film and his promising career went up in smoke.
During the mid 90s when I was working for Channel Four on my short film ‘Family Style’, I heard a rumour that Richard Stanley was homeless and living on a London park bench. I’m not sure if this is true (it very well might have been at the time I heard it) but Stanley looked like a cautionary tale.
As the years passed there was talk of a comeback, he worked on other pieces and started again to appear in public.
At some point a few years ago, it was announced that he was to direct Nic Cage in a Lovecraft adaptation. And last year, the film ‘Color Out of Space’ was delivered, it had some good reviews, and now thankfully, Richard Stanley seems back as a director. And there is talk (I hear) of more Lovecraftian horror films.
Last year, I directed my own Lovecraftian feature film ‘Markham’ which is due for release later this year, so my interest in Richard Stanley is as strong as the day I first saw ‘Dust Devil’. With all this in mind I sat down to watch ‘Color Out Of Space’ a few nights ago and I’m pleased to say I loved it.
Great performances, a good script that builds slowly and confidently, some remarkable visuals and some very scary body horror. The film, finally loses some of its grip in the final third, but I thought it was one of the better horror films of the last 10 years. And I was pleased that Stanley directed bravely, made odd choices and showed some real confidence in his own talent. Bravo.
That Stanley has made this comeback after all this time is testament to his talents, and the calling of his natural vocation. And, he’s still a young man, with plenty of years left to make his mark on cinema and make many more great and interesting films. Lovecraft himself was a genius, or a ‘kind of genius’ who never saw much success in his lifetime. I’m pleased that based on this film, Richard Stanley has and will get some of the success he deserves.
Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire, UK Script editor and script doctor for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. He’s also a leading UK script consultant and freelance script writer for hire and online screenwriting expert. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on email@example.com or hire him on Peopleperhour
His directorial debut, the rubber reality horror thriller Markham will be released in 2020.