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Prolific Texas author Joe R. Lansdale has been thrilling audiences for over 30 years with his imaginatively dark and often horrific novels, not to mention his work in comics and television, yet somehow the only two features that have been adapted from his bibliography are Don Coscarelli’s cult hit Bubba Ho-Tep and Terrill Lee Lankford’s Christmas with the Dead, with Jim Mickle’s take on revenge thriller Cold in July having just premiered at Sundance. Fans will be very pleased to find out production company Paradise City landed Bill Paxton to direct an adaptation of Lansdale’s race-based murder mystery The Bottoms, which was the recipient of the 2000 Edgar Award for best novel.
The story is set in East Texas during the Great Depression, where a young boy named Harry Crane is out walking along the Sabine River with his younger sister when they discover the remains of a black woman who was butchered and left to rot on the river bottom. Suspicions are immediately raised all across their small town, but when a white woman’s body turns up next, a lawless and racially driven revenge is taken. Harry and his sister then take it upon themselves to figure out who the real killer is, which leads them down the path of a local legend, the Goat Man, who supposedly lives deep in the woods, where race and creed don’t matter.
This will be Paxton’s much-anticipated return to the thriller genre, as his directorial debut Frailty is one of my favorite films of the past 15 years. (His 2005 follow-up The Greatest Game Ever Played, however, was not.) Oddly enough, this will be the second feature written by Brent Hanley, who also wrote Frailty. Considering how strong the performances were from child actors Matt O’Leary and Jeremy Sumpter in that film, I certainly hope Paxton can find another pair of performers who can equally transcend the stigma of annoying youths. It wouldn’t hurt if Matthew McConaughey also came on to play the father either.
Paradise City’s Nicholas Shumaker, who is also one of the producers of Cold in July, said he and his team have "been obsessed" with the novel and were "beyond thrilled" that Paxton was interested in turning it into a film. Back in 2012, Paxton listed it Oprah’s website as one of the books that made a big difference to him, and he’s been interested in making it his next film for a while now.
Production on the film is set to start later this year, according to Deadline. Now if only someone could make a franchise out of Lansdale’s Hap & Leonard books. While we wait on that, relive the God’s Hand killer’s wrath with the trailer below.