One of the hottest properties around Hollywood in the last few years has been Seth Grahame-Smith's "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies," a revisionist take on Jane Austen's classic romance that chucks the undead into the mix. But despite being in development for a couple of years now, the film's made slow progress, burning through two directors, David O. Russell and Mike White, before landing its current helmer, "Lars and The Real Girl"'s Craig Gillespie, and it's yet to officially attach any cast members, despite the rumored interest of Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Bradley Cooper and others. Backers Lionsgate had better get a move on, because it looks like their zombies-in-corset shtick may get beaten to the box office by a low-budget rival, one that seems to have assembled an extremely prestigious cast.
Screen Daily reports that actor/director Matthew Butler is currently working on "The Curse of the Buxom Wench," a horror-comedy extension of his 2010 short "E'gad Zombies," and that Ian McKellen (who narrated and made a cameo in the short), Judi Dench, Gillian Anderson and Mark Williams ("Harry Potter") are all attached to star in the project. The film is set in the 18th century, and follows a struggling poet, William Filthe, in love with an unattainable woman, Vanity Banks, who has to fend off a zombie infestation in their small village of Upper Trollop.
Butler has written the script with producer Toni Hart, and the $2 million budgeted film is currently being shopped in Cannes with an eye on shooting in Scotland later in the year. A glimpse at the film's website reveals that McKellen has actually shot his scenes for the film already, before he headed to New Zealand for "The Hobbit," which makes sense from the filmmakers' point of view.
You can watch a trailer for the short below. The production values seem pretty low, so we suppose congratulations are in order to Butler and Hart for assembling an impressive cast, but we can't say that this seems to add much to the genre, beyond one of the worst titles in the history of film. Still, good luck to all concerned. If all goes to plan, we should see "The Curse Of The Buxom Strumpet" sometime in 2012.