Horror, comic-book movie, sci-fi, psychological thriller: practically the one thing we haven't yet had from Guillermo Del Toro is a Western. That's about to change though, since with principal shooting on Pacific Rim now finished, he's opted to produce The Bloody Benders, a tall tale of historical serial killers.
The screenplay is by Adam Robitel, an actor in the first X-Men and the 2001 Maniacs films, who seems to be moving into writing, production and FX. Deadline calls him a "Bryan Singer protege" (aside from his X-Men bit-part, he seems also to have been behind some of the extra features on the Superman Returns DVD).
His story, based on facts of truth, revolves around the Bender family, who ran a general store and boarding house in Kansas in the early 1870s from which few guests ever emerged again. They operated a Sweeney Todd-like trapdoor arrangement under a chair at the dinner table, through which their victims would be dropped after they'd been snuk up on and hit with a hammer. The walls of the murder room were later found to be riddled with bulletholes, suggesting that some of their potential victims took umbrage at their unfortunate situation.
"It is a beautiful and brutal yet poetic story,” is Del Toro's characteristically off-kilter take on the material. “If you consider America back then, it was a great transition to modernity, but on the prairie, these were huge landscapes where people travelled and days and weeks on end would pass without communication. So nothing happens, then there is this brutal murder, and then it’s back to pastoral peace and quiet. That rhythm was very attractive to me.”
Del Toro will now work on a new draft of the screenplay with Robitel, while his partners at production company Angryfilms look for a director.