Dario Argento has been in the game a long time. From his directorial début in 1970, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (now out on a beautiful disc from Arrow US), to his most recent film, 2012’s Dracula 3D, Argento has managed to build an astounding resume. Certainly his later efforts have not been on par with his earlier output (though, I think there are more bright spots than most), but fans still hold out hope his next time in the director’s chair will recapture the magic of his Giallo glory days. Enter, The Sandman.
The Sandman was announced in June of 2014 as part of the Off-Frontières co-production market. Little was known right off the bat except that Argento signed on to direct a script written by David Tully (Djinn). These early details were quickly followed with news of rock legend Iggy Pop taking on the titular villain role. Before long we were given solid info as to what the heck the film would be about, and undoubtedly, it sounded like the perfect match for Argento’s phantasmagoric sensibilities.
Inspired by the original Sandman of German folklore that plucked out the eyes of children who wouldn’t sleep, The Sandman website describes the tale as follows:
“THE SANDMAN tells the story of a young student in the city who struggles to forget their childhood trauma at the hands of the serial killer dubbed ‘The Sandman’. As a child the student killed The Sandman years ago, on Christmas Eve, after witnessing the murder of their mother. This memory is repressed until they see the beautiful woman who lives in the apartment across the way dying at the hands of that same masked killer. We follow our protagonist to find out who is the real killer. This is a story of voyeurism and obsession and is a direct homage to Giallo films of the past.”
Needless to say, diehard fans of Argento and Iggy Pop were more than intrigued. In October of 2014, they were given the opportunity to get involved with the project. An Indiegogo page launched to help fund The Maestro’s film; the campaign sought a total of $165k to help “partially” bankroll the production. Tax credits, due to the Canadian/German co-production status, were said to bolster a large chunk of the film’s remaining budget. The launch page stated, “While those monies are secured, it is not enough to make the film. We are dedicated to bringing a quintessential masterwork to the faithful fans of Dario and Iggy. It’s the first time for us to approach you and ask for your support before making the film… because we want to do it right and deliver!”
The perks offered to help drum up that sweet cash ranged from copies of the film, signed posters, and even the chance to don the infamous black gloves of the killer on-screen. That particular perk was “one and done”. It went for $5k! Another exciting addition to the crew of The Sandman was Claudio Simonetti, one of the masterminds behind many of Italy’s finest scores. He would be composing for the film along with Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill series) contributing the theme for the soundtrack.
Everything sounded great. For the first time in a long time, a script written specifically for Argento was handed to him with the promise of full artistic freedom. The crowdfunding campaign was a huge success, exceeding with 119% to goal. With $195,633 raised by 1082 backers, The Sandman was coming. Hopes were that it’d be released in time for Christmas the following year. It has now been three years since the initial announcement. Sadly, The Sandman has yet to go into production.
So, what exactly happened? Personally, I was over the moon with excitement when the word first broke (I didn’t back the project as I was one broke mo-fo in 2014). I’ve stated this before, but to reiterate, Argento is a part of the Holy Trinity of directors that helped shape my genre tastes. Romero and Craven complete that particular trifecta. I was hungry for more info on this movie. Realizing there hadn’t been any substantial news regarding The Sandman in some time, I started to do some digging.
It’s important to note that filmmaking is often a long, arduous journey. Projects can stop and start at the drop of a dime. Unfortunately, a lot of fans who put up their cash during the campaign have yet to receive their promised perks. Obviously, items such as copies of the film will have to wait, but what about signed posters? A quick peek at the comments on the Indiegogo page show a lot of anger from backers. People are requesting refunds and even labeling the campaign a “fraud.” Some commenters are more understanding but remain upset over the “Updates” which have come with less consistency as time has gone on. All hope is not lost, however. Argento has actually spoken on the matter. In August of last year, IndieWire interviewed Argento. In regards to The Sandman, he had this to say:
“Iggy Pop keeps asking, ‘How long do we have to wait on this film?’ Honestly, it’s not my fault. This film is a co-production by many different producers in different countries. They apparently can’t agree on a number of things, including where to shoot, locations, things like that. It goes on and on. I know it’s been dragging on. Time goes by and they haven’t reached an agreement. I must say that I myself have been thinking about some other projects in the meantime. I still need to work on them, think about them.”
While The Maestro’s patience might be wearing thin, he recently hinted at two possible projects in his near future. As quoted by Dark Universe, he stated, “Let’s see what will start first.” There was no confirmation that one of these could be The Sandman, but the producers have recently become more vocal about the production’s progress. Just last month, a post on the film’s Facebook page revealed that locations are locked (Ontario) and financing is still being secured. And those perks? On July 5th, a reminder to backers went out to make sure all mailing info was up to date. The signed posters were close to being shipped!
It’s certainly been a long journey for Dario Argento’s possible return to the sub-genre that made him a horror-household name. Here’s hoping the wait is worth it for fans and backers of the project.
Note: I attempted to reach out to “Team Sandman”. They did not respond to request for comment.