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Dark Continent
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Dark Continent

Status: Unknown

Cast: Arnold Vosloo (?)

Crew: Richard Stanley (Screenwriter, director?), Rob de Mezieres (screenwriter, producer)

Premise: South African filmmaker Rob de Mezieres has been developing a network series based on an ancient myth of Pheonician slavers, who rampaged on the continent 3000 years ago. The invanders killed or enslaved thousands of locals... but that was just the beginning.

Coverage: "One of the manifestations of this demonic metaphysical force is the arrival of the barbarous Phoenicians, and this is the point where Dark Continent begins its sinister tale. In 1200BC, one of the most tyrannical of the invading kings, Karesu, is buried in the bowels of a dormant volcano with eight of the strongest African slaves chained to the sarcophagus to serve the king in the afterlife. One of these is a witchdoctor, and a blood oath is made among the men as the tomb and their fates are sealed forever.

The plot then leapfrogs to the present, where in the midst of a civil war a military government is engaged in the secret construction of subterranean bases to enhance its power over the enemy. One of these bases is inadvertently situated in the ancient tomb of the Phoenician king, and when the staff at the base are mysteriously decimated, a crack squad of soldiers is sent to investigate...

[...] But the plot becomes more complex and involved as it winds through the centuries, tracing the various manifestations of this dark force in Africa. One of these is the frightening N'Gthu, a mythical she-devil who drains the spirits of strong men through coitus; a seductive equatorial vampire placed on earth to corrupt and destroy the enemies of evil. We are also introduced to the shadowy figure of Heiseb, a kind of African "Highlander" who is the immortal, though ambiguous, force of light confronting the occult energies aross the eons.

Since the conception of the idea in 1992, De Mezieres has been on the campaign trail to find backing across the world, and though he raised a lot of interest in his project, raising money for it proved far more difficult. At first he saw Dark Continent as a slasher/horror kind of film, but soon realised that international interest in that genre was on a steep decline, and thus remodelled the picture into a more sophisticated mystical suspense thriller.

Since then, the film has attracted serious attention, and it is currently in pre-production with famed British horror writer/director Richard Stanley - who recently helmed The Island of Dr Moreau until a fall-out with Val Kilmer saw him walk off the set - committed to the project as screenwriter and director. Arnold Vosloo has indicated he is "very, very interested" in a part, and Durban-based executive producer Andrew Cassells has scared up enough money - around R4-million to date - from multiple investors to get the ball rolling into the pre-production stage."
[Originally appeared in Electronic Mail & Guardian, Oct. 8th, 1998.]

In 2004, I contacted Rob de Mezieres and he gave further information regarding Stanley's involvement:

"Richard Stanley and I met at the home of my then co-producer, Johan Blignaut in Cape Town in '95. Richard seemed keen on DC, and expressed an interest in directing the feature length pilot. Arnold Vosloo was approached to play the lead and he faxed us an enthusiastic response. Unfortunately, back then, we couldn't find an investor prepared to take a chance with this content. After Johan died in '97, I temporarily shelved the project to work on my debut (short) film."

de Mezieres has later finished his controversial mockumentary, Shooting Bokkie, which is about "a juvenile assassin working for gang syndicates in the violence & crime ridden ghetto's of the cape flats". He's now hopeful to continue developing Dark Continent. Stanley's and Vosloo's participation is unknown at this point.

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