Monday, March 11, 2013

Shedding Light on the Valley

Writing about Greg Hoblit's supernatural chase thriller The Fallen for her Cats on Film blog, Anne Billson got in touch to clarify a point.

Apparently some of the Amazon reviewers of my 1987 novel Valley of Lights contend that it owes something to Jack Sholder's movie The Hidden. In Valley of Lights, a Phoenix police sergeant is targeted by an ageless, amoral body-hopping entity that has been living on the fringes of society for so long that it can't even remember its own origin. It's not a great life; it's an eternity of lying low, until threatened by discovery.

I wrote the book in '85 and in July '86 it was optioned by AWGO (Anciano Wyn-Griffith Orme), a newly-formed UK company with Hollywood feature ambitions. In October '86 director Stuart Orme went over and showed the script to New Line's Robert Shaye in the hope of getting New Line to back it. Shaye didn't say no right away. In '87 the book came out in hardcover, and in July the guys were confident enough to take me over to scout locations in Arizona and take some meetings in LA. I kept a diary of that trip which is included in the 'Telos Classic' edition of the novel. We interviewed casting directors as a step toward attaching a lead: Ed Harris was top of our wishlist, I recall, and William Hurt was on it as well.

New Line finally said no. The guys were talking to other backers as well, but when New Line released The Hidden in October '87 our movie was dead. We didn't know it right away, but it was.

Did The Hidden rip us off? It's hardly likely. But does Valley owe anything to The Hidden? Not a thing. It was out first.

Anne's blog post is here. I like The Hidden. It's a fun movie. I've never seen Fallen.

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