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Brian De Palma Toys With Toyer Again

Six years ago, reports surfaced that Brian De Palma would next be directing the diabolical Gardner McKay novel and stage play Toyer, which follows a "serial lunatic." The Toyer doesn't murder or rape his beautiful female victims, he "toys" with them, torturing them psychologically, then puttting them into a medically induced coma. (Sort of like what De Palma did to audiences in Snake Eyes ... We kid, Brian!)

Anyway, without a capital crime to prosecute, the police and D.A. can only charge the Toyer with "mayhem," and as they're overwhelmed with hundreds of uncleared murder cases, the Toyer case becomes a lower priority. So a female neurologist who treats Toyer's victims teams up with a newspaper editor to draw him out and bring him to justice.

This time, we're told, Toyer really is happening, but as an indie financed via producers Tarak Ben Ammar, (who most famously produced Franco Zefferilli's La Traviata) and the L.A.-based Scott Steindorff. Steindorff has brought heavyweight literature like Philip Roth's The Human Stain and Gabriel García Márquez's Love in the Time of Cholera to the screen, and tells Vulture that the film will be shooting in Venice, Italy, late this fall and into the early winter.

That's a switch from the Gardner version, which is set in L.A., but should be far creepier: De Palma plans to set the mayhem against Venice's famous Carnevale di Venezia, for which elaborate masks disguising one's identity are traditionally worn on the street from St. Stephen's Day (the day after Christmas) until the start of the Venitian Carnival (two weeks before Ash Wednesday). Steindorff says shooting during the actual Carnival (during February and March) would be logistically impossible. They plan to re-create their own Carnival on location.

"It has all the elements of suspense that Brian does so well in films like Blow Out and Carrie," Steindorff says, adding, "And by that I mean, it's really frickin' scary: I read the script on a plane, and I was still terrified."

Vulture will keep you updated as the cast fills out.

Photo: Steven Henry/Getty Images, Mass Market Publishing