On the distant planet of Ganton 9, the annual Karn Evil—a societal rite of passage—is a young person’s final opportunity to experience the unbridled freedom of the decadent world before subjugating themselves to the order of the dictatorial-technocratic ruling class. When attendees of the Karn Evil right-of-passage ceremonies fail to return from their rebirthing experience, fear sweeps across the lands of Ganton as its citizens rise up in revolution to topple what is discovered to be an artificial intelligence that’s drained humanity of its will.
In other words: look down at the Smartphone in your hands, kiddies. Welcome to Karn Evil 9.
Michael Napoliello and Maria Frisk for Radar Pictures, the producers behind Vin Diesel’s Riddick franchise and Sony’s Jumanji franchise reboot, are currently working with New York Times best-selling author Daniel H. Wilson on a screenplay adaptation of the 30-minute futuristic rock suite featured on British prog-rock legends Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s 1973 album Brain Salad Surgery. Wilson, also the author of The Andromeda Evolution, most recently adapted his novel Robopocalypse for a co-production by Michael Bay and Dreamworks.
While the world came to know the artwork of Swiss surrealist H.R Giger through his 1977 book Necronomicon, which showcased his futuristic images of man meshed with machines, and became the inspiration behind Ridley’s Scott’s 1979 film Alien, it was Emerson, Lake & Palmer who first brought Giger’s work to a worldwide audience when they commissioned the artist to design the cover for Brain Salad Surgery.
You’ve come to know Keith Emerson through his Italian giallo soundtrack work for Dario Argento’s Inferno (1980), Lucio Fulci’s Murder Rock (1984), and Michele Soavi’s The Church (1989). In addition to Sylvester Stallone’s Nighthawks (1981), Emerson also composed the soundtrack for Toho Studios’ 28th Godzilla film, Godzilla: Final Wars (2004). Here’s to hoping the production design of Karn Evil 9 will be infused with H.R Giger’s visions and the soundtrack will replicate Emerson’s use of Hammonds, pipe organs, harpsichords, and Clavinets from the album.
One thing’s for sure: Karn Evil 9 isn’t going to be no Alice’s Restaurant, a Harper Valley PTA, or an Ode to Billy Joe—but will probably freak us out with some crazy, surrealistic nightmare akin to the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. Heaven only knows how long it’ll take before Rush sells the film rights to their 1976 epic, 2112.
You can listen to ELP’s four-movement “Karn Evil 9” suite in its entirety on You Tube while you read the full lyrics at Genius.com and fan through the pages of Giger’s Necronomicon at Google Images. And be sure to visit our “Exploring: Movies Based on Songs” featurette. It’s a whopper, so grab a cup ‘o joe and join us, won’t you?
* Mock movie one-sheet by R.D Francis based on Giger’s Brain Salad Surgery. Typefaces courtesy of Picfont.com.