In the 11 years since he was fired from the directing chair of New Line's The Island Of Dr Moreau, Richard Stanley has kept a low profile. The UK film-maker had made a big splash with his first feature, Hardware, in 1990 but his subsequent career proved troubled to say the least. His second film, Dust Devil, was completed but became caught up in the bankruptcy proceedings of the UK's Palace Pictures and Stanley forked out $100,000 of his own money to meet delivery requirements. Even then, it only had a theatrical release in the UK.
"The only way to leverage Dust Devil was to do Moreau," explains Stanley on a visit to Los Angeles recently. "As such, I was always trading in someone else's property. I didn't own the underlying rights and found myself frantically treading water."
Rumour had it that Stanley was replaced (by John Frankenheimer) at the insistence of the actors, but he denies that. "It was nothing to do with (Marlon) Brando or the actors. A whole series of terrible things happened, more terrible things than even I could go into. I signed a gag order at the time and New Line paid me off."
Stanley says that Brando himself recommended he leave the film business and refresh himself. Living on his "New Line money", Stanley ran around the world making two documentary projects - The Secret Glory about the Nazi search for the Holy Grail, and The White Darkness which looked at voodoo practices in Haiti, both of which were recently packaged with Dust Devil on a US DVD release through Subversive Cinema.
With a Superman reference, he says: "I had very little contact with the industry during that time. I feel like I have been in the Phantom Zone of General Zod."
But in late 2006, Stanley noticed he had a following online. "There was this unofficial website out of Finland which posted the original Moreau script. After that, I posted a few of the other scripts I'd written like Hardware 2 and I was getting 100,000 hits. I realised there was a fanbase."
And so, Stanley is back with a new fiction project, Vacation, backed by HanWay Films in London. The project, budgeted at less than $2m, follows two Americans - a coke-addicted ex-banker and a former stripper on vacation at a grubby Middle Eastern coastal resort. During their stay, however, a cataclysm destroys the rest of the world and the two fall back on the fundamentals of their characters.
"Once freed from capitalist ethics, he finds his inner warrior and she her inner goddess," says Stanley, who is close to casting his two leads. "I hope to offend everyone with this. If I can't have fame, then I'm looking for notoriety."