We know Ron Shusett best as the writer and producer of Alien, as well as the producer of Total Recall. But if things had turned out differently, we might remember him as the creator of Pentizel, a movie about a feline woman stalking a dystopian future cityscape. Artist Ron Miller worked on Pentizel, and here he shares some never-before-seen concept art and production photos from the project, exclusively at io9.
Warning: Sketches of naked cat-lady may be NSFW.
Top image: Pentizel in the Northeast Corridor.
After completing Total Recall and Freejack, Alien writer/producer Ron Shusett spent several years trying to raise interest in a project called Pentizel. Hundreds of drawings and paintings were produced by artists such as Steve Hickman, Michael Wm Kaluta, Mark Rogers, Karl Kofoed, Bill Weiger and myself.
The film, based loosely on a short story by Charles de Vet, would have taken place in a near future where security and surveillance cameras were ubiquitous. Meanwhile the entire east coast of the United States from Boston to Washington has merged into an unbroken urban jungle called the Northeast Corridor.
An unscrupulous and globally powerful news network called Omninet is able to tap directly into these sources, enabling it to broadcast events even before the authorities are aware something is taking place. In the course of their 24/7 monitoring, a strange creature is discovered stalking the back alleys of the inner city. After broadcasting several attacks made by it, they are approached by a scientist who claims to have created it... and deliberately turned it loose.
The creature he has named Pentizel is not a woman who looks like a cat... but is literally a cat. He has manipulated the genes of a female black panther so that it has the intelligence and outward physical appearance of a human. In short, Pentizel is everything Catwoman can only pretend to be. The top anchor man at Omninet thinks it would be a fine idea to keep all of this from the police and to continue covering the catwoman's attacks. Better yet, he thinks it would drive ratings through the roof to orchestrate a hunt for her... and broadcast it live. He recruits one of his top reporters to do this. The reporter does eventually catch up with Pentizel...only to discover she's a great deal more than he or anyone else has bargained for. And not the least of his discoveries is that Pentizel has been manipulating Omninet and her creators as much as they have her...
Here are some concept sketches of some of the environments and devices in Pentizel, plus some other creatures. And some prosthesis tests. Keep scrolling down for more concept art of Pentizel herself.
I was always impressed with Pentizel, because it would have been one of the vanishingly rare "monster" films with a creature that was not only wholly sympathetic but largely in control of the situation. Nor was the moral situation presented as being wholly black and white. While the real "monster" is clearly the Omninet anchor, the other major characters are not nearly as unambiguous, especially in their relationship with Pentizel. Also, as the artwork shows, Pentizel would have been filled with some striking images. Sprawling cities that make the LA of Blade Runner look like Levittown, secret genetics labs filled with insane mutant monsters, organ farms and hyper-intelligent, seductive cat-women.
And I always really liked the tag line that was going to be used for the film: "Beauty IS the Beast!"
Sadly, after nearly a decade of effort, the project was never picked up...
Hunting Pentizel in the Biohab.
SPentizel and the Reporter/Hunter
SPentizel at the window of her hideout
Pentizel by Bill Weiger
Pentizel by Herb McGihon
Pentizel by John Trotta
SPentizel by John Trotta
Pentizel by Mark Rogers
Pentizel by Herb McGihon
SPentizel by Steve Hickman
SPentizel in the Ruins of GenTech
SA scene from the movie
Pentizel Sculpture by Weiger
SPentizel Stage One, sketch by Bill Weiger
Pentizel with body hair removed, sketch by Bill Weiger
SPentizel Stage 3, Post Surgery Sketch by Bill Weiger
Pentizel by Ron Miller
The Anatomy of Pentizel