Lanford Beard
March 13, 2012 AT 09:15 PM EDT

Though Courtney Love likened The Muppets to rapists today, she’s apparently not the only one who is gunning to take out the felty folks. Brian Henson’s The Happytime Murders showcases the darker side of the brand in its first concept art. Jim Henson’s son, who will direct, has been developing the Muppets-for-adults noir for years, but it looks like Happytime is finally gaining some traction.

Per an official synopsis, the just-released image to the right shows disgraced ex-cop Phil Phillips. Phillips exists in a world where puppets are acknowledged but play second fiddle to humans. Phil is searching for a serial killer who murdered his brother and is now targeting cast members of ’80s television show, The Happytime Gang. The catch? The clues to the killer’s identity begin to point back to Phil himself. See another gruesome (by Muppet standards) imagining below.

Puppet Pleasureland? A muppet on the lam, who has eyebrows for days? And stuffing, stuffing everywhere?! The Hitchcock-meets-Hawkes thriller looks and sounds absolutely brilliant. If what follows in production continues down this path, it will be a nice counterpart to 2011’s Jason Segel-driven Muppets reboot (whose Segel-less sequel was confirmed earlier this month).

As for Happytime, Katherine Heigl reportedly is in talks to star. I know a certain ornery blonde rock widow from whom she could draw inspiration.

Read more:

New Henson project: Could puppets get any cooler?

Henson’s ‘Happytime’ reminds us of Angel’s ‘Smile Time’

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