When you’ve had a career as long and illustrious as Joe Dante’s, you sort of get a lifetime supply of free passes. It doesn’t matter that the man’s most recent feature, last year’s Burying the Ex, got uniformly and deservedly poor notices upon its release. And it doesn’t matter that his feature before that, 2009’s The Hole 3D, was shuffled around, maligned, and forgotten prior to a quiet theatrical run that actually lost money for the presiding studio. It doesn’t even matter that Dante’s been paying the bills in recent years by taking gun-for-hire TV direction work, slumming it with gigs on CSI: NYHawaii Five-O, and Witches of East End. None of that matters, because we now have a new Joe Dante movie, and hope springs eternal in the human breast.

An exclusive at Variety came in from London early this morning, proudly announcing that Dante would get behind the camera once more to wreak more of his particular brand of spooky havoc. He’s signed on to lead viewers through Labirintus, a “supernatural thriller” with elements of straight horror as well. In the film, a paranormal investigator and a psychiatric researcher bring a team down to search for meaning in an abandoned Soviet research facility, where they gradually begin to lose their grip on sanity and inevitably turn on one another. This sinister Soviet lab was constructed under an even-more-sinister network of mazelike caverns called the Budapest Labyrinth, and to ratchet the sinister factor up another notch, that labyrinth was built underneath the spooky Castle Buda. Even if they can escape the terrors of the Soviet research area, things only get scarier as they move upward toward the surface. (If you’re reading this, Mr. Dante, here’s a freebie tagline: “It’s a long way up.”)

With every new project that Dante takes on, his legions of fans renew their hope that the man who’ll show up to set will be the same devilish rascal who made such creepy fun out of Gremlins and The Howling. Even if his recent output hasn’t done much to inspire confidence, a new horror film from Joe Dante is always cause to sit up straight and pay attention. The master’s class is in session once again.