Saturday, October 08, 2005

First Drafts and Other Stuff

Just finished the first draft of the new horror screenplay Mark and I have been working on called Deadlyville.

Now the rewriting begins. Here’s the editing line that I see most often – “What the **** were you thinking?” Yeah. Uh-huh. What worked at first inspiration, may not when reviewing the entire story. Characterizations may not seem consistent, Dialogue that seemed cool, doesn’t any longer.

And of course, the ending. Endings are bears. Always have been, always will be. It must seem inevitable but not predictable. The viewer must leave satisfied. But how do you do that in a fresh way? It’s tough. How many times can the villain (or creature) get back up before it’s really dead? (Worked in The Terminator.) Should the creature be blown up? (Worked in Jaws and Predator.) Should he/she/it fall from a high place or die by their own weapon? (The first is clichéd symbolism and the second is clichéd irony – always choose symbolism over irony, by the way.) That doesn’t mean a clichéd or shopworn ending is bad. Some can be completely satisfying. Beware the trick ending. Odds are Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents all ready used it and did it better. What to do, what to do?

* * *

In my DVD library are several movies that I really enjoy but will probably never be on a Top Ten List. (Then again?) So I picked ten movies that were not blockbusters but are cool. My perimeters for this List were it had to have a s/f element and be in my collection.
Here we go … in alphabetical order … Ten S/F Movies that are really cool but you may have never heard of them:

The Changling (1980) – A deliberately paced story given gravity by the presence of George C. Scott as a man attempting to unravel the mystery behind a haunting. When an empty but moving wheelchair can have you on the edge of your seat the movie rocks.

The Deep Blue Sea (1999) – Researchers at an undersea lab alter the brains of sharks and the sharks get pissed. With Samuel L. Jackson and LL Cool J. Always remember to never climb into the oven when the kitchen is flooding and a shark is after you.

Deep Rising (1998) – Hijackers force a salvage crew to take them to a luxury liner they plan to rob but when they arrive the ship is empty. Or is it? Early work by Stephen Sommers (The Mummy, Van Helsing.) With Treat Williams as the hero. Or is he?

Dog Soldiers (2002) – British soldiers on war maneuvers stumble onto a coven of werewolves. Terrific dialogue and suspense. Oh, yeah, plenty of blood, too. With Sean Pertwee.

Mysterious Island ( 1961) – A favorite since I was a kid. Union soldiers escape from a Confederate prison in a balloon and crash on a supposedly deserted island in the Pacific. Based on a novel by Jules Verne and special effects by the legendary Ray Harryhausen. With Herbert Lom and Michael Callan (Who? Look them up.)

The Night Stalker (1972) – This was the highest rated TV movie ever in its day. Still pretty good. A vampire hunts his prey in 1970’s Las Vegas. Dig those clothes and hair styles! Darren McGavin is great as reporter Carl Kolchak.

The Relic (1996) – A vicious creature wrecks havoc in Chicago’s Natural History Museum. Creature designed by Stan Winston. With Penelope Ann Miller, Linda Hunt, and James Whitmore. (See comment at end of Mysterious Island.)

The Rocketeer ( 1991) – Set in the 1940’s. A barnstorming pilot finds a jetpack that the Nazis want. Really fun. Don’t let the Walt Disney Pictures label scare you away. With Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin and Timothy Dalton (as the bad guy modeled after actor Errol Flynn).

Soldier (1998) – A man is raised by the government to be a merciless, obedient soldier until he’s replaced (and literally thrown away) by a new breed of DNA-enhanced soldiers. With Kurt Russell and Gary Busey.

Tremors (1989) – Scary and funny, edge-of-your-seat suspense and good characters. Giant underground worms attack a small desolate town. Where did the worms come from? Who cares. But remember having survivalist nuts as neighbors might not be such a bad thing. With Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward. And, of course, Reba McEntire and Michael Gross as the neighbors.
All are worth checking out.

1 comment:

Andrea Peterson said...
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