So, to my
fledgling screenwriter mind, what I had in my hands was a hour-long
movie. I needed to find a way to extend it out to the preferred ninety.
In the intervening years I had learned a thing or two, and I set out
to correcting some mistakes from the first draft, and created a whole
bunch of new ones.
extend the length, I added a whole new plot line - a self-contained
little story, placed right in the middle of the film. It had always
been a part of my plan for the movie to follow a half-way logical
course... at least, as logical as you can get while dealing with zombies
and exiled gods... so a portion of Marc and Reggie's backstory would
involve research and investigation. While investigating an Old Dark
House, they would find out that it was the Real Thing; that a shipwrecked
alien pet is using the house as a home base and lure. Still swiping
at Screams of A Winter Night,
I redid the frat hazing story to include a bunch of college students/cannon
fodder in the house.
I was also
determined to make a real story... to show the process of survival,
to show the aftermath of the Friday the 13th beginning. This
noble but misguided urge led to the creation of a slew of supporting
characters, far too many. I was interested to find, however, that
a couple of characters that were exceedingly minor in the first draft
became major characters - most notably the police detective, Leo Ball,
who had only one scene in the first draft. Leo proved himself to be
far too rich a character, and far too important as a feet-on-the-ground
foil, to waste as a walk-on.
time on the process, R&D, and training of our heroes for their
final showdown, and including the Old Dark House mini-movie, the second
draft weighed in at a more comfortable 100 pages. I could still see
room for improvement, and started on the third draft.
been otherwise idle all this time; I was still quite acting quite
a bit, and it was during this period that I made another connection
that would have a great impact on this story: I appeared in a movie
made by local filmmaker Roger Evans *
movie was The Jet Benny Show, and it was one of those labor
of love projects, made over the course of three or four years, shooting
on weekends and using friends as actors. The entire joke of Jet
Benny should be fairly obvious: it's Flash Gordon with
Jack Benny as a rocket-riding space hero, with a black robot named
Rochester, of course. Jet Benny was shot entirely on Super
8, as have several other features you'll find on your video shelf
- A Polish Vampire in Burbank and Gore-Met Zombie Chef From
Hell, among others. The difference is, Roger did quite remarkable
things with the medium... the man is a brilliant technician, but with
actors, he seems too reticent to actually direct, as if he
might hurt their feelings...
ahead of myself again. Exhibiting the sort of chutzpah you
need in this biz, Roger flew up to Tulsa, Oklahoma, the home of United
Home Entertainment, which, at that point, had released two horror
films they'd made themselves: Blood Cult and The Ripper.
Both are shot on video, are very bloody, and perfectly dismal. As
H.G. Lewis once said of his gore films, "They're like Walt Whitman
poetry... they're no damn good, but they're the first." Although
he had no appointment, the bigwigs sat in a conference room and watched
Jet Benny. And they liked it.
Tulsa with a deal to distribute Jet Benny on video, and an
agreement to produce another movie for United, at the same budget
marked for Blood Cult: $50,000. What was needed was a script.
I had been working with Roger on a revisionist Western. Another Houston
filmmaker had a Coming of Age script. And I threw Nightcrawlers
into the mix.
a proven track record with their other horror offerings, United gave
the nod to Nightcrawlers. The third draft was interrupted to
instead work on a shooting script, entailing some changes that Roger
wanted to make. "I don't like horror movies," he said. "I'm
going to make the type of horror film I want to see."
seen trouble ahead right there.
Writing the Bad Movie. Again. And Again.