The Bad Movie Report

Making A Bad Movie:
My Personal Nightmare


The Lengthening

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.

First, to 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.

By spending 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.

I hadn't 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 * .

Jet Benny and RochesterThe 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...

I'm getting 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.

Roger left 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.

Having had 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."

I should seen trouble ahead right there.



Writing the Bad Movie. Again. And Again.