Wednesday, September 28, 2011


The monkey is off my back -- creepy little thing, isn't it? I was just about to label my query campaign a major disappointment when a read request magically appeared in my in-box yesterday. Hopefully, there's more where that came from. The last two months have been really frustrating. I had carefully researched my targets on and expected much better results. Aside from a few polite passes based on my query letter, nada. Still, two months on imdbpro is a better bang for your buck than a lot of screenwriting contests out there -- cheaper too.

What makes this request somewhat interesting is the fact that the same production company totally ignored me when I tried querying them last year. What changed? Better presentation on my part I guess. Anyway, I'm not going to look a gift horse too closely in the mouth.

Also, I learned my lesson from last time: you only get one chance to make a good first impression. I'm going to give my script a once, twice and thrice-over before signing the release and mailing it back to them.

Meanwhile, I've got the first draft of a sci-fi thriller to finish...

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Awakening Trailer

I was really looking forward to the release of Dream House this Friday... until I learned that it wouldn't be screened for critics -- DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! DANGER! BAD MOVIE ALERT! I'll wait for the DVD.

The Awakening looks like a suitable replacement. I enjoyed Rebecca Hall's performance in The Town and this trailer certainly seems to have the goods. I think I like it better than Daniel Radcliffe's Woman In Black. It's funny, we see plenty of female psychics in the movies, but I'm having a hard time coming up with female debunkers.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Scream Queen: Amber Heard

Originally, I had planned to compare The Ward and Suckerpunch, but aside from Dawn of the Dead, I've never been a big Zack Synder fan. While Suckerpunch is on my Netflix Qwikster queue, I'm in no real hurry. Instead, I opted for two genre films featuring the fetching Amber Heard. Hey, I gotta get those hits somehow. Maybe this might be the start of a new semi-regular feature...

Now here's a rarity, an actor who doesn't seem overly concerned with a filmography peppered with genre films. Horror is often treated like Hollywood's red-headed stepchild -- despite the fact that it consistently helps pay the bills when the "real" movies flop. There's always a risk of being pigeon-holed, but that can be the case with any genre. Tell me, will poor Kate Hudson or Jennifer Aniston ever climb their way out of the dark depths of Romantic Comedy Hell? Although horror has its faults, the good stuff often gives up and coming starlets the chance to be more than just the girlfriend. *gets off soapbox*

Back to Heard, she's been making some interesting choices over the last few years: Zombieland, Stepfather, etc. Some haven't paid off in a big way, but she appears to have a good team behind her -- I'm a little iffy on that Playboy Club series though...

Drive Angry is -- Wait. Before I start, I just want to say that is perhaps the dumbest title of the year, possibly of the last decade. It was produced by Angry Films so maybe that had something to do with it. A production company tie-in? I pray that never catches on.

Now don't let Nic Cage's toupee and the ridiculously goofy title scare you off. Drive Angry is a fun, trashy throwback. Far more entertaining than a misfire like Death Proof. It's something you would've stumbled upon in the wee hours of the night on 90s cable -- starring Jeff Fahey, Kristy Swanson and Lou Diamond Phillips. The kind of flick that you only plan to check out for a few minutes, but an hour and a half later, you're watching the closing credits with a big, dumb grin plastered across your face.

Cage plays a damned soul who breaks out of hell -- yes, H-E-double hockey sticks -- to avenge the death of his daughter and save his baby granddaughter from the clutches of a wackjob cult leader bent on making a human sacrifice. Heard tags along for the ride as his spunky, but strictly platonic sidekick, Piper. William Fichtner, The Accountant, has been sent by Old Scratch to bring him back. If you dig over the top violence and gratuitous nudity (minus Ms. Heard) served with tongue firmly planted in cheek, this one's for you.

I have one quibble about the film and it has nothing to do with the story or the acting: why the heck did it cost $50M to make!? Despite the fact that it was an epic bomb at the box office, pulling in only $10M domestically -- not opening weekend numbers, TOTAL DOMESTIC GROSS -- I believe there's an audience for this kind of film, but not at that budget.

BTW, check out the excellent online journal by co-screenwriter, Todd Farmer. Lots of insight into to the process.

The Ward isn't a bad movie, just a victim of unrealistic expectations. When this project was first announced, fans were thrilled at the thought of a John Carpenter comeback. Maybe he'd give us another Halloween or Escape from New York? The Thing? Big Trouble in Little China at least? Nope. Not that kind of film. It's a small, low-budget script driven by internal conflict more than anything else.

Female patients at a Psychiatric Hospital are being targeted by a vengeful spirit. As usual, no one in authority believes them. Newcomer Kristen (Heard) must unravel the truth and overcome her own personal demons before she becomes the next victim.

Look, John Carpenter has probably forgotten more than most of us will ever hope to learn about horror -- it's a clumsy expression but I think you get my point. Guys like him don't see movies/stories the way we do. He's not worried about preserving his legacy or trying to appease fans. At this point in his career, he's looking for stuff that challenges him. I'm not saying he's above criticism, just offering a different perspective.

I saw quite a bit of bitching and moaning on Twitter and the imdb. If this had been a J-Horror import, fanboys would be jizzing in their pants. Is it a perfect film? No. The big mystery isn't that difficult to figure out. Although the performances were fine, there could have been stronger character development. I really thought the film could have used some of Carpenter's magic as a composer. It's also one of the rare occasions where I would have favored cg effects over some of the practical stuff. The Ward isn't Carpenter's best film, but it's still worth watching.

Check out co-screenwriters, The Rasmussen Brothers on Twitter.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dog Soldiers: Red

After several false starts, it looks like Dog Soldiers 2 might finally become a reality. The producers have put up a teaser for an upcoming web series, Dog Soldiers: Red, that will tie in to the sequel of the cult favorite. Sounds like a cool enough idea. However, I'm surprised the whole thing took so long. I don't have the numbers, but I've always assumed the original made a nice piece of change on DVD.

Bold move or cheap attempt to appeal to the gore hounds with the werewolf killing the kid? Although the target audience won't mind or even notice, it's the sort of thing that makes some folks uncomfortable. Trick 'r Treat was stuck in limbo for quite some time because of hand-wringing over kids getting killed.

It didn't bother me, but that's not the route I would have taken. I prefer to focus more on suspense than the kill. Still, I'm looking forward to this...

Friday, September 09, 2011

New & Improved

Wanna know how my new and improved query campaign's been going? Well, so far it's been a lot like this...

Okay, it hasn't been that bad. I did get a few responses: not for me, no unsolicited, and try us again next year. I guess the silver lining here is that two out of the three contacts are open to queries. Over the next couple of weeks, I expect a few more responses to dribble in. Hopefully, a read request will be among them. That first request (temporarily) takes away all the anxiety and second-guessing.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

2011-12 Fall TV

Honestly, I'm more interested in mid-season genre shows like Alcatraz, Awake, and The River than anything the new fall line-up has to offer:

Once Upon A Time (Sundays, 8pm, ABC, 10/23)
Terra Nova (Mondays, 8pm, FOX, 9/26)
Unforgettable (Wednesdays, 10pm, CBS, 9/20)
Person of Interest (Thursdays, 9pm, CBS, 9/22)
Secret Circle (Thursdays, 9pm, CW, 9/15)
A Gifted Man (Fridays, 8pm, CBS, 9/23)
Grimm (Fridays, 9pm, NBC, 10/21)

Based on the talent involved, I should be all over Person of Interest, but I have to stifle a yawn whenever I see the promos. Looks like a humorless version of Burn Notice.

Flawed as they were, I kinda miss The Event, No Ordinary Family and even the goofiness of The Cape. Hey, at least they tried. Sure, Terra Nova *looks* expensive, but does that make it a good show? I'll give Once Upon A Time some props for being different -- unfortunately, maybe a little too different.

Sarah Michelle Gellar's return to TV with Ringer should pull some nice numbers for the CW, but if there's a breakout hit to be found among the new shows, I certainly can't see it.

Suddenly, I have a strong urge to yell at some kids and tell them to get off my lawn!

I am, however, very interested in the new FX series from Ryan Murphy,
American Horror Story (Wednesday, 10pm, 10/5).

Cable just seems to be where it's at these days...


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