Saturday, March 31, 2012

Badass Characters Intros: Blade



When it comes to cool character introductions, it doesn't get much better than David S. Goyer's action/horror/superhero script from 1998. Ah, the good ole days when vampires didn't sparkle, had fangs and an R-rated menace.... Anyway, while the excerpt below isn't an exact match to the final product, the tone and imagery are consistent. It reads very much like a series of comic book panels.

Writing action can be tricky and there's a lot of stuff going on here. Goyer chops up the action in paragraph blocks of 3-4 lines. Sometimes he breaks off in mid-sentence, skips a line and then finishes the thought. It's also interesting how he doesn't always limit himself to only what the reader can see or hear. He doesn't hesitate to tell us how something feels or get descriptive about the meaning behind a look. Of course, Pros can get away with this, the rest of us? Not so much.

Blade isn't a man of many words, so it's all about how he carries himself and the way other characters react to him.

You can find the full script (in html format) here.




INT. MEAT PACKING PLANT - NIGHT

Dennis follows Raquel through the bowels of the plant, catching
glimpses here and there of carcasses being rendered or hacked apart.

Through one partially open door we see what might be a line of
BODYBAGS being trundled into the back of a truck via a hook and chain
pulley-system. But Dennis doesn't have enough time to be disturbed by
the vision, because he's being pulled away by Raquel, led down --

A STAIRWELL

We are in the basement now. At the end of the hall is a steel door,
with perhaps, just the faintest HINT OF MUSIC heard coming from
beyond. Raquel knocks.

A "peep-hole" slat opens and a BLACK LIGHT shines into Raquel's eyes.
A VOICE behind the door offers a verbal challenge, speaking a
language we've never heard, laced with a devilish cadence.

Raquel responds in kind. The door opens. Raquel gives Dennis a
knowing wink, enters. Dennis follows.

INT. CLUB - NIGHT

Raquel and Dennis move past a hulking DOORMAN, making their way down
a narrow stairway. Dennis is suitably impressed.

THE CLUB

is elite, underground -- an "abattoir-chic" version of an old-time
juke joint with a greasy, dangerous vibe. White-tiled walls and
floors for easy hosing, chromed fittings, run-off gutters, drains. No
bar.

BODIES

writhe on the strobe-lit dance floor. A heavy S&M scene. Leather.
Latex. Tattoos. Body-piercings.

A D.J. wearing head-mounted spotlights orchestrates the tunes on
twin- decks. MUSIC assaults us -- a beat so heavy it could jar the
fillings from your teeth. Brutal "DARKCORE" along the lines of
Prodigy or Underground.

Raquel pulls Dennis out onto the dance floor. They sway.

A lupine-featured GAULTIER GIRL with a streak of white running
through her raven hair moves in behind Dennis, pressing up against
him. Rachel Williams as the Angel of Death -- we'll call her MERCURY.

Mercury flicks her tongue against Dennis' ear -- it's been pierced
with a silver post which clicks against her teeth. Tattooed across
her back in black is a swirling, tribal vortex.

Dennis is now sandwiched between Raquel and Mercury, the three of
them dry-humping their way to every man's glory.

The beat gets LOUDER. The action heavier. The atmosphere more
narcotic. People are stripping off their clothes, sweating like
fiends. It's a virtual orgy.

Dennis laughs, reveling in the hedonism. Everything rises to a fever
pitch --

DENNIS
(over the music)
Fuck, I need a drink!!!

Raquel just smiles -- then Dennis notices a DROP OF SOMETHING spatter
his hand. It looks like blood. Dennis looks up, concerned --

-- MORE BLOOD DROPLETS are falling. Raquel's face is sprinkled with
them now. Dennis stops dancing. What is this? Some kind of fucked up
performance art?

Raquel turns her face toward the ceiling, as if washing herself in a
summer shower, now the other club goers are looking up too --

BLOOD SHOWERS DOWN

from sprinkler heads in the ceiling, drenching the dancers. The club
goers love it, thrusting their heads back, mouths open wide to
receive the crimson offering.

Horrified, Dennis recoils, turning towards --

RAQUEL,

whose face morphs into a preternatural snarl. Her canines extend,
tapering to razor-sharp points. Her tongue flicks, lizard-like as
fingernails sharpen into claws. All this while the whites of her eyes
BLEED RED, pupils oscillating hypnotically.

RAQUEL
What's wrong, baby?

Dennis SCREAMS, pushes away from Raquel, only --

-- Mercury has fangs now too. In fact, everyone in the club does,
with the exception of poor Dennis. That's because they're all
vampires.

Dennis tries to run, but the burly Doorman blocks his exit, brutally
smashing his fist into Dennis' face.

Dennis falls, dazed. The club-goers close in around him. They make a
game of it, shoving him from one person to another, their pale faces
leering like twisted jack-o-lanterns.

The strobe lights quicken to a seizure-inducing intensity. Dennis
spins, tumbling into Raquel's arms. She shoves him forward -- Dennis
lands on the floor, falling at someone's boot-clad feet. He looks up.
A DARK FIGURE sits in the shadows, unnoticed until this moment. The
figure stands, moves into the light as time screeches to a halt --

A BLACK MAN,

towers above Dennis, wearing dark glasses and a leather longcoat -- a
sneer of cruel contempt etched upon a face tempered by a lifetime of
horror. His name is BLADE.

Blade whips open his long coat, shrugging it off, revealing an
arsenal of high-tech weapons strapped to his body:

6-point adjustable body armor, a modified CAR-15 assault rifle with
an ultra-violet entry light, two Casull .454 revolvers, a "Demon"
automatic cross-bow, a bandoleer of mahogany stakes, an Indian-style
katar punching dagger -- and last, but certainly not least, his
namesake -- a silver sword which is secured in a back-scabbard.

CLOSE ON BLADE

A gaze as cold and pitiless as a midnight sun. The vampire club-goers
stare back. Nuclear silence. And then --

All hell breaks loose. With a SNARL, Raquel charges at Blade, moving
at superhuman speed, practically a blur --

Blade draws his Casulls, FIRES in multiple directions --

MACRO BULLET SHOT

as a round roars through the air towards Raquel. A silver-tipped dum-
dum bullet which explodes on contact.

WHAM! The round punches a fist-sized hole through Raquel's chest,
continuing on into the vamp behind her! Vampire blood fountains. Both
creatures tumble forward, their bodies liquefying into puddles of
black oil which go gurgling down the run-off drains.

Blade continues FIRING, then -CLICK!- magazines empty. Next. He
holsters the Casulls, swings up his assault rifle, calmly flicks on
the UV entry light mounted above --

MERCURY

leaps twenty feet straight up into the air. We've never seen anything
move so fast. She CRASHES through a glass skylight, disappearing into
the night just as --

-- a shaft of blinding UV "sunlight" cuts across the vampires. They
rear back, skin smoking from the light's corrosive effects. Blade
opens FIRE, pumping round after round of wooden fragmentation bullets
into the crowd -- vampire genocide.

The strobe lights flicker as the mayhem mounts. Some of the vampires
try to flee, scurrying up the stairs, but the exit quickly becomes
clogged with liquefying bodies --

-- then Blade's CAR-15 jams. The remaining club-goers see their
opening, surge forward en masse --

Blade drops the rifle, reaches over his shoulder and -SCHINGGG!-
unsheathes his sword with a double-handed grip.

THE SWORD

Four acid-etched feet of blood-soaked Damascus steel. An edge so
sharp it could cleave a shadow in two.

Blade moves like lightning, hacking his way into TWO CHARGING
VAMPIRES. Blade spins again, cuts ANOTHER VAMPIRE clean in half --

ON THE FAR END OF THE CLUB,

a LATEX-CLAD VAMP makes a break for it. Blade flings his sword,
sending it spinning end over end -- THUNK! The sword punches into the
vampire's heart. The hellish creature convulses, dies.

Beat. Blade retrieves his sword, then senses --

SOMETHING BIG

rising up behind him. In a flash, Blade swings his sword downward,
cutting off the vampire's right hand at the elbow. The severed limb
falls to the floor --

-- but it doesn't slow the hulking creature down. It SLAMS into
Blade. Blade flies backwards thirty feet, tumbling over tables,
slamming into the rear wall so hard that plaster rains down from the
ceiling.

Blade suddenly finds himself wrestling with a feral-faced six-foot-
something nightmare named QUINN. The vampire rears back its head,
jaws stretching wide. Every inch of his face is covered with ritual
scarification patterns and Maori-like tribal tattoos.

Blade forces an elbow against Quinn's throat, trying to keep him at
bay. With his other hand he reaches to his bandoleer, pulls out a
stake -- CRUNCH! Blade shoves the stake through the vampire's larynx.
Quinn gurgles, clutches at his throat.

Blade rolls out from under, unholsters the cross-bow secured to his
leg. With a flick of a switch the arms of the bow -SNAP!- open,
drawing the bow-string taut. Blade FIRES --

The bolt hits Quinn in the shoulder, throwing him backwards and
nailing him to the wall. As Quinn reaches over with his other hand to
pull out the stake --

Blade FIRES AGAIN. A second bolt slams into Quinn's other arm,
effectively pinning him like a butterfly to a board.

UP ABOVE,

mounted in one of the corners, is a security camera. Blade fires a
cross-bow bolt straight into the lens.

Blade strides over, placing his sword against Quinn's chest.

BLADE
Where is Deacon Frost?

Quinn glares, trying to speak, gagging on the stake still lodged in
his trachea --

BLADE
Got something in your throat.

Blade yanks the stake free. The vampire laughs, air whistling through
his ruined larynx.

QUINN
Fuck you, Day-walker, I ain't saying
shit --

BLADE
Frost.

Quinn responds with a slew of rapid-fire vampire invectives. Blade
sees he's getting nowhere fast, calmly sheathes his sword. He unclips
a white phosphorous grenade from his combat harness --

QUINN
You won't stop him, Blade. The Tide's
rising, the Sleeper's gonna --

Blade shoves the grenade in Quinn's mouth, pulls the pin. WHOOSH!
Quinn goes up like a roman candle. Blade turns, surveying his work,
ignoring the howling pyre behind him:

All evidence of the vampires is gone -- with the exception of a few
oily-black puddles. Clothes, jewelry -- it's all been burned away by
the acidic process of the creatures' accelerated decomposition.

DENNIS sits huddled in a corner, having pissed his pants. As Blade
approaches, he cringes back --

DENNIS
Please don't --

Blade simply grabs Dennis by the jaw, tilting his head upward,
rotating it from side to side -- looking for bite marks. There aren't
any.



Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Falling Behind...

No reason to shift into panic mode at this point. Last week's Nicholl early deadline was never a target, but I really need to be pick up the pace with my screenplay. Some writing sprints might be the key to increased productivity. I also need to resist the urge to stray from my completed outline.

Still waiting to hear from a few places that requested the old script. I had assumed the non-response from a production company late last year was a definite pass, but they're just swamped with scripts. A polite follow up email — I usually wait at least a month — can go a long way to ease the anxiety...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dark Shadows Trailer



I think I've hated almost every Dark Shadows promotional picture released so far. Johnny Depp makes for one strange-looking Barnabas Collins. As much as I admire most of Tim Burton's work, I just haven't gotten a good vibe from this remake/re-imagining of the cult soap. And while I've seen a few episodes of the original, I'd hardly call myself a fan.

So the trailer dropped today... and I liked it! Funny. Campy. Set in the 70s. For whatever reason, I had assumed Burton was going to emulate the tone of the original -- which probably would have been a huge mistake. It's rare to have a supernatural show/film that isn't self-aware these days. Everything makes sense now. I imagine hardcore fans will scream sacrilege, but Dark Shadows is now officially on my 2012 must-see list!

With all that said, I have no idea how audiences will react. Outside the Twilight franchise, there haven't been a lot hit vampire movies in the last few years. Priest, Fright Night, Blood: The Last Vampire and Let Me In were all box office disappointments. Mixing horror with comedy usually yields underwhelming results. But I think Burton and Depp will be big enough names to draw in a sizable audience.




Monday, March 12, 2012

Contest Alert: FOX-NYTVF Comedy Script Contest

Enter the 5th Annual FOX-NYTVF Comedy Script Contest and submit your script for an original half-hour comedy series. 25 Finalists will have their scripts evaluated by FOX for a possible development deal with the network and one single individual winner (or a winning team of two co-writers) will receive $25,000 and a development deal. Scripts must be entered by uploading them in a PDF format on the NYTVF upload page, which can be found here beginning April 16, 2012.

Submission period open April 16-30, 2012
25-35 pages in length

GET ALL THE DETAILS HERE


Sitcom writing isn't my thing, but this contest is always worth mentioning. Maybe someone out there can come up with a supernatural-flavored show. A serial killer comedy might be a bit too much...

Thursday, March 08, 2012

La Casa Muda (The Silent House)


The remake with Elizabeth Olsen, which I have yet to see, comes out tomorrow but I have a few thoughts on the 2010 original. For the last couple of months, I've been on a steady diet of foreign thrillers and horror. I haven't gotten around to writing about them, but La Casa Muda was one of the more interesting attempts I came across...



Trapped inside an old house, a father and daughter are terrorized by some one ... or some thing. The main selling points: "inspired" by a true story and shot in one continuous take.

It's hard to go wrong with a low-budget, single location thriller with some compelling hooks. The first two acts deliver the goods effectively. Dark and creepy atmosphere. Escalating tension. Obviously, it's easier to become emotionally invested in a story with just a few characters rather than one packed with killer-fodder. Anyway, things are going great, the story's clicking on all cylinders -- until the third act abruptly stalls and eventually sputters towards an unsatisfying and nonsensical ending.

The filmmakers were hard to pin down on the inspiration for this "true" story. A vague reference to a crime supposedly committed in the 1940s in Uruguay was the extent of the truth. The bit about one continuous take is also misleading, but it does help engage the viewer. Every scene feels important. I really liked the presentation. Unfortunately, the storytelling in the third act was a letdown.

It doesn't sound like the remake is significantly different from the original. I'm curious to see how audiences react to the final 10-15 minutes.

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