Tuesday, 30 August 2011

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 remake - read/download the opening pages

open pdf file

The consensus of the major1 and smaller blogs2 is that A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 is the worst horror film of last year. The problems of the film can be read in the screenplay3. It is a testament to corporate fiction.

This script is populated with underdeveloped characters. Their motivations derive from their writer’s whim. The narrative is illogical. The McGuffin is a con. Above and beyond the screenplay A Nightmare on Elm Street is problematic in concept.

This is not Oasis
The music industry calls them ‘covers’4. There are even cover bands5. The movie industry calls them remakes. The first remake was a short: The Great Train Robbery 19046 is based on the 1903 film of the same name. The first feature length remake is Marked Men 19197 based on The Three Godfathers 1916. The remake is as old as the industry and will last as long.

Remakes are a valid form of storytelling among which are John Carpenter’s The Thing 1982, Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1978 and The Fly 1986. The problem with A Nightmare on Elm Street is not the fact it is a remake; the problem is it is an unnecessary remake.

The 2010 version adds nothing to the mythos of a recently established pop cultural figure. It neither expands nor extends Freddy Krueger’s story. This film is a cash grab. It is a con. It is a spit in the face to every horror fan.

Despite Warner Brothers and Platinum Dunes avarice A Nightmare on Elm Street grossed (a domestic $63million then) a worldwide total of $116m8. The average split between exhibitor and distributor is 50/509. The budget for the film was $35m8 while prints and advertising (P&A) cost studios an average $34m10 per picture. Thus with $69m spent and a return of $58m10.5 Warner Brothers axed any talk of a sequel11.

The public spit back.

10.5 The budget and box office for A Nightmare on Elm Street are reported fact. All other figures are speculative. It is impossible to know how much the studio spent on P&A on this particular film unless they release those numbers. Furthermore the exhibitor/distributor split can vary with each film, studio, cinema chain/house and territory.

In addition all films have ancillary revenues such as Home Market (DVD/Blu Ray sales/rental, Video-on-Demand/Pay-Per-View, free TV), games, toys, clothing etc. Thus it is a fool’s errand to speculate the final profit/loss of a movie as an entity. However a deficit of $11m is an educated guess as to the box office first run of A Nightmare on Elm Street and it is the first run that best indicates a movie’s ultimate profit or loss.

It is easier to criticise than to construct. It is easier to destroy than to create. With the Hollywood machine gunning down the legacy of great horror films (Halloween 1978, The Last House on the Left 1972, The Wicker Man 1973) I decided to write an insurgency. As stated in a previous post I am rewriting A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge 1985.

Freddy’s Revenge is disparaged because it broke the lore written down by Wes Craven: Freddy exists in dreams – he does not crash parties in the real world. In my script A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Return he remains firmly in nightmares.

He exists through fear.

Freddy’s Return is a rewrite/remake of the first sequel. It is not a sequel to the remake. It adheres to the rules and lore set out in the original and remains faithful to the tone. Remember – it wasn’t until Dream Warriors 1987 that Freddy became a wise ass. Freddy’s Return will fit securely into the canon.

This is a script that has to be written because the legacy cannot end on the 2010 remake. Freddy’s Return will repair the damage done by the reboot. It will give the fans another chapter in the story of a character we made famous. My goals are lofty: Freddy’s Return will shame the Hollywood industry into making great horror – because great horror continues to be written.

Fanboy fiction
I’m a football fan – that’s soccer to you. In 2005 Manchester United Football Club was bought12 by the American carpetbagger Malcolm Glazer. Some fans were so outraged they renounced their support and broke away to form their own club – FC United13. In a country where the professional clubs are over 100 years old FC United are playing in the footprints of giants – but there is recent inspiration.
In 2002 supporters of Wimbledon Football Club broke away – for different but legitimate reasons – and formed AFC Wimbledon14. This year they achieved professional status into the national football league.

Dreams can come true. So can nightmares.

People have power only when they exercise it and that should be more than once every four years. As soon as art is disseminated it becomes the cultural property of the people. Corporate plutocrats see otherwise. They see It as their legal right to rape and abuse our icons like Freddy Krueger and John Carpenter’s The Thing ad infinitum. In the age of New Media the Arabs have shown us this is Our Spring.

Thus I am clarion calling all horror fans – I need your support. I need you to spread the word, to share your thoughts and feelings by adding comments, to email your pals, to facebook twitter and myspace them. Let this script viral the web like Mark Protosevich’s I am Legend15 did.

I know I can only convince you if you deem the screenplay good enough so here are the opening scenes. The final draft is coming soon.
Read more Thrill Fiction: Popcorn
1         The Worst Horror Films of 2010  Rotten Tomatoes
3        Download A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 screenplay
4        50 best cover versions The Daily Telegraph
5         Cover bands Wikipedia
6        The Great Train Robbery 1904 IMDb
7        Marked Men 1919 Progressive Silent Film List
8        Box Office Mojo
9        Who gets what profit? Film London
10     Prints and Advertising budget The Numbers
11     Den of Geek
12     Fans rage at Glazer BBC
13     FC United
14     AFC Wimbledon Wikipedia
15     I am Legend screenplay by Mark Protosevich
Technorati Tags:, ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Final Destination 5

The first four films of the Final Destination franchise have grossed an international $321million (adjusted for inflation)1. That figure exceeds 227% of its domestic take1. The significance of this is that in 2010 the North American box office tallied $10.5billion2 whereas the overseas numbers were $20b3. In an industry where the foreign market is worth 190% of the domestic the Final Destination franchise is an overachiever.

That begs the question why tinker with the formula? Why give a stripper a make over?
Jeffery Reddick wrote the Final Destination 2000 script as a staff writer for The X-Files. It was rejected but his TV colleagues James Wong (director) and Glen Morgan (writer) were impressed to join the project. So was New Line Cinema.

Reddick wrote the treatment and co-produced Final Destination 2 2003. Eric Bress penned the screenplay and David R Ellis directed. James Wong and Glen Morgan came back for Final Destination 3 2004. Ellis and Bress returned for The Final Destination 2009. These are the men who created and carried a horror franchise without an icon: without a Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers or Pinhead. They are the reason for its success.
Jeffery Reddick: discovered by New Line
For whatever the reasons are New Line hired a new team for Final Destination 5 2011. Steven Quale4 is a first time feature director. He’s known as a James Cameron protégé having worked Second Unit on Avatar 2009 and Titanic 1997. That is good pedigree. It is negated by the hiring of screenwriter Eric Heisserer who wrote A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010. That screenplay is worse than the film.

The big gun New Line has for this movie isn’t creative – it’s technological. 3D pushed The Final Destination to a worldwide $193.6m (inflation adjusted) making it the highest grossing entry in the series. Furthermore worldwide revenue generated by 3D films doubled last year5. The technology is a hand-in-glove fit for the genre (as well as action, war and sci-fi). This is cinema as spectacle and the horror Fanboy will always seek a primal visceral satisfaction.

Cinema is not spectacle alone. The Fanboy demands to be told a story he has paid for. With A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 Eric Heisserer has proved he couldn’t tell a story to a judge. Thus it is left to Quale to make a supermodel out of a swamp thing. It cannot be done. New Line will try – at a cost of $12 per ticket.
The story formula remains the same; the lead character has a premonition moments before a disaster strikes. He and others at his behest flee the scene and survive – so death returns to slay them one-b-one. In a departure from the previous films these survivors are neither school kids nor strangers. They are work colleagues in their early 20s and know each other outside the office: same difference.

The disaster as depicted in the trailer is one of the best in the franchise. Quale can shoot a set piece but Heisserer immediately includes narrative flaws. The eight survivors from Presage Paper are not the only survivors. This renders their predicament unexceptional. It goes against the ethos of the series. Somewhere in a parallel film other survivors are being stalked by death.
Nicholas D'Agosto: a case of casting disaster
The casting for this film is particularly bad. The final boy is played by Nicholas D’Agosto. He performs each scene with a blank gawp. His best friend looks exactly like him except he wears a perpetual scowl. The girlfriend always looks like she’s about to cry and the peripheral victims seem to be waiting for roles they can include on their résumés. There is one name actor and Courtney B Vance should be ashamed of himself for accepting this role. His character adds nothing to the rote proceedings. It is only Tony Todd who delivers – both a creep factor and an assurance: this is still a horror film.

Or is it? Heisserer can’t write cohesive narrative and he certainly can’t write comedy. The scene in the Ming Yun Spa is the sort of racist humour the Nazis laughed at in the 30s. It’s to be seen how this film will play in Hong Kong.

The raison d’être for the franchise are the gags. As the movie wears on they become repetitive: there’s always something involving water and electricity. There is also the final gag. It’s an insult to the audience and the previous writers. Heisserer wrote The Thing 2011. It means he’s going to insult John Carpenter too.

The best part of this film is the opening credit sequence. Shirley Walker’s theme is gone but Brian Tyler provides an expectant replacement. This is telling because it means the next film will be the last one. Regardless of Final Destination 5 box office the public will be aware that 3D means less entertainment for more money.

Read more Thrill Fiction: John Carpenter’s TheWard
1 Final Destination franchise The Numbers
2 2010 domestic box office Variety
3 2010 international box office boxoffice.com
4 Steven Quale IMDb
5 3D global revenue TG Daily
Technorati Tags:, , , , ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Woman in Black (2nd teaser)

World Wrestling Entertainment held its annual SummerSlam pay-per-view last Sunday in Los Angeles. During the show one of the wrestlers ridiculed Cowboys & Aliens 2011 as being “overproduced overrated” and a “flop”.

In 50 years James Bond has created only one movie star; one man no woman. Daniel Craig’s career as a headliner is over the moment someone else wears his (borrowed) tuxedo. The James Bond franchise is the second most successful in the industry. Another British creation Harry Potter is the global benchmark.

Daniel Radcliffe played the eponymous hero. With the franchise over Radcliffe is going to have to start working for a living. The Woman in Black 2012 looks like work.
Despite the pushed back release date this film looks like one to wait for.

The Woman in Black is released 3rd February in the US and 10th February in the UK.

Read more Thrill Fiction: The Woman in Black (first teaser)
Technorati Tags:, , ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator

Friday, 12 August 2011

The Final Destination

The first three films of the Star Wars saga serve as paradigm for the movie trilogy. Both sequels had three years to develop. What the first film started the third one finished. All of the films were box office phenomena. The cinemagoer wanted more.

In comparison the Final Destination sequels in the first trilogy also had a three year gestation period. In contrast the Final Destination sequels are merely remakes of the original. However the brand had been established and owned its market. In today’s money Final Destination 2000 made a domestic $69.4million. Final Destination 2 2003 grossed $56.8m. Final Destination 3 2006 earned $60.2m. With the trilogy over but with a robust box office New Line decided to commission part four.

The Final Destination 2009 arrived on schedule – three years after its predecessor. There was no series hiatus as such – even though the studio publicity inferred that there was. The new title alone demonstrated as much. It wasn’t so much a rebranding as a reintroduction.
No reintroduction necessary. The format, plot and layout of this fourth instalment is as carbon copied from the original as the other sequels. New Line has a cash cow and they are not going to genetically modify it. They did tinker with Shirley Walker’s original score but that wasn’t going to induce Fanboy boycotts. To wit more so than Freddy and Jason in the 80s the Final Destination sequels are product as entertainment with no camouflage of art.

The movie business is run by corporations. In this case New Line Cinema1 is owned by Time Warner. Corporations2 exists to generate profit in the same way a man cannot exist without sustenance. The difference is that when a man is sated he will stop consuming. The corporation will never stop. The product a corporation chooses to trade in (be it movies, pharmaceuticals, firearms) makes no difference. The corporation will continue to churn out product until the market is dead. This is the Hollywood ending.

The corporation is anathema to the arts: new stories are not allowed to be told; experiments are not allowed to be tested; the culture is constrained and contained. Corporate film is anti-cinema. Hollywood is simultaneously the antithesis and epitome of the horror film.
The Final Destination has no new story so it uses new technology. This series was tailor made for 3D but here at Thrill Fiction the belief is that 3D is not fit for cinema. It will be a good for gamers but it is extemporaneous in the storytelling arts. It’s a gimmick – a distraction – like smell-o-vision3.

The definition of art (for dummies) is to create something out of nothing eg a film script. It is not uncommon for the artist to create under life threatening conditions. It is common for the artist to create under restrictive conditions. The Soviet Union no longer exists but it is the corporation and not the communist party that now dictates censorship.
A Moment of Truth by Robert Capa
On the surface The Final Destination is Hollywood fast food. That’s all it was meant to be. New Line hired both the writer and the director of Final Destination 2 to make this instalment like the one they made before. Yet something happened on the way to the cinema.

In 1998 James Byrd Jr4 was murdered by three white racists. They beat him then chained him to their pickup truck and drove off – dragging him (subsequently his corpse) on a rural road in East Texas. Writer Eric Bress incorporated this horror into the film. In The Final Destination it is the white racist who dies by his own truck.

Martin Scorcese should be so bold.

Eric Bress succeeds in being subversive in a mainstream movie. This is the raison d’être of the writer. James Byrd’s terrorist murder lives on through The Final Destination. It serves as a reminder of the horror that exists outside of cinema. It puts a bloody thumbprint on this film series. 

The Final Destination grossed a domestic $69.3m (adjusted for inflation). The market for this franchise is not yet dead. It is thriving. It has outlasted its inspiration (Scream 1996), pretenders (Urban Legends 1998) and usurpers (Saw 2004). It shows no sign of stopping.

Final Destination 5 opens later today in the US (26th August in the UK). It has the biggest budget yet but for reasons best known to the corporation the studio has hired a debutant feature director new to the franchise. They hired the writer responsible for the worst film of 2010. Despite the return of Tony Todd the omens are ominous.

The Final Destination is not the best film in the series. It is the most important one.
James Byrd Jr 1949-1998
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
 wailing and loud lamentation,
 Rachel weeping for her children;
 she refused to be consoled,
 because they were no more.”
Matthew 2:18

Read more Thrill Fiction: The Wicker Man
1 New Line The Lost Tycoons Vanity Fair
2 The Corporation 2003 IMDb
3 Smell-o-Vision Wikipedia
4 James Byrd Jr CNN
Technorati Tags:, , , ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator

Monday, 8 August 2011

Final Destination 3

Hollywood does not save the best for the last.

Sequels adhere to the law of diminishing returns thus the end of a trilogy usually means good riddance. Final Destination 2000 was a high concept addition to the genre. The follow-up (by definition became low concept and) was formulaic but someone at New Line must have loved this franchise. The mistakes made in Scream 3 2003 and Final Destination 2 2003 were noted.

Final Destination 3 2006 did not promise its audience anything new or remarkable. In true capitalist-industrial sequel fashion it promised more of the same – only better. To this end the studio hired the original’s director James Wong (not his real name1) and writers2.

2 Wong and his writing partner Glen Morgan.

Jeffery Riddick3 conceived and co wrote Final Destination. He receives credit as creator in each instalment but has not worked on the franchise since Final Destination 2.

The story went back to beginnings to duplicate what worked in the original. A mistake in Final Destination 2 was to group together a bunch of strangers. It diminished the dramatic interaction between characters. Another error was the inclusion of a cop. His access to government computers diminished the threat. Third plot mistake was the love story subplot. It was an irritant.

Final Destination 3 returns to a bunch of school kids to whom death is an abstract concept – it only occurs to old folk and other people. The survivors all know each other but are not friends. The Final Girl and the lead boy have both lost their lovers in the curtain raiser catastrophe. They are not attracted to each other.
 “Kevin. If it wasn’t for you and Jerry being friends and me and Kerry being friends we wouldn’t have even hung out.” - Wendy

There are attempts at fine writing throughout the film: Lewis rants about his life plan: McKinley lumps Charles Manson, Osama Bin Laden and the Vice President in the same pot: Carrie’s confessing her plan to dump Jerry after graduation. These are the primal screams of youth. They are drowned by the perfunctory and pedestrian story.
With AJ Cook gawping her way through Final Destination 2 James Wong had to cast another Devon Sawa. He settled for Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

Winstead awaits the release of her biggest role to date in The Thing 2011. A perusal of her curriculum vitae reveals enough credits for Final Girl4 status but she’s more of a Scream Queen5. In Final Destination 3 she tries to inhabit the role of lead character Wendy but there is nothing involving about her performance. Even with expectations for horror acting so low Winstead is begrudgingly adequate.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: will scream for food
Jamie Lee Curtis was a long time ago.

Some of the blame can be directed at her co star Ryan Merriman. His rendition as the lead male is as flat as a runway model’s chest. There are however flickers of bright spots. Kris Lemche as McKinley, Alexz Johnson as Erin and Sam Easton as Frankie Cheeks command the little screen time they have but the rest of the cast is anonymous. It’s that bad.

The real stars of these films are the gags: the stunts and CGI that death employs to entertain the renter. The Final Destination films have never elevated themselves to the folklore of the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. None of the Final Destination 3 gags are memorable. They entertain in the moment but fail to resonate after the credits compared to Johnny Depp’s death in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street 1984 for example. A reason for this is the preposterousness of execution.

The highly advertised roller coaster scene is over detailed. The camera is close up on the teens faces thus reminding the viewer that it is only a movie. There have been videotaped rollercoaster tragedies shown on the news. In order to induce realism the filmmakers could have mimicked that ground level angle POV long shot vérité style. In making the choices they made they removed all tension.

Tension exists when the audience doesn’t see death coming. The kill is sudden and the viewer is jolted. Tension oozes from the screen as to what will happen next. This film had one of those instances. That’s not enough for 90 minutes.
This final chapter in the trilogy was a good riddance and although Hollywood doesn’t save the best for the last Final Destination 3 was an improvement on its predecessor. It also made more money6. In the current production climate that meant a franchise reboot was inevitable.

Only the music industry can wring more money out of death than Hollywood.

Read more Thrill Fiction: The 100 Best Horror Films #3
1 James Wong Wikipedia
3 Jeffry Riddick IMDb
5 Scream Queen Wikipedia
6 Final Destination series The Numbers
Technorati Tags:, , , ,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator