Drop 173: Review

curtains

‘So, what did you think, Sam?’

‘Honestly?’

‘What do you mean honestly? Of course.’

‘OK,’ Sam said, lighting a cigarette and squinting. ‘Then I’ll tell you: I hated it. I really hated it. It was just plain awful. What the hell kind of directing was that? No skill in it, no flow, no intuition for pace. No knack at all for the simple art of story telling. What was he trying to do? I mean, sure, put your stamp on a famous work, by all means, but this guy’s artistic license was off the charts. The plot was all over the place, and none of the characters were believable, though maybe the fault there lay more with the actors — god, don’t get me started on the actors! Every last one, clueless. Not one bright spot among them. No one understood the conflicts inherent in the characters, and the two leads showed none of the ambiguity that drives the story’s critical undercurrent. It was sad. Just sad. All of it. The sets were lame – not period appropriate at all; in fact, the production value overall was appalling, the effects idiotic. Admit it, the horses looked more like overgrown rats! And what were those brown hanging blankets supposed to be?’

‘Wow, that’s harsh.’

‘Well, you asked for the truth,’ Sam said, looking away from Mary as if something had caught his eye on the other side of the street, then snapping his head back to face her, ‘and this is it: every last person involved in that atrocity should be taken out back and shot. I’m upset I had to sit through it. Outraged. Honestly, I’d rather have eaten a bad oyster on my wedding day, got dengue fever in rural Gabon, sawn off part of my pinkie, or lost my only set of house keys during a blizzard in Minsk.’

‘Man! You felt that strongly about a 4th grade play?’

‘Oh Christ, Mary. You fucking asked. You know, just cause your kid is nine, doesn’t mean she can’t wear a ball gown with a soupçon of panache.’

By E.M. Vireo

Drop 131: Cinema

IMG_5443Man, some movie I watched last night!

Oh yeah?

Yeah. Production value was incredible—the acting just phenomenal.

Cool.

The whole cast was outstanding, really. I heard the main guy dropped like 50 pounds to play the lead. Looked all gaunt and shit. So convincing. So authentic.

Cool.

And Arkoff did the score.

Love him.

Huge complex soundscapes. So good. So clean. And you should have seen the costumes. These gaudy period pieces, totally genuine. Amazing work. Great set design and special effects too. Just genius. Heard the budget was like 150 mil.

Wow. So, it was amazing?

Amazing? God no! It was awful. Switched channels half an hour in.

By E.M. Vireo

Drop #94: Cheesy Horror Flick (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1

 

The three of them run and hide in the basement, pulling the trapdoor closed behind them.

‘We have to get to one of the cars!’ Cheyenne screams.

‘It will have to be yours,’ Billy quickly answers. ‘Lance had the keys to ours.’

There is a minute of tense silence as they sit still, hearing no sound, not knowing if the maniac is in the house, above their  heads. Then they turn on their headlights to look for weapons. In a stroke of amazing coincidence, Billy comes across on an old newspaper clipping: ‘Oh my God, guys. Look at this!’

The article, now twenty years old, describes how an angry mob hung Edmund Bray, a mentally challenged behemoth to a tree and set him on fire, accusing him of having raped a young girl. It describes Edmund to be the bastard son of an old raccoon trapper who impregnated his own daughter. The teenager had this child alone in the woods, before taking her life with poison berries. The boy grew up in the father’s basement, beaten and whipped repeatedly, while endlessly chopping wood and quilting blankets.

‘Do you think it’s him? Back from the dead?’

The slow, hollow banging on the trapdoor gives them no chance to answer. There’s another tense silence till a chainsaw starts up. It cuts right through the quiet and the old wood as the girls scream and soon enough, all 6 feet seven inches, and 280 lbs of Edmund Bray crash through the floor in a chaos of rubble and dust.

Billy immediately gets a hatchet to the face, and while the weapon is stuck there for a second, and Bray is distracted  trying to get it back, the girls run past him and scramble up the wreckage towards the kitchen above, yanking themselves up with pure adrenalin as the psycho claws wildly at their heals.

Margo has cleverly grabbed a couple of rusty weapons and thrusts a cleaver into Cheyennes hands. But Edmund is back upstairs and in the panic, the girls are split up.

Margo goes for the car keys, but they aren’t on the dresser where she left them. She turns and ducks just in time to avoid a hatchet to the head. She runs to another room pausing to look back at him, as he frees the blood-stained weapon from the wall. He smiles maniacally, holding up the car keys, before jingling them, showing his rotted brown teeth, and swallowing them.

We cut to Cheyenne who is sneaking on the other side of the house, not knowing where the butcher could be; but she soon finds out when he comes from behind and grabs her. He only has her by the skirt though and she tears away,  running for her life in only her underwear, round buttocks exposed in pink panties. But she runs into a dead-end.

Edmund picks her up and pins her to the closet a foot off the floor with two ten-inch pegs shoved through her shoulders. He saws off both her legs while she’s still alive and screaming and watches her bleed to death. He seems to enjoy this, stroking her dying face with a huge, twisted hand till he gets an arrow in the side. That’s right, Margo has found a crossbow. Bitch is fighting back!

‘You’re mine now, fuckhead! ’she yells shooting another one-off. This one sticks in the lunatic’s meaty neck, but two arrows can’t take him down, and he storms after her. She’s trying to reload as she runs away but he’s mad now and he catches her by the foot. He grunts as he looks to deliver the killer blow, but she kicks him and stabs him with the scalpel she took from the basement earlier, and scrambles away. But he’s still coming, scalpel in shoulder and all, and he’s got her cornered in the study. She hits the wall with a bang, knocking a deer head off of it. He raises his hatchet and is ready to strike but he doesn’t get the chance: he has the reindeer’s antlers through his chest and stomach, perforating him all over. She has killed him with a deer head.

Margo crawls out from under his hulking mass and limps outside, exhausted and relieved–but she realizes she has no car keys! It dawns on her that if she’s going to get away, she’ll have to hack them out of the madman’s stomach. But she’s beyond it all now and willing to do anything to leave this place.

He’s still lying there with the deer head rammed in his chest. She takes the hatchet from his rigid hand and gets right to it, slamming it heavily into his massive belly, exposing its putrid slabs of fat. She pulls out and repeats it twice, three times, getting a rhythm but suddenly, Edmund comes to life and grabs her wrist. She screams and slashes at his arm, chopping it off at the wrist. Then she runs, with the thing still clamped on. She must get out of this house!

She’s still alive but injured and covered in everyone’s blood. She yanks off the enormous, gray, gripping hand and throws it in the bushes. She staggers along the dirt track till she reaches the main road as a van approaches. She falls to her knees and cries as she waves it down.

She’s overjoyed till she looks at the driver. It’s an old man in a dirty red baseball cap chewing tobacco. He spits his wad and straightens his junk before he speaks: ‘Well, well, well. What have we here?’

By E.M. Vireo

Drop #94: Cheesy Horror Flick in Fast-forward

Part 1

Margo, 18, is an All-American beauty with long blonde hair and a killer rack. All the guys want her, but she’s a bit of a tease. She just broke up with her quarterback boyfriend, Billy. Caught him cheating with the school skank. Margo’s two best girlfriends, Cheyenne, who is half Native American, half French, and Roxy, who has purple hair and plays bass in a punk band, force her to come out to Cheyenne’s uncle’s country house in the woods, on lake Quongapeekwa, to get her mind off things. They drive out there in a Buick convertible with their plaid shirts tied below their tanned ribs, listening to Bryan Adams and Puddle of Mud, singing the choruses, sometimes sitting up on the back of the seat with their hands thrown in the air.

They stop to fill up and ask for directions at an old gas station full of cobwebs and rusted bits of broken machines dangling in the wind. An old man in a dirty red baseball cap limps out of a creaky doorway on a crutch, chewing tobacco, and tells them: ‘Sure, I know the old Littlethorn place,’ before making a show of spitting his wad and straightening his junk. He gives them directions, but twice makes unclear, possibly hostile comments under his breath as he does.

‘Let’s get out of here,’ Roxy says, rolling her eyes, after the old guy blatantly stares at her Margo’s ass while sucking on his teeth and making crazy eyes.

They arrive at the cabin whooping and hollering. Cheyenne wonders out loud if the place is haunted, but she’s only teasing. Inside, Margo flips a large switch and some lights flicker on to reveal mounted animal heads and tapestries on the walls. Roxy runs brown water out of the faucet. ‘Nice,’ she says, rolling her eyes again. The girls explore the surrounding area, finding some kind of dismembered animal in the woods nearby.

In the basement, looking for extra blankets, they come across a bunch of rusty saws, clamps and hooks. There is also an old logbook filled with numbers and dates they can’t make any sense of. Cheyenne finds a dusty skull and moves the jaw to make it talk like a ventriloquist puppet. They all laugh.

That night, the lights go out, and they use their flashlights. It starts storming and they hear odd noises outside. They try to calm each other down, but soon have to admit that something is out there, and it’s close! Suddenly, the door crashes open, blown in by the wind, and they see a shadow of a person, or is it a thing?

‘Who’s there?’ Cheyenne screams, as the dark figure approaches. Two girls grab makeshift weapons as Margo tries to shut the door, but the creature blocks it with a heavy foot, and as Roxy is about to hit it with a candle holder, Billy, Margo’s ex, whips off his hoody and starts laughing.

‘You dick!’ Margo says, slapping him. ‘What the hell are you doing here, anyway?’

‘Heard you ladies were out here, all alone. Thought you might need some protection. Parked down the road so I could surprise you.’

They begrudgingly let him in and he and Margo exchange a look that suggests they might hook up again. He has brought his buddy, Lance, another jock, and soon enough, Roxy and Lance go for a walk in the dark, foggy night to get some privacy. They stop to make out under some trees. He pulls off her top to expose her skinny ribs and bra.

Something is watching them from behind the trees. They hear cracking twigs nearby.

‘Come on, Billy. That joke is old,’ Lance shouts, but he stops laughing when blood gushes from Roxy’s mouth. With a hatchet in the gut, she rolls her eyes and dies. You knew she was gonna be first.

Lance says ‘Oh Jesus,’ over and over again as he sees who dunnit: a giant of a deformed lunatic, with a burned face and mangled mouth. Lance takes off in a stumbling run but he trips and the deranged psycho is on top of him. He pulls a hook from under his coat, shoves it through Lance’s shoulder and hangs him from a branch. Then he cuts him in half using six hefty hacks with the hatchet. Entrails dribble onto the mossy ground in a steamy pile.

In the mean time, Margo, Cheyenne and Billy are worried about their friends. ‘Maybe they fell down a cliff!’ Margo says. They’re debating whether to go out and look for them when the madman’s hulking frame is revealed at the window when lightning strikes. The glass shatters and something drops inside and rolls over the floor, stopping at Margo’s feet. It’s Roxy’s head!

Cheyenne screams as the psycho reaches in and unlocks the front door.

To be continued

By E.M. Vireo

Drop #58: Scripted Layers

.

INT.  MR. BUONAVISTA’S OFFICE – DAY.

 

           LIONEL

 You always put three ice cubes in your drinks?

 

           MR. BUONAVISTA

 Yes. Always three.

 

           LIONEL

 Try two, or four, next time.

 

           MR. BUONAVISTA

 Why the hell would I do that?

 

           LIONEL

 Just to mix it up.

 

           MR. BUONAVISTA

 I do three cause it tastes best that way.

 

           LIONEL

 Maybe a change would be good, is all I’m saying.

 

           MR. BUONAVISTA

 What are you doing, coming into my office and telling me how many

 ice cubes to put in my drink?

 

           LIONEL

 Just try something else, is all I’m saying.

 

           MR. BUONAVISTA

 What are you talking about after all these years? Everyone knows a man

 takes his drink a specific way. Don’t make me angry here.

 

           LIONEL

 Sorry.

 

           MR. BUONAVISTA

 Let’s just get to it, alright?

           

 LIONEL

 Okay, so, picture it.

 .

Lionel gets up and gestures with his hands to emphasize the picture he is about to

paint.

           .

LIONEL (CONT’D.)

There’s garbage blowing all through the street – an urban whirlwind of

gray dirt. There’s no music yet. We only hear the sound of the wind.

Hayden comes out the subway, silhouetted in a wide shot, and

starts walking, hands in pockets and collar raised. He comes up on a

couple by the intersection, in the middle of the circling dust and candy

wrappers, kissing. They separate, the guy smiling, the girl smiling too,

but a little less enthusiastically. She’s a small thin girl with a long pale

 face. He’s taller, athletic, but kind of square.

.

Mr. Buonavista listens, stone faced.

.

          LIONEL (CONT’D.)

Hayden and the guy walk almost alongside each other crossing the street.

We see the girl going off in the other direction. Suddenly, the guy turns

to tell her something he had forgotten. The noise of the wind is loud and

he holds his right hand up to the side of his face to wall the words.

“Chocolate,” he says. We widen the shot to see Hayden keep walking

and the girl turn around, palms up to show she doesn’t hear him. The guy

repeats it in French to clarify: “Chocolat.” At this point, we mute the sound

of the storm, and cut to a close up of his mouth, so that we see and hear

only his lips mouthing this word. Then the storm sound returns, louder and wilder.

She smiles in that same reserved way and turns to walk away again.

.

Lionel pauses to catch Mr. Buonavista’s reaction.

REVERSE ANGLE shows there isn’t any.

.   

LIONEL (CONT’D.)

We have been distracted from Hayden, and when we widen and pan out again over

a broad stretch of street, he is nowhere to be seen, but we just get to see a manhole

cover being replaced. We zoom in on it as it clamps back down, then go through

it, into the darkness below: black screen; total silence, lasting a couple of seconds.

Then a lamp comes on, and we see Hayden perched on the manhole ladder, just

below the lid, holding a 300 carat diamond. ‘Got you sucker,’ he says, before

tossing it a couple of inches into the air, catching it again, and putting it back in his

pocket. Then he slides down the entire ladder real fast without stepping on any

rungs. We see the lamp, which is actually his souped up watch, by the way, descending

into the bottomless depths like those mini submarines that go to the bottom of the

ocean, as the music starts: Kashmir by Led Zeppelin, and the title comes up:

THE ANDROID FIX.  Bam! Opening credits roll as we follow Hayden to his

underground lair though a series of tunnels and pipes.

          .

MR. BUONAVISTA

It’s a little avant-garde isn’t it?

.

LIONEL

I don’t think so.

 .

          MR. BUONAVISTA

You don’t think we need more action for the opening sequence?

           

LIONEL

I’m not sure you’re seeing the storm like I’m seeing it, and juxtaposition

of the Chocolat scene.

           

          MR. BUONAVISTA

No, I don’t think I am. But this is an action movie, isn’t it?

          

LIONEL

No, it’s philosophical sci-fi meets noir thriller.

         

MR. BUONAVISTA

And you’re set on Colin Farrell?

          

LIONEL

For Hayden? Absolutely

.

MR. BUONAVISTA

Why?

           

LIONEL

What do you mean, why? He’s perfect for this part.

.

MR. BUONAVISTA

Perhaps.

.

The Phone rings. Mr. Buonavista answers. Lionel is visibly upset.

          .

MR. BUONAVISTA

Excuse me, Lionel, it’s the wife.

         

LIONEL

Sure, sure.

           

MR. BUONAVISTA

She’s got the triplets at home – public holiday. Can you picture that!

.

DISSOLVE TO:

.

INT. MESSY SHACK – DAY                                                                        137

JOLENE, BY DOLLY PARTON PLAYING.

.

A TRACKING SHOT through the messy house, past piled up boxes and crowded,

dusty, counters comws to a stop on an elderly woman in a floral orange apron

scrubbing blackened pans in the kitchen. Dishes are piled up.

The door bell rings. She wipes her hands, slowly walks over to the old record

player and lifts the needle. The music stops as she opens the door to reveal an

enormous man in a suit holding a brown paper bag.

.

OLD WOMAN

Been expecting you.

.

The man enters without speaking. He sits at the table, barely fitting is legs under

it. We hear crickets and other nature sounds now.

.

HUGE MAN

I smell bacon.

.

OLD WOMAN

Did you bring it?

.

HUGE MAN

Of course. But first, I want some bacon.

.

There is not a hint of sarcasm in his tone. She stops washing up and stares at

him as the SHOT WIDENS to reveal a gigantic birdcage covered by a white

sheet behind the table, against the back wall. Something moves within it.

.

***

Too sleepy to continue, Jacob puts down the script: the third one Guy has passed on this month, and by the looks of it, not a very good one. He glances at the title page again, having forgotten what the thing is called. ANOTHER LAYER, by Benoit Complicat. Perhaps it would have read better in French.

By E.M. Vireo

.

For full effect, here are the songs:

Kashmir, by Led Zeppelin

and

Jolene, by Dolly Parton