Thursday, September 17, 2009

Creepers, Polar Bears and Other Hunger Related Things

It was great to see all of you at DARK DELICACIES this last Tuesday Night for the DVD release of the short-lived FEAR ITSELF series that ran on NBC last year. I am the not so proud writer of a much f***ed with episode in that series called, IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH, from an original teleplay I wrote called A NIGHTMARE IN LACE.

If you are interested in how things are reshaped once they leave the writer's typewriter, I have included a link here to the original teleplay that NBC bought from me to make this episode of FEAR ITSELF.

John Landis was brought in to direct -- and between he, the producers of the series, not to mention Mick Garris and the network, what ended up on TV, I didn't recognize as my chilling little story, about a woman who on her wedding day, realizes she is about to marry a serial killer.

What ended up on the boob tube seemed to be one big misunderstanding about what the engine of the story is about, where the scares are, and what a good twist is. But I'll let you decide, if you end up buying the DVD and watching the series, you can compare my teleplay, and then "everyone's improvements".

If nothing else, I think I can boast having written the most boring and pedestrian of all the episodes in the series. Though in all honesty, I haven't seen them all. The box set includes behind-the-scenes goodies for some of the episodes, (including John Landis directing my episode) and four unaired episodes, that seems to suggest that NBC couldn't wait to get that show off the air.

The Amazing Doug Jones

Hey, another great thing happened Tuesday night at the DVD signing, I finally got to meet actor Doug Jones, who I had been wanting to meet for quite some time. Doug is an actor that any horror and fantasy fan has seen a lot, but may not be aware they have. For instance Doug plays The Silver Surfer in the big screen Fantastic Four sequel, and he also plays Hellboy's amphibian co-worker Abe Sapien.

And in Guillermo De Toro's absolute masterpiece PAN'S LABYRINTH, Doug played Fauno, that unforgettable creature whose eyes were in the palms of his hands.That doesn't even begin to cover the body of work for this very talented actor, who I finally got to press the flesh with this week. Doug stars in one of the FEAR ITSELF episodes, called SKIN and BONES, so he, and a variety of writers, actors and directors who contributed to the series, showed up to sign the box set of this horror anthology.

Doug may be off to New Zealand soon to participate in THE HOBBIT, though he had to be a tad mysterious about the details. I know whatever he does will be incredibly memorable. You can learn more about him and see more of his work at his website: The Doug Jones Experience (

If you have never traveled to Burbank California, for one of these signings (they are announced on the Dark Delicacies website it is a great opportunity to meet some of your favorite names in horror and fantasy. I know I have met many of the legends I hold in high esteem, and it's great to see them up close and personal, and lather them with the appropriate fanboy gushings it is often hard to control.

All thanks to the great folks at this unique and one-of-a-kind horror store. And if you're not California adjacent, they have a great mail order service that can get you autographed DVDs, soundtracks, books and the like, all from these signings if you are not able to attend personally.

(Writer Steve Niles (30 Days of Night), actor Doug Jones, and myself, pose for some pics at the DVD signing of FEAR ITSELF, last Tuesday Night)

It was also great to see so many of you the week before at DARK DELICACIES for the signing of the new DD Anthology Release where my first (and possibly last) attempt at prose was published. It's always great to see the Jeepers fans and to hear those questions about Jeepers III, and to know that when it finally goes, a lot of folks are anxiously awaiting the third chapter in the Creeper saga.

More Jeepers news later in the blog.

Hey There, It's a Big White Bear!

Lots of big bites (no pun intended) for my polar bear script THE WHITE. Which is exciting as my "JAWS in the snow" movie promises to be maybe the scariest and the most technically and physically challenging of my career. A challenge I would welcome.

As we decide (myself and my manager Dave Brown) decide the best way to field the interest and then move ahead, there is a possibility my old friend and mega-talent Brad Parker of Jeepers Creepers fame, might join forces with me for a month or so, to start storyboarding, in THE WHITE, where various animatronic and full motion digital polar bears will be needed for some of the setpieces.

Setpiece is a term I use to describe sequences in a film that are the big scenes of the film, in action films or thrillers, they are often the standouts in the script, as they showcase the action, scares and thrills. But also because of their overall importance and impact they have on the story.

Polar bears cannot be trained or even "wrangled" which is the term animal handlers for the movies use when talking about procuring wildlife for a film. I've had to work with crow wranglers (and trainers) for both Jeepers films, and dog and rat wranglers too in my short career.

(The big rat in Jeepers One, that sort of leads the pack of the rats Justin Long startles in the pipe to the church? That rat was named Bear. And he was adorable and affectionate and hung out on my shoulder for most of that day's shooting)

But no such wrangling is possible for polar bears: the world's largest land predator and the planets largest terrestrial carnivore. So the bears in THE WHITE will need to be created.

Brad is still in Hawaii where he's lived for a few years now, doing his Tiki Art. In fact, Brad has a showing of his paintings at a pretty big gallery on the big island of Maui and is making a personal appearance there this week.

So I was thrilled to hear that Brad might be willing to come out of "storyboard retirement" for a few weeks to work with me on some of the most thrilling and chilling setpieces I have ever written: the polar bear attacks in THE WHITE.

Doing storyboards this early in the process, have two purposes. One, a realistic budget for a film like this, can't be made unless we know the shots and the sequences we are talking about that will need digital polar bears and make-up FX polar bears from my FX House geniuses at Brian Penikas' Make-up and Monsters.

The second use of storyboards this early, is that they can be used as presentation art, when we go to financiers. This helps them visualize what we are talking about and helps the bear sequences jump right off the page in a way that a screenplay can't.

(A great piece of presentation art by Brad Parker for the original Jeepers Creepers, this was supposed to be my cameo in the Creeper's House of Pain. In a longer sequence that was later shortened before we built the Creeper's underground lair, Darry (Justin Long) finds a portly gentlemen that has been turned into a human door to a secret chamber beneath the old church)

It is looking like New Zealand or Canada (where the story is actually set) are the most likely candidates for shooting THE WHITE, but research on how to create this unique motion picture has just entered the discussion phase. I will keep you updated as I am incredibly excited about the project (in case you couldn't tell)

What am I doing now?

Well, I am back writing yet another spec script. "Spec" is short for "Speculation" which means you are writing a script without being commissioned to do so, on the speculation that someone will want to buy it. Some of our greatest films have come from spec scripts, because they are usually passion projects from writers who feel strongly enough about their idea that they are going to write it whether someone pays them to or not.

Working on another script right now, is not part of my normal pattern. After many months, like the ones I spent on THE WHITE, I usually have to take on some project that has nothing to do with typing out setpieces and lines of dialog on this computer.

But another idea that has been gestating suddenly wants to come out, and I know better than to try and stop it. This seed of this suspense thriller started when I was made aware of something absolutely diabolical going on in this country and around the world, concerning the world's food supply.

And so, I have again found myself sitting here at my computer, this time shaping a techno-thriller (one Michael Crichton would have been proud of) about a struggling young couple who are expecting a child, when the young husband gets a rare job at one of the biggest multi-national conglomerates in the world.

But his dream job turns to nightmares (as you might guess) when he learns the truth about the future of bio-technology and the dark legacy ahead of us if we don't wake up about what we eat and how it is genetically altered.

Michael Crichton would be especially proud of this one I think, because it is all all based on current scientific fact. The horrors are real and I wonder if people are actually aware of them. More on that as it develops.

When the muse calls, I answer. And it's calling again, so here I go again. Maybe by the time it's finished, I'll have some concrete news about the Creeper being ready to fly again, or maybe the polar bears will be given the greenlight.

And Somewhere in Poho County...

One of the more pleasant surprises last week was in Variety where they posted the top five Labor Day Weekend Openings in movie history. And while Rob Zombie's Halloween is the current reigning champ for that weekend, almost a decade after their Labor Day Premieres, Jeepers One and Two still hold two of the top five slots for Labor Day champs.

And let's remember, nine years ago, movies tickets were a lot cheaper than they are today, so with no adjusted gross here for ticket sales, it is pretty incredible indeed that both Jeepers flicks remain in the top five.

I forgot until I saw this in Variety, that Jeepers II had actually opened bigger than Jeepers I. There is no doubt in the Jeepers Creepers camp that when III hits theaters it should be on our magical weekend, that the Creeper traditionally owns whenever he shows up: Labor Day.

The growing fanbase of the Jeepers films is worldwide, and recently someone put together from all over the globe, the different inroads the Creeper and the world of Poho County continues to make.

It is an hour long program of Jeepers Fan Art, tattoos, motorcycles, and all the many and varied incarnations you can find the Creeper in, in the current pop culture.

It's all put to music, some of it Bennett Salvay's score and some great renditions of the original Jeepers Creepers theme song as well,. It made me laugh many times and has some hilarious (and rather blunt) comments about the likes and dislikes of various Creeper fans and their feelings about Jeepers One versus Jeepers Two.

I have posted it in two parts on Rapidshare. You would need to join these parts with a FileSplitter program to enjoy the complete show on your computer, but it is worth the work for this must-see piece made for and by Creepers fans.

Your own fan art, if you ever posted it anywhere on the web in the last decade, may appear in it. Here are the two parts:

I think we should announce right now that next Labor Day Weekend, JEEPERS CREEPERS III: Cathedral will hit theaters. But with all the tedium around financing the film (due mainly to so many interests in the franchise having to be satisfied before we can solidify our sixteen million dollar budget) no one wants to make that statement yet.

I think they should make it, and give us all something to shoot for. And give the money guys the idea that, all this haggling and procrastination can't go on forever.

Be good to yourself,