Thursday, December 31, 2015

These Films Are National Treasures

Each year the Library Of Congress Film Preservation Board selects 25 films to be deemed National Treasures and included in the National Film Registry. Here are this year's entries...

BEING THERE (1979)

BLACK AND TAN (1929)

DRACULA (SPANISH LANGUAGE VERSION) (1931)

DREAM OF A RAREBIT FIEND (1906)

EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE, ZOOPRAXOGRAPHER (1974)

EDISON KINETOSCOPIC RECORD OF A SNEEZE (1894)

A FOOL THERE WAS (1915)

GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)

HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO (1944)

HUMORESQUE (1920)

IMITATION OF LIFE (1959)

THE INNER WORLD OF APHASIA (1968)

JOHN HENRY AND THE INKY-POO (1946)

L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (1997)

THE MARK OF ZORRO (1920)

THE OLD MILL (1937)

OUR DAILY BREAD (1934)

PORTRAIT OF JASON (1967)

SECONDS (1966)

THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994)

SINK OR SWIM (1990)

THE STORY OF MENSTRUATION (1946)

SYMBIOPSYCHOTAXIPLASM: TAKE ONE (1968)



TOP GUN (1986)

WINCHESTER '73 (1950)

I could not find a BluRay for THE STORY OF MENSTRUATION, but maybe now Critereon will start to work on one. SECONDS is one of my favorite films, and if you haven't seen it you should check it out. I am also a huge fan of the Spanish version of DRACULA, made at the same time and on the same sets as the Lugosi version. They would shoot the English language version by day and the Spanish language version as soon as they finished the day on the English version. The Spanish version is more sexual, with Dracula as a romantic figure that no woman can say no to. Also, the women in this version show a lot more cleavage. I figure you have all seen TOP GUN and SHAWSHANK, so I focused on the others. Oh, and if you don't know who Eadweard Muybridge was - he invented movies with his experiment to see if race horses ever had all four feet off the ground at the same time (to win a bet with Leland Stanford). Muybridge began his experiment... then had to put it off for a few years when he went to prison for murder! When he was released, he finished - using a string of still cameras to photograph a series of stills of horses racing which lead to the idea of moving pictures (and persistence of vision). A fascinating character.

Hollywood Reporter Story.

- Bill

Monday, December 28, 2015

Lancelot Link: Fair Game?

Lancelot Link Monday! Is an episode of a TV series fair game to swipe the plot of and use it for your movie? While you're thinking about that, here are this week's links to some great screenwriting and film articles, plus some fun stuff that may be of interest to you. Brought to you by that suave and sophisticated secret agent...




Here are a dozen links plus this week's car chase...


1) Weekend Box Office Estimates:
1 Force Awakens.................. $153,522,000
2 Daddy's Home.................... $38,800,000
3 Joy (no almonds)................ $17,500,000
4 Sisters (no DePalma)............ $13,880,000
5 Road Chip (no Ernie)............ $12,700,000
6 Concussion...................... $11,000,000
7 Big Shorts...................... $10,520,000
8 Point Break..................... $10,220,000
9 Hunger 3,2........................ $5,300,000
10 Creed............................. $4,600,000


HATEFUL EIGHT opened out of the Top Ten, but it's still the movie everyone is talking about this weekend - because it's either that or DADDY'S HOME!

This year *has* broken Box Office records, as predicted.

2) HATEFUL Digital Or 70mm?

3) Ennio Morriconne On HATEFUL EIGHT.

4) Quentin Tarantino & Paul Thomas Anderson Discuss 70mm.

5) Walt Goggins On Working With Tarantino.

6) RIP: George Clayton Johnson - TWILIGHT ZONE, LOGAN'S RUN, more. Met him several times, kind of a weirdo... but aren't we all?

7) DEADPOOL Red Band Trailer. And Commentary From The Director.

8) RadioHead's Unusued SPECTRE Theme.

9) Disneyland To Change Name To STAR WARS LAND.

10) HATEFUL Pirate... Is Hollywood Exec!

11) BOURNE 5 News.

12) Screenwriters Roundtable Interviews.

And the Car Chase Of The Week:



Okay, not a car chase at all... the episode of Andrew Fenady's THE REBEL with Nick Adams as Johnny Yuma that QT, um, homaged. That's the word.

Bill

Buy The DVDs

IMPORTANT UPDATE:

-
Dinner:
Pages:
Bicycle:

Movie:

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Last Minute Stocking Stuffers!

Have some writer friends who need a stocking stuffer? These e-books are the answer! Amazon even has a "gift button" which will send your friend a surprise wrapped gift, that they "open" online! From TERMINATOR fans to ACTION writers to HITCHCOCK fans to generic writers who have barcodes instead of names, there is something here for everyone on your list! And don't forget to put *yourself* on your list! Amazon gift cards for the holidays? Treat yourself!


bluebook

THE BOOK THAT STARTED IT ALL!

*** THE SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING *** - For Kindle!

*** THE SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING *** - For Nook!

Why pay $510 for a used version of the 240 page 2000 version that used to retail for $21.95? (check it out!) when you can get the NEW EXPANDED VERSION - over 500 pages - for just $9.99? New chapters, New examples, New techniques!

"SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING is the best book on the practical nuts-and-bolts mechanics of writing a screenplay I've ever read." - Ted Elliott, co-writer of MASK OF ZORRO, SHREK, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN and the sequels (with Terry Rossio). (ie; 4 of the top 20 Box Office Hits Of ALL TIME.)

Only $9.99 - and no postage!


HITCHCOCK: EXPERIMENTS IN TERROR


HITCHCOCK DID IT FIRST!

We all know that Alfred Hitchcock was the Master Of Suspense, but did you know he was the most *experimental* filmmaker in history?

** HITCHCOCK: EXPERIMENTS IN TERROR **

Contained Thrillers like “Buried”? Serial Protagonists like “Place Beyond The Pines”? Multiple Connecting Stories like “Pulp Fiction”? Same Story Multiple Times like “Run, Lola, Run”? This book focuses on 18 of Hitchcock’s 53 films with wild cinema and story experiments which paved the way for modern films. Almost one hundred different experiments that you may think are recent cinema or story inventions... but some date back to Hitchcock’s *silent* films! We’ll examine these experiments and how they work. Great for film makers, screenwriters, film fans, producers and directors.

Films Examined: “Rear Window”, “Psycho”, “Family Plot”, “Topaz”, “Rope”, “The Wrong Man”, “Easy Virtue”, “Lifeboat”, “Bon Voyage”, “Aventure Malgache”, “Elstree Calling”, “Dial M for Murder”, “Stage Fright”, “Champagne”, “Spellbound”, “I Confess”, and “The Trouble with Harry”, with glances at “Vertigo” and several others. Over 77,000 words, under $5!



BRAND NEW!

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Over 240 pages!

*** THE TERMINATOR SERIES *** - For Kindle!


He's back! The release of "Terminator: Genisys" (now on BluRay) is set to begin a new trilogy in the Terminator story... 31 years after the first film was released. What draws us to these films about a cybernetic organism from the future sent back in time? Why is there a new proposed trilogy every few years? This book looks at all five Terminator movies from a story standpoint - what makes them work (or not)? What are the techniques used to keep the characters and scenes exciting and involving? How about those secret story details you may not have noticed? Containing a detailed analysis of each of the five films so far, this book delves into the way these stories work... as well as a complete list of box office and critical statistics for each film. This book is great for writers, directors, and just fans of the series.

Price goes up on January 1st!

Only $2.99 - and no postage!


bluebook

Only 418 Pages!

*** BREAKING IN BLUE BOOK *** - For Kindle!


Should really be called the BUSINESS BLUE BOOK because it covers almost everything you will need to know for your screenwriting career: from thinking like a producer and learning to speak their language, to query letters and finding a manager or agent, to making connections (at home and in Hollywood) and networking, to the different kinds of meetings you are will have at Studios, to the difference between a producer and a studio, to landing an assignment at that meeting and what is required of you when you are working under contract, to contracts and options and lawyers and... when to run from a deal! Information you can use *now* to move your career forward! It's all here in the Biggest Blue Book yet!

Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is over 400 pages!

Only $3.99 - and no postage!



BLUE BOOK SERIES

bluebook

NEW!

*** HOOK 'EM IN TEN *** - For Kindle!


Your story doesn't get a second chance to make a great first impression, and this book shows you a bunch of techniques on how to do that. From the 12 Basic Ways To Begin Your Story, to the 3 Stars Of Your First Scene (at least one must be present) to World Building, Title Crawls, Backstory, Starting Late, Teasers and Pre Title Sequences, Establishing Theme & Motifs (using GODFATHER PART 2), Five Critical Elements, Setting Up The Rest Of The Story (with GODFATHER), and much more! With hundreds of examples ranging from Oscar winners to classic films like CASABLANCA to some of my produced films (because I know exactly why I wrote the scripts that way). Biggest Blue Book yet! Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is over 100,000 words - 312 pages!

Only $3.99 - and no postage!


bluebook

SECRETS OF SCENES!

*** SCENE SECRETS BLUE BOOK *** - For Kindle! (Exclusive)


What is a scene and how many you will need? The difference between scenes and sluglines. Put your scenes on trial for their lives! Using "Jaws" we'll look at beats within a scene. Scene DNA. Creating set pieces and high concept scenes. A famous director talks about creating memorable scenes. 12 ways to create new scenes. Creating unexpected scenes. Use dramatic tension to supercharge your scenes. Plants and payoffs in scenes. Plus transitions and buttons and the all important "flow"... and more! Over 65,000 words!
Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is around 210 pages!

Only $3.99 - and no postage!



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BEST SUPPORTING ACTORS?

*** SUPPORTING CHARACTER SECRETS *** - For Kindle! (Exclusive)


Expanded version with more techniques to flesh out your Supporting Characters and make them individuals. Using the hit movie BRIDESMAIDS as well as other comedies like THE HANGOVER and TED and HIGH FIDELITY and 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN and many other examples we look at ways to make your Supporting Characters come alive on the page. Includes Story Purpose of characters and Subplots. Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is around 150 pages!

Only $3.99 - and no postage!



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STORY PROBLEMS?

*** STORY: WELL TOLD *** - For Kindle!


This book takes you step-by-step through the construction of a story... and how to tell a story well, why Story always starts with character... but ISN'T character, Breaking Your Story, Irony, Planting Information, Evolving Story, Leaving No Dramatic Stone Unturned, The Three Greek Unities, The Importance Of Stakes, The Thematic Method, and how to create personal stories with blockbuster potential. Ready to tell a story? Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is over 85,000 words - 251 pages!

Only $3.99 - and no postage!


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STUCK IN THE MIDDLE?

*** ACT TWO SECRETS *** - For Kindle!


Expanded version with more techniques to help you through the desert of Act Two! Subjects Include: What Is Act Two? Inside Moves, The 2 Ps: Purpose & Pacing, The 4Ds: Dilemma, Denial, Drama and Decision, Momentum, the Two Act Twos, Subplot Prisms, Deadlines, Drive, Levels Of Conflict, Escalation, When Act Two Begins and When Act Two Ends, Scene Order, Bite Sized Pieces, Common Act Two Issues, Plot Devices For Act Two, and dozens of others. Over 67,000 words (that’s well over 200 pages) of tools and techniques to get you through the desert of Act Two alive! Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is over 208 pages!

Only $3.99 - and no postage!


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I WRITE PICTURES!

*** VISUAL STORYTELLING *** - For Kindle! (exclusive)


Show Don't Tell - but *how* do you do that? Here are techniques to tell stories visually! Using Oscar Winning Films and Oscar Nominated Films as our primary examples: from the first Best Picture Winner "Sunrise" (1927) to the Oscar Nominated "The Artist" (which takes place in 1927) with stops along the way Pixar's "Up" and Best Original Screenplay Winner "Breaking Away" (a small indie style drama - told visually) as well as "Witness" and other Oscar Winners as examples... plus RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is over 200 pages!

Only $3.99 - and no postage!


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GOT IDEAS?

*** YOUR IDEA MACHINE *** - For Kindle!

*** YOUR IDEA MACHINE *** - For Nook!

Expanded version with more ways to find great ideas! Your screenplay is going to begin with an idea. There are good ideas and bad ideas and commercial ideas and personal ideas. But where do you find ideas in the first place? This handbook explores different methods for finding or generating ideas, and combining those ideas into concepts that sell. The Idea Bank, Fifteen Places To Find Ideas, Good Ideas And Bad Ideas, Ideas From Locations And Elements, Keeping Track Of Your Ideas, Idea Theft - What Can You Do? Weird Ways To Connect Ideas, Combing Ideas To Create Concepts, High Concepts - What Are They? Creating The Killer Concept, Substitution - Lion Tamers & Hitmen, Creating Blockbuster Concepts, Magnification And The Matrix, Conflict Within Concept, Concepts With Visual Conflict, Avoiding Episodic Concepts, much more! Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is over 175 pages!

Only $3.99 - and no postage!


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MOVIES ARE CHARACTERS!

*** CREATING STRONG PROTAGONISTS *** - For Kindle!

*** CREATING STRONG PROTAGONISTS *** - For Nook!

Expanded version with more ways to create interesting protagonists! A step-by-step guide to creating "take charge" protagonists. Screenplays are about characters in conflict... characters in emotional turmoil... Strong three dimensional protagonists who can find solutions to their problems in 110 pages. But how do you create characters like this? How do you turn words into flesh and blood? Character issues, Knowing Who Is The Boss, Tapping into YOUR fears, The Naked Character, Pulp Friction, Man With A Plan, Character Arcs, Avoiding Cliche People, Deep Characterization, Problem Protagonists, 12 Ways To Create Likable Protagonists (even if they are criminals), Active vs. Reactive, The Third Dimension In Character, Relationships, Ensemble Scripts, and much, much morePrint version is 48 pages, Kindle version is once again around 205 pages!

Only $3.99 - and no postage!


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DIALOGUE TO DIE FOR!

*** DIALOGUE SECRETS *** - For Kindle!

*** DIALOGUE SECRETS *** - For Nook!

Expanded version with more ways to create interesting protagonists! How to remove bad dialogue (and what *is* bad dialogue), First Hand Dialogue, Awful Exposition, Realism, 41 Professional Dialogue Techniques you can use *today*, Subtext, Subtitles, Humor, Sizzling Banter, *Anti-Dialogue*, Speeches, and more. Tools you can use to make your dialogue sizzle! Special sections that use dialogue examples from movies as diverse as "Bringing Up Baby", "Psycho", "Double Indemnity", "Notorious", the Oscar nominated "You Can Count On Me", "His Girl Friday", and many more! Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is over 160 pages!

Only $3.99 - and no postage!



FREE DECEMBER 26 - 30th!

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ADVICE FROM #2 SCREENWRITER!

*** VINTAGE #1: HOW TO WRITE PHOTOPLAYS *** - For Kindle!

***

Screenwriting books have been around as long as films have. This series reprints vintage screenwriting books with a new introduction and history, plus new articles which look at how these lessons from almost 100 years ago apply to today’s screenplays. Anita Loos book is filled with information which still applies. In addition to the full text of the original book, you get the full screenplay to Miss Loos' hit THE LOVE EXPERT, plus several new articles on the time period and women in Hollywood.

Only $2.99 - and no postage!



These links all lead to the USA store, if you are in some other country and want to write a review for your country, go to your Amazon website.

Thank you all again.

Bill

Monday, December 21, 2015

Lancelot Link: Alvin & The Chipmunks Edition

Lancelot Link Monday! All of my friends were excited about the new movie opening over the weekend, and those who saw it said they laughed and cried and it was so great they forgave the previous three crappy movies... so I went to see ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS: THE ROAD CHIP! Kind of disappointed. You stand in line for hours, you'd think it would be worth the wait, right? While you're thinking about that, here are this week's links to some great screenwriting and film articles, plus some fun stuff that may be of interest to you. Brought to you by that suave and sophisticated secret agent...




Here are a baker's dozen links plus this week's car chase...


1) Weekend Box Office Estimates:
1 Star Wars:TFA.................. $238,000,000
2 Chipmunks:TRC................... $14,400,000
3 Sisters (not DePalma)........... $13,420,000
4 Hunger Games:MJ2................. $5,650,000
5 Creed:RB6........................ $5,085,000
6 Good Dino:WTF?................... $4,232,000
7 Krampus:HHH...................... $3,780,000
8 ITHOTS........................... $3,465,000
9 Dilwale.......................... $1,875,000
10 Bajiaro.......................... $1,660,000


STAR WARS record breaking $238m opening weekend... and when you include foreign it's hit $517m so far. First weekend. People online are saying they are going to see it a couple more times... which means it will continue to make a ton of money. Also - because so many showings have been sold out, and there are lines and crowds, many people are waiting until later to see the film. This was already a great box office year *before* STAR WARS. I suspect this will end up the new record ticket sales year in the USA.

2) STAR WARS: FORCE AWAKENS Cast Photo.

3) Old STAR WARS Characters Who Didn't Get Rehired Bitch About It.

4) Carrie Fisher On The STAR WARS Red Carpet.

5) STAR WARS Secret Cameos.

6) Other STAR WARS Cameos You May Have Missed - Obi Wan?

7) The Secret Backstory Of Finn's Character & Princess Leia's Cell Number.

8) JJ, Kathleen, Cast Members, Discuss The Power Of Storytelling.

9) STAR WARS Music Sung By The Cast On Jimmy Fallon.

10) Lawrence Kasdan (writer of the next two STAR WARS movies) Talks About His career.

11) Oscar Isaacs Covers Bill Murray's STAR WARS Theme.

12) Original STAR WARS Audition Tapes.

13) They'll Be Back!

And the Car Chase Of The Week:



In keeping with this week's theme.

Bill

Buy The DVDs

IMPORTANT UPDATE:

-
Dinner:
Pages:
Bicycle:

Movie:

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Caution: Subconscious At Work

From 5 years ago...

For me, part of writing is figuring out what my damned subconscious is up to. I am a planner by nature. Part of my outline process is trying to find the parts that go together and why they go together so that I can make sure to highlight that in the screenplay. Our minds are mysterious places. They connect things that may not seem to be connected on the surface. When I'm thinking about my story before writing it, all kinds of strange elements may pop into my noggin that don't seem to be part of the story... but my subconscious is way ahead of me. Often in outline stage, I discover the connections... sometimes I can't see the connections and either leave the weird stuff out or leave it in for the first draft hoping that I will figure out where the heck that idea came from as I am writing, and make it work in the next draft.

That's kind of what happened on the spec I'm working on now. There were 3 subplots, and though all were connected to the story on the surface, I had no idea how they were connected to the story on a deeper level. One subplot had to do with the character's problems in school. One subplot had to do with the character's father's problems at work. One of the subplots had to do with a specific type of sidekick and that sidekick's background – also specific. Now, there was some reason why my subconscious selected that sidekick with that background... but I didn't know why when I began writing the screenplay. I've read many screenplays where it seemed like characters and incidents were picked blindly from a hat and just jammed into the script arbitrarily. That's what I try to avoid at the thinking-about-it stage and the outline stage – I try to find the connections. But on this script? Not a clue.

But why did my brain pick these specific elements? There is always some reason, and the trick to a good screenplay is to know the reason so that it can be communicated to the audience in the film and not just some weird thing that only makes sense to you. Screenwriting is communication – and if for some reason you just know that the character is left handed, part of the job is to figure out why they are left handed and why that is critical to the story and make sure the audience understands these things so it's not just some whim that the character is left handed.

So, a few days ago I was writing a scene... and had this flash. Suddenly, I could see what my subconscious was getting at! I knew the why for these subplots. I knew why there was only one choice for type of sidekick and background of sidekick – no other version would have worked as well. No other version would have illustrated the theme. No other version would have shown the protagonist's emotional issues as well. And that sidekick was connected to the two other subplots in ways I'd never seen before. Connections that were always there, that my subconscious could see, but I had not been able to see before. This allowed me to write a scene that was about one of the subplots but also addressed the two other subplots on the sly... so that all three subplots could make sense as part of the story to the audience. Now, those subplots made sense to me so I could write a scene so that they'd make sense to the audience. My subconscious knew these were the best subplots for this script before I did.

The trick is to listen to your subconscious, but also to find the way through that wall between right brain and left brain so that you understand what the heck your subconscious is up to and get that stuff on the page in a way that the reader and viewer can understand as well.

- Bill
IMPORTANT UPDATE:

TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Protagonist's Job - How your protag's job is part of the story and important to the story... using the new movie WIN WIN as an example.
Dinner: Subway sandwich.
Pages: Dang - fell off the horse! But I did get a couple of pages written.
Bicycle: Mostly short rides.
Movies: WIN WIN - great little movie by the writer-director of THE VISITOR and THE STATION AGENT.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Lancelot Link: Nobody Wants To See That Film!

Lancelot Link Monday! I can't figure out why people are surprised that Ron Howard's new film is bombing. If you had pitched me that script, I would have passed on it... How many people want to see a remake of MOBY DICK, based on a famous novel? Okay, now divide that by 100 because this isn't based on the famous novel, it's based on the true story that inspired the novel. Snooze! What *dream* of the audience does this film fulfill? And it's not even "cultural" like some movie based on MOBY DICK (which allows you to sound as if you maybe read the book, when you just skimmed the Cliff Notes in High School). How did *anyone* think this would make money? Oh, and the title SUCKS! While you're thinking about that, here are this week's links to some great screenwriting and film articles, plus some fun stuff that may be of interest to you. Brought to you by that suave and sophisticated secret agent...




Here are a dozen links plus this week's car chase...


1) Weekend Box Office Estimates:
1 Hunger Games 3 Part 2............ $11,300,000
2 Fart Of Sea...................... $11,005,000
3 Good Dino........................ $10,497,000
4 Creed............................ $10,120,000
5 Krampus........................... $8,010,000
6 Spectre........................... $4,000,000
7 Night B4.......................... $3,900,000
8 Peanuts........................... $2,650,000
9 Spotlight......................... $2,508,853
10 Brooklyn.......................... $1,975,000




2) Remember when the sequel to INDEPENDENCE DAY was going to be a remake of FANTASTIC VOYAGE?

3) Francs Ford Coppola on APOCALYPSE NOW and his recent films.

4) Golden Globe Nominations! Who Are The "Hollywood Foreign Press" Again?

5) Tarantino Talks With Nolan about HATEFUL EIGHT.

6) Adam Sandler's RIDICULOUS SIX Nominated In All Categories!

7) Brad Pitt's Company Also Making Movies For Netflix.

8) MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 breaks Kickstarter records.

9) Variety's Actors On Actors: McKellan & Blanchett.

10) Bradley Cooper directs Beyonce in STAR IS BORN remake.

11) Bill Murray On The New GHOSTBUSTERS and Wes Anderson.

12) Morricone on HATEFUL EIGHT score.

And the Car Chase Of The Week:



This is *not* a Ron Howard movie...

Bill

Buy The DVDs

IMPORTANT UPDATE:

-
Dinner:
Pages:
Bicycle:

Movie:

Monday, December 07, 2015

Lancelot Link: End Of The Year?

Lancelot Link Monday! Some of this week's links are to Best Films Of 2015 Lists... and this year isn't even over! This is worse than Christmas decorations and music before Thanksgiving! Hey, most of the big Oscar movies will be released just before Christmas, so how can you know what the best movie of the year is when a whole bunch of really good ones haven't even been released yet? Did they use a crystal ball? Did they call one of those TV psychics? What if some movie that hasn't been released yet is better? While you're thinking about that, here are this week's links to some great screenwriting and film articles, plus some fun stuff that may be of interest to you. Brought to you by that suave and sophisticated secret agent...




Here are a dozen links plus this week's car chase...


1) Weekend Box Office Estimates:
1 Hunger 3 Part 2................. $18,600,000
2 Krampus......................... $16,020,000
3 Creed........................... $15,540,000
4 Good Dino....................... $15,512,000
5 Spectre.......................... $5,425,000
6 Night Before..................... $4,920,000
7 Peanuts.......................... $3,525,000
8 Spotlight........................ $2,926,844
9 Brooklyn......................... $2,430,000
10 Secret Eyes....................... $1,950,000


Box Office has dipped below 2013 & 2014 at this point in time, but International Box Office is breaking records.

2) Lawrence Kasdan on writing STAR WARS movies.

3) Over 100 Free Legal Download Screenplays!

4) And The Best Film Of 2015 Is...

5) The BIFA Winners!

6) The Hit List - This Year's Hot Scripts!

7) Interview With Director Of HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT.

8) Relativity... Not Quite Dead.

9) Tarantino & Cast Talk HATEFUL 8 in 90 Min Interview.

10) HANNIBAL (TV show) Script To Screen Comparison.

11) L.A. Film Critics Awards... The Year Isn't Over Yet!

12) Last Year's Oscar Nominated Directors Talk About Their Favorite Scenes.

And the Car Chase Of The Week:



The *Next* Series In The STORIES IN ACTION Books will talk about this chase.

Bill

Buy The DVDs

IMPORTANT UPDATE:

-
Dinner:
Pages:
Bicycle:

Movie:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Lancelot Link: Women!

Lancelot Link Monday! This week's links not only have the first photo from the WONDER WOMAN movie, also a swell article on the Women In Hollywood... oh, amnd the #1 film this weekend stars one of those women we speak of. Yes, there should be more of them working in the business, so let's do something about that! While you're thinking about that, here are this week's links to some great screenwriting and film articles, plus some fun stuff that may be of interest to you. Brought to you by that suave and sophisticated secret agent...




Here are a dozen links plus this week's car chase...


1) Weekend Box Office Estimates:
1 Hunger Games #3 P2............. $101,025,000
2 Spectre......................... $14,600,000
3 Peanuts......................... $12,800,000
4 Night Before.................... $10,100,000
5 Secret Eyes...................... $6,633,000
6 Coopers (not mini)............... $3,925,000
7 Martian.......................... $3,700,000
8 Spotlight........................ $3,603,466
9 The 33........................... $2,240,000
10 Bridge Spies..................... $1,945,000


Though part 2 of MOCKINGJAY opened $20m below part 1's opening, but foreign brings it up to $247 million... and it's days before Thanksgiving and 2 weeks after SPECTRE... with STAR WARS around the corner. Some of the estimates were $100m, and it made $101m, so it's not a failure. Heck, it made a pile of money in the first 3 days! Total box office for the year is still 4% over last year... with STAR WARS on the horizon.

2) John Gregory Dunne On Screenwriting.

3) Stacy Keach On Working With John Huston On FAT CITY.

4) The Women Of Hollywood Speak Out! (unfortunately, this is probably all of them.)

5) Carter Burwell's (BLOOD SIMPLE) Score For CAROL, Based On The Patricia Highsmith (STRANGERS ON A TRAIN) Novel.

6) STAR WARS Auditions From SNL.

7) Christopher McQuarrie Returns For MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 6.

8) WONDER WOMAN Starts Filming.

9) MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS Remake. Will This Open The Door To Mystery Films?

10) LEGEND Actress Emily Browning On Working With Tom Hardy Times Two.

11) A Dozen Things You Need To Know Before Writing TV.

12) DP John Seale On Shooting MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.

And the Car Chase Of The Week:



From KILL ME THREE TIMES.

Bill

Buy The DVDs

IMPORTANT UPDATE:

-
Dinner:
Pages:
Bicycle:

Movie:

Friday, November 20, 2015

Monday, November 16, 2015

Lancelot Link: Bill's Day Off

Lancelot Link Tuesday! A day late and a dollar short... so if all of you could send me a dollar, I'd appreciate it. Sorry this is a day late - but weather in Los Angeles on Sunday (and Monday) was cold and windy, so I decided to skip work and stay home near the heating vent and drink cocoa and watch TV and relax. I actually wrote a couple of pages on my short story, but not enough to matter. Some times you just need to take a day off. By the way - what does a cat do on it's day off? The opposite of what it does every other day? While you're thinking about that, here are this week's links to some great screenwriting and film articles, plus some fun stuff that may be of interest to you. Brought to you by that suave and sophisticated secret agent...




Here are a dozen links plus this week's car chase...


1) Weekend Box Office Actuals:
1 Spectre......................... $33,681,104
2 Peanuts......................... $24,013,538
3 Love The Coopers................. $8,317,545
4 Martian.......................... $6,712,171
5 The 33........................... $5,787,266
6 Goosebumps....................... $4,633,112
7 Bridge Of Spies.................. $4,268,772
8 Prem Ratan Dhan Payo............. $2,425,585
9 Hotel Transylvania............... $2,314,063
10 Last Vin Diesel Movie............ $1,482,463


Box Office is 4.4% ahead of this time last year... and STAR WARS hasn't opened, yet. Oh, and the last HUNGER GAMES movie comes out this weekend. Looking to be a good year.

2) Screenwriter Emma Donoghue On Adapting THE ROOM.

3) Screenwriter Steve Kloves (FABULOUS BAKER BOYS) On Writing, Outlining, Moments.

4) Spec Sale News.

5) Where Nightmare Are Created.

6) Why There Are Few Women Directors In TV.

7) The Next 100 Sequels In The FAST & FURIOUS Franchise Announced.

8) 25 Best Action Flick Opening Sequences.

9) MEMENTO Reboot (or is it a prequel?)

10) Screenwriter John Sayles On Writing And Directing Indie Films.

11) WGA Picks 101 Funniest Comedies.

12) Answers To Common Questions About Los Angeles (Movie Capital Of The World). A bunch of great articles about the birth and growth of the city.

And the Car Chase Of The Week:



Okay, it's a foot chase. But with all of the screenwriter interviews this week, it kind of made sense.

Bill

Buy The DVDs

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Raindance Film Festival Awards 2015

Another thing that happened while I was doing the 13 Films Of Halloween was the Raindance Film Fest gave out their awards.

** denotes the winner in the category.



Best International Feature:
Fires On The Plain
**Alice In Marialand
Chorus
Happy 140
That’s It
Echoes of War

Best British Feature:
**Kicking Off
Love/Me/Do
Mile End
The Return
Swansong
God’s Acre

Best Debut Feature:
Le Dep
**Princess
Bob And The Trees
Racket Shelter
Out of My Hand

Best Documentary Feature:
Sila And The Gatekeepers Of The Arctic
Digital Dissidents
**Gored
The Arms Drop
Horizontes
Broken Land

Best International Short
**Home
Winter Light
Chute Fighter
Shabu Shabu Spirit
Harry & Judy
A Hole In My Heart

Best UK Short
Into The Surf
Dating Eliza
**North
The Earth Belongs To No-One
Just Desserts
Strange Weather

Best Animated Short
N0-A
**Palm Rot
The Mechanical Waltz
The Alchemist’s Letter
Nowhere Line – Notes from Manus island
Last Day Of Freedom

Best Documentary Short
I Thought I Told You To Shut Up
Transmitting Thought: The Maimonides Dream Lab
The Champion
Rattle The Hocks
Rock’n’Roll Island
**Walking Through Havana

Feature Film of the Festival
All features in the festival are eligible. It is awarded to the film that best embodies the spirit of Raindance.
**Datuna: Portrait of America

Short Film of the Festival*
All shorts in the festival are eligible. The winner of the Short Film of the Festival award will be eligible for Oscar consideration.
** Winter Light

Special Jury Prize for a Short**
All shorts in the festival are eligible. The winner of the Special Jury Prize for a Short will be invited to pitch for next year’s festival trailer.
**The House Job

Best Music Video
All music videos in the festival are eligible.
**Stealing Sheep – Not Real

Congratulation to all of the winners!

- Bill

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

BEAT THE CAT!

The new BREAKING IN Blue Book has not even gotten close to beating THE CAT on Amazon! How can that be? The previous Blue Books had all battled SAVE THE CAT for the #1 position on Amazon by this point and won... for a day or two. THE CAT always returns to the top spot!

So how about helping me BEAT THE CAT?

If you want the new Blue Book and haven't bought it yet - BUY IT FRIDAY (11/6/15). If enough people buy it on the same day, it can battle the CAT for #1!

But *why* should you buy the BREAKING IN Blue Book? It's 419 pages long! That's like *2* books worth of material! Did I charge extra? Nope - still only $3.99. (But look for all of the Blue Book prices to go up a buck sometime next year... there are $5 screenwriting "books" on Amazon that are under 50 pages...) The problem was, the old paper version of the Blue Book was (and is) only around 40 pages of material, so it could only focus on the very basics of getting your script out there... nothing about making connections and networking, nothing about assignments, nothing about meetings, nothing about options, nothing about contracts, nothing about side doors into the business, nothing about *most* of the aspects of the business. Once I typed the words:

"Though this book is titled “Breaking In” that is kind of a misnomer, because it should be called the Everything About The Business Blue Book. There will be much more involved in your screenwriting career than selling screenplays, so I covered as much as I can. It's really the BREAKING IN AND HAVING A CAREER AND STAYING IN Blue Book.

I knew I was in trouble, because now I'd have to address all of those things! I'd have to go beyond query letters and look at all of the things that happen once your career begins, and you need to know all about meetings and assignments. Things you need to know in order to make connections that get you into the business. All of the back doors and side entrances into the business... what about contests? Pitchfests? Hey, what can you expect when you do a round of meetings and where will they make you park? How do you find a manager? Do you need a lawyer? There are so many aspects of the screenwriting business that I know even at 400 pages I have left things out... but eventually you have to type Fade Out and release it into the world. So here it is...

BRAND NEW!

bluebook

405 Pages!

*** SELLING BLUE BOOK *** - For Kindle!


Should really be called the BUSINESS BLUE BOOK because it covers almost everything you will need to know for your screenwriting career: from thinking like a producer and learning to speak their language, to query letters and finding a manager or agent, to making connections (at home and in Hollywood) and networking, to the different kinds of meetings you are will have at Studios, to the difference between a producer and a studio, to landing an assignment at that meeting and what is required of you when you are working under contract, to contracts and options and lawyers and... when to run from a deal! Information you can use *now* to move your career forward! It's all here in the Biggest Blue Book yet!

Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is over 400 pages!

Only $3.99 - and no postage!



USA Folks Click Here.



UK Folks Click Here.

German Folks Click Here.

French Folks Click Here.

Espania Folks Click Here.

Canadian Folks Click Here.

Other countries check your Amazon websites... it's there!

Seriously - TEN TIMES larger than the paper version (still on sale on my website)! That's just crazy!

The next 3 Blue Books will be DESCRIPTION, STRUCTURE, and BLOCKBUSTERs (all 3 in 2016 I hope). Everyone wants the OUTLINES Blue Book, and I've promised it for the past couple of years, but the problem is I don't have enough ideas for new chapters, yet... and I want to get it up to 200 pages. I hope that over the next year I'll come up with some new chapter ideas and get that out at the beginning of 2017.

Thank you to everyone!

Bill

Monday, November 02, 2015

Lancelot Link: Merry Christmas!

Lancelot Link Monday! Halloween candy is 50% off and every store has their Christmas stuff up. Couldn't we create homne decorations that switched from scary Halloween to fun Christmas with the flick of a switch? While you're thinking about that, here are this week's links to some great screenwriting and film articles, plus some fun stuff that may be of interest to you. Brought to you by that suave and sophisticated secret agent...




Here are a dozen links plus this week's car chase...


1) Weekend Box Office Estimates:
1 The Martian..................... $11,400,000
2 Goosebumps...................... $10,210,000
3 Bridge Of Spies.................. $8,060,000
4 Hotel Tranny 2................... $5,830,000
5 Burnt............................ $5,038,000
6 Last Vin Diesel.................. $4,750,000
7 Pair Of Normal................... $3,450,000
8 Our Brand........................ $3,430,000
9 Crimson (not Twin)............... $3,110,000
10 Jobs............................. $2,580,000


Some folks have been making a lot out of BURNT and OUR BRAND IS CRISIS - two star driven vehicles - not making piles of money this weekend. Those people are morons. Both films are not commercial vehicles, but "Oscar bait" movies - and I don't think anyone expected them to make a lot of money. They expected them to get good reviews and be remembered when the Oscar nominations are announced. Halloween is traditionally a dead weekend - people are Trick Or Treating and going to parties - not the movies. So it's the perfect time to release a film that is not expected to sell a lot of tickets. Hey, both ended up in the top ten...

2) What is "Deathwave"? Jason Blum answers.

3) Deathwave Part 2

4) Horror Comedy - Per Roger Corman.

5) Emmett-Furla (FEAST) make a big deal with Lionsgate.

6) The Stars Of FINAL GIRLS Interviewed.

7) Jar Jar Binks, and evil Jedi Master?

8) WORLD WAR Z: PART II gets new screenwriter.

9) Stan Lee's New Movie Is *NOT* With Marvel

10) Top Spec Script Agent Leaves WME!

11) The Legal Problems With True Stories: STRAIGHT OUTTA HARVARD LAW?

12) The Dramatic Return Of Steve Guttenberg To Modern Cinema.

And the Car Chase Of The Week:





Bill

Buy The DVDs

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

13 Films Of Halloween: TOMB OF LIGEIA

THE TOMB OF LIGEIA (1964)

Starring: Vincent Price, Elizabeth Shepherd, John Westbrook.
Written by: Robert Towne (CHINATOWN).
Directed by: Roger Corman
Produced by: Roger Corman




Still in England, but this time with some amazing exterior locations including Castle Acre Priory and *Stonehenge*! Though this film is also a little aloof and cerebral, it delivers many more old fashioned scares than RED DEATH, and makes my list of great mock-Hitchcock films. That’s probably what makes this film most interesting to me - that Corman and Towne seem to have put VERTIGO and REBECCA in a blender and come up with this Poe inspired story. 1964 was the year that Hitchcock released MARNIE, and this cheapo Corman film is a much better “Hitchcock film” than the Tippi-hair-fest.

In a strange twist on REBECCA we have a second Mrs. Fell dealing with a husband who is still obsessed with his first wife and keeping some deep and dark secrets about her death. As she tries to deal with her husband’s peculiarities, a seemingly haunted house, a dangerous black cat and solve the VERTIGO like mystery of Ligeia and her death (?) (which has echoes of the Mad Carlotta); the second Mrs. Fell moves from Wuthering Heights style costume drama to Edgar Allan Poe terror. Hey, there’s even a fox hunt like in MARNIE! And hints of a make over like in VERTIGO. And Ligeia ends up having something in common with Mrs. Bates. This really has the feel of a Hitchcock film.

Speaking of Wuthering Heights, once again these films give Vincent Price a chance to play a different and interesting character. From the sadistic Prince Prospero in RED DEATH to this, almost exact opposite character, as kind of a hunky brooding Heathcliff type whose spell our leading lady falls under... but does he have ulterior motives?



1821: Ruins. A funeral procession carries a coffin to a waiting grave... with a Priest chasing after them, “You can’t bury her in consecrated ground. She was not Christian!” Her husband Verden Fell (Vincent Price) insists. They have a little religious debate about whether the ground cares where she is buried, then a black cat yelps and jumps on to the coffin... and Ligeia’s eyes pop open! Fell opens the coffin and touches her - still dead. A nervous contraction. He closes her eyes and the coffin lid.



A fox hunt. A dozen men in red coats and black top hats ride horses chasing the hounds which are chasing the fox. Christopher (John Westbrook) and Rowena (Elizabeth Shepherd) leave the group - she’s found something far more intriguing... the Ruins. Rowena rides up to Ligeia’s grave... the ground in front of the headstone carpeted with fresh red flowers ... and that black cat snarls at her, causing the horse to rear up and buck her off. When she gets to her feet, a dark figure stands next to the massive headstone - Fell in Dark glasses. She screams and passes out. Christopher hears the scream and catches up... ends up introducing Rowena to Fell. Sparks of attraction - this is a “meet cute” in a graveyard. Fell *carries her* back to his house to take care of her injuries, while Christopher watches.

In his rambling old estate, Fell lays her down on a sofa and sees to her ankle... something sexual about removing her boot and stockings to apply the bandage to her sprained ankle. But Fell is cold, distant when she flirts with him. Christopher arrives with Rowena’s father Lord Trevanion (Derek Francis) who would rather show her the dead fox from the hunt than inquire as to her injury. Trevanion shows Fell the fox and asks if he’d ever seen one with these markings... and ends up getting a mini-lecture on the specific species of fox. It’s an Egyptian fox... and was the pet of his dead wife Ligeia. Trevanion is a moron. When they prepare to leave, the fox’s body is gone. How is this possible? The fox was dead. “The cat was not. It appears that the cat has made off with the fox.” They say their goodbyes, and Rowena’s flirtation is met with coldness again. But Rowena is hooked.



Days later a letter for Fell ends up at Christopher’s by mistake, and Rowena decides to deliver it. In the darkness of the house (Fell’s eyes are light sensitive) he mistakes Rowena for his dead wife and grabs her. Realizes his mistake and yells at her never to come to his house unannounced... insists on making her a cup of tea as an apology. “Does she look like me?” “Who?” And we’re in VERTIGO territory... Rowena continues flirting and he thaws for a moment. He is a permanently heartbroken man - after his wife died, he has been alone. His wife was so full of life that without her...

Rowena takes his face and brings him in for a kiss... when the black cat attacks her, leaving a scratch on her cheek.

That’s when Christopher shows up at the door. Fell leaves Rowena’s wounds to his butler Kenrick (Oliver Johnston) and goes to see Christopher... and asks him for some romantic advice. They take a walk through the grounds, ending at Ligeia’s grave. Someone has removed the date of her death from the headstone. Vandals? Christopher asks where is the date of her birth? “I never knew her age.” Fell believes this vandalism is prophetic of Ligeia’s *return*.



Meanwhile, Rowena asks butler Kenrick what Ligeia was like.

Rowena returns to the great room, sees that black cat guarding her hat and Fell’s dark glasses. She grabs her hat without incident, but the cat takes off with the glasses. She gives chase into an old spider-webbed passageway - dark and spooky and unused. Up a dark and dusty staircase... to the bell tower... more shades of VERTIGO! Where the black cat skitters across a very narrow ledge to the other side of a massive clock’s bell. Rowena carefully moves across the narrow ledge, carefully bends down to snatch the glasses from the cat’s mouth. But the cat bolts, and she almost falls.



At Ligeia’s tombstone, Fell wonders who would posses the skill to remove the date from the headstone... aside from himself. Then he sees the marble dust on one of his hands... did he remove the date himself? Without knowing? Has he gone crazy? Then the clock bell begins ringing - but it is not an even hour. What’s going on? Fell and Christopher run to find out.

In the bell tower, Rowena is trapped on that narrow ledge as the bell echoes around her. Plug her ears or hold on for dear life? She chooses to hold on. Fell carefully walks across that narrow ledge, rescues Rowena.



At 35:00, Bells continue to ring: Fell and Rowena’s wedding. Christopher watches the carriage take them away.

Rowena and Fell walk along the rugged coastline, and we’re in some version of REBECCA while they tell stories of their past Fell decides to sell the estate, and start his life again with Rowena... but until the estate can be sold, that will be their home.

After their honeymoon they return to the rambling old estate, where Kenrick has hired a cadre of servants who greet Rowena exactly as the servants greeted the new Mrs. DeWinter in REBECCA. Hey, new wife in the house haunted by the dead first wife? Rowena goes to bed that night and sees a strange reflection in the mirror - Ligeia? Her hairbrush has *black hairs* in it, like Ligeia’s. She runs into Fell’s bedroom - which is empty. In the middle of the night?



Welcome Home Dinner with Lord Trevanion and Christopher and some other guests. Christopher tells Fell there is a problem with the sale of the estate - the deed is in Ligeia’s name, and there doesn’t seem to be a death certificate for Ligeia (which would pass the estate to her husband). Fell says there never was a death certificate, so what now? Christopher says there will have to be an inquest into her death, so that a certificate can be issued. Perhaps the body will even have to be exhumed. Fell says that no one will go near Ligeia’s grave. Christopher explains that *legally* Ligeia is still alive, still Fell’s wife. The dinner conversation turns to hypnotism and regression therapy - uncovering blocked or forgotten memories... Fell says he knows how to administer hypnosis.

After dinner, Rowena grabs Christopher and whispers that Fell seems to vanish at night... strange. Then Fell calls Rowena to be his hypnotism subject. She remembers nothing about her mother, who dies when she was 3 years old. He hypnotizes her... and she remembers her mother singing to her as a baby... and then is *possessed* by Ligeia - speaking in a strange deep voice, repeating passages from Ligeia’s diary which she has never read (but a passage that Fell read to the Priest in the opening scene). “I will always be your wife!” Then Rowena passes out... and wakes up as herself. She is taken to bed. She wants to ask Fell some questions, but he kisses her goodnight and leaves.



Rowena has strange nightmares... the dead fox comes alive and attacks her. The black cat chases her. She runs through the dark and twisted hallways of the estate. Falls into a carpet of red flowers - the same flowers on Ligeia’s grave (the same flowers that Mad Carlotta wore in her hair in VERTIGO?) This is *not* AMERICAN BEAUTY! She leaves the bed of flowers and runs into Fell’s arms and embraces him... and he turns into death - clutching her.

She wakes up - starring into the face of that dead fox! Brought to her bed by the black cat as if it were a mouse. She screams, goes to Fell’s bedroom... which is once again empty. The balcony doors blowing in the wind. She walks slowly to the balcony doors, reaches for them... when they blast open exposing a dark figure! Fell. Oddly, with a tray of food in his hands. Rowena asks where he’s been, why he has the tray of food. What tray of food? Fell is surprised to see it in his hands - he was sleep walking. What?

He asks Kenrick about the tray of food - and gets no answer. But has the butler remove the dead fox from Rowena’s room. Rowena offers to spend the night with Fell, but he brushes her off. I know they went on a honeymoon, but have they not slept together since returning to this house haunted by Ligeia? What’s up with that?

Rowena takes Kenrick back to her room - but the dead fox is gone. Was it part of her nightmare?



Later, Rowena has tea with Christopher and tells him of her frustrations... and asks how she can he Fell’s wife if he is *technically* still married to the not legally dead Ligeia? Rowena believes that Ligeia is still alive, and that Fell goes to her every night. Taking her food, sleeping with her, still married to the woman who is not legally dead. Christopher says he will investigate this...

The black cat watches their discussion.

At the dinner table, Rowena is alone. She grabs a candle and drips wax on her food, then holds her hand over the flame. Kenrick asks if there’s something else he can get her - she answers “My husband.” That’s when Christopher drops in, asks Kenrick where Fell is... and demands and answer. Gives Kenrick the third degree as if they are in a courtroom (Christopher *is* a lawyer) - where is Fell? Where is Ligeia? Kenrick can answer neither question... which is odd, because isn’t Ligeia buried at the base of that headstone? Kenrick begs to leave and bolts out of the room. Christopher tells Rowena to go into her room and bolt the door and do not open it for anyone, especially her husband.



Christopher runs out to Ligeia’s grave, where a pair of laborers are digging up the coffin. He takes off his coat, rolls up his sleeves, grabs a shovel and helps them.

Rowena locks herself in her room... then hears the cat snarling from the other side of the door - banging on the door - hard! Then the banging stops... but the cat is inside the room. It attacks her. She races to the door, unbolts it, runs into the hallway - the black cat chasing her. Locks herself in Fell’s bedroom... but the cat is somehow inside and attacks her again! She races out to the balcony, trying to escape the cat... and spots what looks like a little door behind a plant. Opens it... a secrets passageway. She enters.

Christopher and the two laborers get down to the coffin... a storm on the horizon, thunder and lightning.



Rowena is in a maze of secret passages between rooms. Dusty, covered with spider webs, dark and creepy. The cat chases her. She comes to a doorway, throws it open and dives inside. A strange room filled with Egyptian artifacts. The black cat appears inside the room with her. She spins - and there is someone staring right at her! She screams... then realizes it is a mirror. But her scream has shattered the glass... and beyond the broken mirror she sees a narrow stairway going up. Where?

She breaks away the rest of the mirror and climbs the narrow stairs. Blood drips from her hand from handling the broken mirror. A deep gash.

Christopher brushes away the dirt from the small glass window in the coffin - and sees Ligeia’s face within. He grabs the lantern to take a closer look and drops it onto the window... breaking it... and setting the face within on fire! “Wax!” There isn’t a corpse within, but a wax sculpture. Ligeia is *not* in her coffin, a dummy is! But then, where is Ligeia?

When he looks up from the grave, Kenrick the butler stands over him, shovel in hand. To hit him? He helps Christopher out of the grave. “You must hurry, sir, it’s out of my hands now.”



At the top of the narrow stairs Rowena finds a dark room filled with bizarre sculptures. As she looks through the room a man enters through another secret passage - Fell. Rowena sees him, calls his name... he does not answer. He seems... hypnotized.

Rowena sees a draped area in the back of the room, moves towards it and throws open the black curtains. Exposing Ligeia (also Elizabeth Shepherd) in a black bed. Rowena screams, trips, and falls *onto* Ligeia. Gets tangled in her arms. Tangled in her body. But Ligeia does not move. She seems stiff. DEAD. *Preserved*. Ewww! Rowena untangles herself from the corpse and runs out of the curtained area... right at Fell. He stands there - like a zombie.



A voice from behind her, she spins - Christopher and Kenrick in the doorway. “He’s beyond any of us now. Beyond any shock. Come with us. He’ll come alone, when he can.” It seems that just before Ligeia died, she hypnotized Fell into believing that she would not die, so he should spend the nights with her up here in this room (um, necrophilia), and the days downstairs in his “normal life”. Kenrick says, “He is still held by her word. Only she can release him. And she is dead.”

Rowena has a plan: she attempts to hypnotize Fell the way he hypnotized her - hypnotize him to see her as Ligeia. “Look at me. I am Ligeia. Look at me now. And listen. And remember. Remember everything. Remember all I’ve ever asked of you - and when you do remember you will be free.” Then Rowena slides down to the floor, leaving a huge bloody swath across Fell’s white shirt. “It is too late.” She is dead.

Fell grabs Ligeia’s corpse from the black bed and tosses it into the fireplace (it’s a big one) and the corpse burns in the funeral pyre. Then he takes Rowena’s corpse and puts it on the bed where Dead Ligeia had lain, closes the black curtains and walks away. When he hears a noise - that damned black cat trying to suck the last breath from Rowena. He tosses the cat away. But, did Rowena move? He bends down to her body, looking for signs of life... finds none. Kisses her one last time and leaves her body on the bed, once more closing those black curtains. He walks across the room to the door...



When he hears the curtains open.

He turns, and there is Rowena walking from the bed chamber! Her hair black like Ligeia’s! Fell grabs Ligeia by the throat and strangles her until there is no life left... dropping her to the floor. Christopher runs back into the room, sees Fell standing over the woman’s corpse. Fell says that Ligeia killed Rowena, so he killed Ligeia. Only, it’s Rowena’s corpse at his feet!

Christopher takes Rowena’s body out of the room, down the stairs.

Fell grabs a whip and attacks the black cat - which fights back. Is the cat Ligeia? The cat launches at Fell’s face, tearing out his eyes! Fell staggers around, accidentally sending the curtain into the fireplace and turning the entire estate into a blazing inferno! As the building burns and collapses, Fell finds the black cat and strangles it... both die in the fire.

In Christopher’s carriage. Rowena’s eyes open. She is alive! That loser dude gets the girl after all!

Tomorrow we leave the land of Edgar Allan Poe but stick with Vincent Price for a film that may be a predecessor of SEVEN!

- Bill

Buy the pit



Tuesday, October 27, 2015

13 Films Of Halloween:
THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH

MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (1964)

Starring: Vincent Price, Hazel Court, Jane Asher, Patrick Magee.
Written by: Charles Beaumont and R. Wright Campbell, based on Poe's MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH and HOP FROG.
Directed by: Roger Corman
Produced by: Roger Corman
Cinematography: Nicolas Roeg




The Poe series returns to horror after that brief comedy attempt, and even returns to a story that was originally adapted to be the second film in the series. After the success of USHER, the next in the series was originally going to be RED DEATH, but the story of a hooded Death seeking out victims during the plague was deemed too much like Bergman’s THE SEVENTH SEAL about a hooded Death seeking out victims during the plague. So the project was shelved at that time, and Corman went on to make PIT AND THE PENDULUM. But a few years later, everyone had forgotten that silly Swedish film and they decided to make RED DEATH, with R. Wright Campbell rewriting Beaumont’s original screenplay. Campbell had just written SECRET INVASION which Corman made for Allied Artists in Dubrovnik for $600k. Corman was often hired by studios to make big films on a small budget. Campbell went on to become a best selling novelist, and I have a bunch of his mysteries on my shelf.

Unlike the earlier films in the series, this was shot in England (due to a production incentive) on left over sets from BECKET, which would be nominated for 12 Oscars... including sets. So they ended up with Oscar winning sets... from another movie! The film also used one of the British stars of BECKET, David Weston, as the romantic lead Gino. The cast is filled with great British actors, many before they became famous. It’s weird to see M from the James Bond movies, Robert Brown, playing a *guard* in a couple of scenes!



One of the great things about making films on a budget is that you end up hiring young talent before they become famous, and the director of photography on this film is Nicolas Roeg. This film was fairly early in his career, though he had already done 2nd unit work on LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and the next year would do some 2nd unit work on DOCTOR ZHIVAGO. Roeg would eventually become a famous cinematographer, and then a famous director - he directed another great Halloween treat DON’T LOOK NOW. He’s one of my favorite directors because his films are “unstuck in time” and often smoothly bounce between time periods using match cuts.

Though this is a beautiful movie, it is more intellectual and less visceral. Where the first two Corman Poe movies were filled with dread and spooky scenes and disturbing situations and all kinds of great scares, this film is a “thinkie”. It’s all about people’s religious beliefs and the ability for humans to be cruel. Not as much about the cruelty itself. So where PIT may have had audiences screaming in terror, this film was more likely to have them discussing the meaning of life. It really is similar to THE SEVENTH SEAL!



A desolate landscape. An old woman gathering firewood is beckoned by a Man dressed in a long red cloak - The Red Death. He holds out a white rose to her, but in his hands the rose turns blood red. “Take this to your village and tell the people: The day of their deliverance is at hand.”

In the village, Prince Prospero’s carriage roars in at high speed... almost running over a toddler playing in the road. Prospero (Vincent Price) thanks the village for their taxes of grain and meat and invites them to his annual ball... where they will be confined to the courtyard and thrown table scraps (as one villager says). Another villager (Nigel Green from IPCRESS FILES) says that an old woman met a holy man who said their day of deliverance is at hand... deliverance from Prospero’s tyranny. Prospero orders the two men killed, but a young woman, Francesca (Jane Asher) begs him to spare them. Prospero gives her a Sophie’s choice - pick one to die. One is her fiancĂ© Gino (David Weston), the other her father. Interrupted by the old woman’s screams - she is dying of the plague... the Red Death. Her face covered with hideous bloody sores.



Prospero asks if either of the men or Francesca touched the old woman? No. So he takes the three with him and orders the village burned to the ground.

At the castle: Francesca is stripped and thrown in a bathtub. Prince Prospero orders his wife Juliana (Hazel Court and her freckled cleavage) to dress her in a fine gown and instruct her on being a lady so that she may attend the party as a guest. She shouldn’t worry - her lover and father ad safe.

In the castle’s ballroom, Alfredo (Patrick Magee from CLOCKWORK ORANGE) and Prospero discuss terror. Then Prospero introduces, for your pleasure, the dancers (both little people) Esmeralda (Verina Greenlaw) and HopToad (Skip Martin)- she does a graceful dance, but accidentally knocks over Alfredo’s wine goblet so he slaps her to the floor. HopToad goes to comfort her. Prince Prospero announces to his guests a masquerade ball at midnight Sunday... but do not wear red. He tells them that the Red Death has reached the village - the plague is just outside the castle walls - but here they are safe.



That’s when Francesca enters - she cleans up well. Prince Prospero takes her on his arm as he ridicules and insults his guests... and the other guests laugh.

Prospero takes Francesca into an apartment where she will stay and they discuss cruelty, and the cruelty of God for bringing famine and pestilence and death. Francesca believes God balances out those things with love and hope... but Prospero thinks there is little hope in this world. When Francesca moves to open a door in the apartment, Prospero blocks her - she is forbidden to go into that room. Tomorrow she can see her lover and her father.

That night, a shadow falls over Francesca as she sleeps... a noise awakens her. She lights a candle and searches the bedroom... a dark figure in the corner! Just her robe on a coatrack. She puts on the robe and follows the noise - echoes of Prospero doing some sort of incantation - through the dark, empty castle. To a pair of golden doors. She opens the doors, moving deeper and deeper into a dark room, to a final set of black doors. Beyond them - Juliana on a strange throne in a trance, Prospero seemingly dead on a slab. She goes to touch Prospero - and his eye blast open. She screams and runs out of the room, through all of the doorways, through the dark castle... where she bumps into a dark figure! Alfredo. “Did I startle you, my dear?” She runs away.



Next morning, Prospero shows Francesca how his falcon hurts and kills other birds... and explains how to turn a falcon into a slave (which is all subtext, baby!). And lets slip that where she worships God and is a Christian, he worships Satan the Lord Of Flies.

A carriage arrives - a late party guest Scarlotti and his wife. Prospero denies them entrance to the castle because the Red Death is upon the countryside. Scarlotti begs to be allowed in, tells Prospero he can screw his wife if they’d just let them in. Prospero says he’s already had that doubtful pleasure... then shoots him with an arrow and tells the wife she should kill herself before she succumbs to the Red Death and throws a sword down to her...

Great Nic Roeg match cut as the sword falls into Gino’s hand in the caste’s prison where a Knight (Robert Brown from the James Bond movies) explains that he will have to fight Francesca’s father to the death - only one will survive. So he’d better get to training. And Gino and the Knight sword fight. The Knight thinks this will be easy, but Gino has some skills. Prospero takes Francesco down to watch this sword fight. She sees that the two men in her life are alive... but for how long?



As they leave the prison, Francesca takes a wrong turn in the dark tunnels and Prospero corrects her, “This way my dear, it would be better.” She hears screaming from that wrong turn destination... the torture chamber. Prospero says his distant relative used that torture chamber during the Spanish Inquisition in the name of God (making Prospero some relative of Medina from PIT AND THE PENDULUM?). We get more discussion of religion... “I don’t want to hurt you my dear. I want to save your soul so that you can join me in the glories of Hell. I will take you by the hand, and lead you through the cruel light into the velvet darkness.”

Meanwhile, jealous Juliana decides the way to keep Prospero’s hands off Francesca is to go all the way with Satan, and gives her vows at a Satanic altar to give her soul to Satan... and seals the deal by branding her boobs with his symbol. Ouch!



In another part of the castle Alfredo and HopToad have a conversation about full sized women and HopToad’s interest in finding other employment... he fears for Prospero’s rein. HopToad is a clever and cunning man... a manipulator. He convinces Alfredo not to dress in his demon costume for the masquerade ball, but as a gorilla - there is an actual stuffed gorilla in a trophy room in the castle that no one has been in for decades. While all of the other guests are dressed in simple costumes designed to show off their bodies, Alfredo will be able to frighten them with his performance as a beast.

Francesca is awakened in the night by another noise... someone is trying to break into her room! She hides behind the curtains as the door bursts open! Juliana enters, and Francesca comes out from the curtains. Then notices Juliana’s boob brand - WTF? She says she has only one more rite and then she will be wed to Satan - and Prospero and eternal life will be hers. Then she gives Francesca a key - so that she can escape the castle. Take Gino and her father and leave now!



Francesca creeps through the dark tunnels under the castle to the prison area... sneaking past the guards to their cells. Through the spider webs, she looks through each cell door - a nice jump moment as a prisoner’s face pops into the cell window. She finds Gino and her father and rescues them... now they must sneak out of the prison. They are caught be the prison guards and there is a fight, Gino shows his sword skills - killing the three guards - and they escape. They get to the side door of the castle where Juliana has bribed the guards, and Francesca taps on the shoulder of the Guard, who spins to face her - it’s Prospero dressed as a guard!

Captured.

Francesca says that Juliana set them up, betrayed her! Prospero says Juliana betrayed *him*... and she will pay, as will Gino and her Father. She begs him, but Prospero says that Gino and her father killed three guards, that’s a sin in *her* religion, is it not? So they must pay for their sins... and fight each other to the death as an exhibition before the masquerade ball.



The big feast before the ball: Prince Prospero gives an anti-toast as he throws daggers into the massive dinner table, saying that not only will Scarlotti and his wife not be attending the celebration because they’re dead; there are people in attendance who have plotted against him... and will be punished as the party goes on. Guests begin looking at each other wondering if it’s them. Tonight’s festivities begin with two men fighting to the death. Francesca gasps as Gino and her father are brought into the room by guards. Prospero explains that these two men have refused to fight each other, since their religion tells them to love thy neighbor; but he has devised a way to allow them to save the other’s life. “There are five daggers here, one of them is impregnated with a poison that kills in five seconds. Each man in turn will cut his forearm. Shall we begin? Will you not lay down your life for your brother?”



Her father selects a knife and slices his arm... tick tick tick... five seconds later he is still alive. “Next.” Gino selects a knife and slices his arm... tick, tick, tick... everyone watches and suspense builds. Gino does not die. “Next.” Her father selects a knife and slices his arm... tick, tick, tick... guests eat and watch the show, but five seconds later her father still stands. “Next.” Gino selects one of the last two knives, sealing either his fate or Francesca’s father’s. He slices his arm... tick, tick, tick... big suspense build... but he is still standing after five seconds. All eyes are now on Francesca’s father and that last dagger. He smiles, pulls it from the table and says, “Five seconds” before stabbing the dagger at Prospero! But Prospero is faster with his sword and runs it through Francesca’s father before the poisoned blade can touch him. She screams as he father falls to the floor, dead. Prospero says the game was not played properly, so Gino will die as well. But not by Prospero’s hand, by *God’s hand* - Gino will be sent back to his plaque ravaged village. Francesca begs him to spare Gino, if Prospero does... she will do anything he wants. Anything. Prospero is pretty sure that will happen whether he saves Gino or not.

He dismisses all of the guests - return at midnight in costumes and let no one see you between now and then.

Then Juliana removes a red flower from the front of her gown to expose her branded boob and tells Prospero that she is ready.



The guards dump Gino in the woods, where he can hear the echoes of a woman’s scream coming from the castle. Francesca or Julliana? He runs through the dark and foggy woods where he bumps into... The Red Death. No chess playing, but a nice discussion with death about life, and how Gino can possibly rescue the woman he loves. The Red Death gives him a Tarot card... tells him this is the answer. But what is it? Gino hears a noise in the woods and runs towards it...

In the castle, HopToad dresses Alfredo in the gorilla’s skin. “Sure it’s hot, but after the unmasking you can take it off... the game will be over.” What is HopToad up to?

In the woods, Gino finds some surviving villagers going to the castle to beg forgiveness for whatever they have done to bring on the red death. Gino tries to stop them, fails.

In the castle, Juliana and her branded boob is in the Satanic Temple portion of the castle taking unholy communion... after she drinks the potion, she has a psychedelic dream (in tinted and warped images): Dancing Aztecs looking for a sacrifice, all kinds of other evil dudes looking for sacrifices... ending with her screaming. Waking up to Prospero’s laugh. “I am betrothed of the death, and I have seen the terror.”



She follows his echoing voice into the clock room of the castle, where a razor sharp pendulum also reminds us of PIT AND THE PENDULUM. The voice says the clock is like the beating of the heart, the footsteps of the assassin... destiny! And then the falcon attacks Juliana and tears away at her face as she screams! Since this isn’t a Hitchcock film it does not peck out her eyes (missed opportunity). She falls to the floor, dead... just as the guests show up for the masquerade ball! Much screaming ensues.

The masque begins!

The village survivors arrive at the castle gates and beg the Night Watch guards for mercy... they decide to inform Prince Prospero of this, it might amuse him. Gino tries to encourage the villagers to die like men. Gino walks away from them. Prospero listens to their pleas for sanctuary, and refuses - telling them to return to their village. “But we will die if we return.” So Prospero saves them a trip and has the archers shoot them all... except for the child.

Prospero joins the party in progress, telling the guests that only 6 people from the village survived the Red Death, but because his guests are within the castle walls there is no possibility of them contracting the plague. Francesca asks what happened to the six survivors, and Prospero said he had them killed... better than starving to death or dying of the plague, right? Now that Juliana is dead, Prospero plans on hooking up with Francesca.

Gino scales the castle walls to rescue the woman he loves... and when he drops within there is someone in the shadows watching him... Mr. Red Death himself. He orders Gino to go no further, and at the stroke of 1am, he will send Francesca to him. Gino doesn’t want to wait, but he has no choice.

In their chambers, HopToad tells Esmerelda that they will escape the castle tonight - Prospero is a larger threat than the plague. Then he leaves to accompany Alfredo to the party... as the gorilla’s trainer.



Alfredo is grabbing random women as the gorilla, he throws one to the floor and prepares too mount her. HopToad lowers the chandelier until it just over Alfredo, ties him to the chandelier and hoists him above the ballroom. Everyone laughs, HopToad splashes brandy all over Alfredo - as Alfredo splashed his wine on him once. Of course the brandy and the candles of the chandelier are a bad combination, and soon Alfredo is burning alive as the other guests watch. Prospero has the guards clear away the burned Alfredo’s corpse, and find HopToad... to give him 5 pieces of gold for providing the excellent entertainment.



Then Prospero notices a guest dressed in red, and he forbid them from wearing red! He goes to investigate - crossing the busy dance floor with Francesca. Chases him into the Satanic Temple. Prospero tries to guess the identity of the guest...
“Is my costume such a disguise that you don’t recognize me?”
Then he recognizes him, “So you have come. The Prince Of Darkness.”
“I am death.”
“Who do you come for? All?”
“Not all.”
Prospero smiles, “I knew I was right, I have won!”
“It is the time of unmasking,” Red Death returns to the ballroom, Prospero and Francesca follow. “It is time for a new dance to begin.”



In the ballroom, as Red Death walks past dancers they grow ugly red sores... until all of the guests have the sores of the plague. Prospero smiles, “Our master will be pleased. I brought all of these souls to him. I taught them his worship. I corrupted them for him. I knew he was supreme when no one else did. I built a chapel to Satan and I prayed to him and I made a pact with him and these, all of my friends, I promised them safety.” Prospero thinks his promise is the kind of joke Satan will appreciate. Red Death orders Francesca to go to the fortress wall, go now. Prospero says, “Yes, go... and I will join you when this is over,” and kisses her. Francesca leaves.



When she’s gone, Red Death says that Satan is not his master... Death has no master. Prospero tries to argue that Satan is the supreme God, but Death tells him that each man creates his own God, his own heaven, his own hell. Prospero demands to see Red Death’s face and yanks off the mask... exposing his own face covered with bloody sores. “No! No!” he runs away... across the dance floor of the damned. The dying guests reach out to grab Prospero, getting their blood all over him! When Prospero reaches the other side of the dance floor, Red Death is there waiting for him. You can’t escape death. And soon, all of the guests lay dead on the floor at Prospero’s feet.

Prospero runs back into the Satanic Temple... where Red Death waits for him. And Prospero’s face erupts in bloody sores and he falls to the floor dead.

The only survivors of the Red Death: HopToad and Esmerelda, Gino and Francesca, and the child from the village who was not shot by the castle archers.

Tomorrow, another British entry into the Corman/Price/Poe universe... this one heavily influenced by Alfred Hitchcock!

- Bill



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