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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Horror  ›  The Haunted Church Moderators: bert
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  Author    The Haunted Church  (currently 2224 views)
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Posted: April 3rd, 2008, 11:25pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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The Haunted Church by Malcolm Bowman (scoob) - Horror, Drama, Mystery - Former alcoholic sports writer Tom Reese returns to his small hometown of Whitewood after a twenty year absence following his father's death, a reverend at the local church. Tom's paranoia seems to be getting the better of him following the arrival of his fathers replacement. Is Tom falling into the midst of paranoia and hallucinations, or is there really more to the new Reverend then meets the eye. 136 pages - pdf, format


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mgj
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Hi Malcolm.  It appears my review of your script  was one of the casualties of the big meltdown.  Interestingly I think I remember most of what I wrote so I'll give you the condensed version below:

You have a nice opening hook to start things off.  The birds and other animals fleeing suggests an otherworldly or supernatural phenomenon at work.  It's a nice touch.

The drive up to Whitewood seems a little long.  In particular the stopover at the motel.  I know you mentioned in your original post that you were looking to trim things down a bit - this might be a spot to do it.  I don't think there's any reason that his dream sequence, like the others, can't all occur at his father's house once he arrives in town.

The build up is slow and deliberately paced but it's holding my interest since I can see that it's building towards something.  So far so good.

Up to page 50 now and this, I think, is where things start to drag a bit.  We have another dream sequence, another missed meeting between Tom and Father Delaney, another meeting where Tom reiterates his desire for a denouncement of the will.  You see where I'm going here - it just seems you're retredding on things you've already established.

Okay, now the killing starts.  Zombies, vampires and ghouls are on the loose.  Plenty of fire and brimstone.  You've really pulled out all the stops.  In fact, this reads like an entirely different script.  One suggestion might be to have Tom and Anna working - and surviving - together through this all.  It might add to the drama and build on their relationship too.  She could still get kidnapped at some point.  Just a suggestion.

The ending really caught me off guard.  This is a bit of a backhanded compliment though.  What it does is set up a sequel rather nicely however it also defeats the resolution that you had established only moments previous.  I might question why 'he' or 'she' had to die - I think you know who I mean.

All in all I enjoyed this.  It was a fun read and the fact that I still remember my review is a good indication that your script made an impresssion.  It does need a bit of trimming though.  I'd suggest focusing these cuts on the middle section where I explained above I thought it lagged a bit.

-Mike.


"If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it." - Albert Einstein
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Scoob
Posted: April 6th, 2008, 4:01pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks Don for reposting this, much appreciated.

Thanks Mike for checking this one out, Im grateful you managed to get through the whole 136 pages.


Quoted Text
The drive up to Whitewood seems a little long.  In particular the stopover at the motel.  I don't think there's any reason that his dream sequence, like the others, can't all occur at his father's house once he arrives in town.


Thanks for pointing this out. I am definitly looking to trim this by quite a bit and I think your right that these scenes dont really bring anything major. I'll look to cutting the trip down and the overnight stay in the hotel.


Quoted Text
The build up is slow and deliberately paced but it's holding my interest since I can see that it's building towards something.  So far so good.


I'm glad you didnt get bored at this early stage so thanks for that.


Quoted Text
Up to page 50 now and this, I think, is where things start to drag a bit.  We have another dream sequence, another missed meeting between Tom and Father Delaney, another meeting where Tom reiterates his desire for a denouncement of the will.  You see where I'm going here - it just seems you're retredding on things you've already established.


Yeah, I think I should have just started to move things more progressively here. It was probably getting a little annoying so I will look at altering or severly condensing these scenes. Thanks again for pointing this out, this is about the time I think I had my nose too close to the paper to see what I was doing.


Quoted Text
One suggestion might be to have Tom and Anna working - and surviving - together through this all.  It might add to the drama and build on their relationship too.  She could still get kidnapped at some point.  Just a suggestion.


Its definitly worth thinking about and I might well change a few things around to see how it goes when I rewrite it.  It was one of the things that was bothering me, I dont know how the relationship comes across and if it works at all. I was wondering what you made of it, as I tried to dump a lot of backstory whenever they spoke to each other.



Quoted Text
The ending really caught me off guard.  This is a bit of a backhanded compliment though.  What it does is set up a sequel rather nicely however it also defeats the resolution that you had established only moments previous.  I might question why 'he' or 'she' had to die - I think you know who I mean.


Yeah I can see exactly what you mean. I went a little crazy with the ending. There was three ideas I had and was only going to use one, which was a reasonably happy ending. But I ended up changing it at the last minite and adding the other two as I didnt want it to end too happy or too flat. I will take another look at it.


Quoted Text
All in all I enjoyed this.  It was a fun read and the fact that I still remember my review is a good indication that your script made an impresssion.  It does need a bit of trimming though.  I'd suggest focusing these cuts on the middle section where I explained above I thought it lagged a bit.


Thanks a lot for reading it, your review will come in very handy when I rewrite this. I'm relieved that you enjoyed it, and made it all the way through - makes me feel like I havnt been trying to polish a complete turd all this time!

I will give one of your scripts a look, any you have a preference?

Malc





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mgj
Posted: April 6th, 2008, 11:31pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Scoob


Yeah, I think I should have just started to move things more progressively here. It was probably getting a little annoying so I will look at altering or severly condensing these scenes. Thanks again for pointing this out, this is about the time I think I had my nose too close to the paper to see what I was doing.



Maybe just combining a couple of these scenes might do the trick.  Just to be clear I wasn't suggesting taking a sledge hammer to it.



Quoted from Scoob


Its definitly worth thinking about and I might well change a few things around to see how it goes when I rewrite it.  It was one of the things that was bothering me, I dont know how the relationship comes across and if it works at all. I was wondering what you made of it, as I tried to dump a lot of backstory whenever they spoke to each other.



I thought the relationship was fine.  I wouldn't be afraid to explore it a little deeper even.  It adds layers to your story.  My point was that it just seemed logical to me that they'd end up teaming together at some point.  

There is a fair bit of backstory but it didn't come across as contrived to me.  The fact that it's been - what was it - 20 years?  I think it's logical that they'd be reflecting on their relationship.


Quoted from Scoob

Yeah I can see exactly what you mean. I went a little crazy with the ending. There was three ideas I had and was only going to use one, which was a reasonably happy ending. But I ended up changing it at the last minite and adding the other two as I didnt want it to end too happy or too flat. I will take another look at it.


I would probably change it but this is just a personal preference thing for me.  It's good that you have options now.  I usually struggle to come up with one ending.



Quoted from Scoob

Thanks a lot for reading it, your review will come in very handy when I rewrite this. I'm relieved that you enjoyed it, and made it all the way through - makes me feel like I havnt been trying to polish a complete turd all this time!

I will give one of your scripts a look, any you have a preference?

Malc



It was a fun read as I said.  The characters were all pretty well drawn up too and the town (Whitewood) felt like a real place the way you described it.


Thanks for the offer to read one of my scripts.  Don't feel obligated but if you'd like the check out my thriller 'The False Road' that would be great.  It might be helpful to have a Brit scrutinize it since I have it set in the Lake District and I've never been to England.  Only problem is I'm justing finishing up my rewrite on it.  I should have it submitted in the next day or two if you don't mind waiting - not sure when it will get reposted.  If that doesn't work for you, that's fine too.  I read this purely for my own interest.

-Mike



"If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it." - Albert Einstein
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Scoob
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Hey thanks Mike,
Gives me a few things to cut down the next time I go over it. Im pleased most of it seemed to work.

Just one more thing - how did you find the dialouge overall?

I will check out the False Road and hopefully have a review over the weekend.


Malc



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mgj
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The dialogue seemed fine from what I recall - nothing that stood out or made me cringe.  I could sense that each character had a unique voice.  One of the reasons I suggested having Tom and Anna team up is because there is a lack of dialogue during that sequence between when the ghouls are unleased and Tom is finally captured.  

One other thing - I might change the journal entries that Tom reads into a V.O. with his father's voice talking.  That's how I imagine Tom would hear it in his mind.  It's also one of those things that might play better on screen.  As an aside, I'd definitely have Tom open that package alot sooner.  This is an important aspect that fuels your story and it doesn't occur to around page 50 or so.

Take your time with my script BTW.  I just submitted the new version so hopefully it should be up soon.


"If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it." - Albert Einstein

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mgj  -  April 11th, 2008, 4:14pm
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Scoob
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Cheers Mike,

It was probably a little deliberate about the lack of dialouge leading to the finale as I was trying to make it so the next voice would be more significant - I think it is then Delaney who preaches on but I see your point. As a read through, it is probably not so much fun. I was tempted to have Tom talk to himself but I felt it would be cheesey and I was trying to cut down the size of the script as I was writing it.  
A good point though, and I will definitly look to sort this amongst the other things you have raised when I rewrite this. Wont be for a while though, I think I need to let it settle a bit.

I agree with you about the journal reading aswell - maybe it's also a little long and tedious? As well as the page length letter from Delaney Im thinking of cutting or trimming bits of these but since they are pretty important Im not sure as yet how to go about it.  But yeah, you are right. In order to speed things up this should be placed in earlier.

Thanks again Mike, really appreciate you reading this and helping me out with some feedback. Btw, I gave The False Road a read and posted a review.

Cheers,

Malc



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Ok I just finished reading this and thought I would give my views (reviewing is not a strong point of mine... you have been warned)

Oh and I haven't read any of the other comments so I would not be influence by what others have said.

First the story.  While I love horror and the idea of an idyllic little town being overrun by evil really appeals to me I got a strong feeling that I had seen this somewhere before. Not exactly the same but definately hints of an other film or two.  As I read deeper into it I knew what it was... Salem's Lot. Vampires (and other monsters) taking over a once peaceful town just smacked of King's famous horror story.  Of course with the black hearse and the dwarfish ghouls there was also an element of Phantasm in there as well.  Of course this is not a bad thing as I feel you pulled the best elements from these two movies and used them well in your script.

Your opening with the death of Reverend Reese was a good hook that really set the tone for the story but I felt some of this was lost in the long drive Tom had to Whitewood. Perhaps if you cut straight from Tom getting the call to Tom arriving at the town it would flow better and the reader would not lose the tingle down the spine that the opening gave them.

Of course this leads me onto Tom.  While I understand that Tom had his reasons for acting the way he did I feel that a lot of the time he came across as a jerk.  I prefer heroes that you can root for, the kind you want to succeed but Tom just didn't do that for me.  Also out of all the character's dialogue Tom seemed the most cold, the most wooden. A lot of what he said just didn't seem like the way people would talk, too matter of fact, not enough slang or something.

Delaney was a bit better as his character and dialogue were a lot more engaging, for me he really popped off the page when I read his parts.  I especially liked the way you created a sense of foreboding whenever he was mentioned or around. While it seemed like a simple case of Tom and Delaney repeatedly missing each other by minutes you really get a sense that something is not quite right about this new priest.  Still the ending in regards to Delaney were a bit hard to follow. Was he a Vampire or a human who served them?

Then there is Moonlight.  Not sure if I like that name for the master of all vampires, it just doesn't sound scary or imposing. But he had a good presence. By that I mean that when he was in a scene he really stole it.  I say "he" but considering the ending with Harriet I have to wonder if that is entirely accurate.

Anyway while I felt you did well in setting up a feeling of horror an tension in the first three quarters of your script I feel you quickly lost this when it turned from a creepy horror of people being killed in their homes and carted away by the black hears so that it is  presumed by the rest of the townsfolk that they have left in the middle of the night... into a a game of how many monsters can you spot on screen with the massacre of the town.

This brings me onto the creatures. I think you slightly overdid them by including Vampires, Ghouls, Zombies and Ghosts in your story.  Personally I feel Vampires or Vampires and Ghouls would have worked best and not over saturated the script with creatures and monsters.  Also the shock ending involving Tom was a bit obvious, it is the kind of ending I think should have ended with the original Friday the 13th and Carrie. That is not to say it wasn't suitably shocking... just shocking in an expected kind of way.

What I find most humorous about your script was the fact that even tho I know by looking at your profile that like me you are a resident of the UK and even with you making it clear that Tom had moved to London to work... I just kept getting a feeling that Whitewood was in America, it just felt like one of those quaint little everybody knows everybody towns you see in films such as Gremlins, The Village and various other films that are too numerous too mention (including the aforementioned Salem's Lot)

Well despite any bad things I had to say about this story I fully admit that I enjoyed it.  While page count wise it may be considered long it didn't feel like it.  The descriptions were fast paced and well written and apart from the road trip at the start it never seemed to be dragging at any point.


Hope my views have helped and sorry if I'm just saying what has already been said.

Don't worry about reading anything of mine as I have nothing new currently up.


check out episodes 1 - 3 of Mister D.
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Hey Scoob, i thought id take a look at this script and review it for you but with it being 136 pages, ill do it in parts.

Spoilers below*

The opening was quite good, although i was confused by what was going on but i should find out further on in the script.

Quite disappointed that after all the intensity of him in the woods, he dies of a heart attack. However, given his age and not to arrouse suspicion, i umderstand why he died of a heart attack.

I like the scene where Tom finds out his father is dead. You can totally see his reaction to the news and that is because of the small descriptions you added for his facial expressions so well done.

Page 4: Derek - Jesus F*****g christ Tom, I've just had my balls ripped out through my ears by Alex f*****g Ferguson -

That line literary made me laugh out loud, mainly because im not the biggest Alex Ferguson fan.

OK, 11 pages in and he's just getting to Whitewood. I think it would have been better if he had got there a little quicker, it took to long in my eyes. Just a thought, is Whitefood a real place or did you make it up for the script, im not to sure about that?

You should name your characters straight away when they are introduced. The solicitor, Adam, is one example as he is known as Male voice first but names himself in the dialogue and the character of Orville is just known as elderly man first until his name is mentioned. I understand they may not be important characters to the script but they should be named straight away instead of half way through a scene,

I like the chemistry between Tom and Anne. I've only read the first scene between them but I already believe the chemistry between them.

I dont really like the character of Adam Kendell but like the hidden fued between him and Tom.

Tom - Wanker         Adam - Tosser

Those two moments, one on the phone and the other in the office, is quite funny and a good link between those scenes.

OK, on page 22 but dont have time to read on but i will definitely get most of it read tomorrow. All in all, i like what ive read in the first 22 pages.


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Shepard
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OK, ive just started reading the script again...

Spoilers below*

The scene between Anna and Tom was a good scene, i can still feel the chemistry but i feel like the scene was ruined by the interruption of the drunk Karen, i felt like it was a little forced. Don't know yet if it is important to the script but if it isn't, i think that bit should be dropped because Tom and Anna have good chemistry without interruptions of drunk women from Tom's past, lol.

I like the dreams he's having but confused as to why clutching a bottle of unopened Jack Daniels would calm him down, lol. Maybe if he took a drink to calm his nerves, it would be a little better.

Just a quick question...Who's Keith Harris? The name rings a bell but i cant remember where ive heard the name.

Page 34: I understand now why you introduced Karen earlier but i still feel that you could scrap that bit and the scene on page 34 where they meet at the solicitors could be their first meeting, thats just my opinion.

Page 38: Tom reading that letter was too long in my eyes, could have been cut shorter. Maybe im just lazy and cant be bothered reading lots of dialogue at once, lol.

Page 41: Anna - Hiya, any problem finding the place? He wouldn't have a problem, he took Anna home the last time they went out for dinner, lol. Easy mistake to make though.

Page 46/47: Jst a simple mistake, you've said the scene's are in the Martin's house but i think its supposed to be the Reece's house, seeing as how Tom is the only one in the scene and when he leaves the house, it then says Reece's house, easy mistake to make though and easily fixed.

You've done a good job at bringing the characters into the script and linking them together but i feel like we should have met Reverand Delaney a little earlier, although i guess just mentioning his name and not seeing him adds to the suspence but i would have like to have met him a few pages earlier.

Page 50: "Tom spots the Martins outside his house and calls over to them" You should actually have him call out to them instead of saying that he did call out to them. describing that he called out to them is like reading a book rather than reading a script, imo.

I enjoyed the scene with Tom reading the diary. You mentioned his past and i was wondering how we'd find out what his past was and you did a good job in putting it into words in a diary so good job on that.

whoa, didnt expect Karen and David Connelly to get killed and in such a violent manner, great death scene. Only problem i have is that, apart from the opening, ive had to wait to page 60 to see someone else die, although you are building up the story so its understandable.

OK, im gonna finish on page 61 cos i cant go any further but i should get this script finished tonight or tomorrow at the latest.


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OK, ive continued reading the script and will hopefully get it finished.

Spoilers below*

You seem to describe the sky to much. Most of the script is littered with descriptions of the sky and i dont know if their really important to the script. If not, their not really needed.

Like how Tom lied to Anna about him having food ready...a typical male response, lol.

ok, from reading further into the script, i realize now why he clutched the bottle of Jack Daniels after a dream but didnt drink it, cos he was an alcoholic. I understand that now and good job at building it up.

OMG, i never saw Orville and Jane get killed next and the way they died, this is getting more confusing as it goes along, which makes it an interesting read.

OMFG, now Adam is dead and with such gore, your vivid descriptions unfortunately made me visualize it and wince in pain which is good writing on your behalf.

The more this script goes on, the more I feel like Reverand Delanay has nothing to do with whats going on. I dont know why I think that but it feels to obvious to be him. I could, however, be totally wrong about it.

Page 87: You've definitely done your homework on Earthquake's and the Earth's core. The scene with Tom and Ben, I could barely understand what they were talking about because it was so complicated but it fits with the story and it's very informative so well done for doing the homework on what your writing.

Page 93: Tom going to the police station was quite intense and suspenseful, with it being dark and empty with just that one creepy police officer behind his desk, very creepy.

Page 97: Officer Collins just drooled on Ben's face, that made me cringe more than the gory death scenes, lmao.

OK, this script is picking up. Great death scene for Emily, and omg, what a death scene for Ben, getting punched right through the stomach, excellent.

I dont feel like Moonlight should be storming upstairs. To add to the suspence, i feel like he should walk slowly upstairs, just taking his time, imo

Page 103: Tom - Christ, even virgin media are quicker than this...are they really cos i had virgin media and they were never quick, lol.

Great description of the bungalow, although, it almost made me vomit thinking about it, lmao

wow, for a normal guy, Tom certainly knew how to kill that ghoul and had the strength to rip its head in two. I'm guessing though, that they dont have very strong bone structure and it would be quite easy to rip their faces apart.

Didnt expect Peter to make a surprise return, although small. Just added to the fear Tom was experiencing so good job with that.

lmao, it feels as if it has turned into night of the living dead here, with all the zombies. I like how Tom kills some of the Zombies with cocktails, seeing as how he is an alcoholic and the spirits came in handy.

There's a lot of good intensity here as he enters the church, especially with no dialogue and just suspenseful action.

The end fight was good, especially with The lava and the entire town in chaos was excellent. I didn't like the surprise of Anna becoming a Vampire, I was really rooting for her to survive and that's because of how well you wrote her, i really enjoyed her character and was disappointed that she didn't survive. Im now confused by the end, is Tom dead?

OMG, totally forgot about Harriet. I never saw that coming so well done with that, lol

OK, finally finished the script and, all in all, it was an enjoyable read, it kept me interested. Although the first 50-60 pages didn't have much in the form of actual Horror, it was made up by the good character development you were doing, like that of Tom and Anna that I enjoyed most of all in the script. Once the horror began, it was very intense and gory which was excellent and the ending was good except for Anna's death...if your ever thinking of doing a rewrite, think of keeping her alive, please, lmao.

A really good script you've written that kept me interested and surprised throughout, well done and good work!


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Scoob
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Thanks everyone thats commented on this - I will reply in kind for sure.

Give me a couple  of days!

I will reply to evey single note mentioned, so thank you.


Thanks

Malc



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The best compliment I can pay this script is how you described the town of Whitewood.  I enjoyed reading all the little details about the church, the grassy fields, the cemetary and the dark and foreboading back roads.  It gave you a sense that Tom was slowly slipping into something potentially evil.  

The pacing was slow and leisurely, which I prefer when watching thrillers and horror films.  I like leading up to the scares, rather than cheap and obvious scares.  This is why the page length is so long.  I get that.  You had a tense, building up to events in your story, which I liked a lot.  It's important to see Whitewood and get a sense of place before we introduce all the characters and their place in this town.  You did this well.  

Tom's trip into Whitewood seemed to take forever, going deeper an deeper into what turns out to be...the pits of Hell!  This gives a sense of foreboading and prepares us for the evil that follows.              

I fealt like I was watching Phantasm all over again with some of your character descriptions.  The tall figure and the dwarfs definitely reminded me of Phantasm, and also the dark hearse and hints of a possible graverobber were straight out of that movie.  When you mentioned the Cemetary, I instantly thought of Morningside in Phantasm.  I don't know why.  But be careful.  Horror fans have seen every horror movie and will call you out as a copycat if they don't like your story.    

The tall, cloaked figure (Moonlight) is used over and over again in so many horror films that it just doesn't work anymore.  Even though these scenes involving the cloaked figure were written very well, I just fealt distracted by its presence.  I thought it was the first sign of a good plot cheapened by a typical horror monster.  This seemed like The Frighteners.  

Some of the supporting characters seemed a bit forced and not executed very well.  Such as Karen and David Connelly.  The scene where she runs into Tom and Anna at dinner and declares her high school crush on him doesn't get concluded later in the story and just seemed weird and out of place.  I didn't understand their importance, except maybe to turn into monsters later?    

Also, Anna's character was supposed to be an ex flame of Tom's, but what ever happened to their relationship?  Why did he leave her?  This relationship seemed underdeveloped and not very important to what's happening at the church.  They seemed to get back together rather quickly and I didn't understand why.  

Tom's drinking problem was also a bit silly with Anna getting on him about his lying and keeping secrets from her.  So what?  Who the hell is she and why do we care?  I also thought some of the profanity was written out of place with "What the f***s" popping up here and there.  They seemed to bring everything to a stop when I read them.              

Although your descriptions were FANTASTIC, I just can't see myself caring too much about what went on here.  Especially when all the monsters and zombies starting taking over the town.  Just like 30 Days and 30 Nights, non-stop action with very little story development.  A promising premis takes the easy way out, showing people getting slaughtered, one by one for the better part of the story.  So what?  I hated that movie.    

John Carpenter is notorious for cheapening his films with these type monsters.  He was once a great story teller with some great films, but now goes for the cheap scare with cheap plot devices that are cliche' and uninspired.  Most include zombies, vampires or a combination of the two.  We've seen this all before.        

The dream sequences seemed effective and interesting at the time, pulling us closer to something very important later on in the story.  Peter reaching out from the dead was really creepy with great descriptions.  The scenes with the grassy field and the blurry people stalking the woods were really tense and well written.  These were my favorite part of the whole story.  I wanted to read more to see who they were and what they had to do with the gravesite.    

But, when it is later explained to be a place for lost souls, I just didn't care anymore.  This was more contrived than anything.  It became another story about a Satanic figure  trying to release Satan from his resting place.  The graveyard being the gateway to Hell.  You can smell this a mile away.  You basically know who Delaney is and what he is trying to do simply by reading the logline for Haunted Church.  No surprises here.  

Also, the explanation of earthquakes and lava coming from under the graveyard was a bit much to swallow.  Tom seemed to know a little too much about earthquakes, right there on the spot.  This dialogue was too detailed.  How does he know so much about earthquakes?  Although, this is an interesting premise.  Is it Hell or lava?  It's so silly, but would make a great Stephen King novel.  One I'd like to read.  Pretty clever.  

You might wanna go back and focus more on that aspect of the story.  What's going on under the ground?  Have scientists come in and investigate.  Have religious leaders come into town and give their two cents.  This would be a great story. But Moonlight running around killing people seemed a bit silly considering the good stuff I read during the first half of your script.  It was very promising.  Creepy, dark and interesting.  

The father/son relationship worked well and I enjoyed hearing Peter's diary voice overs.  These were really well written.                          

I liked how they buried Delaney instead of Tom's father.  That was a nice twist.  You were led to believe that Delaney was a demon who couldn't age, but he's not a demon at all.  He's just a man.  I never once thought Delaney was the man in the coffin.  

This was very hard for me to critique.  I got lost in a few places and just didn't know what the hell was going on, but I figured it out.  Like I said before, I would focus on the goings in the graveyard if you ever decide to re-write this thing.  I think that was a really interesting part of your story and should be developed further.  

Very good dialogue, for the most part.  Intense action and fantastic use of descriptions.  As for plot, I didn't care very much.  Too many ghosts, ghouls, vampires and zombies.  I just got lost one too many times and didn't know what was happening.  

However, a very good writer who knows how to deliver tense, fast-paced action without compromising proper format.  I wish I could do it as well.  I'm envious of that.  

Take care,
Eric                                      


Night of the Red Phantom
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Open Road
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Scoob
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Thank you guys for checking this one out and giving such thorough reviews and thoughts - I really appreciate it, especially seeing as this is a little longer then normal.

I will respond to as many points raised as I can.

Darren:



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  As I read deeper into it I knew what it was... Salem's Lot. Vampires (and other monsters) taking over a once peaceful town just smacked of King's famous horror story.  Of course with the black hearse and the dwarfish ghouls there was also an element of Phantasm in there as well.  Of course this is not a bad thing as I feel you pulled the best elements from these two movies and used them well in your script.


I am a big fan of Salem's Lot (the 1979 version) so you are spot on with that one. It was a favourite of mine as a kid and to me, it's probably the best vampire movie I have seen. I know that a lot of vamp fans would probably want to string me up for that, but it's a personal preference.  Weirdly, I have never read the book but I do plan to in the future.
Once I had the idea I was going with, I couldn't help but give a few homages ( to say the least! ) to that movie.  The name Barlow and a couple of other little things. I do not want to run into a situation where I am copying more then homaging though - I hope apart from also the basic theme of vamps in a small town that my script did have it's own mood and vibe.
I seem to have a thing for using hooded cloaked villains - in fact alarmingly I have had them in every thing I have written! But the Phantasm film did have a part to play in this with the dwarfs. The hearse idea was instigated by a movie called Burnt Offerings - a movie which when I was younger really gave me some odd images. I saw it again recently once I found out what it was called and I was far from impressed!
In short - they were the films that inspired me once I got things rolling. ( And the old video game Ghosts 'n' Goblins - Amstrad 6128 version. Sad but true!)



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Your opening with the death of Reverend Reese was a good hook that really set the tone for the story but I felt some of this was lost in the long drive Tom had to Whitewood. Perhaps if you cut straight from Tom getting the call to Tom arriving at the town it would flow better and the reader would not lose the tingle down the spine that the opening gave them.


Im really pleased the opening worked for you. I can see that the drive to Whitewood probably took the sting out of things and went on longer then it should have. I think I will seriously consider cutting this out in the next draft or trimming it down substantially. Thanks for pointing this out.


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Of course this leads me onto Tom.  While I understand that Tom had his reasons for acting the way he did I feel that a lot of the time he came across as a jerk.  I prefer heroes that you can root for, the kind you want to succeed but Tom just didn't do that for me.


Interesting point that I will have to look at. He is not the hero type, and he does have his issues. He's a pretty cold, emotionless kind of character unless he is with Anna - maybe even then he's still holding every thing in. But if you are not pulling for him to succeed near the ending then I will need to have a big look at this.  Thanks again, it's important I get the main character to be somewhat likeable since he is on almost every page!



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Also out of all the character's dialogue Tom seemed the most cold, the most wooden. A lot of what he said just didn't seem like the way people would talk, too matter of fact, not enough slang or something.


I'd love to say that was intentional but I would be lying. I did want him to be somewhat cold and emotionless in some resepct but I will look at the dialouge again and see what I can do with it.  Dialouge is one of my continuing main flaws.


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Delaney was a bit better as his character and dialogue were a lot more engaging, for me he really popped off the page when I read his parts.  I especially liked the way you created a sense of foreboding whenever he was mentioned or around. While it seemed like a simple case of Tom and Delaney repeatedly missing each other by minutes you really get a sense that something is not quite right about this new priest.



Well, I'm very happy about that, thank you. He was quite fun to write so and I was hoping he would have a menace about him. I enjoyed writing his stuff more then anyone so I am relieved you enjoyed the character.


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Still the ending in regards to Delaney were a bit hard to follow. Was he a Vampire or a human who served them?


He is a human, although I never really wanted to explain him too much or even what happened to him at the end. I was hoping it might kind of blur things in respect to who he is, or was. If it's annoying and frustrating in a bad way then I will look to change this around.


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Then there is Moonlight.  Not sure if I like that name for the master of all vampires, it just doesn't sound scary or imposing.


That's fair enough, it does sound a little soft. I was going to spell it MoonLyte but then that read like a fizzy drink. I think I might drop the master of vampires thing aswell, it's a bit of an ego trip.


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But he had a good presence. By that I mean that when he was in a scene he really stole it.  


Im glad about that - I did want him to stand out against the other creatures when he was on. So Im pleased, relieved it came across that way.


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Anyway while I felt you did well in setting up a feeling of horror an tension in the first three quarters of your script I feel you quickly lost this when it turned from a creepy horror of people being killed in their homes and carted away by the black hears so that it is  presumed by the rest of the townsfolk that they have left in the middle of the night... into a a game of how many monsters can you spot on screen with the massacre of the town.


I think this is my biggest problem and one I had trouble with the most. Merging both halves.  I really didn't know what would work better - I think I ended up resorting back to perhaps a more simple approach in the monster mash that followed. I wasn't sure what bit would work and what wouldnt so thank you for the input.


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This brings me onto the creatures. I think you slightly overdid them by including Vampires, Ghouls, Zombies and Ghosts in your story.  Personally I feel Vampires or Vampires and Ghouls would have worked best and not over saturated the script with creatures and monsters.


I had a feeling that might be the case and I guess it was becoming a little more over the top then I would have liked.  I was worried it might also be confusing as to who was what. I would like to keep this along the lines of all kinds of monsters emerging - it was one of the main reasons I wanted to write it. Thanks for bringing this up, though, it gives me another thing to think about.


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Also the shock ending involving Tom was a bit obvious, it is the kind of ending I think should have ended with the original Friday the 13th and Carrie. That is not to say it wasn't suitably shocking... just shocking in an expected kind of way.


It was one of three - I ended up sticking the other two in aswell - to hopefully see what might have worked and what didnt. It was a bit predictable I admit but I thought it was a suitable ending for his character. Ilm thinking of maybe just having that scene and then Tom waking up in a hotel room unsure of what exactly has happened.


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I just kept getting a feeling that Whitewood was in America


I can see what you mean, but  the settings in my mind were somewhat from my actual home town and a place near Rye.  Mixed bag lol. But yes, perhaps I do still need to work on writing without so much influence from other cultures and movies.



Quoted Text
Well despite any bad things I had to say about this story I fully admit that I enjoyed it.  While page count wise it may be considered long it didn't feel like it.  The descriptions were fast paced and well written and apart from the road trip at the start it never seemed to be dragging at any point.


That is the main thing for me with this at the moment so I am really pleased you enjoyed it. Im glad it didnt drag and feel relieved about that.

Your review has been very helpful, thanks Darren. I do appreciate how long it can take to read and review so I am grateful and whenever you have a script up , please do let me know and I will have a look.

Sorry for the long and possibly unnessecary replies, but it is appreciated you taking the time.

Cheers

Malc




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Scoob  -  May 7th, 2008, 12:42am
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Sham
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Hi, Malcolm!

I owe you a review, and big apologies for being late.

The Haunted Church is a great title for a movie because it brings two things together: religion and the supernatural. When combined, they can be masterful (The Omen) or completely ridiculous (any of its sequels). I am not a religious nut, so I approached your script with some hesitation. I think that helped in the long run because I enjoyed it overall. I do have some comments, though, positive and negative.

Page 1 – “He is a slight and balding man” sounds funny to me. Is it supposed to say that?

Page 2 – “I could play better then them right now.” ‘Then’ should be ‘than’.

Page 3 – “I’m sorry but you’re father has past away.” ‘You’re’ should be ‘your’ and ‘past’ should be ‘passed’.

I’m stopping with the grammar mistakes here because, hopefully, you get the idea. Understand that when you use the prefix ‘you’re’, it literally means ‘you are’. When you go back over your script, you’ll notice most of these are used incorrectly. The same applies for ‘it’s’ and ‘its’. Be careful with that. It’s a common mistake, but noticeable to most readers. I’m looking past it because it’s like kicking you when you’re down. It’s EASILY fixable, so no worries.

Page 3 – “Can you come back to Whitewood.” Also note punctuation. This isn’t as prominent, but it’s in your script a few times. Like I said, just glance through it.

Page 5 – “The motorway is jammed packed. A silver 2002 Volvo V70XC is
just one of the many cars trapped in the gridlock.” I don’t know what it is about this description, but I love it. Speaking of the car, is there any specific reason you chose this model? It never really seemed to service the story, so I’m curious. It’s not a bad thing; just questionable.

Also notice that you’ve already established Tom’s Volvo is silver as soon as he drives it. You don’t need to say “silver Volvo” throughout the rest of the script. Just say ‘Volvo’. It’ll save half a page because you won’t have twenty ‘silvers’ running around. There’s only one Volvo, so it’s not going to confuse people.

Page 9 – A scene heading is needed to get back in the car. Otherwise, just say intercut between the road/Volvo so readers can make the separation themselves.

Page 10 – The elderly man should be immediately introduced as Orville. There’s really no point in keeping his name in the shadows for just one page. When you introduce him formally from the get-go, your readers won’t try to separate one person into two characters.

As a side note, EXCELLENT work on the dialogue so far. So easy to read, yet fresh and sometimes funny.

Page 14 – “He gets out and looks up at the house. The garden is small but in good condition.” Is the garden on the roof? The order is definitely strange here.

Page 15 – “He walks across the rug and it makes a creaking sound as he enters the living room.” Rugs don’t creak. I get what you mean when you wrote this, but just find a different choice of words.

Page 25 – “There is none” should be “There isn’t one.”

Page 25 – “Tom pulls out two small miniature bottles of Jack Daniels.” Small and miniature is the same thing.

Page 27 – I’m liking these dream sequences. In most of these movies, I find them mechanical and clichéd, but I think they are perfectly placed in this story. You’re giving us just enough to want to read more, which is great.

Page 48 – One of the characters speaks as MARK DELANEY. Since you’re just using ‘DELANEY’ throughout the rest of the script, get rid of ‘MARK’.

Pages 52-53 – One thing I don’t like here is the transition. I think it would be more effective if, when in the church, the funeral sermon begins as a voiceover. That way, you could smoothly transition from the church to the cemetery. I think the funeral scene would be more interesting if it was trimmed down.

I gotta be honest, there are just too many phone calls. Half of this script is Tom on his cell phone. All of the interesting stuff (Karen’s death, the monument-shattering quake) is left to the imagination. Looking back at the whole script, it seems pointless to keep these things in the shadows since the rest of the script is so gory. I think an earthquake would be a spectacular sequence, especially in this unconventional small town. Why not include it?

I like the dialogue exchange about Tom’s abusive childhood. However, I think it should move to an earlier time. Maybe the second night they have dinner together? Speed things up a little bit. The entire script could benefit from a loss of twenty pages.

Page 73 – Great scene with Tom seeing strange things near the church. Full of fantastic imagery. My only complaint is the dialogue following this. It focuses too much on Tom’s alcoholism rather than the mysterious figures outside. It seems like a total shift in tone and direction.

Page 78 – Love the knocking on Adam’s door. Now that we’ve established people have died if they answer, I’m really excited to see what happens.

Page 81 – Adam had a great death. It was suspenseful and graphic. Great writing.

Page 88 – “For Christ’s sake, you can’t break into a church!” Pretty much the greatest line ever.

Page 93 – The scene in the police station is GREAT! Very creepy and atmospheric. This has gotten my attention more than anything else.

Page 96 – More knocking. Love it. I’m reminded of the ghosts from The Fog.

Page 99 – This is awesome. I’m absolutely loving this attack. Anna is a strong character, and I’m liking that she refuses to leave the people she loves. This makes the scene feel even more urgent.

Page 106 – Pretty obvious Delaney was a crook. I unfortunately saw this coming. I’m hoping you didn’t intend for it to be supremely shocking. It’s a good twist on things, but it’s not overly unexpected. Personally, I think this “reveal” took too long anyway.

Page 111 – I really like the creepiness of Tom’s dad descending upon him... pointing... spooky stuff.

All the sweating descriptions...most of them need to go. “Sweats more” isn’t exactly visible. It becomes cartoony if an audience can immediately notice the difference on a character.

Near the end of your script (page 119, 124, and beyond), you have quite a few more “sweats” lines. Lose them. By this point, Tom has creature gore all over him, and I think the last thing an audience would notice is him sweating. Don’t you remember when he had all that yellow gook sprayed on his face? He’s not a magician. Some of it is still going to be there, and that gook is going to stand out MUCH more than some salty water.

126-128 – I’m really not a fan of this specific dialogue. Some of it is too in-your-face. I think any reader who’s read this far is too smart to have everything spelled out for them in the climax. Some of it is good and necessary, yes, but most of it is just misplaced. It seems like a different movie entirely.

134-136 – Great ending. Unconventional and very clever.

Like I said, I enjoyed this script overall, but I think it needs a rewrite. The biggest thing that could service your story is a severe trimming. As much as I hate to say it, the story drags longer than it should, which is a shame because you have some fantastic characters who carry it for as long as they can. And even with your terrific writing, the only prominent flaw I can find is that there's just an abundance of it when your story is too simple. Is it possible you lose brownie points for having too much of a good thing?

Have you ever thought about writing a novel? I can picture this being pretty compelling in that format, where the reader can really delve into the minds of the characters. It’s just something I noticed while reading, so I thought I’d ask.

Great work on completing this. It really is epic for a horror film. Plenty of genre elements for diverse fans: a slow build, a steadily-mounting horror, and a rising evil in the most unlikely of places. Combine this with spectacular descriptions and memorable dialogue, and I really enjoyed it despite its flaws.

Don’t be a stranger when you rewrite this. I fully believe in this script and would love to revisit it in the future.


The Doll - New!
Hiccups - 2013 Shriekfest Finalist! Filmed!
The Thing That Wasn't - Filmed!

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