All screenplays on the simplyscripts.com and simplyscripts.net domain are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. This screenplaymay not be used or reproduced for any purpose including educational purposes without the expressed written permission of the author.
The 1997 Texas Chain Saw Massacre by Zack Akers - Horror - Whilst on a visit to a relative's old house, an innocent family encounters a strange and murderous family from a neighboring property. 82 pages - pdf format
Nice to see you using that em dash jump we talked about.
Authorities say that the randomness at
Maybe replace "randomness", just reads awkwardly coming from "Authorities".
AMY (sarcastic) Yes sir.
I'm up to page 22 and I think you've done a great job already with the relationship between Amy and Brandon. It feels three dimensional.
CHUCK (singing) It ain't no joke, When mama's handkerchief is soaked, With her tears because her baby's life has been revoked, The bond is broke up, So choke up and focus on the close up, Mr. Wizard can't perform no god-like hocus-pocus!
Generally use italics for singing.
With one hand on the wheel, Chuch grips his
Chuck not Chuch
BRANDON (spits out phlegm)
INT. STATION WAGON - NOT MOVING
A particular 1970's Hippie-van catches her eye.
A his body seizes up,
BRANDON Yes sir.
I really don't like the way Celtx handles run on dialogue (from one page to the next), I know you cant help that but it can really take you out of the read.
Leatherface saw Roger's
EXT. HARMON HOUSE - FRONT YARD - NIGHT High above the house, a full moon peeks out from behind thick clouds in the sky. The station wagon is still parked out in front of the house. 46. Created using Celtx Both Amy and Lisa sit on the hood of the vehicle. Amy looks nervous, her eyes constantly scanning the surrounding area. Nothing but dark shadows. LISA You still nervous about that Hitchhiker following us? AMY (focused on the woods) No. Lisa leans her head back and stares up at the moon. She smiles, admires the peacefulness of the calm night sky. LISA You know, besides the heat, it's actually pretty nice out here. It's kind of... Peaceful.
This feels really out of place and too big a tone shift. We have gone from day to night so some significant time has passed, I think these two need to be more distressed about how long the guys have been gone.
AMY I'm serious, Mom. Maybe we should head back and-
Em dash not a dash.
she turns and sees-
chainsaw IDLES as he declines.
The hulking man GRUNTS as he steps beside the old Mustang. INT. OLD MUSTANG - TRUNK - NOT TRAVELING
I don't think NOT TRAVELLING is necessary and looks quite awkward considering we have the context.
BRANDON This is for killing our parents you sick fuck!
our parents, you sick fuck!
For a few seconds, she remains still. Then---
HITCHHIKER Yes sir.
INT. SUV - NOT MOVING
I think stick to PARKED and TRAVELLING, NOT MOVING is really awkward IMO.
Really, really well written, this thing flows very nicely. This would fit perfectly in the franchise and is a damn sight better than some of the other entries.
Lots of cliches, but I assumed that would be the case going in, not a bad thing considering the subject matter.
I think the Hitchhiker needs to be a bit older, at least 16. Some of the dialogue and actions just aren't believable for a 14-year old.
Very nice final girl arc. The family dynamics were really well drawn as well.
Some great kill scenes and loved that over end credits scene.
I think you have a great script here and your writing is top notch, it's too bad it will remain fan fiction.
Not much else to add really, needs a small clean up, but story wise I think it's solid.
Hey, Warren. Thanks a ton for giving this one a read. Stoked to hear that you enjoyed it! And thanks for the marking the pages of those typos/errors. That's super helpful!
"I'm up to page 22 and I think you've done a great job already with the relationship between Amy and Brandon. It feels three dimensional."
Thanks, man! That means a lot. I've been trying very hard to improve my character work. Happy to hear that I'm finally making some progress.
"This feels really out of place and too big a tone shift. We have gone from day to night so some significant time has passed, I think these two need to be more distressed about how long the guys have been gone."
I agree. I'll be fixing this in the next draft. Thanks for the heads up.
"I think stick to PARKED and TRAVELLING, NOT MOVING is really awkward IMO."
I think you're right. Your way is much easier on the eyes.
"Really, really well written, this thing flows very nicely. This would fit perfectly in the franchise and is a damn sight better than some of the other entries."
That means so much to me! Thank you for the praise. Makes writing a fan-fiction all worth it.
"I think the Hitchhiker needs to be a bit older, at least 16. Some of the dialogue and actions just aren't believable for a 14-year old."
I think you are right here, as well. Will fix with the rewrite.
"Very nice final girl arc. The family dynamics were really well drawn as well."
Happy to hear my character work has improved. It's been tough trying to figure that stuff out. Still got a lot to learn, but I believe that I'm on the right track.
"Some great kill scenes and loved that over end credits scene."
Thanks. I wanted this to be the "meanest" chainsaw flick yet. Lol. Also wanted to deliver on the "chainsaw massacre" aspect of it. Lol. As for the end credits sequence, that was totally inspired by the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake.
"I think you have a great script here and your writing is top notch, it's too bad it will remain fan fiction."
I held off on writing this for so long, because I know that fan-fiction is generallu frowned upon. But I just felt like I had to tell my version of this classic story. I know nothing will likely ever come from it, but I don't view it as a waste of time. If even just a few TCM fans read and enjoy it, then I'll be satisfied. And who knows, maybe this could serve as an example of my writing?
Agreed with Warren, this was a fun and fast read, and seems to fit well in the franchise. I thought about suggesting removing the TCM elements to make it a standalone script, but after reading the full script it's quite tied to the franchise elements, so maybe it will remain fan fiction. I made a few nitpicky notes in the first act, but then just focussed on reading.
Overall, I think it has a great pace, though I think the tension of a few of the kills could use some more build-up to increase the tension. I like that she survives, but I think it's kind of disappointing that she was unable to save the boy. Right now he's just another kill, and not a super impactful one. If he survives I think her accomplishment would be much greater and her whole ordeal would have some value.
Here are my nitpicky opinions on very minor things:
Page 3 – Maybe avoid starting two sentences in a row with “Authorities”
Page 3 – The DJ says the bodies were taken, but then talks about how they were positioned. If it’s a mix, maybe something along the lines of “the bodies that were left”
Page 3 – Is this a professional new DJ or a regular music DJ? I imagine a pro might say “Puzzling” and “exhumed” while a regular DJ might say “weirder” and “dug up” (Obviously I’m making super tiny notes, but this is more about setting a tone and a character for the audience who doesn’t have it pictured like you do)
Page 3 - Character intros are super tough and I suck at them. Many writers use it as a rare chance to sneak in a non-visual description of the character. Really great intros somehow manage to describe the appearance of the character in a way that also tells us about their personality. So far, yours have been brunette, raven-haired, petite, tall, overweight, athletic… That’s okay, but it would be great to hint at their personality a bit more. Like your “with a permanent scowl on her face” which really gives us an image that tells us more about the character.
Page 4-5 Celtxs split your action blocks and dialogue across pages. Is that an adjustable setting?
Page 7 – uncapitalize “step”
Page 11 – “There goes my tan.” I don’t get the joke
Page 15 – Nice scene with picking up the hitchhiker. She adds great tension
Page 15 – After the camera flash, I realized I have no idea if it’s day or night. I noticed you don’t use Day/night in your headers and had to scroll back 5 pages. I get not doing it for every header since it all takes place over one day/night, but what threw me off was that if it is still day, why did the camera flash blind everyone in the car so badly?
Warren mentioned some cliches, but I thought it was worth pointing out one particular series of lines that I think you could make more interesting:
- "Let me go and... And I promise I won't say anything about any of this!" - "You'll never get away with this..." - "So what are you waiting for then, huh? You're gonna kill me, right? So stop fucking with me and just do it!"
All of Amy's lines in this scene are very expected and overused. It's a great opportunity to give her a little more personality and creativity. Can you make her beg for her life in a way we haven't seen before?
Again, very nicely written, and I think if you wrote a similar limited cast & location horror script not tied to an existing franchise, you'd have a great chance of getting it produced. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for the read and review, Rodriguez! I really appreciate it. And thank you a ton for all the awesome notes and suggestions you gave me. Gonna help a ton with the next draft.
I've gone back and forth on whether or not Ollie should survive. I was going for the ultimate gut punch, but you're not the first to tell me that Ollie's death rubbed them wrong. I'll think hard about this point before I start my next draft.
Agree with pretty much all your other points/notes and will be applying them with my next draft.
Thanks again for reading. I'll hopefully be getting to your script later this week.
At long last, I've finished. Some notes to kick things off:
pg. 4 - "I mean, I kinda care. They were my grandparents, so... Yeah." - Not sure the humor works here given the circumstances. Why not have Chuck react honestly? This situation has gotta be pretty fucked up for him personally. Then Amy would actually have to think about what she said (one way or another), which could start to build her character.
- Maybe extrapolate on the Marilyn Manson convo. Give some details so the exchange has some texture -- reveal some things about Amy and Lisa's personalities, perhaps. It doesn't have to be much. Even something he did on stage way back when -- something to get the characters engaged a bit more.
pg. 17 - "It's total chaos." - I'm not exactly sure what this means. Scuffle? Blood everywhere? I think you could afford to be a little more clear.
pg. 18 - "And that is why you never pick up hitchhikers." - I'd put this later. It's ill-timed, both character-wise and emotionally for the audience. It kinda hurts the horror of the scene that just took place.
pg. 19 - "He's absolutely livid, his face beat red." - Should be "beet red." And this reads awkward since "livid" can actually mean pale.
pg. 21 - "I'd cut the initial dialogue for the new scene. It's basically a repeat of the last lines of the previous exchange.
pg. 23 - “Gas should be along shortly.” Didn’t he just say, “a couple hours’ time?” He hasn’t even made the BBQ yet either, so it’s not like we can infer a jump in time or anything.
- Chuck is crazy. Does he really want to check this place out after the exchange with the hitchhiker? Hurts the character, I think. Maybe it's just the way I'm reading it. It seems like Chuck just wants to go on some stupid, impulsive adventure, maybe out of sheer curiosity. I'd consider a more compelling reason for Chuck to want to do this. I'd buy into it more if he felt like he had to somehow, especially if it related to the crimes that have just occurred.
pg. 31 - I love the dead horse.
pg. 51 - How the fuck is Brandon still alive? How did he even get off the hook? I mean, he's in a pretty sorry state, so I can tell this wasn't lost on you. But I don't buy it. I'm not entirely against the idea, per se, but I'm at a loss right now how it could actually make sense. I think you might need to rethink this whole section (or come up with something better that didn't occur to me, which is also entirely possible ).
- I do love all the chasing in the middle. And it makes sense why it has to pan out the way it does. But it did start to get a bit redundant after a while, as if they were just running in circles (which they kinda are).
pg. 58 - "...nicks her shoulder." - Not "grazes?" Maybe a little more brutal, no?
- Your Leatherface seems pretty formidable. I know you wanna stay true to the original, but maybe he still caves a little too quickly to the Cook. Maybe the Cook actually lays a hand on Leatherface and shows him (and us) why he's the boss?
pg. 70 - "Texas... is Hell." - This was corny... but cool.
pg. 73 - "BANG! Another missed swing... Yet another miss..." - Obviously, I've seen the original, so I know what's going on. But as written, I'm not sure if this is as clear as it should be. Might need to double down on the "BANG!" being the hammer falling in the bucket.
pg. 74 - Has Amy ever shot a gun before? Maybe her takedown of Leatherface was too clean.
- Why give Sean Rivers a name? He's just some rando, and he's minced meat in barely a few minutes.
- I like the post-credits sequence. Usually not a fan.
So my feelings are mixed overall.
I'll start with the negative, but nothing was all that bad. I don't think you earned the '97 angle. There're a few references in the beginning, but for the most part, this is essentially a retread of the original film. If you want to stand out, I think you need to bring more of a 90s style to this, if you can pull it off. To do it right, I think you'd really want to do more than simply throwing more references in (although nostalgia is hot right now).
Your writing's definitely improved over time. And I've always appreciated your commitment to simple, old school ideas that always work. At the same time, I think you do need to step up your character game. These characters never really seemed like characters, really; more like types. They're recognizable types, so it's not for nothing, but none of them really do anything out of their basic functions.
Amy's the "too cool" teen who scoffs and rolls her eyes at everything. Lisa is constantly triggered and browbeating her kids. Chuck is the goofy dad who embarrasses himself and is always the first to do stupid, dangerous shit. Brandon's the wholesome "good kid" that the parents like better (I guess). I mean, all good, but at least flesh them out so they seem like real people and not just stereotypes that have to be there cuz it's a horror movie.
Some of the characters got changed around in superficial (not a criticism) ways. The hitchhiker's female now. This could be interesting, but I think you could take it a little further. The context should feel different, but most of her scenes play out the same as the original... except when she gets the chainsaw at the end, which I thought was a great twist.
Ollie was a little more far out. His inclusion definitely made things creepier and more intense. But it's all short-lived. I think you could build on this subplot, which is really the kernel of a subplot at this point more than anything.
For the positives, I loved the pacing and "atmospheric parts." Exploring the house was one of my favorite sequences. Obviously, it conjures up the original but with a little more texture and visceral appeal. It also reminded me of less obvious things like Resident Evil. You know I appreciate old, decrepit houses; wrecked, perilous environments; and what have you. I especially loved the little details, like the chicken shit and the buckets under the meat hooks. They're not "essential," screenwriting-wise, but definitely give you a better sense of where you're at and immerses you in the setting, which should be essential.
Because of this stuff, the brutal shit hits harder. I also appreciated your use of simple gore setpieces. They weren't all the same as the original, but it was true to the spirit of that film. I think you struck the right tone as far as the violence and totally capitalized on what this is supposed to be.
The script definitely finishes off on a high note. I think that's where you made your most uniquely Zack choices and diverged from the original. It especially worked for me, cuz I figured this was basically going to be a shot-for-shot remake going forward. But not the case.
This is definitely a fanfic. I'm not sure how much more time you want to spend on it. But it mostly worked for what it is, and it seems to have been a good exercise, because I think you've clearly improved as a writer. It's honestly a little weird to see you writing features now after years of reading your shorts, but clearly you've got the gist and should be able to improve if you keep trying different things and testing what you're capable of.