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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Horror  ›  Bastard Saint - May3
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  Author    Bastard Saint - May3  (currently 855 views)
Don
Posted: May 28th, 2021, 5:08pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Bastard Saint by Michael J Kospiah (spesh2k) writing as Father Christmas - Short, Horror - A mall Santa revisits his tragic past after a child makes a strange request: for Santa to murder his abusive father. 7 pages - pdf format

Writer interested in feedback on this work



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Revision History (2 edits; 1 reasons shown)
Don  -  June 17th, 2021, 4:06pm
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MarkRenshaw
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I get to page 4 and, well that escalated quickly! Wow!

The VO doesn't really add to this. At the moment it is there simply to explain things to the audience rather than enrich the story. I'd suggest having a think how you could visually get everything across or if you removed the VO is there enough for the audience to figure out the story themselves? If not, what could you add?

My suspension of disbelief just snapped on this one. I found it hard to believe someone who was institutionalised for 23 years for severing a boy's head could live a normal life, never mind get a job as a mall Santa. And why was dad imprisoned for 25 years? He was a dick for sure and deserved something for beating up his son, but he didn't kill anyone and he didn't tell his son to murder anyone, just to stand up to bullies.

I'm sure some will love this as in the end, it's just what each reader buys into. I couldn't quite buy into this but I certainly appreciate the effort and found it an entertaining read.  


For more of my scripts, stories, produced movies and the ocassional blog, check out my new website. CLICK
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eldave1
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Nitty issue = Malcam is thin and young – odd that he would be hired to play a Santa in the first place.  No need to describe hm as thin.

Nitty issue # 2 =


Quoted Text
MALCOLM (V.O.) They placed most of the blame on my father. He did 25 years hard time. As if he didn’t already resent me.


25 years for what he did – i.e., told boy to kick his ass – seems unlikely – I know that you need this for a plot point. Maybe there is a better way to get there.

Parameters met = yep - nailed it.

Writing = really solid craftsmanship. Read very smoothly.

MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD

Story: Okay, I loved the general premise. There were a couple of hiccups. Couldn't quite figure out how are hero would know where the boy's Dad would be.  

And for me (note - this may JUST for me as others may love it) - I hated the severed head. Yes. I know that it is circular to the boy's origin story - but for Santa to add terror to the boy's life by plopping that head in a Xmas box was just a bridge too far to me.  And again  it might just be me as I am less enamored with this stuff then most - but it would have landed so much better for me if:

-If the boy asked where's Dad. Mom answers's he'll come home later
- Boy opens box - see's the letter he wrote Santa with a handwritten note on it - I grant you your gift - or something like that
- Boy says to Mom with a smile - Dad ain't coming home no more.

Then you can cut to the body in Santa's car and I don't care how the dude killed him. Because now the 10 year old boy doesn't see it.

Hope that makes sense. I'm still marking this high as I think the objection to the severed head is probably going to be just my personal taste - Good effort here.



Okay, I really dugges the


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ReneC
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Wow. I was taken aback by the ending, but you did set the stage for it. This is someone who takes things too far, and that ending is perfectly in character.

It's a great premise, one that could be made into a feature if he's smarter about it. The writing is quite good, with a few missteps along the way but nothing that tripped me up. The tone fits the material, and I like the stylistic choices.

Great entry, well done.


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MarkItZero
Posted: May 30th, 2021, 6:44am Report to Moderator
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Really great opening scene with that last line veering into much darker territory. Love the style. I'm fine with the decapitated head, but the backstory didn't quite make it as darkly satisfying as I hoped.

We go from dad being abusive - to kid's a murdering pyscho - tries to reform - then father gets revenge.

It's sad and strange, not in a bad way. But something about him decapitating a stranger over this convoluted past, I dunno, it just wasn't satisfying enough.

Very entertaining read. With some tweaks, this could be great.


That rug really tied the room together.
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Yuvraj
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A sad and convoluted tale told in an entertaining manner. The writing was good except for the VOs. They felt ineffective and just exposition. They could be replaced with visuals. Yes, there are moments of disbelief here but considering only 6 pages to land your story, it worked for me.

Good luck.  


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Gum
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Ho Ho Holy shit that was dark. Quite the tale of woe that painted a never-ending cycle of psychosis. So, Malcom’s father does 25 years hard time and comes out with one intent from all his rehabilitation; murder my child’s family.

There’s an old saying: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” Buddha ...

25 years of tormenting yourself with revenge would drive a wooden stake through anyone’s heart, leaving a black hole that only revenge could fill, but it would appear Malcom’s father had no heart to begin with, so his eternal quest would be he needs to fill a void that’s always been there, and after he found it by killing that which Malcom created, he realized there’s nothing left to live for… his void collapsed and he’s an empty hollow enigma of his hatred.

Now, I guess Malcom is trying to atone for his family’s fate by vicariously severing his father’s head by severing Cory’s fathers head… okay then, I feel his pain, but not his rage.

Being a Mall Santa is probably not the best choice of part-time gigs for this guy, to the extent that the mall would have most likely caught wind of Malcom’s past via a reference check, but then there’s Bad Santa with Billy Bob who seemingly gets away with it every year, so… anything is possible in today’s day and age. Works well as an ‘After Ghoul Special’, a horrific tale of family reunification, but I assume that’s where you were going with it, so well done. Best of luck.


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Spqr
Posted: June 1st, 2021, 12:32pm Report to Moderator
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Grim but very good. it's way over the top, but I understand it's up to the suits to tone it down once they buy it. However, Malcom could have done the classy thing and packed the head in dry ice.
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mmmarnie
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Well...i dug everything about this. Totally dark. Loved the characters. Definitely over the top but what psych/crime isn't? I don't feel this is a "horror". And I love severed heads! LOL. What's in the boooooox???

Great job here. Was an easy read and thoroughly entertaining!


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Nomad
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Apart from a few personal critiques, this was a great script.

Omitting the foul language in Malcolm's dialogue early on would have made me more sympathetic to his situation, but the cussing put him in the "jerk" category instead of the "guy struggling to get through life" category.

I'm also not a fan of the unique font for "25 YEARS EARLIER". But that's just a personal preference.

As far as the rest goes:
I could visualize everything perfectly without rereading anything.
I could feel the plight of the characters.
I wanted to know more the more I read.

And it ended on a happy note.

Well done.


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Zack
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Ha! This one is AWESOME! Loved everything about it. My kinda short.

Top marks from me. Can't wait to see who wrote this one. Excellent work.


An example of my writing...

FOR SATAN - short, horror, 14 pgs (revised draft) - A group of thrill-seekers explore a creepy old house on Halloween night. Think you know this story? Think again.
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LC
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Blood y hell!

What a tale.

MALCOLM (V.O.)
They placed most of the blame on my
father. He did 25 years hard time.
As if he didn’t already resent me.

I'm having trouble getting my head (no pun intended)   around his dad receiving this sentence, or any sentence, really.

And then he gets out and does that to Malcolm's family?  




SPOILERS:




I suppose it has to end full circle with poetic justice and another head in a box.  

Full on Horror this one.

I hope Malcolm cleaned up the scene of the crime well.
I'd kinda like him to get away with it.

Memorable and entertaining for sure.
Gloriously over the top, but you gotta love it.


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Matthew Taylor
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Writer

Love the title font!


Quoted Text
his gut hanging out of his stained wife-beater.


What's a wife-beater? must be a slang term we don't use here (or I am slow) - in the U.K (Birmingham, at least) we refer to Stella Artois as a wife beaters drink.
EDIT: I googled it, I am being slow lol


Quoted Text
dark and menacing expression on his face...


I always find the "on his face" part in these sentences odd (I do it too), because where else do you show expression if not the face?


Quoted Text
MALCOLM (V.O.)
I was institutionalized up until I
was around 23 years old.


And he was allowed to become a mall Santa? some recruiter dropped the ball there lol


Well, let me be the first to congratulate you on your round 3 victory lol That was bloody brilliant.
Expertly written, completely satisfying plot, great use of the non-linear which actually benefited the story, great characters and dialogue.
It all connected wonderfully.

Great work


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PKCardinal
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Not my style in any way shape or form. That said... loved it.

Yes, there are HUGE logic problems. Didn't care.

And, yes, his final action is sure to scar that young Cory for life... but, setting my humanity aside... it was fun. (Don't you dare tell anyone I said that.)

A great example of how a script can be elevated just by going all-in, to the wall with your choices. When young Malcolm shows up with the head, you know you're in for a ride.


PaulKWrites.com

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AnthonyCawood
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Weirdly I wrote something very similar a few years ago for a producer, that unfortunately didn't get made ;-(*

So I already liked this from the off

It's well written, the setup works well...

Just a couple of things that didn't work for me... the Dad wouldn't get any jail time, he didn't do anything... and the end, Malcolm says he likes Christmas and certainly sees himself saving Cory... so doubt he'd traumatise him with the head.

BUT, they are just imho and I still really liked this script.


*I've never put mine up on here, might do after the challenge.


Anthony Cawood - Award winning screenwriter
Available Short screenplays - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/short-scripts
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Cacutshaw
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I liked this one. A nice "guy on the edge" story. I kind of wished that Malcolm's trauma was somewhat related to Christmas for a bigger payoff, but I guess that might make it to similar to the may Xmas slasher films out there or Christmas Evil.

Well done!
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Geezis
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I really liked this, well written, dark, great story arc and for some reason as I was reading Malcolm's VO I read it in Steve Buscemi's voice. That's a new experience for me.
Very well done.


If at first you don't succeed........bribe someone.
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JEStaats
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No sh*t, there I was....

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Winner. Bad-Ass Santa. Seasons Beatin's. 'Nuff said.

Seriously different.
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stevemiles
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Deftly written and well structured for the page count.  I’m not entirely on board with some of the logic (the father doing 25-years for the murder) and the misery/cruelty is laid on a bit too thick but that speaks more to my taste.  At first I thought the head in the box was too much but then again it reveals just how disturbed Malcolm really is and gives the story that extra sting in the tail - this is what you get when you ask (this) Santa for help.  Smooth out the how/why Malcolm got here and there could be something bigger to work with here.


My short scripts can be found here on my new & improved budget website:


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Lono
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Writer,

  This was great, i love these kind of dark twisted Christmas tales. The V.O. was technically unnecessary, but I think it adds a style to the short that I think is pretty cool, people might find some humour in it in a dark way.

All they make in my neck of the woods are Christmas films, kind of become an industry in itself. This is the kind of Christmas story people are looking for i think, just off the wall. People who make films here would be genuinely interested in this kind of story. I'd tidy it up and you're mint I think.

Great Work!
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spesh2k
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Quoted from ReneC
Wow. I was taken aback by the ending, but you did set the stage for it. This is someone who takes things too far, and that ending is perfectly in character.

It's a great premise, one that could be made into a feature if he's smarter about it. The writing is quite good, with a few missteps along the way but nothing that tripped me up. The tone fits the material, and I like the stylistic choices.

Great entry, well done.


Shorts ain't my thing, although I do write a bunch of them. Features are what makes me tick And I am ABSOLUTELY turning this into a feature. Might be the last B movie/simple premise I write (my last spec I wrote was about a psychotic waitress who stalks the dude who didn't tip her -- a lot of people found the premise lame ala John Wick -- I loved the premise).


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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eldave1
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Quoted from spesh2k


Shorts ain't my thing, although I do write a bunch of them. Features are what makes me tick And I am ABSOLUTELY turning this into a feature. Might be the last B movie/simple premise I write (my last spec I wrote was about a psychotic waitress who stalks the dude who didn't tip her -- a lot of people found the premise lame ala John Wick -- I loved the premise).


Definitely has the bones for a feature, IMO.

So... in your mind is the story going to be a one-killing type of thing - i.e, turning the specific story premise you have into a feature (your Santa kills one dude) - or is it going to be a serial type thing - i.e., you have an insane/demented Santa that grants macabre wishes to a variety of kids?


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PKCardinal
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Quoted from eldave1


Definitely has the bones for a feature, IMO.

So... in your mind is the story going to be a one-killing type of thing - i.e, turning the specific story premise you have into a feature (your Santa kills one dude) - or is it going to be a serial type thing - i.e., you have an insane/demented Santa that grants macabre wishes to a variety of kids?


Interesting question.

I vote for the one killing. I love the circular nature of it.

Either way, Michael, I want to be one of your readers when you want notes.


PaulKWrites.com

60 Feet Under - Low budget, contained thriller/Feature
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eldave1
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Quoted from PKCardinal


Interesting question.

I vote for the one killing. I love the circular nature of it.

Either way, Michael, I want to be one of your readers when you want notes.


Same here


My Scripts can all be seen here:

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spesh2k
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Yeah, go for something that focuses more on character, so even though the latter idea of Santa going around granting evil wishes for kids is probably more high concept and more in tune with a straight-up horror movie (and would probably sell over my idea lol), I want to focus on that one story and the characters.


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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eldave1
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Quoted from spesh2k
Yeah, go for something that focuses more on character, so even though the latter idea of Santa going around granting evil wishes for kids is probably more high concept and more in tune with a straight-up horror movie (and would probably sell over my idea lol), I want to focus on that one story and the characters.


That would definitely work. Actually be more my cup of tea. I was just curious which way you were going to go


My Scripts can all be seen here:

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spesh2k
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All right, thanks everyone for reading. As some of you might know, I don't like spending too much time on shorts, usually an hour or less. If I have an idea swirling in my head and I see it, it takes me like 20 minutes to write it. I write scripts for corporate commercials and ads and I'm constantly given short notice, so it's a good exercise. Also, I've depended solely on writing $ during the pandemic (which fucking sucked), so I had to take on like 4 feature length scripts at a time while polishing multiple features on top of that for producers, so the writing muscle is pretty strong at this point. These challenges are a nice break for me to write what I want to write for once. And they don't require too much of my time, so these challenges are perfect for me. Shout out to Libby and Don for this challenge in particular.

To address a few comments on the script...

I saw this in a few comments: the father doing 25 years for a brutal crime his son committed. Yes, 25 years is pretty farfetched (as is the story itself). And some of you say he wouldn't do any time. I based this off a few things. One, Charles Manson never committed murder himself but spent the rest of his life in jail. Yes, he orchestrated the murders, so I realize that it's different. But, I sort of based it on some archaic laws:

https://www.ohiocriminaldefens.....-child-commits-a-cr/

And this, California Penal Code Section 31:


Quoted Text
All persons concerned in the commission of a crime, whether it be felony or misdemeanor, and whether they directly commit the act constituting the offense, or aid and abet in its commission, or, not being present, have advised and encouraged its commission, and all persons counseling, advising, or encouraging children under the age of fourteen years, or persons who are mentally incapacitated, to commit any crime, or who, by fraud, contrivance, or force, occasion the drunkenness of another for the purpose of causing him to commit any crime, or who, by threats, menaces, command, or coercion, compel another to commit any crime, are principals in any crime so committed.


As for a 13 child committing a horrific crime and going on to live somewhat of a normal life. I realize that here in the States over the past 25 years, we've seen more and more murders committed by children and we've seen these children charged as adults. But there's been many cases of child-aged murderers rehabilitating and then being allowed to live life as adults. For one, you have those two kids in England who kidnapped a younger kid and did some horrific things to him before tying him to train tracks. Those kids ended up going free when they were 18, though I heard that both of them have run into some problems with the law (drugs I think).

Also, a few people said that the child in this story would be traumatized by seeing the severed head of his father in a box. Here's the thing: the kid ASKED Santa to kill his father. So, for a child to ask SANTA CLAUS do murder his father, that kid would have to have some serious issues, right? Also, I understand NORMAL kids (like you and I maybe once were) would be traumatized by this... but I don't like writing about normal people. I wrote for a producer recently who had a hard time believing that a parent would kill their child (it was a fucked up a script). When I understand that YOU wouldn't kill your child, but their are sick parents that would and HAVE killed their children. I feel like, especially within the context of the story and the story's tone that the kid grinning at the sight of his father's severed head fits. Just my opinion, though.

There was a deleted scene where Malcolm (as a kid) is at a police station and tells them his father made him do it, so I included that back in (that version should be posted soon).

Thanks again to those who gave this high marks!

-- Michael


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2


Revision History (1 edits)
spesh2k  -  June 9th, 2021, 4:08pm
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PKCardinal
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It's a great question, Michael. Should we only write about normal people doing normal things? Of course not.

Take the note "he/she wouldn't do that." Sometimes I just want to respond: "Read it again. 'Cause they just did. So, ask yourself, WHY did they just do that?" It's much more interesting.

Semi-related: I used to try and make all of my character reactions logical. But, I've come to realize... none of us act logically. We ALL act emotionally. So, now I ask, "what is this character's emotional reaction?" In your case, the child wasn't acting logically, asking for Santa to kill his father. It was emotional. And, he got an emotional response back, didn't he? And, script-wise... it worked!

And, yes, I realize I'm one of the readers who expressed concern about the long-term emotional impact of the final action. So, consider this a kind of "take back."


PaulKWrites.com

60 Feet Under - Low budget, contained thriller/Feature
The Hand of God - Low budget, semi-contained thriller/Feature
Wait Till Next Year - Disney-style family sports comedy/Feature

Many shorts available for production: comedy, thriller, drama, light horror
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eldave1
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It's kind of the nature of page constrained shorts - we don't really get space to fill in all of the logic-making details that we would in a feature or even a longer short.

e.g., several questioned mine in terms of what the professional role of my protag (psychology professor) had to do with the story. Well, in the short - nothing as it turns out (at least not in 6 pages) - but I write it with a feature in mind where it plays a pivotal role.

Long-winded way of saying, while a 25-year prison sentence might not make sense at all in context of a six-page short, it could make perfect sense in the context of a feature where you have the liberty to add additional details - e.g., maybe the Dad had prior assault charges. Maybe he lived in a 3-strikes and you're out State like California - whatever - point being, it could make perfect sense given more space to provide info.  



My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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spesh2k
Posted: June 17th, 2021, 4:10pm Report to Moderator
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Newer version is up... is it possible to move this to the short horror section? I feel like it'd be easier to find. Same with the updated version of "Shut Eye".


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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LC
Posted: June 17th, 2021, 6:27pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from spesh2k
Newer version is up... is it possible to move this to the short horror section? I feel like it'd be easier to find. Same with the updated version of "Shut Eye".

I had a look to see if it was a simple 'move' but because it's embedded in OWC land it may well require specialist Admin talents.

To be on the safe side Michael,  I suggest you PM/email Don to move both scripts.  



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spesh2k
Posted: June 17th, 2021, 11:31pm Report to Moderator
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Cool, thanks!


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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