Horror Movie Screenplays -10 Steps To Writing A Horror Script

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A horror movie has certain rules. If you break too many the audience will be disappointed.

This is a very short, no fluff, blueprint of how to write a horror script.

1. The Hook. Start with a bang. Step right into a suspense scene. (“Scream” opens with a terrifying sequence with Drew Barrymore on the phone with a killer)

2. The Flaw. Introduce your hero. Give him a flaw. Before you can put your hero in jeopardy we must care for him. We must want our hero to succeed. So make him human. (In “Signs” Mel Gibson plays a priest who has lost his faith after his wife died)

3. The Fear. A variant of The Flaw. The hero has a fear. Maybe a fear of heights, or claustrophobia. (In “Jaws” Roy Scheider has a fear of water. At the end he has to conquer his fear by going out onto the ocean to kill the shark)

4. No Escape. Have your hero at an isolated location where he can’t escape the horror. (Like the hotel in “The Shining”)

5. Foreplay. Tease the audience. Make them jump at scenes that appear scary — but turn out to be completely normal. (Like the cat jumping out of the closet) Give them some more foreplay before bringing in the real monster.

6. Evil Attacks. A couple of times during the middle of the script show how evil the monster can be — as it attacks its victims.

7. Investigation. The hero investigates, and finds out the truth behind the horror.

8. Showdown. The final confrontation. The hero has to face both his fear and the monster. The hero uses his brain, rather than muscles, to outsmart the monster. (At the end of “The Village” the blind girl tricks the monster to fall into the hole in the ground)

9. Aftermath. Everything’s back to the way it was from the beginning — but the hero has changed for the better or for the worse. (At the end of “Signs” Mel Gibson puts on his clerical collar again — he got his faith back)

10. Evil Lurks. We see evidence that the monster may return somewhere..somehow..in the future..(Almost all “Friday The 13′th”-movies end with Jason showing signs of returning for another sequel)

Go for it. Good luck!

Works From the True Masters of Fear and Anxiety

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Fear is part of the fundamental core of human existence, as connected to the basic functions of survival and the psyche as the survival instinct or the need to mate. Fear and anxiety, therefore, are among the staples of any genre that deems itself fit to entertain the masses, an art form to be mastered in the hands of a true artiste. Fear, dread, and anxiety are all integral components of any successful horror story, for example, but not everyone who writes horror manages to get the mix of the important elements — pacing, plot, and characterization — all of which must be just right to create a classic that will frighten generations long after the first copy was printed. There are a few that manage to accomplish the difficult feat of being eternal in their horror and long-lasting in their ability to turn anxiety into outright terror.

Edgar Allan Poe, author of “Annabel Lee” and “The Fall of the House of Usher”, is easily recognized as one of the foremost masters of horror and the macabre. His works have inspired terror and anxiety in many individuals, primarily through the use of heavy psychological tones, as opposed to the gore and blood themes used and abused by writers of his time. Poe’s collected works easily counts as some of the most frightening material ever written, especially now, in an age where horror movies are relegated to two hours of bloodshed and senseless violence, lacking any true horror and relying solely on shock value to appear “scary.” Poe also stands out as being among the few who can make even the most mundane things seem utterly terrifying, a feat emulated by Stephen King and several Japanese horror authors, but never truly duplicated.

In a completely different vein of horror from his predecessors, and arguably creating a sub-genre of horror through his works, H. P. Lovecraft also stands out. His works, while lacking in humanity, are difficult to see as anything but terrifying, particularly because of the apparent lack of humanity in them. In contrast to writers of previous generations, Lovecraft focused more on the truly monstrous, ignoring the human element that most horror writers tended to insert into their works since the days of the Gothic era. His stories were littered with monsters that knew neither morality nor mercy, seeing humanity as insignificant insects and, in Lovecraft’s malignant world of ancient races and Elder Gods, humanity was insignificant. He also brought back something from the Gothic horror era, showing his readers that knowledge, even just a little knowledge, can lead to the most terrifying of discoveries. This is perhaps best exemplified by the so-called “Cthulhu Mythos,” a collection of stories that centered around Lovecraft’s anti-mythological beings.

Among the most enduring horror classics in the world is that of Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” which combines the elements of horror with the intrinsic questions that plagued morality and philosophy at the time. In some ways, the story is one that puts a new spin on the old ghost story, in that the “ghost” is inevitably caused by the actions of mortal men who meddled in things they were not meant to. The story, aside from being a genuine tale of terror, also took on the role of a lesson in morality and the limits to just how far medical science could go. Prolonging life is one thing, but bringing back the dead is another thing entirely, which is  one of the subtle messages of the novel. The underlying question of whether or not Frankenstein’s creature is the monster, or if it is Frankenstein himself, also contributes to making the story a memorable, chilling tale.

However, very few stories can truly stand up against the pure terror and the subtle anxiety and dread caused by Bram Stoker’s infamous novel, “Dracula.” The novel is a hallmark of the Gothic horror era, presenting a villain of potentially epic scope in the guise of a remarkable gentleman and nobleman. It deviated from other vampire stories of the time in that the vampire, Dracula, was not monstrous in appearance. He looked every inch a master and nobleman, establishing the “lord of the night” archetype that would be a stock image of vampire characters in literature for centuries to come. It also had all the elements necessary to both frighten readers and keep them coming back for more, marking it as the most enduring horror novel in history.

The Medical Idiot’s Guide To Zombies

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The process of zombification has long been the source of many horror stories. Everything from George Romero’s “Living Dead” movies to horror master H. P. Lovecraft’s “Herbert West: Reanimator” have put their own twist on the “zombie” theme. However, most people do not realize that zombies are, in an odd way, quite real.

In Haiti, it is illegal to turn someone into a zombie, which may seem like a ridiculous law. Haitians, however, are raised to understand not the pop culture concept of the zombie, but a creature far closer to the original Voodoo myths that inspired them. There is a particular formula used by Haitian witch doctors for the zombification process, which usually involves the use of very potent, highly concentrated doses of muscle relaxant.

Muscle relaxants and potent anesthetics are the key components of any formula for making someone a zombie. In the context of Western medicine, a concoction is made with the use of a variety of herbs and toxins, most of which involve puffer fish poison or (in some territories) just the right amount of hemlock, to force the body into a very specific state of immobility. The body’s vital signs drop and will appear dead on all standard means of checking, with the pulse only detectable by sensitive instruments. This process is achieved through a number of means, but the use of a powerful muscle relaxant and anesthetic tend to be necessary for this to work. Without a muscle relaxant and an anesthetic, the body apparently fails to achieve the death-like state that forces family members to bury the loved one. Once this is done, the witch doctor simply has to be there at the right time to dig out the victim as his body recovers from the drug and claim him as a zombie servant.

There are, of course, side effects associated with the muscle relaxant-based zombification formula. For one thing, the flow of blood from the heart to the brain (among other parts of the body) is severely reduced by this, with some of the more potent “potions” stopping the flow of blood in the body altogether for a short period of time. The time of this reduced flow is minimal, but when combined with the lack of oxygen due to being buried alive, there can be extensive damage done to the brain. According to modern science and research teams dispatched to Haiti to study the illegal practice, most “zombies” experience a number of debilitating problems once revived, such as poor hand-eye coordination and problems with cognitive processes. Muscular atrophy has also been noted as a problem early on, though most victims of the procedure recover in time. It is the mental functions and the impaired mental capacity that are the most prominent problems, aside from the very high risk of death.

Death, like in pop culture zombies, is very much a key component of the Haitian zombie scene. There is the fact that the person is made to appear dead by the witch doctor’s foul brew, though a truly discerning medical examination can determine that he is not. The next one is the fact that, culturally, such people will be regarded by friends and family as dead and will avoid association with them. Being buried alive also carries great risk, especially if the witch doctor does not dig up the victim before he suffocates. Finally, there is the very real risk that the witch doctor’s formula was flawed, with too much of the muscle relaxant or anesthetic, resulting in death.

The Evolution Of The Horror Genre

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The literary genre known as horror has gone through some changes as of late and, for those among you who cling to the old traditions, these changes do not bode well. However, before going into that topic, it is best to first offer a brief explanation of what the horror genre is about. At the very core, the genre was designed to instill fear into people, by whatever means were thought necessary. Horror masters of the past were generally inspired in their work as they use subtlety and psychology to maximum effect, though more modern horror works (to be referred to as Hollywood Horror from this point on) rely on more overt attempts to scare.

Older horror classics relied on an understanding of human nature and psychology to instill fear. Bram Stoker’s Dracula wasn’t terrifying because of the vampire’s bite and the effects it had. Dracula instilled fear by the threat of the bite, the possibility of being turned into the monster he has become. He inspired terror not because of what he was, but by presenting himself as what the heroes could become if they allowed themselves to engage in the same base desires that he did. The bite merely acts as the catalyst, the metaphorical key to the lock that people in Victorian society placed upon their darker urges. In fact, classic horror literature relied heavily on the use of fear and anxiety about the darker sides of humanity to scare their audiences.

However, as people became more and more desensitized to violence, fear and anxiety became harder to instill through the written word. As the media started to grow and more people realized the depths and the horrors their fellow human beings were capable of, somehow, the monsters that were Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, and Mister Hyde seemed less horrifying. This was the case when the murders perpetrated by Jack the Ripper came into the knowledge of the general British public, as the unknown killer had done things that were debased, even by the standards of Shelley’s or Stoker’s classics.

Two later masters of horror, Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, relied more on the fear of the unknown and what lay beyond that threshold. Of the two, Poe was the more subtle master. He is prominently remembered as the master of American horror, tapping into psychological facets only touched upon by his Victorian predecessors. He relied heavily on the consequences of falling victim to things outside one’s control, which he expertly combined with the very real threat of death. In contrast, Lovecraft made use of the consequences of humanity seeking knowledge that he should not delve into. “Love-craftian” horror, a small but powerful sub-genre, attempts to show the futility of human endeavor and uses the concept of excessive knowledge as a device for terror. Whereas Poe scared by reminding people that they knew too little, Lovecraft achieved the same effect by showing people the consequences of meddling with things man was not meant to know.

As the modern era strolled on, fear and anxiety quickly lost the focus of horror makers. This is particularly true with the advent of movies, which relied more on gore and blood to elicit cheap thrills out of people. In the modern era, Hollywood horror has taken on two distinct directions; one for the literary scene and the other for the motion picture industry.

For literature, modern horror novels tend to focus more on personal horror, attempting to call upon the reader’s fears of becoming the monster within the books, as best exemplified by the works of Anne Rice’s earlier installments in “The Vampire Chronicles.” However, that also made the supposed “monsters” too easily sympathetic, as personal horror focuses almost entirely on the monster within the man. On the other side, films have taken a more brutish route, using as much blood, gore, and blatant violence as possible. Sadly, this is hardly an effective substitute for true horror, as cheap screams and thrills can only go so far.

As Hollywood horror, whether in the form of literature or film, slowly takes the genre into a downward spiral of decay, there is hope on the horizon. There are numerous factors that differentiate Asian horror from the Western forms of horror everyone is familiar with, but they are effective in calling upon fear and anxiety nonetheless.

Asian horror is often a potpourri of elements from the various horror styles. However, unlike Hollywood horror, Asian horror literature is significantly more subtle and psychological.  For example, in the film “Battle Royale,” the real horror comes not in the killing and the violence, but in the fact that, just hours prior, the characters killing one another called each other friends. Personal horror and gore are also used in a more aesthetic manner, limiting just what the audience knows about an antagonist’s torment and how much blood is presented on-screen. Finally, Asian horror typically makes good use of the supernatural and the unknown, effectively using the lack of knowledge and minimal amounts of it to great effect, as best exemplified by the graphic novel “Tomie” and the “Ring” series of novels.

Fear is something that is universally understood. However, it would appear that while Western literature and film have decided to go for simplicity and cheap scares, novelists and filmmakers of the East have taken the best elements of past horror styles and added their own cultural twists to it.

Why People Watch Martial Arts Movies

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Martial Arts Movies

Almost everyone I know who has studied martial arts got a start watching kung fu films. The most obvious and most classic ones are the martial arts movies done by the late Bruce Lee. He really set a new standard in martial arts films. He made things faster, more dramatic, and more involved than ever before. His movies not only had excellent and unprecedented fight scenes, but they also had interesting plots and sinister villains as well.

When watching old martial arts movies, it is easy to forget how pioneering They were at the time. Many people get caught up in the bad translations and cheesy dialog, not noticing me incredible fight scenes. Of course, modern Chinese  martial arts movies have taken things even further. The films of people like Chow Yun Fat, Jet Li, and Jackie Chan  have set a whole news level of excellence for martial arts fight scenes. They seamlessly combined special effects, brilliant choreography, and humorous antics into one seamless whole.

Of course, There are plenty of other martial arts movies besides the kung fu films. America has been making fighting films for years. There were, of course, the Karate Kid movies. Anyone who grew up in the 80s remembers these films. They were interesting because they featured a style of fighting that wasn’t generally portrayed in movies at the time. Karate is pretty straightforward, and doesn’t necessarily make for great film. In the Karate Kid movies, however, they really made it work.

Some of the most interesting martial arts movies are actually not fictional films at all, but demonstrations. I first saw a kung fu demonstration video about a year ago, and since then I have been watching every single one I can get my hands on. Many of these demos are based around long, elaborate, intricate dance-like routines rather than simple fighting. All the moves have a combative purpose, but they also have a grace and beauty to them as well. The fighters shadowbox with imaginary enemies, leaping, vaulting, kicking, and punching all over the stage with grace and ease. They punctuate flashy aerobatics and martial arts weapons displays with grunts, shouts, and shoulder rolls. All in all, it is almost every bit as dramatic as watching Jackie Chan take on the bad guys in one of his martial arts movies. Best of all, it gives you a taste of the art that you don’t really get in the big kung fu movies, No matter how cool they are. Somehow, it feels more authentic and more immediate.

Everywhere A Film Festival

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It seems that every town worth its salt is part of the film festivals movement. They have snowballed over the years, helping the independent film industry in increasing awareness of films that often have limited distribution. There is more to movies than going to watch the latest blockbuster at the multi plex. Independent filmmakers need to showcase their work, whether it is a feature film, a short or a documentary.

There is a practical side to showing films at film festivals. It gives directors and producers an opportunity to network and to sell their work to distributors. It’s often a struggle, especially for someone who is making their first feature, to find funding for their project and distribution problems can add to that struggle.

Some festivals like to follow themes, such as gay and lesbian, animation, children’s films or movies from a certain country or genre. Most film festivals however, like to show a mix and attract as many people as possible. The most famous example is the Cannes Film Festival. This is a prestigious event, attracting celebrities and world media. It’s a competition event and the most prestigious award is for Best Film, awarded by the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm). American made films are shown but it is an excellent publicity opportunity for European movie makers.

The Sundance Film Festival is the largest of its kind in the USA. Most of the screenings take place at the Sundance ski resort in Utah, so named by actor Robert Redford who is very involved in the festival. American and international features and shorts are entered into competition. The festival began as a small scale affair for the independent sector but it is now attended by Hollywood celebrity actors and directors. Many directors made their career breakthroughs after screening their movies here, including Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, James Wan, Steven Soderberg and Robert Bresson.

The UK has a lively involvement in film festivals. The largest continually run festival in the world is the Edinburgh one and the largest festival in the country is the Raindance Festival in London. Beginning in 1992, it came at the right time to promote British independent film, which is respected throughout the world. Patrons of the festival include Ewan McGregor, Terry Gilliam and Ken Loach. This event launched the British Independent Film Awards. Films from around the world that went on to international success have been shown too, such as the Blair Witch Project and Pulp Fiction.

What Is Film Criticism?

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Film criticism is the analysis and evaluation of films. In general, these works can be divided into two categories: academic criticism by film scholars and journalistic film criticism that appears regularly in newspapers and other media.

Film critics working for newspapers, magazines, and broadcast media mainly review new releases. Normally they only see any given film once and have only a day or two to formulate opinions. Despite this, critics have an important impact on films, especially those of certain genres. Mass marketed action, horror, and comedy films tend not to be greatly affected by a critic’s overall judgment of a film. The plot summary and description of a film that makes up the majority of any film review can still have an important impact on whether people decide to see a film. For prestige films such as most dramas, the influence of reviews is extremely important. Poor reviews will often doom a film to obscurity and financial loss.

The impact of a reviewer on a given film’s box office performance is a matter of debate. Some claim that movie marketing is now so intense and well financed that reviewers cannot make an impact against it. However, the cataclysmic failure of some heavily-promoted movies which were harshly reviewed, as well as the unexpected success of critically praised independent movies indicates that extreme critical reactions can have considerable influence. Others note that positive film reviews have been shown to spark interest in little-known films. Conversely, there have been several films in which film companies have so little confidence that they refuse to give reviewers an advanced viewing to avoid widespread panning of the film. However, this usually backfires as reviewers are wise to the tactic and warn the public that the film may not be worth seeing and the films often do poorly as a result.

It is argued that journalist film critics should only be known as film reviewers, and true film critics are those who take a more academic approach to films. This line of work is more often known as film theory or film studies. These film critics attempt to come to understand how film and filming techniques work, and what effect they have on people. Rather than having their works published in newspapers or appear on television, their articles are published in scholarly journals, or sometimes in up-market magazines. They also tend to be affiliated with colleges or universities.

Review 2012: The Biggest Blockbusters In 2012

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As 2012 draws to a close, we look back at the year’s biggest movie blockbusters. A year where superheroes, spy thriller franchises and feature animations dominated the blockbuster landscape. This year eight of the top 10 highest grossing movies worldwide breached the $500-million mark, which is an indication that the movie industry has found its mojo.

Let us review the top 10 highest grossing films of 2012 and if ever you live under a rock for the past few days; surely you’ll find the list quite interesting and guide you in your to-watch list during weekends.

Prometheus
Prometheus is a science fiction film that is set in the late 21st century and the story is set on the crew of the spaceship named Prometheus. The film so far has earned a total of $402,486,687 worldwide and grossing $126.4 million in the United States. It went to earn $21.4 million on its opening run during the course of the summer.

Ted
Ted is a comedy film that was directed and co-produced by Seth Mac Farlane which turned to the biggest grossing R-rated comedy movie of all time. Ted which was released by Universal Pictures featured the directorial debut of Seth Mac Farlane grossed worldwide at $496 million and earned $218.7 million in the United States

Brave
Pixar and Walt Disney’s Brave is about the travails of a young Scottish princess, a skilled archer names Merida who defied customs and caused disruptions in her kingdom. A computer-animated fantasy feature film, Pixar and Disney rewrote how they make animated movies in Brave. The movie grossed $534 million worldwide and $236 million in the United States. Not bad for a little girl who loves to shoot arrows.

Men in Black 3
The third installment in the MIB franchise sets Agent J and K with a new partner on a new mission. The newest sequel is based on Menin Black comic book series by Lowell Cunningham. The movie received generally great reviews from critics as it became a blockbuster success worldwide. Due to the success of the movie, a fourth installment is being planned for the future. MIB3 grossed about $179 million in North America and about $624 million worldwide. It had a worldwide opening gross of $189 million. The movie earned $1.55 million during its midnight run in 2,233 locations.

Hunger Games
Hunger Games is a science-fiction thriller movie based on the novel with the same title written by Suzzane Collins. In the movie young boys and girls should participate in a televised game event called “Hunger Games”. The film grossed $686.5 million worldwide and took $408 million in the US box office during its run in the summer.

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
This movie earned $728 million during its run and continued the winning ways of this much storied franchise. The main characters struggle to go home takes them to a journey to Europe where their adventure starts.

Amazing Spider-Man
A reboot of the Spider Man franchise where the origin story was the focus of the 2012 edition earned $752 million in the worldwide box office. Even with its negative feedback about a new perspective into Peter Parker’s beginnings, the movie turned out to be well-loved. True enough, even with that and a new actor playing the role, everybody loves the Spider Man.

Ice Age: Continental Drift
The fourth installment of the Ice Age franchise earned for Blue Sky Studios a worldwide gross of $872 million. Indeed, the world can’t seem to have enough of the endearing mammoth, the noisy sloth and a gentle extinct giant cat! In fact, there’s more adults drawn into the sequel than the kids!

Dark Knight Rises
Barring the bad press that happened during its opening run; the movie which is about Batman still earned more than a billion dollars worldwide. It grossed $447.5 million in North America, $44 million in Australia and $90 million in the UK.

The Avengers
The number one movie in 2012 is the Avengers grossing about $1.5 billion worldwide. The film received positive raves from critics which added it to its blockbuster showing at the box office. While many movie buffs are disappointed at seemingly limited exposure of the many stars, the turnout and team work of the characters just amazed the viewers. More so, digital effects and really witty dialogues reaped the heart of the Averngers’ fans.