If you recall from last week’s blog...
I discussed combating writer’s block by working on something completely different, I announced that, in attempt combat my own writer’s block on my passion project, I was going to adapt the Chuck Norris cheese-fest Silent Rage into a serious remake.
Well, friends, something pleasantly unexpected Is happening; something that doesn’t always happen when we work.
I am having SO MUCH FUN!
My earliest movie memories were that of Die Hard, Robocop, The Dirty Harry movies (Sudden Impact was/is my favorite), Death Wish, Lethal Weapon… you get the idea. Not only did this provide me with endless ammo to combat the “Violent movies make you violent” 90’s zeitgeist; It also developed my love of film and story-telling from a more mature perspective. While everyone else my age was being traumatized by Disney movies, I was sliding a VHS of Cujo into my VCR and rooting for the dog.
My mother was the enabler in this scenario for the most part; my father still tried to keep some movies hidden from me. He forbid me to watch Predator 2 , so, to cheer me up, my mom took me to the Drive-In to see Home Alone. It wasn’t her fault Predator 2 was the second feature. I mean we PAID for TWO movies.
It would be financially irresponsible to not watch the second one, right?
The story is actually pretty neat for a 1982 movie starring Chuck Norris. A schizophrenic man in a boarding house by the name of John Kirby just completely snaps one day and goes on a killing spree. He is taken down (and killed) by Sheriff Chuck Norris…er I mean Dan Stephens (such a VANILLA NAME! Don’t worry, I changed it in my rendition) and his bumbling buffoon of a partner, Charlie.
With the bad guy dead, Dan and Charlie decide to spend the rest of the day beating up bikers and looking at boobies.
Meanwhile, Kirby’s psychiatrist and two “Doctors” (See: MAD SCIENTISTS!) decide that good ol’ axe-killing John Kirby would be the perfect corpse to test out a new formula that not only brings people back from the dead, but makes them heal like a comic-book character.
At the last minute, the psychiatrist decides this is a bad idea and bails, but the other two “Doctors” (MAD SCIENTISTS!) decide they don’t need a psychiatrist to resurrect this VIOLENT PSYCHOPATH and go on with the procedure.
"Surprisingly", things go terribly wrong and John “Wolverine-Deadpool” Kirby escapes and decides to go about some wholesome murdering. Some insanity, and a gratuitous amount of boobs(…seriously I think only two ladies in this entire movie keep their tops on) later, a final showdown between Chuck Norr—Dan Stephens, and mute mutant John Kirby errupts.
After exhausting all other ideas, such as shooting him, running him down, and setting him on fire, Sherif(ugh!) Stephens resorts to using some sweet moves you learn on your first day of Tae Kwon Do and tosses Kirby’s ever-living ass down a well… then just leaves him there… totally alive.
Is it any wonder why I’m having fun writing this?
Since it was a favorite of mine as a kid, I naturally know all of the beats by heart and, it turns out, spending 15 years between viewings hasn’t put me behind a step.
But, and I can’t reiterate this enough, I’m writing a SERIOUS take on this film. That is not to say the original wasn’t a serious take; it’s just that cinema (and our tastes and expectations) have evolved WELL PAST what Silent Rage was.
So, last week, while watching the Rifftrax version of the film and drinking whiskey, I realized there was a good horror story hiding in this movie. See, I think the original screenplay was meant to be a Halloween like cash-grab, but once Chuck Norris got onboard, it derailed into his Action/Adventure signature, and this clash of genres leaves it feeling like you are watching two different movies at once.
It’s also worth a note that screenwriter Joseph Fraley never wrote another script; typically an indication that his story was manhandled by producers until it was barely recognizable, causing him to quit.
Though that is mere speculation, it’s not uncommon. Guillermo Del Toro almost famously quit Hollywood when Harvey “ejaculated into a potted plant to impress a poor unsuspecting woman” Weinstein ruled his production with an iron fist; so it’s not an uncommon occurrence (especially during the time period in which it was made).
What started off as just a training exercise to refresh my mind on my main WIP (Work-In-Progress) is evolving into a project that I’m starting to get passionate about.
By focusing more on its horror roots, I’ve discovered that Silent Rage is another depressing example of an original story ruined by producers who never want to leave the tepid waters of “Good Enough” and created this trite mediocrity that absolutely DID NOT hold up over time.
Between the absurd attempts of “comedic relief” (in the bumbling buffoon that is Deputy Charlie) to a gratuitous montage of Sheriff Dan and Allison spending all day boning (and swinging in hammocks); every avenue was taken to turn a decent horror/thriller into a banal action/adventure, completely undercutting the decent seed of ideas Silent Rage had to offer.
This was obviously inspired by Halloween, but the team that became attached (with Chuck Norris’ signature) made sure to do their damnedest to remove every bit of fear and tension the concept had to offer for no other reason than to stick with what worked for them before.
Can you imagine if someone such as Michael Biehn had been cast in the lead instead and the movie maintained its original course? It might have been something more than forgettable! That's what I'm trying to accomplish here.
I'd like to give Joseph Fraley some much needed justice and create a story closer to his original vision.
But even if I don’t, at least I’m having a lot of fun, and I mean, isn’t that what all writers want at the end of the day? To have fun creating?
Keep writing, writers!