Friday, April 21, 2017

Rise from your Grave

A common piece of advice for someone who can't sell their movie script is to turn it into a novel instead.  Wise words, but what if such scripts were made into video games?  Most Hollywood movie execs don't buy film scripts for the words on the page.  They buy them for the premise and ideas underneath.  Sometimes, during the course of rewrites, follow-up drafts, and changes of ownership, the original story ends up lost or replaced with something distinctly different by the time it makes it to the big screen.  Oftentimes that is a good thing, but other times it can be bad.  What if those good original scripts could get a second shot though?...say in the form of a video game.

"Ghostbusters" is one of those rare cases where horror and comedy successfully mix into a box office hit.  I enjoyed the film in my youth, but when I later learned what the original script was about it seemed like I had missed out on a far more interesting story.  A first draft has never surfaced online, but according to people who have read it, the tone was much darker and more terrifying.  For one thing the ghostbusters themselves were more paranormal investigators than pest exterminators.  They didn't have proton packs, but they did have P.K.E. meters and traps.  Most of the plot revolved around unraveling the mystery of why ghosts were appearing in New York City with ever increasing frequency.  Sort of like "The Ring," rather than the snobs-vs-slobs gimmick that dominated the final product.  Still, we do get glimpses of the original story in the form of Ray and Winston's car conversation about the end times, as well as some of the background chatter concerning Dana's apartment building; namely how it was designed by a mad 1920s architect to absorb and channel ghostly energy.  Speaking of ghosts, they were supposed to be extremely disturbing and grotesque.  So no Slimer or Stay Puff, but some of those other designs we get to see briefly might have had bigger roles.  To me it sounds cool in a creepy kind of way.  I don't think attaching the Ghostbusters license to a video game based on this original script would be a good idea, but I like the idea of a game based around these ideas.  It's sort of like a cross between Echo Night and Amnesia: The Dark Decent.

I used to watch He-man cartoons when I was little, and I think I even owned a few of the toys.  That said, I was never much of a fan, even of the live-action movie.  However, I recently got the chance to see a retrospective about the film, and was impressed with the concept art shown.  Even more intriguing was the original pitch for the franchise, which was basically going for Conan the Barbarian except no IP rights.  Obviously changes were made to avoid copyright infringement, but I rather like the idea of Conan going up against a skull-faced wizard and his band of bestial henchmen.  Evil-Lyn would make a pretty good femme-fatale and the kind of adversary that Conan never really found himself dealing with in any of the Robert E. Howard stories.  The concept of Prince Adam kind of works too, if you think of Conan as an adopted member of the royal family of Aquilonia (rather than Eternia).  Regardless of the nomenclature, it still has the potential to be an excellent addition to the sword and sorcery genre.  Maybe it could be an action RPG somewhere between Dark Souls and the Mark of Kri.

The Ridley Scott version of "Robin Hood" is not the director's best work, nor is it a particularly interesting interpretation of the famous character.  Supposedly, the original script for Robin Hood had a distinctly different title - "Nottingham."  In that version of the story the Sheriff and Robin Hood had a role reversal of sorts.  The Sheriff was the protagonist (rather than the antagonist) and a bit of a medieval Sherlock Holmes, using crude forensics to discover the whereabouts, motives, and identity of what was essentially a domestic terrorist calling himself Robin Hood.  This might sound a bit far-fetched, after all, everyone knows Robin Hood steals from the rich and gives to the poor, right?  Well...that's true, and it's also true that Prince John raised taxes after the King went abroad.  What's often forgotten though is prince's reason for doing this.  It was because King Richard the Lionhearted had exhausted the royal treasury on expensive foreign wars.  From that perspective we have a compelling tale about a dangerous dissident trying to sow chaos throughout the realm in the absence of its rightful ruler.  Enter our blue-collar law enforcement agent as the last line of defense in a kingdom steadily being undermined from within.  It's sort of like a dark ages L.A. Noir meets a reverse Assassin's Creed.  I should clarify; by "reverse" I don't mean the Knights Templar instead of assassins, but rather the player taking the role of a guy trying to prevent wrist-blade stabbings instead of being the one doing them.  Maybe in this case it would be longbow shootings, but I'm sure you get the point.

Those are just a few examples of films that were interesting to me in terms of what they could have been rather than what they were.  It's unlikely that any of those three scripts will ever be conceived as a motion picture in their original form, but perhaps those lost and buried concepts could see the light of day in the form of a video game.

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