I watch a lot of horror movies (proof!), to the extent that I can often provide a fairly accurate synopsis of some of them just from their first five minutes or so, because so many are just ripping off one another with little invention. And this is why I tend to be more lenient to movies with original concepts that may not have been perfectly executed; I'd rather see a unique idea with maybe a few bad actors or questionable effects than yet another "car full of college kids breaks down in the woods and they're killed by a hulking backwoods maniac" movie that's technically proficient. Part of why I quit Horror Movie A Day is because I was running out of things to say about these movies and didn't want to repeat myself - finding original ones that gave me something to work with was just getting too difficult.
So that's why I read The BloodList with mixed feelings - on one hand, I love reading the (sometimes) very nutty ideas people come up with and try to picture the movie (or at leas the trailer) in my head, but for obvious reasons there's a chance these ideas will never get turned into feature films. If you're unfamiliar, the BloodList (created and spearheaded by Kailey Marsh) has, since 2009, handpicked some of the best unproduced horror/ sci-fi/ thriller scripts and given them their due in the hopes that someone listening might make sure they get made (and many have - Eric Heisserer's script for what became Arrival was one in 2012, for example). As this is a collection of the best (voted on by dozens of execs) unproduced horror scripts of the past year, it stands to reason that some of them will stay that way, and that would be a goddamn shame. Not just for the writers, who certainly didn't spend weeks and months on these pieces just to amuse me for a few seconds when they end up on a list, but for horror fans, who deserve more originality than we're likely to get from the umpteenth Insidious wannabe.
There are ten concepts on the list, and most of them sound better than the likes of The Darkness or whatever, but there are a few that are more than "I'd see that" to me. These are "I ABSOLUTELY MUST SEE THAT!" and thus I wanted to shine a spotlight on them, just on the off-chance someone reading this has the power to make it happen. These are inspired, fairly (or completely) unique ideas that the genre could benefit from - even if they don't turn out great, it's always best to swing for the fences than... bunt, I guess? I'm not great at the baseball metaphors.
Note - I have included the complete entry from the official Blood List along with some brief commentary below each one.
Title: SOUL MATES
Writer: Chris LaMont & Joe Russo
Logline: Based on a short story by Frankie Mendoza, Gunnar Baroldy and JJ Chalupnik. The film is about two unsuspecting strangers who find themselves participants in a twisted new dating service that forces two singles inside a nightmarish maze designed to help them find their Soul Mate - or die trying.
Agent(s): Greg Pedicin (Gersh)
Manager(s): Russell Hollander (Hollander Entertainment)
Horror movies often showcase couples in existing relationships - showing one actually develop throughout the course of one could be interesting. Plus there's a game element to it; I know Saw is coming back, but these revival sort of things rarely work out, so new blood is probably the way to go if we're going to have another (not being dismissive) "gimmick-y" horror franchise. Bonus: easy and natural possibility for LGBTQ characters in followups (assuming this one isn't already written that way).
Title: MAXIMUM KING!
Writer: Shay Hatten
Logline: An outlandish, surreal imagining of how in 1985, Stephen King wrote and directed his horror classic MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE.
Genre: Dark Comedy
Agent(s): Joe Mann & Praveen Pandian (CAA)
Manager(s): Lee Stobby (Lee Stobby Entertainment)
Any attachments / additional info: N/A
All due respect to the others, but I'd gladly all toss them into a fire if that's what had to happen to make sure THIS movie got made. Niche as all hell to be sure, but man oh man, if you could see how wide my smile got when I first read this idea, you'd want to see it made too. Any MO fan knows that King can't really remember the production because he was "coked out of his mind", so whether they stuck exactly to established facts or used King's state to turn it into some kind of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas-type affair, it would be an amazing thing to watch. Bonus: it might get King to stop being so harsh on his movie - it's not that bad, dammit! I'll take it over anything Mick Garris ever did.
Title: SUMMER OF ‘84
Writers: Matt Leslie & Stephen J. Smith
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Horror, Coming-of-Age
Logline: It’s the summer of 1984, the perfect time to be 14 years old and free. But when neighborhood conspiracy theorist Davey Armstrong begins to suspect his police officer neighbor might be the serial killer all over the local news, he and his three best friends begin an investigation that soon turns dangerous.
Management: Jeff Portnoy (Bellevue Productions)
Any attachments / additional info: The Canadian directing trio ROADKILL SUPERSTAR (François Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoann-Karl Whissell) is attached to direct. Brightlight Pictures is producing.
Looks like this one is actually moving forward, so hurrah! To be fair, it doesn't sound like the most original movie on the list by any means - it's kind of a Fright Night (or Disturbia if you're nasty) deal, but the period setting is what intrigues me. New technology has made these kinds of concepts a lot harder to pull off (The Stepfather remake was laughably stupid in its attempts to let the title character do the same sort of "off the grid" stuff in the Facebook era), so dialing it back 30 years keeps the logic in check. But also, as the recent Wolfie's Just Fine video for "A New Beginning" proved, horror-driven nostalgia for this particular era can be a goldmine. Long as it's not forced/fake like certain overrated recent shows on popular streaming services, it can be charming as well as scary.
The following are "Fresh Blood Selects", which, if I'm understanding correctly, are writers who do not have any management/representation and submitted their screenplays via the Fresh Blood Initiative on BloodList.com. Personally, on the whole I found these more intriguing than the ones on the primary list, and kudos to The BloodList people for giving them a spotlight.
Project Name: An October Wedding (Feature)
Writer(s) Name: Nate Ruegger
Logline: A runaway comes home for her sister’s wedding only to suspect that one of the guests is a killer who knows her darkest secret: she, and everyone in her family, is a witch.
Witches!!! Really, a movie about a family of witches trying to get through a wedding might be fine on its own, but the mystery plot adds a layer of intrigue. And we know Sam Zimmerman alone will buy several hundred tickets, so this one is money in the bank, really.
Project Name: Atrophy (Feature)
Writer(s): Jennifer Helen Coates
Logline: Centers on a NYPD detective who struggles with black periods in her memory. With this, she soon discovers that the prime suspect in a serial killer case is herself.
OK actually I don't really care about this one much, but just like how it sounds like it came from the Giallo Generator.
Project Name: Darwin’s Game (Feature)
Writer(s) Name: Connor McKnight
Genre(s): Horror, Thriller
Logline: Eight strangers wake up in an eerily exquisite hunting lodge, only to unknowingly become the prey in a “specialized” commercial gaming facility. “The Cabin in the Woods” meets “The Purge”.
Down with _____ meets _____ pitches in general, but as I said above for Soul Mates, adding a "game" element makes it more appealing - the audience is invited to participate in a "this is what I would do" kind of way. And it's been a while since I've seen eight strangers wake up somewhere (the Saw ripoff frenzy created several in the mid to late '00s), so I'm up for a new one.
Project Name: The Stricken (Feature)
Writer(s): Rob Pilkington
Logline: When an unpopular young sheriff discovers an abandoned train stalled, robbed, and teaming with leprous undead, he must pursue the charismatic bandit who carries both the stolen loot and a deadly germ.
Contained horror! It worked for Carpenter a lot, so it's easy to see the appeal. Plus I would be willing to bet these two enemies have to team up, so this could basically be "Assault on Train 13". SOLD.
Project Name: The 49th Day (Feature)
Writer(s): Craig Peters
Logline: A young girl’s imaginary friend starts killing her family off one by one. But what can you do when you’re only nine and Death wants to play?
Bing Bong murders Riley's parents. Sold.
Again, a lot of these sounded good, but those I pulled out spoke to my particular sensibilities and/or got me really excited for the potential. If I had a magic wand I'd make all of them - none sounded like the kind of movie that makes me sad to be a horror fan. 'Grats to all of the writers who made their way on the list!