Screenwriting : Corny Or Not? by John Watson

John Watson

Corny Or Not?

I am working on a vampire script that uses some of the old vampire props like a garlic onions and rosary beads and crosses, and an actress who is helping me put it together says that it's corny just because, I guess in the modern day vampire stories it is rarely used if at all. I would like to get a few opinions on that, please.

William Martell

I think as long as the concept is amazing and something we have never seen before, the elements which are part of vampire lore are fine. I think one of the things to consider is the reason behind the "rules" (which is as important in screenwriting and vampire lore). One of the cool things about Matheson's novel I AM LEGEND is that it gets into the science of why wooden stakes work (they are porous and allow air into the heart and...well, I'd have to reread the book for the medical details, but it was really well thought out). There's a George Romero movie called MARTIN where the vampire uses a razor blade because over the years vampire's teeth have evolved to look like any other humans so that they wouldn't be killed. But if the concept is awesome and some twist on vampires we haven't seen before, the trappings of vampire lore "ground it".

Johnnie Jay

I would like to piggyback what William said and add, that if your story is awesome that should be able to keep the interest of the viewer. I would also add that if anything, update the effects of the Crosses, Garlic (Not sure about the garlic though) and Rosary Beads to give it a more modern feel, with the classic tools of vanquishment.

John Watson

Love honest feedback especially when it concurs with my own theories. (he he) I will let my actor friend read this. She is on Stage32 also. Thanks :)

Craig D Griffiths

Look at the note under the note. It may be your implementation of the rules? Sparkling vampires.... Really. Give dark mood OCD vamps any day.

Floyd Marshall Jr.

In what content are you using those things? Certain things are anathema to vampires, one being the crucifix and rosary beads. Now in films of today the persons faith must be strong in order for those things to work, because if you don't believe the weapons of faith are useless. I would use them, just do it the right way.

John Watson

The faith is strong for the heroin in the story. She says a prayer before laying the garlic on the lawn in the shape of a cross.

Richard Gustason

I don't think it's corny. Hell, some of the movies still use those things today, just in a different context. Not all the vampire films have the sparkly Twilight vampires. But as mentioned, adding the element of faith is a bonus because there is some stories in that in itself.

Floyd Marshall Jr.

Then I don't see a problem.

Aray Brown

I think it's a little corny if garlic is used to repel them. But it could work, depending on the story. I'm working on a vampire script, horror though.

Amy Heidish

I think it was the movie BLADE where they said vampires hated garlic because it sent them into anaphylactic shock. Made good story sense to me. Maybe you can find something similar. :)

Julien Klenn

I'd advise you to listen to your friend carefully. You can go with old school stuff but that wouldn't be something we haven't seen million times before. You need your own twist to stand out from other hundred million scripts out there. They don't have to sparkle but in this day and age, you need to be unique in some way. You bring something new and fresh to the table and your work will shine eventually. Blade didn't become a huge hit just because of the soundtrack. The vampire had the ability to walk around during day light, which was a really cool ability while everyone was writing about sun lights and garlics. Underworld went for a bad ass tomb raider knock off vampire chick who hunts down werewolves. Hansel & Gratel turned it into witch hunters. In the end, they all put their own unique twist and bent the sub genres. Being creative is a huge advantage and if you put your own twist and present something the audience has never seen before, the producers will be chasing your script rather than the other way around. The bar is higher now because these sub genres like vampires and zombies are beaten to death. So a great story and cool characters are not enough anymore. You need more than that. Just my two cents. Good luck.

John Watson

I think that vampires who ride around in an old beat up eerie looking camper to catch their victims is fairly original. And not a comedy BTW. Very gory. A lot of high drama.

Julien Klenn

Rather than a car, they ride in a camper. I don't see that adding anything to the lore. Picture yourself in front of an executive pitching this: ''A bunch of vampires search for victims in an eerie looking camper.' Does this really sound unique and exciting to you?

Bill Costantini

John: Did you see Only Lovers Left Alive from a few years ago? Jim Jarmusch is a Filmmaking God! (RIP, Anton Yelchin). Some of the vampire standards are even used by Mr. Jarmusch. What a great film. And it has Tillllllllllllllda Swinton. I would so kill to be a vampire with her for eternity. Ideally - eternity times two. Plus one. Heh-heh. John....if you look at me in a mirror.....you won't see my reflection. Do not be scared, John. Come to me, John. I want to give you eternal life. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is another great new one. And there was a German vampire film from a few years back....can't remember the name now....but it was very stylish and involved a young hottie vampire and a cop. And John Cassavetes daughter...can't remember her name or the film's name....did one a few years ago, too. John....look into my eyes....my child of the night..... Good luck and Happy Vampiring, John!

John Watson

To Julien's point I just mentioned that as something that set them apart from the flying ones or anything else, housing their victims in the camper to feed off of and such. But that is not what set the movie itself apart from others. There are a number of layers to it.

Dan MaxXx

Vamps in a beat up camper doesn't look cool on the big screen. Vamps driving Ferraris, Lambos, exotic cars. that is cinema cool. Fast N Furious Vamps. But I do like the garlic and old school Vamp 'rules'. Good Luck!

John Watson

Once again, I am not so much into cool, Dan, as I am into strange and eerie.

Julien Klenn

Can you please tell us what's eerie about a camper? Vans are creepy. Campers resemble retired people who have nothing but time to kill for me. Being a vampire doesn't help.

John Watson

It just looks antiquated, abandoned. Like anything could come out of it.

Aray Brown

I agree with Julien. There's nothing eerie about a camper. The garlic thing is dated but I wish you the best. Thanks for the add by the way

John Watson

Yeah, but the twist in the story is that even though they, the protagonist, uses an effective means of warding them off the vampire finds a way to overcome it.

Aray Brown

it's been done before though. If you can put an original twist on the garlic and the crosses, it might pay off.

John Watson

Thanks for the suggestions Aray. BTW, what a beautiful name. I will definitely have an Aray in a future piece.

Shubham Virgandham

Hey,even though the old stuff that you are using maybe corny,i think you should find a way to use them to provide another dimension to your narrative.If you are planning to go to the Drama-comedy space with it then the 'corny' stuff can be used hillariously.If on the other hand you want to keep it serious my view is you establish the necessity to use the corny stuff.That is what i think.

Christopher Binder

One of my friends wrote, directed and starred in his own short take on vampires. maybe you can draw some inspiration from it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkpGLhjLAEM

Bill Costantini

What We Do in the Shadows was a scream. I can watch that film every week.

John Watson

To Shubham's point, it is funny because that is just the reason for the old vampire prop. I can tell you are well practiced as a writer.

Aray Brown

Thanks John! It's Arabic and unique. And I'm looking forward to it

John Watson

Yeah, first it was Foxy Brown, then it's Aray Brown. I know Foxy Brown was a little before your time, though. (he he)

Aray Brown

Yeah a little, I was born in '76

Danny Manus

I have to agree. As someone who has worked on 2 Vampire films and read hundreds more, i agree with your friend. You have to find a totally new hook. Maybe it's their abilities, maybe their lore, maybe who they kill or how, how theyre killed, jow they travel, WHY they kill, when they kill, where they are located (30 days of night, true blood), or anything ekse. But you need to leave the garlic at home and come up with some really new ideas! good luck!

Owen Mowatt

I loved the vampires in, 30 Days Of Night. Now those were real vampires. Totally ruthless, uncompromising, vicious. They looked human, but all humanity had gone. Get all these contemporary wannabee Vampires in a room and let them feast!

John Watson

Let them feast. Excellent.

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

Let them eat corn.

Aray Brown

Owen, I agree with you on that. The vampires from 30 Days Of Night were the real deal, not sparkly and not watered down. Taking my vamps to the next level from that. I grew up on Lost Boys and Fright Night and while those are classics , we need vampire movies that are a step up from that, if not huge

Regina Lee

Hi John Watson, I respectfully suggest that you not take advice out of context. Without knowing your tone, intent, and context, there's no way to offer any relevant advice.

John Watson

Well here is somewhat of a logline Regina. A woman fights off a former classmate turned vampire, trying to gain access to her paraplegic husband. Copy written of course.

John Watson

The vampire is trying to gain access to the ex girlfriend's husband,

Joe Fiserano

Your logline doesn't make any sense. It needs a "who is" after the comma. You don't gain access to living beings. Reach would be a better word. You gain access to elevators, doors, floors, rooms etc. Do you mean copyright or you wrote a copy? You can't copyright ideas or loglines, titles. You can copyright your script.

John Watson

Yeah, I guess it would read better. Thanks. And yeah the script is registered.

Dan MaxXx

Tough crowd but it s not personal. The logline is a pass. Nothing about it makes me want to read the script

John Watson

I don't think that was the actual logline. But I will look at it and see how I can beef if up. Thanks, Dan.

Aray Brown

The logline is a pass for me too but I'm rooting for you. There's room for both of our stories.

John Watson

Thanks, Aray. But correct me if I'm wrong. Aren't you supposed to eliminate to many details. Their are a lot of layers in the story. I really don't know which element to bring out. BTW, if anyone would like to read it, let me know.

Aray Brown

A logline doesn't have to be the whole story, just the hook

Joe Fiserano

Logline is your premise, not your entire story. The hook like Aray said. And it always has conflict. Yours doesn't have any. A vampire trying to reach someone who is paralyzed is not conflict. A paralyzed person having to chase a vampire etc IS a conflict. Since there's physical disadvantage therefore, the stakes are higher. Also, your logline doesn't give us any clue about the purpose. It has to inform us about why if possible. This vampire is chasing someone's disabled husband for what??? Whatever your vampire needs to accomplish by reaching him, has to be added to your logline. Maybe he wants a revenge? Whatever. At this point, I would take a pass if your script was queried. Good luck.

John Watson

Maybe something along these lines. A woman fights to protect her paralyzed husband, by any means necessary, from falling into the clutches of a vampire.

Joe Fiserano

Choose one, fight or protect. Has to fight for her paralyzed husband... Much better than the first one. But then again, you have to make sure that it happens. There's nothing worse than a logline promising one thing and then the script telling something else.

Aray Brown

Why would a vampire go after a paraplegic when he can have his pick of fresh meat? Is there something special about his blood?

Owen Mowatt

LOL! Aray, you can talk??!! But I'm glad my message is getting through. Good question. ;)

John Watson

Yeah, there actually is. He used to be her boyfriend in college, but he was taken away from her when she, the vampire, was captured and turned into a vampire. Of course not a story for every taste. I expect to get a lot of negative feedback.

Dan MaxXx

What makes your Vampire story appealing and unique? For example "Neon Demon" had Super Model Vamps and "Twilight" was about High School Vamps & Werewolfs.

John Watson

I know. What does glittering do? It's not a power or anything.

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