Friday, 9 December 2011

Beating the Dead Alive (AKA Braindead)

As an actor at the very beginning of my career I am currently taking a full-time acting program. Now as a part of this program by the end of this six month intensive I have to complete a 110 page script using the Save the Cat method of screenwriting. Now this Save the Cat book has a bunch of exercises in it and one of them is to take movies similar to the one you plan on writing and figure out the 15 beats to it.

Now I figured since I was going to do this I might as well start with one of my favourite movies which I think is the most similar to mine despite not being the same Blake Snyder genre as the one I am writing. So after the break you will find the 15 beats in Peter Jackson's Dead Alive (Braindead). Now it is full of spoilers so if you haven't seen this movie yet and don't want to know what happens ahead of time stop reading now.

I probably shouldn't find this attractive, but for some
reason I do....

Project Title: Dead Alive (Braindead)
Genre: A combination of Dude with a Problem and Buddy Love
Date: Well this viewing was on December 9th 2011, but the movie was made back in 1992, before Peter Jackson gained a fascination with rings and before he made another good horror-comedy, The Frighteners.
  1. Opening Image (1): Skull Island (Southwest of Sumatra) 1957 Comedic characters New Zealand zoo official, have some sort of animal with them then get attacked by natives running away with animal. You’ve got the bite, cut off all bodyparts that have been bitten, which starts out as his hand, then an arm (which they show as humourously gorey), then his head. So from the opening image you know that when this evil Sumatran animal from Skull Island bites someone, bad shit is about to go down. Also the tone of the film is set as a horror comedy so you know that no one was taking themselves too seriously when making this. Note: Hero does not get introduced until almost nine minutes in and his love interest is introduced before him at just over six minutes in.
  2. Theme Stated (5): Nothing can stand in the way of destiny. Paquita’s mother or grandmother, not sure which draws tarot cards to read her future, predicting how she will be able to tell who he is, then we meet our hero Lionel and the symbol appears, destiny man.
  3. Set-up (1-10): Lionel is completely controlled by his mother and completely passive in all situations. At work he is ordering groceries for his mother and is extremely awkward and clumsy, at home Lionel is completely oppressed by his overbearing mother and at play when Paquita asks herself out for him he is passive and just goes along with it. We have met all the people in the A story Lionel, Paquita and Lionel’s mother. Many of the things Lionel needs to fix are set up in the tarot card reading by Paquita’s mom?
  4. Catalyst (12): Lionel goes on a date to the zoo with Paquita which his mother follows him to where she is bitten by the sumatran rat monkey.
  5. Debate (12-25): Whether to pursue a relationship with Paquita or do what his mom tells him to do and look after her? Also never noticed that he goes to bed with Paquita until this viewing.
  6. Break into Two (25): The luncheon with the president of the women’s league, where Mother is starting to fall apart and her brain is obviously deteriorating. Mother eats her own ear and doesn’t notice, then eats Paquita’s dog when she comes by to warn Lionel that dark forces are lined against him.
  7. B-story (30): So either the B-story is when Nurse McTavish arrives and gets zombified, or when Lionel goes to the veterinarian and gets tranquilizers for the two zombies. Not really sure which one it is...
  8. Fun and Games (30-55): Tranqing the zombies, zombie mom breaks out of house and gets hit by a trolly. The funeral where Lionel’s creepy uncle arrives there is a crazy embalming contraption mom breaks out of coffin and fights with Lionel whilst the priest speaks of motherhood. Cemetary zombie fight with the priest who kicks ass for the Lord.
  9. Midpoint (55): Lionel seems to have the zombies under control, they are eating his tranquilized food so should get under control.
  10. Bad Guys Close In (55-75): Lionel’s evil uncle arrives looking for money and being snoopy, zombies make love while Lionel is out of the room. Lionel’s neglect of Paquita since the recent influx of zombies breaks her heart and she finds another man. Zombie nurse gives birth to a zombie baby. Lionel attempts to take zombie baby on a stroll through the park and does not have the best of results. Man is that zombie baby ever gross, once again my lack of desire to have a child is reaffirmed. Sees Paquita on a date with the other guy. His Uncle finds the zombies while they are tranquilized and threatens Lionel. The jerk of an uncle then throws a party at Lionel’s house and Lionel is out of tranquilizer. 
  11. All Is Lost (75): Lionel uses poison on his mother and the other zombies, then buries them with the help of Paquita.
  12. Dark Night of the Soul (75-85): Lionel is locked in the basement where all the zombies are and he finds out the poison works as a stimulant for humans so the zombies come back to life bigger and badder than ever. Also the evil uncle is about to rape Paquita. The zombies attack the guests at the party who all reanimate as zombies. Lionel gets out and does the best running man move ever, but zombies are killing everyone.
  13. Break into Three (85): Lionel is in the attic and discovers his father’s dead mistress and realizes his mother was the one to kill his father and it wasn’t his fault at all so he no longer feels guilty or afraid.
  14. Finale (85-110): Evil Uncle seems to be rather effective at zombie killing. Lionel has to bite through zombie guts to avoid being killed by the zombie guts. When a zombie looks like it is going to eat Paquita he swings over to save her. Lionel comes in to save the day with his lawnmower to destroy all the zombies (but makes sure to turn the portrait of the Queen around so she doesn’t have to see the massacre), but wait he forgot about mother dearest who has now come back as super zombie demon mom and can all of a sudden speak in full sentences again. Lionel stands up to her and destroys her.
  15. Final Image (110): Lionel is no longer afraid so he throws away the talisman that saved his life a few times kisses Paquita then they walk off together as fire trucks pull in to put out his burning house. Also the zombie baby isn’t dead, just putting that out there.
I had never realized it, but Peter Jackson is actually in the movie as the undertaker's assistant. That's pretty cool to me, I seem to notice new things every time I watch the movie.

If for some reason you haven't seen this movie yet and read all this, watch the movie and enjoy one of the goriest movies ever made, especially for its time.

No comments:

Post a Comment