When I get cynical, I craft loglines for films that I think nobody could possibly want to see because they’re so stupid, generic, dull, or cliched. Then I pitch them to producers because that’s exactly what sells. Below is my complete list from what must have been spring of 2003, because Strychnine Kiss was still called Shadows and had yet to be merged with Thrash the World.
They’re all mixed together. I don’t even remember most of these ever having existed. Some are the cynical ones, some are cool ideas I wanted to write, and others started off the former but became the latter. What they all have in common is an utter lack of central conflict. You can tell how much I had to learn (and still do) about writing a pitch.
WETWARE (sci-fi) – “Anthrotech”—microscopic technology designed specifically for upgrading human beings—has created a golden age. But how long can it last against a terrorist cyborg virus?
Seriously? Hegel is rolling in his grave.
DINAH MIGHT (family) – 7 year-old girl inherits the family superpowers and discovers her parents aren’t as lame as they appear to be.
One day I’ll do this one with the right artist.
MILO’S MONSTER (family) – A boy inherits a spooky house, and its resident monster, from a great-uncle, but the house casts him into a fantasy world.
SPACE MONKEY (family) – Alien monkey infiltrates suburban neighborhood to find missing artifact.
You can tell the cynical ones because they sound like they were written by Awesome-o.
THRASH THE WORLD (drama) – A woman returns to her old neighborhood — possibly from the dead — to enact a revenge scheme against the gang that killed her boyfriend and left her to die.
FUNNY ABOUT LOVE (romantic comedy) – A young woman must abandon clown college for erotic modeling unless her boyfriend can replace a rare circus artifact.
I may have to change that to purple and actually write it one day.
DEATH PERCEPTION (comedy) – The Grim Reaper takes a vacation while a man performs Death’s duties in exchange for eternal life.
Now called Reaping Profit.
LOWLIFE (comedy) – A teenager struggles against poverty and dysfunctional family to pursue his dream of a mediocre existence.
The thing is…the logline’s terrible, but I like the idea of someone whose big dream is just to attain what everyone else takes for granted as blah: a lower-middle income, frozen vegetables for dinner, parents who don’t shoplift.
PROPHETEER (comedy) – A lunatic who thinks he’s a messiah will do anything for the love of a sexy stigmatist.
Shoot, that might need to happen, too. Needs more meat and sinew, though.
AS LONG AS IT TAKES (romantic comedy) – Unhappy singer sabotages his career to win back his ex-girlfriend.
This might be an old title for a She’s Famous Now sequel.
STAGGER MALONE: ANACHRONISTIC DETECTIVE (comedy/detective) – A contemporary private eye seems to think he lives in the 1930s, but must acknowledge his 21st century surroundings in order to solve a murder.
CONFIDENCE MAN (suspense) – An ex-convict rises to the top of a criminal empire with unnatural powers of persuasion.
BLACK AMBULANCES (suspense) – Sinister ambulances prowl urban neighborhoods, taking victims not to any hospital but mysterious compounds.
A LOVE OF FLESH (horror) – A monster-hunter suspects that his prey and his fiancee are the same person
That is the worst title I have ever devised
FADE (indie drama) – A high school girl moves from Berkeley to New York in a drastic bid for a second chance at life.
Always meant to be tied to — but these days bundled up with — Flicker.
SYNESTHESIA (suspense) – A man with an unusual disorder searches for his kidnapped brother.
Ah, ripping on Memento, I see.
INDELIBLE, INC. (suspense) – A conspiracy within a conspiracy fights to preserve the hidden history of the human race. Indelible, Inc. is a private interest firm hired to keep the magnificent secrets of the world quiet while the global elite profit by them. Little do they know that Indelible is not concealing, but collecting.
Yeah, this is definitely early 2003, because I had yet to retool my Black, Inc. pitch from DC as Control at Marvel’s Epic program, before combining the two into Invisible, Inc.
WHITE NOISE (sci-fi/horror) – The Army pursues an epileptic woman through a blizzard after her seizures expose their black-budget invisibility project.
I believe this is meant to be tied into Black Ambulances.
SHADOWS (sci-fi/western) – A beautiful gun-for-hire in a post-apocalyptic Chicago takes on the job of protecting a young boy and his family.
355 (drama) – A Revolutionary War spy must escape her British captors and deliver an urgent piece of information to the Continental Army.
CITIZEN X (sci-fi/drama) – A frustrated policeman is given control of an empire, but discovers the hidden pitfalls of power.
SHE’S FAMOUS NOW (romantic comedy) – Two young men seek to have it all in their pursuit of fame, fortune and a foxy former classmate who is now a major popstar.
DEATH TRAIN (satire, action-adventure) – Ex-Marine returns from retirement to stop a hijacked train and its nuclear payload. Also, terrorists, like, die by the dozens.
First screenplay I ever wrote, first comic I ever commissioned. First artist who ever ripped me off and disappeared with my money. Hi, Jake Bilbao!
SUCCUBUS (horror) – A seductive demoness prowls New York, stalked by the widow of her first victim.
SOULED OUT (comedy) – A teen discovers he has the ability to step out of his body and possess others, but can it help him win the girl of his dreams?
Body swap comedies will never go away.
DOMINO (comedy) – A crimefighter in the 1920s battles a Chicago mobster.
I imported Domino Bones into Invisible, Inc. or rather, his great-grandson.
SKULL & BONES (horror) – 18th-century privateers discover an abandoned ship laden with treasure…but one of the chests contains a horrific monster.
THINK TANK (suspense) – ESP is a latent ability in all people, but the group that wants to train us how to do it finds itself assassinated by political interests. The lone survivor struggles to pass on what he knows.
Conspiracies are a big thing with me, you might have noticed.
FLiCKER (indie suspense) – A young man’s search for his vanished girlfriend leads him into a nightmare of desolation and desperation. Reality – or perhaps his sanity – fractures around him.
I LOVE BIG MISTAKE (road trip comedy) – High schoolers make a bid to see their favorite band’s last show 200 miles from home and still make it back for their final exam.
Big Mistake is a real Connecticut hardcore/metal/punk/funk band, and if you can, you should get their albums.
ST. MARY (drama) – Young, pregnant woman drops sinks into a harsh existence when her baby’s father is killed.
There’s no plot there.
HELD BACK (comedy) – Unhappy businessman gets a second chance when he finds himself reliving his high school years.
Quantum leaping will never go away either.
ERASE THE PAST (drama) – An amnesiac is fascinated by a mysterious woman. He comes to remember the awful and beautiful details of their history.
I’m pretty sure this is based on watching too many Everclear videos. Trick statement: There is no such thing as too many.