Monday, November 12, 2012

Check out DEAD CORPS on the Black List website

I got through another chunk of Black List 3.0 scripts and I'm very pleased to report one script kept me turning pages all the way through.  In fact, it even ended up at Consider-worthy level.  There are a couple things I want to reiterate before I get to discussing the script in brief.

First, I was very, very excited by a lot of the loglines I saw in this batch.  There were some clever ideas and also some new spins on familiar genres.  Of the 17 or so I read this time, probably at least half were scripts I was eager to dive in after seeing the logline.  So good job getting me on your side before I opened the script.

Second, I think the problem with.... you know what?  I'm not comfortable with the term "problem."  Let's try this again.  For me, (ahhh, now I get why Randy Jackson always starts critiques this way) the reason why I didn't get past p. 30 or 45 on some of those often had a lot to do with the script coasting a little too long.  There were some choices made that were perhaps a little too safe.  In other cases, I got a good portion of the way into the script and it didn't feel like a movie to me.  And I know that's a bullshit critique - so again I urge all of you, keep writing.  This is just ONE person's rejection.  And a person who can't even take the time to provide you with detailed notes.

Third... if at all possible, I'd like to keep a tone of positivity in the comments here.  I know that the script I'm about to announce is probably not going to be everyone's cup of tea.  All I ask is for an open mind.

The script in question is called DEAD CORPS, from writer Christopher Hinz.  This is evidently based on a DC Comics series written by Hinz, though I must admit, I'm unfamiliar with the comic.

Logline: A murdered cop, restored to life by technology, is torn between living and reanimated girlfriends while trying to stop his killers from murdering him again.

Yes, we're dealing with a zombie script.  And a zombie script based on a comic book at that.  Those are two of the most overdone genres in development.  Believe me, I know how this looks.  So without giving away too many spoilers, let me explain how this script rose to the top. (And yes, since this script isn't out there to the general public, I'm going to be very vague when discussing the plot.)

1) It created a textured, believable world.  In this society, post-mortum reanimation is commonplace enough that the revived zombies, or "Transmortums" are their own social class, and an oppressed social class at that. It sort of reminds me of how Mutants are regarded in the X-Men movies, and while that's familiar, the script keeps tossing in little touches that show the ripple effect of this change throughout society.  I think a frequent failing of scripts that put supernatural elements in "the real world" is that there isn't enough time spent on creating those ripples.  In fact, I see franchise potential here because the script leaves open a lot of loose threads introduced as part of this world.

2) Lots of motion, lots of visual action. This is where I think the script benefits from being adapted from a comic.  Even with exposition moments, the script rarely falls into a rut where scene after scene mostly deals with characters talking to each other.

3) Strong turning points.  The end of the first act is when our hero - who is a Special Agent who's charged with enforcing the "Transmortum Civil Rights Act" - is killed and then revived as a Transmortum himself.  Yes, it's fairly inevitable, but it's also a great character irony to play with. But the scene that really got my attention is a twist that came around p. 55.  I'd rather not spoil it, but a new element was introduced to the story and it really got my attention.  I'm not sure if the way that detail is handled in the final five pages or so makes for a satisfying resolution, though.  My gut reaction is that could stand to be fixed, but it hits close enough to the mark that I'm not going to doff it too much.

For much of this script's run, it was gunning for an 8 rating, as my giddiness wore off, I started feeling like 7 might be more appropriate and after writing this review, I'm left with the sense that 7.5 is about right.  But we've gotta work with whole numbers and out of fairness to the writer, I'm gonna round up.

A word about the remaining scripts - I haven't put a stop to this in the original thread, but several people have continued to post loglines there.  Per the instructions I posted, I'm only reading what was submitted before the deadline.  Why haven't I told people to stop posting?  Because I've heard firsthand of managers scoping out those loglines and actually reading some of the submitted scripts on their own initiative.  My feeling is that it can't hurt you guys to have your loglines posted in a public place.

That said, I had 74 scripts submitted before the deadline and as of this writing, I'm in the early 50s.  probably going to be a couple more weeks before I'm fully caught up.  I'm already thinking about different ways to approach doing something like this early next year, so if you didn't get read this time, keep your eyes open.

Those of you with Black List access, check it DEAD CORPS here.

For my reaction to the first 25 submissions and an endorsement of MCCARTHY, go here.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Though I believe I missed the deadline by a bee's d#ck, it's good to see you reading through and not going insane ;)

    Hopefully Dead Corps gets some success because of this!

  3. High five to Christopher! And best of luck with Dead Corps.

  4. Bitter, I love the article. So let me get this straight --

    You're a bitter reader but basically a nice guy?

    Who knew?


  5. Hey Bitter,

    Read the wikipedia page for the comic. Seems good.

    Can you explain the stakes if the Transmortums can continually be reanimated? If someone's trying to kill him again, but he can always be reanimated, what's his urgency in finding them?

    Also, just a wild guess, is the midpoint twist perhaps 'Minority Report' - esque? I smell evil corporation based on wikipedia page.

    1. Without giving too much away... There are some deaths the Transmortums can't come back from.

  6. Got it. Thanks.

    The torn between girlfriends part in the logline was a little jarring. Made it sound like a romantic comedy.

    I'm assuming you wouldn't have read based on logline alone, correct? Only because of your contest?

    1. It's not the greatest logline. I'd give it about 50/50 odds of being read by me under normal circumstances.

    2. Thanks for the nice review and supportive criticism. For starters, I'm going to take a shot at improving the "Dead Corps" logline.

    3. Hi Chris! I enjoyed reading the script and please drop me a line either via email, Twitter or in comments if any good things start happening for "Dead Corps."

      Good luck!

  7. As the script has only two ratings on the Black List, I was wondering if you gave yours after reading it.

  8. And some days later the script still has two ratings, in spite of your endorsing and being in the top scripts list. The system doesn't work as it should.

    1. Or I'm alone in liking it. Or people have added it to their weekend read. Or he's heard from reps we don't know about.

      We don't have enough data to make that call after two days.