Workshop Wednesday

Digging through my files I found the first part of a sequel to my original Van Helsing Syndrome screenplay. I never actually finished it, but I figured I'd post the first act here for posterity. Plus, if the original screenplay ever did get produced, it would be nice to have a possible sequel queued up just in case (not like that would ever happen).

Remember to catch up on Van Helsing Syndrome in the Works of Mike FinkelsteinWhat's that, you want to read various creative works from Asteroid G Lead Editor Mike Finkelstein? Well, if that's what you want... archive before reading this part.

Oh, and props to Mason Williams for designing the Blaxploitation-inspired movie poster for this project.

Van Helsing Syndrome: Bonus

INT: MARK'S HOUSE, BASEMENT, NIGHT.

FADE IN

We start with a swirl of colors, blacks first, mostly dark shades. The background music is a combination of strings and metal. A swirl of blue mixes in from one corner of the screen, then splashes across. Words appear, then the blue fades out to the just the word, then the words become white, then fade themselves, as the opening credits start. Slowly more colors mix in as the credits play, and the colors slowly start to remain in the background. Subtle at first, then more prominent as the credits continue. Eventually, a picture begins to form, from the swirling colors. By the end of the credits, we are treated to a painting of a forest scene, with a body lying in the clearing. The body in the painting looks very dead.

The picture solidifies and becomes a shot of the real painting. The camera pans off the picture to show us a shot of a cluttered basement. Tools, and more importantly, paints are scattered around the room, and we see a couple of unfinished canvases lying about, all of them as macabre as the one we just saw. MARK comes down the stairs to the basement. He's dressed in a black shirt and blue jeans. He has his phone in his left hand, blaring music. His right hand is blocked from our view.

MARK (V.O.):

The body has no meaning, in case you were wondering.

MARK walks past the canvas, and we see the painting of the body once more. Then we pan past to MARK who is opening a tool cabinet (which is full of more paints). He starts rooting around in the cabinet

MARK (V.O.):

I can't seem to get him to look dead enough... maybe more blood... Actually, I couldn't care less. I'm rather tired of the painting. Don't even know who the guy is supposed to be. Probably he was some body I found in one of my old hunts... That, or someone that became a body on one of my hunts.

SFX: Subtle click

The back panel of the cabinet opens up, revealing guns, vials of water, wooden stakes, and even some rather old garlic.

MARK (V.O.):

I really need to clean up down here. If some vampires had tried to break in, I doubt they would have waited for me to shove my tools out of the way to get into my cabinet. "Oh, I'm sorry, can you just wait while I tidy up here a bit before we start in with the carnage?"

JULIET (V.O.):

(sounding like she's shouting from upstairs) MARK? When are you coming up?

MARK turns and looks at the stairs.

MARK:

Soon. Just have to finish up down here.

The camera pans down from the cabinet, past MARK's right hand, which is holding a gun. We follow the gun as it is put into an open in the back of the cabinet. Then we pull back as MARK closes up the cabinet again.

MARK:

Yeah, I used the gun... yeah, I know I'm retired...

EXT: QUIET SHOPPING CENTER, NIGHT.

We see MARK walking to his car carrying a couple of sacks of food. Mark starts the car, and we cruise along with him as he drives through town.

MARK (V.O.):

See, thing is that I can't just let people die... Sure, the FBI is supposed to be taking care of vampires, but you've read the news. FBI isn't really equipped to handle the creatures... But, you're probably lost, aren't you. I mean, how the heck did we get from a dinner run to vampires? Such is the life of a retired vampire hunter. For you new people in the studio audience, I used to be a government agent, back when vampires lived in secret. Then, about a year ago, I found out the organization was actually run by vampires... Ah, here we go...

MARK's car slows down a bit, as we see a black car with four rather pale individuals in it. MARK slows further and pulls in behind it as he continues.

MARK (V.O.):

I got in to hunting vampires after my financee, Samantha, died at the hands of the undead. She was a hunter before I'd even met her, and I took over her mantle after she died.

MARK's car follows the black car at a discreet distance while he continues to talk.

MARK (V.O.):

Obviously I'm no fan of vamps, and when I found out they were running my agency, I finished up the case I was working on, quit my job, and blackmailed them with all I knew about the vampire conspiracy. Blackmailed my happy ass into a nice retirement where all I have to do is paint.

The black car stops in front of a house, rather normal house, and the vampires get out. MARK waits a moment, then reaches for his glove box. Inside we see a gun and a couple vials of holy water, which MARK takes.

MARK (V.O.):

Of course, as I realized in my retirement, vampire hunting gets into your blood... So, I hunt still, but it's really just a hobby now... If I felt like it, I could even take trophies of my kills. I mean, it's not like vampires are considered humans. Anyone can legally kill them, just happens that only a few of us know how to hunt well... But even I'm not messed up enough to take trophies...

The vampires lurk around outside the house for a bit, until one of them is able to pry open a window. Then the vampires climb in through the window. As the last vampire disappears inside, MARK steps out of his car. He slowly walks up to the house, and pauses outside the window, gun at ready.

MARK (V.O.):

Doesn't take much in the way of munitions to kill a vampire. Silver shot in guns, silver-steel blades, sometimes garlic or holy water. Heck, if you're lucky, you can just lure em into the sunlight, but if you're depending on luck, you might as well sit your ass on a platter cause you're just gonna become the monster's dinner.

SFX: Scream

MARK (V.O.):

Excuse me one moment.

MARK spins around so he's facing the window, gun at ready. He looks around the room, gun darting about as his focus shifts to different parts of the room. He climbs into the house, through the window, and the camera follows him inside.

INT: DEAD HOUSE, OFFICE, NIGHT.

The room is an office, furnished in fake wood and metal file racks. A computer sits on the desk in the room. Blood is streaking down the screen, obviously a new addition to the monitor. MARK slowly moves to the hallway from the room.

INT: DEAD HOUSE, HALLWAY, NIGHT.

SFX: Distant whimpering.

The camera looks over MARK's shoulder, at the floor. A trail of blood splatters leads down the hall.

MARK (V.O.):

Almost as good as breadcrumbs. I'd mistrust it, figure it for a trap, but they don't know I'm here. Never forget how powerful the element of surprise can be.

MARK slowly follows the trail of blood, making sure to keep an eye moving all over for traps or enemies. As he rounds a corner, we see over his shoulder down the hallway into the kitchen for the small house.

INT: DEAD HOUSE, KITCHEN, NIGHT.

On the floor of the kitchen, we see two vampires happily feasting on the body they dragged in from the office (the trail of blood leads right to them). The kitchen itself makes an L-turn into a dining area, but most of that part of the room is blocked by a wall. MARK pulls out a vial of water, and opens the vial slowly with his teeth, gun never moving from its aim on the vampires.

MARK (V.O.):

One guy, four vampires, two out of sight... Sounds like fun.

MARK shoots one vampire in the head. The vampire, male, slumps to the ground, while his feeding buddy, a female, starts to rise. Three more shots land in a tight grouping on her heart, and she goes down.

SFX: Little girl's wail

Another vampire, male, runs around the corner from the dining area. MARK fires twice at the vampire, both shots nailing him in the head, and the vampire stumbles. MARK backs up as the vampire falls down at Mark's feet. Then, the camera spins around as MARK is similarly spun, dropping his gun. We see the final vamp, VAMPIRE IV, and a long stretch of hall behind him.

MARK:

Shit!

VAMPIRE IV:

(eyes wide, half questioning) You shot them?

MARK:

Well, yeah. What'd you expect me to do? Sing them a song, do a little jig?

VAMPIRE IV:

They were new. Fresh.

MARK:

Very dead now, too.

VAMPIRE IV hisses at MARK, all fang, and MARK yells back. As VAMPIRE IV pushes at MARK, MARK's arm comes up and splashes holy water on the vampire's face, breaking the bottle against VAMPIRE IV's head. MARK flies back, landing hard against the kitchen cabinets, while VAMPIRE IV goes down on his knees, clawing at his burning flesh.

MARK steps over to his gun, holding his side where he hit the cabinets. He grabs his gun, then aims it at the burning vampire. As he shoots the VAMPIRE IV in the head, a smoke alarm goes off. Mark aims at the alarm, and shoots it too.

SFX: Child's wail

As the smoke alarm dies, MARK quickly walks over to the dinning area. A LITTLE GIRL, only about five, is sitting, crying, on the table. She's staring at the corpse on the ground.

LITTLE GIRL:

(sobbing wails) Daddy!

MARK walks over bends down to look her face to face. The LITTLE GIRL's cries subside a bit, and then more when he puts out his hand and makes himself look less threatening. He takes the girl into his arms, and carries her back through the kitchen, shielding her eyes from the sight of all the corpses. He spies a cordless telephone, and grabs it as he walks to the other end of the hallway. He dials from memory, and a voice comes over the line as MARK reaches the room the vampires had to have come from.

THOMPSON (V.O.):

THOMPSON.

MARK:

Hey, it's me. I need a bit of federal help.

THOMPSON (V.O.):

MARK? Voice from the dead. Long time. You in trouble?

MARK:

Not really, I just have a mess here, and I figured you were the best to call.

THOMPSON (V.O.):

What kind of mess.

MARK:

Four vamps. Clean kills.

THOMPSON (V.O.):

Any after-effects? Explosions?

MARK:

Nope, nothing. Bodies remained whole.

THOMPSON (V.O.):

Needs a clean-up crew?

MARK:

Yeah, but, I also have an orphan here. Girl. Looks about five.

THOMPSON (V.O.):

I'll send a unit to take care of it.

MARK:

Thanks.

THOMPSON (V.O.):

It's good to hear from you again.

MARK:

Yeah, well... Thanks for the favor.

THOMPSON (V.O.):

Yeah.

SFX: Phone goes dead.

MARK walks into the room. We see the mother, on the floor, dead. MARK immediately turns the LITTLE GIRL away from the carnage, and heads towards the front door.

MARK (V.O.)

I'm gonna be late home. Just glad I have an understanding girlfriend.

INT: MARK'S HOUSE, BASEMENT, NIGHT.

MARK heads to the stairs, grabbing his phone along the way.

MARK (V.O.):

Honestly, at times I think I bag more vampires than the FBI does, and I'm just one man running around, guns blazing. They have computers, files, agents all over the place. What do I have? A bad temper? Sarcastic wit?

INT: MARK's HOUSE, KITCHEN, NIGHT.

As MARK walks up the stairs, we see JULIET, in an oversized T-shirt, in the kitchen, making tea.

JULIET:

What took so long while you were out?

MARK:

Vampires.

MARK (V.O.):

She's very understanding.

JULIET:

Did you remember the egg rolls?

MARK:

Uh, yeah. I'm not a monster.

INT: MARK'S HOUSE, LIVING ROOM, NIGHT, LATER.

We see the two characters sitting on Mark's couch, watching a movie. Most of the pictures on his entertainment center from the first film are still there, along with pictures of MARK and JULIET. The rest of the room is pretty much as it was from the first film. The two of them are watching Resident Evil.

MARK:

Zombies don't act like that!

JULIET:

You know, sometimes I regret dating you. Only guy I know that can't suspend his disbelief while watching a zombie flick.

MARK:

Oh sure, just because I've actually seen zombies it's my fault Hollywood can't emulate them properly.

SFX: Phone ringing

MARK gets up to grab the phone. JULIET hits pause on the movie.

INT: MARK's HOUSE, KITCHEN, NIGHT.

MARK:

Hello?

THOMPSON (V.O.):

MARK, hate to call you so late, but I was wondering if you would be interested in meeting tomorrow.

MARK:

Why, something come up with the vamps from tonight.

THOMPSON (V.O.):

No, actually, I have an interesting case. We've been trying to work it for months now, but we never seem to get close.

MARK:

And...?

THOMPSON (V.O.):

We aren't able to crack this mystery. Normally I don't involve civvies, but we could use the help.

MARK:

I don't know, man.

THOMPSON (V.O.):

Look, the death toll is pretty high. You were the best we had. I anyone is likely to have some new insights, it's you.

MARK:

Yeah, sure. I'll meet with ya tomorrow. But, not at the office. I know a good Thai restaurant.

THOMPSON (V.O.):

That place you used to go to? What is it with you and food?

MARK:

Hunting makes me hungry.

THOMPSON (V.O.):

Fine. I'll be there tomorrow at one.

SFX: Phone goes dead.

INT: THAI RESTAURANT, DAY.

The place looks less than stellar, as if an Asian restaurant got eaten by a fast food joint 30 years prior and never updated the decor. We see MARK already at a table, eating away. THOMPSON walks in, looks pained to be there, then walks over to MARK.

THOMPSON:

How can you eat here?

THOMPSON sits down as MARK chews what's he eating. MARK lifts a container of soup to his mouth and drinks from it.

MARK:

It might not look like much, but the food is among the best I've ever had.

MARK takes another bite of food and happily chews away.

THOMPSON:

Here's the deal with the case. Certainly an interesting one. (Lowers voice) The case really dates back to five years prior. Bodies started turning up drained of their blood, sexually abused. The killer was nomadic. He'd kill a couple of women in a city, then move on, not to be seen for a few months, then more bodies would turn up.

MARK:

Drained of blood? So it's a vampire, right?

THOMPSON shakes his head.

THOMPSON:

Not that we can determine. There were no bite marks. Bodies were totally clean. Originally the case was with a serial killer unit.

MARK:

So what, his M.O. changed?

THOMPSON:

No. I honestly think they just got tired of the case. If they had been able to break it in a year or two, it could have made careers. As it is, five years later, the guy is still moving. Girls disappear, but by the time the bodies turn up, he's already moved on.

MARK:

So, there's a guy traveling the country, acting like a human vampire. Fun.

THOMPSON:

We have all sorts of files on everything he's done to the bodies, we have a good guess as to what sort of equipment he has. Someone working the case even went far enough to make a dramatization of what they though he would do with a captured girl.

MARK:

They what? Really?

THOMSPON sighs.

THOMPSON:

We need insight. This case is like beating your head against a wall, except less useful.

MARK:

So, how is this going to work? I get files at my house or something?

THOMPSON:

Well, if you agree to it, we will assign an agent to work with you. You can set up base of operations at either your place or theirs, and work this case like an agent of the FBI.

MARK:

But no access to the offices.

THOMPSON:

No chance of that. You pissed off a few of the top brass with the way you quit. I had to pull major strings just to get you on the case at all. So, you in?

MARK:

Yeah, I'll work it, as a favor to you. I need a break from my painting anyway. Besides, if I can help a few people live instead of die, maybe I'll get more than coal for Christmas.

THOMPSON:

Aren't you Jewish?

MARK:

Prove to me Santa is real, and only serves Christians, and then we'll talk about it.

INT: MARK'S HOUSE, BASEMENT, NIGHT.

Metal plays from a radio as MARK paints away on a new canvas, grisly imagery of a werewolf pack and the person they hunted. Would be hard to look at if it wasn't for the dynamic perspective and colors.

SFX: Phone ringing

JULIET (V.O.):

(from upstairs) MARK. Phone. Someone from the FBI.

MARK goes for a phone in the basement, hitting the stereo off as he goes by.

MARK:

'Sup?

End Bonus Section:

Okay, and now we're really done with Van Helsing Syndrome. Honestly, this is probably my least favorite chapter of the story I've posted so far -- far too much talking, mostly in voice over. I'd probably give this a full rewrite and ditch most of the initial script. Maybe just start with Thompson contacting Mark, having him come in for a meeting and dropping the serial killer case on him. Of course, then I also have to figure out if it's just a creepy human draining blood of if he's actually a vampire. That's a decision to be made during the writing process.

Regardless, that's it for now. Next week we'll move on to a new project for posting...