Monday, November 15, 2010
Hypo-Head Treatment Part 1
This was a movie treatment I sent the KNB-EFX folks when it was looking like they might do a movie of The Dead...my daughter Soph (you might know her as Moroturkey) came up with the basic idea for the beastie, although, in her version, it wasn't a vampire, rather a sad critter who went around with a head full of ink, scrawling incoherent stuff on the walls. With her permission (at least, I think I got her permission), I decided, characteristically, to make the creature much nastier. Like Vernichtung, this idea might yet wind up as a novel...
Brain hidden in a hump between the shoulders.
Long mantis-like arms for seizing prey.
Powerful jumping legs.
A long needle-like proboscis for insertion under the ribcage, capable of draining a man in a matter of moments.
A transparent domed pseudo-skull that fills with blood even as the victim watches in horror….This is the Swedish Evil, a whole new brand of bloodsucker….
Our story opens in 1690, on Wormius Island in the Delaware River. Renegade nobleman COUNT OLAUS WORMIUS, fleeing the Lutheran vampire-hunters of the Order of Gustavus Adolfus, has taken refuge in the Swedish Crown colony of Christiana. But his minions have drained one too many locals; Master Slayer JAKOBUS SUNDQUIST has arrived to destroy the evil. Reinforced by a mob of villagers from Christiana, he approaches WORMIUS'S mansion; trailing well behind are his huge retainers LARS, ULRIKE, and BJORN. The first two are carrying a medium-sized ship's gun; the last has a barrel of gunpowder under one arm and a bag of cannon-balls slung over his back.
Against SUNDQUIST'S orders---he wants to wait for the cannon--- some of the townsmen, hot for vengeance, press on to the mansion, overpower WORMIUS'S servants at the door, and pour inside, descending into the catacombs, armed with matchlocks and polearms.
As they approach WORMIUS'S sanctum, they pass through a chamber lined with upright coffins; inside the caskets are dark cocoons containing monstrous but seemingly lifeless figures. The townsmen try to slice open the silk, to see what's inside; unable to cut their way in, they press on towards the sanctum, thinking the things inside the cocoons are dead.
They are, of course, horribly mistaken
The figures in the silk begin to move. Long thin protuberances jab outwards, metallic-looking, pointed and hollow…spurred arms like those of praying mantises tear through the silk.
Up ahead, the townsmen are just about to enter the sanctum when they realize that something's rushing up on them from behind. Shapes charge through the darkness, leaping, flying. Men drop; polearms clatter to the floor. We see the shadows of inhuman shapes and struggling men, probosci being inserted. Legs kick; writhing faces grow pale, cheeks falling in; bodies shrivel. On the walls, the transparent shadows of pseudo-skulls grow opaque as the domes fill with blood…
Cut to the inside of the sanctum. At the top of a long red-carpetted staircase is a huge throne on which sits OLAUS WORMIUS, impossibly bloated, clad in a late seventeenth-century frock coat and wig; he watches as fleet dark forms race through the door and up the steps. We never get a good look at them, although we do see close-ups of those long cruel snouts driving into WORMIUS'S swollen abdomen just beneath the ribcage, as well as his arms, upper thighs, throat. As blood from the drained villagers fills his veins, we see him swelling even more, clothes growing tight as his face lights up with a hideous just-got-my-fix ecstasy…
SUNDQUIST'S troop enters the room where the men were attacked----the victims are mere husks, completely drained, but still alive, stirring feebly on the floor. SUNDQUIST tells his men to douse the bodies with oil and burn them, but the remaining villagers, inflamed by the sight of their shrivelled undead brethren, would rather go and kick ass. SUNDQUIST begs them to wait for the cannon, but they go running into the sanctum----
Just as LARS, ULRIKE and BJORN arrive on the scene with the gun and the amunition.
Eyeing the villagers from his throne, WORMIUS disptaches his inhuman minions against them; once again, we never see the things clearly, but witness the effect of their onslaught from behind the villagers----as the thing tear their way through the crowd, blood, matchlocks and splintered pikes fly up into view.
"I told them to wait for the cannon," says SUNDQUIST to his giant servants as they set the gun down on the threshold.
"Villagers," LARS replies in disgust.
Just as the things tear their way clear through the crowd, SUNDQUIST swings a torch down onto the touch-hole. A cloud of grapeshot splatters the half-seen horrors.
WORMIUS bubbles obscene laughter, his whole huge body shaking. BJORN reloads the cannon, but before SUNDQUIST can light it off again, WORMIUS lifts one of the arms of his seat, pulling it back; out of the floor rises a metallic shell, which closes over his throne. With a sigh of rushing air, the shell drops down into the dais, vanishing from sight just as a cannon-ball smashes into the wall behind.
SUNDQUIST rushes across the floor, up the stairs, and stamps on the floor at the top. Leaning back with fists clenched, he howls with rage and frustration…
People's Plaza theatre, Glasgow Delaware, the present. Seventeen Year-old BOBBY AMATUNA is watching John Carpenter's Vampires, or something similar, with his girlfriend ERIN. He's quite absorbed in the flick; she isn't. When it's over, he asks, quite seriously, why life can't be more like that movie---he'd really like to be involved in a series of dramatic head-on confrontation with ultimate evil, but he's pretty sure he's going to wind up in the construction business like his dad. ERIN is sick of listening to this kind of garbage; they have a big fight in the parking lot. She wants BOBBY to take over his father's business--- she's got BOBBY's life all planned out for him. Sensing she's never going to appreciate his more spiritual side, he breaks up with her then and there.
The next day, we see him getting on a barge taking construction to Bean Patch island in the Delaware River. During the Civil War, the Island was the site of a Union prisoner of war-camp; the National Park Service is expanding the facilities on the island, building a new visitor's center and a quay to accommodate a larger ferry. Amatuna Construction has the contract; Bobby's father SAM is running the show, and BOBBY'S got a summer job as a laborer.
As BOBBY arrives, he and his father have a tense exchange---ERIN's father, who works for SAM, has informed him that BOBBY and ERIN broke up. SAM, whose attitude is very similar to ERIN's, berates BOBBY for his lack of ambition and for treating ERIN so badly. Then he hands BOBBY a shovel and tells him to drain a small foundation-pit that filled up with water during a rainstorm the previous night.
Midway through the morning, there's a commotion---BOBBY goes to see what's going on. MARCIA SUNDQUIST, an attractive but very intense-looking woman in her mid-twenties has arrived on the island and is in the middle of a shouting match with SAM, demanding that work on the project be immediately halted. When SAM asks for an explanation, MARCIA launches into a bizarre historical disquisition on Swedish-colonial days---Bean Patch island was known as Wormius island back then, and one Count Olaus Wormius had a mansion on it, and got into a conflict with local villagers, and his place was burned to the ground, etc; she wants to know if the workers have unearthed any huge steel cylinders….
SAM has her escorted, kicking and screaming, back to her little launch.
But she merely drives it round to the other side of the island, and sneaks back across through the trees to spy on the construction site.
Digging a trench for a drainage pipe, one of the crews uncover something and send for SAM; everyone converges on the trench, including MARCIA, who slips out of the woods and works her way through the crowd.
At the bottom of the trench is a huge rusty rivetted cylinder, roughly fifteen feet long.
"That!" MARCIA crows. "That's the one! I told you!"
SAM tells his men to take her away again; when she refuses to reveal the location of her boat, BOBBY's instructed to take her back across the river on one of the company's skiffs.
On the way, she tells BOBBY she wouldn't be making such a nuisance of herself if her uncle wasn't down in Patagonia, and goes on to say that everyone in the Tri-State area is going to die if nothing's done.
But it isn't until she mentions vampires that BOBBY's completely hooked.
She asks him if he can get his hands on some dynamite, seeing as how his father's in construction. But even though BOBBY is desperate to help this fascinating older woman blow up a three-hundred year old vampire's escape cylinder, he simply doesn't know how to lay his hands on the explosives. Thinking he's lying, she rebuffs him when he suggests they go see the vampire flick he saw the night before, and leaves in a huff when they reach the west side of the river.
MARCIA returns to her palatial house north of Wilmington. She's a descendant of the very first Swedish colonists in the area, and her family has a great deal of money. Her parents are off on vacation somewhere, but MARCIA'S younger sister CHRISSIE is home, and suspicious, and tries to pump MARCIA for information.
MARCIA, it seems, has a habit of getting involved in ill-thought out crusades. In one instance, down in Southern Mexico, she bought a truckload of supplies for Zapotec rebels, only to lead a large detachment of Mexican soldiers to the Zapotista base when she tried to deliver the goods. Somehow managing to extricate herself from that situation, she had joined a group of environmental protesters in the Pacific Northwest, and had accidentally touched off a major blaze in a stand of old-growth forest that was scheduled to be logged….
Anyway, CHRISSIE can tell that something similar is in the offing , but MARCIA won't give her a clue; retiring to her room, MARCIA goes on the internet and looks up a site dedicated to the concoction of homemade explosives.
Armed with a shopping list, she hits Home Depot and Sears Hardware; returning with several big bagloads of stuff, she tries to get up into her room but is intercepted by CHRISSIE, who's absolutely sure now that something's up. Still refusing to answer her sister's questions, MARCIA takes off for a local Econo-Lodge and mixes up some plastique, makes a substantial pipe-bomb, and heads back to the river at New Castle. Stealing a boat, she returns to Bean Patch island.
Avoiding the night watchman, she goes back to the trench where the cylinder was found. The site has been roped off, and a tarp has been over the huge container. It's been raining----gulleys have been worn out underneath the cylinder. Lighting the fuse on her bomb, MARCIA tosses into into one of those channels and retreats.
Huge explosion----MARCIA'S delighted that her bomb worked. All sorts of stuff comes raining down, curved sections of rivetted steel, quilted fabric, chairs, bizarre statuettes---evidently the thing was rather plushly furnished, perhaps rather like the inside of Cavor's sphere in Harryhausen's First Men from the Moon.
MARCIA approaches the edge of the trench. The cylinder has been blasted in two. Look as she might, she can see no sign of its occupant.
But that’s because the explosion blew him clear over her head and deposited him in the grass behind---- crawling up in back of her, emaciated, a mere stick figure, COUNT WORMIUS seizes one of her ankles and pulls her down, biting her on the wrist, taking a gulp of spurting blood before the nightwatchman arrives on the scene. Then, apparently exhausted, he goes slack.
Gripping her wrist, MARCIA gets to her feet as the watchman investigates the now-motionless figure of the COUNT; suddenly WORMIUS flings himself upright. The watchman screams and loses his balance in the slippery grass. WORMIUS flops onto him and bites out his throat. MARCIA flees, back to the boat.
Weakened by loss of blood, she manages to reach New Castle and checks herself in to a local emergency room; there are only a few other patients there, and two nurses and a doctor. MARCIA gives the lady at the desk a bullshit story and places a call to BOBBY AMATUNA, telling him that hes got to help her, and that he's the only one she can trust.
Almost as soon as she hangs up the phone, however, she begins to shiver violently and her head begins to hunch downwards; as her arms lengthen and her hands change into strange rake-like things, her upper teeth begin to grow, twitching about for a few moments before fusing together and lengthening some more. A split opens in the center of her face, through which her upper jaw begins to migrate; smaller splits open above her eyes, which begin to crawl upwards through her brows…
The nurses, needless to say, are pretty damn freaked.
When BOBBY arrives soon afterwards, there's no one at the front desk; after shouting several times, he goes back into the small ward. The walls are covered with indecipherable bloody scrawls. The curtains are drawn up around the beds.
"Marcia?" he asks, going down the line, pulling the curtains back. The first three beds are empty. He comes to a curtain with small spatters of blood on it, peers through a rip in the cloth; inside, the bed is dishevelled and sprinkled with blood, but empty.
He hears something moving behind the last partition, whose curtains are badly splashed and torn; looking in through a rip, he sees an old woman with a bloodied arm standing in a corner.
He goes in; she looks at him silently, apparently out of her mind, making a gesture as if she's injecting something with a hypodermic.
He retreats, back towards the front desk, hears faint sounds of movement in a closet off to the side; going to the door, he hears someone whispering for help. He opens the closet, sees a DOCTOR and a NURSE lying on the floor, shrivelled husks, yet still alive; he reaches to help them, but when the doctor extrudes prehensile gums lined with long wandering fangs, BOBBY jumps back.
Just then, two COPS arrive; the other nurse managed to escape, and called them in. BOBBY doesn't get much more out of them; when they question him, he tells them about the mummies in the closet. The FIRST COP goes to check it out. We see him disappear behind the open door, hear whispering, then shots. THE SECOND COP, who's been watching BOBBY, goes to see what's happening.
More shots; the SECOND COP comes out, dragging his partner.
Then one of the mummies flops through the opening.
Almost unconsciously, BOBBY backs away, going outside.
The cop car is parked at the curb. One of the rear doors is open---there's some sort of struggle going on in the back seat. BOBBY remains rooted to the spot, watching. A bloodied NURSE, the one who called the police, undoubtedly, tries to thrash her way over the seats, but is dragged back.
BOBBY retreats along the sidewalk.
Something emerges from the car---it's too distant for us to see it clearly, but it's plainly not human. It takes a few steps towards BOBBY---then we hear shouts from inside the emergency room, and it rushes inside, as if to deal with the two cops there.
BOBBY gets to his car and drives to the New Castle police station. A LIEUTENANT WACKENHUT is in charge; BOBBY'S father is a friend of his. WACKENHUT doesn't believe what BOBBY has to say, although he knows something strange must be going on over at the Emergency room---the dispatcher hasn't been able to raise the car.
Accompanied by BOBBY and a number of other cops, WACKENHUT goes to the emergency room. There's lots of blood, and evidence of foul play---but no bodies.
Cut the sky reddening in the east over the Delaware River, and a number of strange domelike objects, partially submerged and filled with some dark fluid, moving through the water towards Bean Patch Island….
Cut to the island, Wormius in the ruins of his sanctum. Having drained the watchman, he's looking much less skeletal. We see the dripping legs of his inhuman minions as the things enter the room and aproach him; a look of infernal anticipation spreads across his face. Then the long needles start plunging into his body, pumping more blood into him. His flesh swells and swells, his grin widening horrifically.
We return to BOBBY. After he gets some sleep, he goes to the Sundquist house, hoping to find out some answers. CHRISSIE answers the door---she's already had a visit from the police about her sister's disappearance.
"Same old shit," she says. "Though this time she's probably gotten into some real trouble. We'd better talk to Uncle Marvin. He's coming back frm Patagonia this morning."
Scenes shifts to Philadelphia International…MARVIN SUNDQUIST, a Lutheran pastor from Pike Creek Delaware, has just arrived; he's a mousy-looking fellow dressed in very somber clothes, accompanied by three muscular bruisers, SVEYN, OLE, and THORSEN; taking a bunch of large intriguing packages from the luggage carousel at the airport, they load the stuff into the back of CHRISSIE'S Suburban. On the way back to Delaware, she explains the situation to her uncle, who turns out to be a very intense and intimidating guy, despite his appearance.
"You saw dried bodies at the emergency room?" he asks BOBBY.
"Yes," BOBBY answers.
"Dried out but alive?" Sundquist asks.
"How dry would you say they were?"
"With prehensile gums?"
SUNDQUIST eyes BOBBY narrowly. "You don't look like the sort of youngster who would even know what prehensile means, let alone use it in a sentence."
BOBBY doesn't know how to respond.
"Do you know who I am?" SUNDQUIST asks him.
"Besides Chrissie's uncle and a reverend and stuff?"
SUNDQUIST leans towards him.
"Have you ever heard of the Order of Gustavus Adolfus?"
BOBBY shakes his head.
"What about…the Swedish Evil?"
Sundquist looks right and left, cracks his knuckles---then explains. The Evil first originated in Sweden in the 1620's---members of the Wormius family, seeking eternal life, made a pact with the Great Old Ones…
"Like H.P. Lovecraft?" BOBBY asks.
Not even cracking a smile, SUNDQUIST replies: "He merely wrote about them."
"Sorry," BOBBY answers.
SUNDQUIST goes on to describe how the Wormius clan achieved a variety of physical immortality, provided they could receive constant infusions of blood from their victims, who turned into monstrous needle-nosed creatures who scoured the countryside for Swedes to drain…. After a time, the contagion spread into neighboring countries as well. Terribly embarrassed that Sweden had given rise to such a horror, the Crown recruited bands of vampire-slayers, who launched raids into other lands to try and wipe out this horror. Often as not, they were successful, but sometimes---accidentally---they also touched off huge conflicts, the Thirty Years' War being one example. But the Kings of Sweden, in their shame, thought this a small price to pay; and down through the ages, the Order of Gustavus Adolphus continued its work in all parts of the globe, igniting great wars and small from time to time, including the Eurpean Revolutions of 1848, the U.S. incursion against Manuel Noriega, and the Swiss Civil War of 1994, which was largely hushed up.
"So you guys work for the Swedish government, huh?" BOBBY asks.
"Not anymore," SUNDQUIST replies. "They cut off our funding in 1952. We've had to rely on private contributions since then. The Chrysler Corporation has been particularly generous."
"And this stuff with the island----what Marcia was trying to stop---it's all this Swedish Evil thing?"
"Bean Patch Island was originally called Wormius Island," SUNDQUIST continues. "The clan transplanted itself to the New World in colonial days. One of my ancestors led an attack on the stronghold of Count Olaus Wormius, but the Count escaped in a huge cylinder that descended into the earth. The mansion burned some years later, but it was surmised that the catacombs probably remained intact. Your father uncovered the cylinder, and Marcia, if I know her, must've free Wormius while trying to destroy him."
"That'd be just like Marcia, all right," CHRISSIE says.
"So why didn't you stick around to stop all this stuff yourself?" BOBBY asks SUNDQUIST.
"A major outbreak of the Evil," Sundquist says. "In Patagonia."
"Oh," BOBBY replies. "Yeah."
SUNDQUIST decides he'd better talk to SAM AMATUNA and the guys from the Park Service; BOBBY accompanies the vampire slayers and CHRISSIE out to the island. SAM and the PARK GUYS don't listen very respectfully---they're particularly unimpressed with the claim that the victims are turning into non-human monstrosities with needle noses.
But suddenly SUNDQUIST begins to shiver; he explains that the firstborn males in his line of the family were cursed by the Wormius clan---- he'll turn into one of those needle-nosed things if he doesn't take his "medication," which he produces from his breast pocket. As SAM and the PARK GUYS watch in astonishment, he begins to transform; he barely manages to slide the bottle's rubber top down onto the point of his lenthening snout, ingesting the contents just before he ceases to be human; to everyone's relief, he changes back.
"How often does that happen?" SAM asks, thoroughly rattled.
"It's unpredictable," SUNDQUIST replies, none too comfortingly.
He asks if the construction crew has discovered any cave-mouths or openings in the area of the island that Wormius's mansion once occupied. The PARK GUYS know of one possibility; they show it to SUNDQUIST. He declares that WORMIUS and his creatures must be down in there.
Indeed, we see a shot looking up at the cave-mouth from deep underground; silhouetted against the light, a number of inhuman shapes are crouched at the bottom of a long stone staircase, watching the distant figures at the top.
SUNDQUIST'S party heads back across the river---they expended all their custom ammunition down in Patagonia, and have ot go to SUNDQUIST'S church in Pike CREEK to fetch some more.
The PARK GUYS leave on the barge with SAM'S crew. SAM and the PARK GUYS go to WACKENHUT, who doesn't believe what they have to say about SUNDQUIST'S transformation--- he refuses to raise the alarm in New Castle.
Out in the river as the sun sinks, we see a number of veiny transparent domes appear from under the island's overgrown bank and move west through the water, towards the town.
A coast guard boat approaches; the creatures play dead, floating stiffly at the surface. The men on the boat stop to take a look, conclude the things definitely constitute a navigational hazard; they pull them on board.
For the first time we get a good look at the creatures---they're about the size of a small man, with large powerful legs, long mantis-like arms, a huge hump on the shoulders, and a long neck ending in a mosquito-like head with a veined crystalline dome.
As the COAST GUARDSMEN are wondering what to make of all this, the hypo-heads suddenly come alive, knocking the men over; seizing the GUARDSMEN by the shoulders, locking their arms against their sides with those spiny mantis forelegs, the creatures drive their snouts under the GUARDSMEN'S ribcages. As the tubes penetrate, the creature's bodies slide forward, the shoulder-humps pressing against the domes---the front of the humps are indented to accommodate the curving backs of the pseudo-skulls. We see shots from the victims' point of view as the domes fill up with blood, rather like sanguinary versions of those old transparent soda-fountain juice-dispensers.
The GUARDSMEN deflate in short order.
But they're not dead…
The hypo-heads pull one of the mummies to his feet and go into the bridge; the mummy places a call to the New Castle Coast Guard Station. Saying "We've got a situation," he says that everyone at the station had better meet the boat at the dock.
When the boat coasts in, motors cut, there's no one at the wheel; as the vessel bumps to a halt, the crew from the station tie it up and go below to search---only to be set upon, and drained to a man.
A short time later, LT. WACKENHUT gets a call from the coast guard station; claiming that "We have a situation over here," the COAST GUARD DISPATCHER asks for every cop in town. The whole New Castle police department descends on the station, goes inside---and are set upon.
A half hour or so later, police cars driven by hypo-heads begin to fan out across the town---the power-station gets a visit, and the phone office, and the headquarters of the road crew….as the power goes out and the phones goes off, the major arteries out of town get blocked off by big trucks and bulldozers.
And then the hypo-heads begin invading the darkened homes…