EXCESS HOLLYWOOD: DEMON WOODS

Back in my early high school days I transferred to a new school and ended up meeting two stoner guys who seemed to take a liking to me. One of them was in my English class, and both rode my bus. One day on the long ride to school, one of the stoners spied me reading the latest “Fangoria.” This led to a discussion about, of all things, horror films.

“You write cool stories in English,” the one kid said. “Why don’t you write a horror movie?”

After some discussion, we decided that I would write a movie that they would star in. Don’t ask me why we thought this was a good idea. We did, and that was that. I would write the script, do the special effects (with some help from them), direct and edit. All of us would have a hand in casting. It seemed as bad an idea then as it does now.

The script was called “Demon Woods” and was a very original story. The guys would play two stoners who find a book in the woods. This book would ultimately turn them into demons who would kill people foolish enough to enter their domain (the forest near my house).

Realizing we had no budget to work with, I made sure the special effects would be cheap and easy. The demon look would be achieved by painting their faces white with thin blue vein lines and dark circles under their eyes. And all the kills would be traditional stabbings or blunt force trauma to the head. There would be no decapitations or people dangling from trees like dead deer. (If you’ve ever been in the Poconos during hunting season, you know how common it is to see an eviscerated deer hanging upside down from a tree. I thought it would make a neat image in the movie to use a person in the same way, and took much inspiration for how the effect would look from a crime scene photo that was in a book on Ed Gein. Unfortunately, I knew I had not the time, skill or money to create such an effect.)

I wasn’t exactly proud of my achievement. I hated the idea of working with such tight constraints, but the guys loved it. They had all kinds of ideas of whom they could find to fill the roles, and one of the guys seemed particularly excited about stabbing a girl in the neck with a screwdriver. I wish I could say their enthusiasm was contagious.

The movie never got made. I realized fairly early on that the project was bigger than me. I had no camera, no editing equipment or skills, and I remember one particular piece of the puzzle being exceptionally vexing: I had no idea how to get the title and credits on the screen.

It also didn’t help that I never finished the script.

I’m not disappointed that this film never came to light. In fact, I’m glad it didn’t. I wouldn’t want it surfacing twenty years later to embarrass me after I panned some dreadful movie. (“Oh, he thinks my movie is bad? Look what I found!” the director screams as he waves around a third generation copy of “Demon Woods.”) The stoner guys have probably forgotten about it by now, too, thanks to the effects of Mary Jane and Jim Morrison lyrics. Frankly, I think a world without “Demon Woods” is a much better place. We already have enough bad horror movies. There’s no point in adding one more by a teen male with a “Fangoria” obsession.

I do take comfort from one thing, though. Had I completed the script, had I gotten a hold of a camera, had I learned how to edit (and had the equipment to do it), and had I known how to get the credits on screen — I probably would’ve made this film. It would’ve been cast with teenagers who couldn’t act, and it would have had special effects that looked like they came out of Mrs. Tearbach’s special ed. class, but it would’ve been made. That’s not the comforting thing, though. No, what gives me a sense of smug satisfaction is knowing that a film called “Demon Woods” made by teenage amateurs would still be better than “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” remake. You can argue that all you want, but I saw the remake, and I know the film I would’ve made. Trust me. Mine would’ve been better. You can bank on it.

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Posted on October 13, 2005 in Features by
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