Crash Reports: RED AGENDA

Sorry, no movie review tonight. Normally, I have them prepared many weeks in advance. However, two things happened: I have watched too many shitty movies to even warrant a review, and that includes FRANKENSTEIN (USA/Japan, 1994), and V/H/S (2012), which is B/A/D – plus, I’ve been writing a horror novel.

The novel’s based on my script RED AGENDA. In 2008, the screenplay earned these honors:

First Place Winner – International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival

Top-Five Finalist – Screamfest

Top-Ten Finalist – StoryPros Screenplay Contest

Finalist – Beverly Hills Screenplay Contest

Initially, I saw the results from the StoryPros and Beverly Hills contests, and I was thrilled. After all, they were open genre contests, and normally, horror does poorly. Most often, the top scripts are dramas, and anything genre related is thrust to the wayside. Since RED AGENDA also mixes crime and action, I’m sure that had something to do with it.

Thanks to the strong finish in the renowned Screamfest competition, and the win at the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival, some great things happened. First, I got an agent. This was my second agent, and I only hoped she wouldn’t end up in prison like the first one. Second, Hollywood actually came calling. Yes, producers contacted me. Thirteen in fact. One even found me at my place of business after hearing about the script at Sundance. How the hell did that happen? I was hopeful, but cautious, and relied on my agent to navigate a deal.

She didn’t.

Again, two things happened: My agent got pregnant and got out of the industry, which included abandoning all of her writers – then the economy collapsed. That meant Hollywood stopped buying scripts.

Here’s the synopsis of the tale:

Detective Bobby Keagan of Philadelphia’s Paranormal Crimes Unit quickly learns that the vampire terrorist group “Red Agenda” is out for blood. Pissed and hellbent on taking them out for good, Keagan rounds up bloodwhores, stakes their long-toothed johns and raids goth clubs to drive them into the open. Coming up empty, Keagan reluctantly teams up with his most hated enemy – a vampire. But Alden Rinc is no ordinary blood-drinker; he stopped Red Agenda moments before assassinating the president two years before. Even though Rinc is out to fight the vicious vamp stereotype, Keagan is far from convinced when he discovers someone is feeding info to the terrorists with deadly consequences: cops are ripped to shreds, vamp snitches are brutalized and civilians don’t stand a chance. Now, a steadfast Keagan, a driven Rinc and a trigger happy vampire tactical unit, have only three days to sort through Philly’s undead underground before the president visits the “city of bloody love” – and ends up on Red Agenda’s menu.

When I wrote the script, I simply thought of story, character and theme – and never considered budget. You can imagine this wasn’t designed to be some low budget feature. And with the economy still in the toilet, well, no one has picked it up.

But I loved the characters and decided to turn the script into a novel. Unlike the watered down, anemic fair associated with the much maligned “Twilight” series, the vamps in RED AGENDA don’t sparkle or whine over women. Instead, they’re hungry and pissed off. I’m simply hoping to do my part to put a little bite back into the genre.

The novel currently hovers at 76,000 words, and I’ll try once again to land an agent. I hope the “third time’s the charm” cliché holds true. We’ll see.

I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, if you crave a great vamp flick or more, here’s a dirty dozen of the best for you to check out:

Vampyr (Not Against the Flesh) (Germany/France, 1932)

One of the last silent films, this feature has one hell of a creep factor, and some innovative shooting for its time. Although some footage has been lost, the story is strong and worth a look.


Lifeforce (UK/USA, 1985)

This B-movie, directed by Tobe Hooper, includes some wild effects from John Dykstra. And you certainly don’t want to miss Mathilda May – or Patrick Stewart’s first on-screen kiss at the lips of Steve Railsback.


Vamp (1986)

Grace Jones dances wild in this horror/comedy, when she runs a club to feed on the poor and unfortunate. It’s a great romp and a fun ride. The movie may keep college boys from rushing with a fraternity.


Vampire’s Kiss (1988)

This falls under the “Is he or is he not a vampire?” heading, and Nicholas Cage does not disappoint as the tortured protagonist. He ate a live cockroach in the movie – actually, two because director Robert Bierman wanted another take.


Dracula (1992)

Coppola’s feature has many problems that just make this one hell of a fun ride. Oldman shines as the tortured count, and Tom Waits may be the best Renfield of all time. And don’t miss Anthony Hopkins as Dutch lunatic, Van Helsing.


Interview with the Vampire            (1994)

If you loved Anne Rice’s novel, you should enjoy this. Originally, Brandon Lee was supposed to play Louis, but he died on the set of THE CROW (1994), and River Phoenix was cast as the reporter, but he over-dosed.


Habit (1996)

Larry Fessenden brings us a dramatic tale about a man who might have met the wrong girl. Unlike many fantastical vamp features, this one relies on intelligence and a strong narrative to deliver the fear.


Blood: The Last Vampire (Japan, 2000)

This animated feature is mind-blowing in its artistic execution. Although short time-wise, the tale is solid, riveting and the creep factor runs high. This is a thousand miles better than the hokey, live-action remake, which should be avoided at all costs.


30 Days of Night (2007)

Though a disturbing ride, with a pertinent theme, divorce yourself from the fact that the Alaskan pipeline is nowhere near Barrow, and that the sun doesn’t set completely for thirty days. Otherwise, the story is striking.


Let the Right One In            (Sweden, 2008)

Don’t watch this one dubbed in English. Indulge in the Swedish and enjoy this vibrant coming of age tale that may just be the greatest vampire film ever made.


Suck (Canada, 2009)

As far as comedy/horrors go, this one is a fun ride that adds music to the mix. Jessica Pare’s drop dead gorgeous, and Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Henry Rollins, and Alex Liefson keep the story rockin’.


Midnight Son (2011)

A heady horror with a devotion to wit and theme, this story doesn’t miss. Though not perfect, it’s a great relief to enjoy an intelligent vamp feature to keep one engrossed.

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