The Last of Us: Exposed

 

Script By

Joshua Malone

 

Based off the Events and Characters Created by

Neil Druckmann

 

 

 

 

 

Fade on:

3 Years After Outbreak

Fade off

 

All is black.

We hear a faint clicking sound (ala CLICKER infected,) unsure of what it is. Then we hear a loud BANG. Pause. BANG. Then clicking again. The sound gets louder and continuous until finally…

 

SNAP TO:

INT. APARTMENT ROOM- DAWN

Close on ANNA, late twenties/early thirties, she suddenly wakens, as if from a bad dream. She hears the clicking and banging sounds, and sits up- looking around the room, frantic. She doesn’t seem to find what she’s looking for and quickly gets out of bed, grabbing a pistol.

She quickly, but quietly, exits the room and enters the APARTMENT HALLWAY following the sound. She sees the front door, and it appears to be completely locked up. All of the many various locks are still in place, and the sound isn’t actually coming from outside. It’s coming from the KITCHEN.

She approaches cautiously until she reaches the kitchen. Some daylight is just peeking through the window shades; otherwise it’s dark in the apartment. There, she sees an older man (RICK) on his knees examining the fridge.

RICK is in his late fifties or sixties, an odd mixture of strong yet fragile looking. Maybe the strong look comes more from the determination in his eyes than his actual physique. Every so often RICK bangs his fist on the fridge, and then turns a ratchet. That is what’s making the clicking sound.

 

RICK

Fucking piece of…

 

ANNA puts the pistol in the waist of her pants.

 

ANNA

Dad, stop

 

RICK snaps his head up.

 

RICK

Oh, Anna. Sorry… didn’t mean to wake you. It’s just this damn thing wont-

ANNA

Leave it. You can’t-

 

RICK

No. The food’s going to go bad. Just… can you flip the light on for me.

ANNA

There is no power.

RICK

Son of a… fine. Can you reach the company on a cell or something?

 

RICK stands up and exits the room in a huff.

We hold on ANNA, who stands still for a moment and takes a deep breath. She moves forward and shoves the fridge back into place. As she does the door to the fridge opens slightly.

ANNA leaves to go to her father, and as she does we track down to see that the fridge is empty.

ANNA walks out of the kitchen and slowly moves across the hall towards the living room, sighing. The LIVING ROOM is fairly well maintained, with only some minimal peeling to the wallpaper. There is a couch and an arm chair in the space, along with a dust covered television set.

On a coffee table there is a small radio. A voice is heard through some static…

 

FIREFLY MEMBER (V.O)

Remember, when you’re lost in the darkness, look for the-

 

 

ANNA turns the radio off.

RICK is tense, and paces back and forth. Every so often he goes to the window and peeks out the shades. When ANNA enters the room his head snaps up back to her.

 

 

RICK

I was listening to that!

(Pause)

Did you get ahold of them?

ANNA

No.

RICK

We can’t let that food spoil. Your mother’s gonna’ pitch a bitch if she comes home to a fridge full of-

ANNA

Dad, there’s no electricity. And mom-

RICK

(Slight chuckle, looking through the blinds again)

Well no shit Sherlock. And where’s Elli-

ANNA

Stop! Listen to me. There is no electricity.

 

RICK looks questioningly at his daughter. ANNA pauses, waiting for what she has just told him to register. We see RICK thinking hard. He goes to the window and looks out through the shades.

Through the window we can see the street below and surrounding building. Everything is dark, empty, and decrepit. The sidewalk shrubbery is overgrown.

 

ANNA

And mom isn’t here anymore.

 

RICK looks taken aback for a moment as he tries to digest what he just heard. RICK sits down and lowers his head for a moment, letting a long breath out.

ANNA sits down next to him, but leaves some space between her and her father. RICK’s leg is bouncing up and down. After a long beat he looks up.

 

RICK

Thanks, baby girl…

 

ANNA nods, and there is a slight pause before she gets up. RICK remains seated, eyes following his daughter out of the room. Then he looks forward, staring off…

 

 

CUT TO:

INT. APARTMENT BUILDING LOBBY- DAY/NOON

ANNA and RICK are moving down the stairway to the front door. The lobby is dusty, dark, and quiet. There is a big shelf in front of the door along with a pile of other stuff.

To the right is a window nailed shut. ANNA walks to the window and pulls out a hammer. She begins to take out the nails.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. APARTMENT BUILDING- DAY

ANNA is walking around the side of building, with RICK behind her. They are in a city, or the suburbs of a city. There are a few abandoned cars rusting on the street. The buildings surrounding them look dirty and dilapidated for the most part. A few of them are even boarded up.

There is some overgrowth poking through sections of the asphalt and concrete sidewalks. It’s really quiet outside- an unnerving quiet, but something that ANNA seems used to.

They move slowly. ANNA has a backpack full of gear and a rifle slung over her shoulder. RICK has his hand on a knife that is on his belt. He doesn’t appear to have any other weapon at the moment. In front of them is a string with cans dangling. ANNA ducks under it and continues on. RICK stops though.

Around the corner is another string with cans on it, and farther down on the opposite corner is the same thing. She examines the lines briefly and continues on. Suddenly there is a loud clanking sound from behind her and she spins to see RICK examining the cans, confused.

 

RICK

What’s the deal, here?

ANNA

SH!

 

There is a sudden howl heard from down the adjacent ALLEY. ANNA looks up. Painted on one of the ally walls is The FIREFLIES symbol. After a moment’s glance at it ANNA’s eyes follow the sound.

 

There is a lone RUNNER infected, down the ALLEYWAY and it sees her. The RUNNER is male. Blood seeps from its eyes and mouth. Some of the infectious fungus can be seen growing around the ears.

It howls, and runs towards ANNA, who is unshouldering her rifle and getting into a shooting stance.

The RUNNER runs straight into one of the lines with cans, is caught there for a second, and ANNA takes aim. The RUNNER howls but before ANNA can take her shot a machete comes crashing down on its head. ANNA lowers her gun, not particularly surprised.

The machete is pulled out of the RUNNER’s head, and it collapses to the ground. Behind the runner stands ANDRE, a young black man. He’s carrying a backpack and duffle bag packed with supplies- yet manages to be extremely stealthy and quiet with his movements.

 

ANNA

You know I could have fucking shot you.

ANDRE

And you know that you really shouldn’t use guns if you don’t have to. Makes too much noise.

ANNA

Left my subtlety at home today.

ANDRE

Yeah, and every other day.

 

The two embrace, as friends. RICK steps up.

 

RICK

Hi, Andre.

ANDRE

Hi, sir.

ANNA

Really? You remember his name, but not that you shouldn’t touch the fucking lines?

RICK

Sorry, I was just… I guess-

ANNA

It’s fine.

Good to see you, Andre.

ANDRE

Likewise. How are things?

ANNA

(pause)

Could be worse.

ANDRE

Yeah? Well, hopefully some of this will brighten your day.

 

ANDRE crouches, and unshoulders the bags that he has.

 

ANDRE

You really owe me this time. I had to pay a lot of people credits for some of this shit, and the guards were doubled up today around the outposts.

ANNA

Put it on my tab.

 

They open the bags and look inside. The duffle is full of various canned foods and a few gallons of water. The canned food is in bulk.

The backpack has a box of handgun ammunition in it, and a blanket. ANNA grabs the ammo, shocked.

 

ANNA

Where did you get this!?

ANDRE

Well… let’s just say if the person who owned that finds out I took it, I’ll owe them a lot more than credits.

 

ANNA smiles and the two zip the bags back up.

 

ANNA

Dad, why don’t you take the duffel bag back upstairs? You remember which apartment right?

 

RICK

(annoyed)

Yes.

 

ANNA is waiting for an actual room number.

 

RICK

322.

 

ANNA

(nodding)

We’ll be up soon.

 

RICK shoulders the duffle bag, and heads back. ANDRE shoulders the pack again. The two stand, and wait a moment until RICK is around the corner and they hear the entrance window open and close. Then they start towards the building’s entrance.

 

ANNA

Seriously, thank you.

ANDRE

Well, make this last. Like I said, for some reason they’re doubling up at the posts. It may be a while before I can get back out here.

ANNA

(Starting to get up)

We’ll make it last.

ANDRE

Makes me kind of consider joining the Fireflies.

 

ANDRE nods to the Fireflies tag on the alleyway wall.

 

ANDRE (cont’)

 Would save me the headache of trying to get back into the zone. Seriously, they’ve been cracking down in the zones since the Fireflies have started building their ranks. It’s always been tight but… it’s starting to get scary.

ANNA

Fireflies are talking about storming zones and liberating. FEDRA sure as hell doesn’t want to give up their control.

ANDRE

Right.

 (after a pause)

So… how are things?

ANNA

(sighs)

 I bitch, but really things could be worse. Could be better also, I guess. (laughs) He was trying to fix the fridge this morning. Kind of worked him up, but not to a point where he… well, where it was bad or anything. Really he’s been fine, for the most part.

ANDRE

That’s good. I’ve been trying to jack some meds while I’m at work, but-

ANNA

Nah, it’s okay.

ANDRE

So it’s not getting any worse or anything?

ANNA

No.

 

ANDRE looks at her for a moment. Is she telling the truth?

 

ANDRE

Good. I know it was rough there for a bit during spring. There’s actually a group that meets and talks back at the zone-

ANNA

(Ignoring the last part)

Yeah, he’s doing well now though.

 

There is a long beat.

 

ANDRE

Anna…

ANNA

Don’t.

ANDRE

You can’t stay-

 

ANNA spins, stopping dead in her tracks. ANDRE almost bumps into her. She stares him straight in the eye.

 

ANNA

(pointedly)

No.

ANDRE

You guys can’t stay out here. I… I can’t keep doing this.

ANNA

Fine.

 

ANNA turns to leave.

 

ANDRE

(Hushed, hissing)

ANNA! Listen-

ANNA

I appreciate this but you don’t have to do it. You never did. You don’t owe me a damn thing, so you could have stopped whenever you wanted.

ANDRE

Consider coming to the zone with your dad for one second. Or, maybe you should try and find the Fireflies-

ANNA

What part of ‘no’ don’t you get? It’s always been no, it’s always going to be no.

ANDRE

But-

ANNA

We can’t, Andre. They… we just can’t.

ANDRE

(pause)

Anna, this won’t last. You will die out here.

 

ANNA pauses for a moment. Her expression is hard to read. Sadness? Anger? Fear?

 

ANDRE (cont’)

He’s going to die out here. And if they don’t get to him (glances towards dead RUNNER) –

 

Whatever ANNA facial expression was, it’s now anger. Not at ANDRE necessarily…

 

ANNA

We don’t have a god damn choice! We’ve tried going before. After my mom died we tried going to the zone. When we-

 

There is a shrill squeaking sound. Then there is the faint sound of an engine running. ANNA snaps her head back and ANDRE looks past her shoulder.

An armored vehicle with the label FEDRA on the side pulls into frame at the end of the alleyway, with two armed soldiers following. ANNA and ANDRE duck behind a dumpster from view.

The truck slows, but doesn’t stop as it passes. We hear some men talking, indistinctly.

 

ANNA

Oh shit.

 

While staying crouched, ANNA leads ANDRE around the back of the building. Behind the building there is a fire escape above them.

 

ANNA

Boost me.

 

ANDRE boosts ANNA so that she can grab ahold of the rusty ladder, and when she does get her hands on it she pulls it down. It squeals in protest though, loudly all the way down.

ANDRE cringes.

 

We hear the truck tires squeal again, and someone shout.

 

ANNA

Let’s go.

 

ANNA climbs the escape quickly, and ANDRE follows. Once they are up they pull the escape back up. The two climb up to the nearest window, which ANNA then lifts and goes through.

 

 

ANDRE

WAIT! Is it safe?

ANNA

I cleared this building months ago. Come on!

 

 

INT. APARTMENT BUILDING

ABANDONED APARTMENT

ANDRE follows, and then shuts the window until it’s open a mere crack. The apartment is dark and cobwebs are everywhere. There is a large water stain on the ceiling and the wallpaper is peeling. The window is grimy, so the two peer outside the crack, and see a man run down the alleyway.

When he approaches one of the lines with cans on it he slows, and examines it. Then he spots the dead RUNNER.

 

LIEUTENANT (V.O)

(over a radio)

You’re sure you saw him come this way?

 

SOLDIER #1

(to radio)

Yes, sir. Didn’t get a good look so don’t know who, but he’d definitely here. I have a dead infected, freshly killed. He’s close.

 

SOLDIER #1 looks up towards the escape, and ANNA and ANDRE back away from the window.

 

ANDRE

Shit. Shit.

ANNA

What’s going on?

ANDRE

They must have followed me, or something… seen me leaving the zone.

 

ANNA risks a look out. SOLDIER #1 is moving slowly around the corner, under the fire escape now. His radio hisses.

 

SOLDIER #1

He may have entered the building.

LIEUTENANT (V.O)

Roger that. Keep your eyes peeled. Sending Harding and Rosco now. We’re circling around. Hold your position.

ANNA

Come on.

 

The two hurry towards the front door of the apartment and into the HALLWAY. ANNA leads ANDRE towards the stairs, passing many apartments along the way. Several have the words SPORES DON’T ENTER scrawled on them.  The two reach the STAIRWAY and they rush up them. Finally they reach the floor she is looking for and head down the HALLWAY towards ANNA and RICK’s apartment.

When they reach the door ANNA hurriedly begins to unlock the door. From somewhere in the building there is a loud BANG and ANDRE looks back towards the stairs. Something breaks, and then there is silence except for ANNA working the lock. Then we hear the SOLDIERS begin to enter the building.

The apartment door suddenly swings open, and ANNA pulls ANDRE inside and she shuts the door.

 

APARTMENT

The APARTMENT is quiet, and dark. The blinds are still down, but open- so that you can see through the spaces.

ANNA rushes towards them, and peers outside. She can see the truck, and three more men are getting out. The one in the driver’s seat is the LIEUTENANT. They are arming their weapons and pulling on filter masks while they are walking towards the building.

There’s a shuffling noise behind her, then the distinct sound of a hammer of gun being pulled back.

 

RICK

Who the hell are you?

ANNA

Anna.

RICK

Lie to me again. See what happens.

ANNA

Dad, it’s me.

RICK

(pause)

Turn the fuck around. Slowly. I swear to Christ, if you even twitch for that rifle you’re both done.

 

ANNA turns around to see RICK holding a knife under ANDRE’s throat and a handgun pointed at her.

After seeing her face RICK lowers the gun but keeps the knife at ANDRE’s throat.

 

RICK

Annabelle? Baby… baby girl? What are you doing here?

ANNA

Dad, let Andre go.

RICK

Who?

ANNA

Dad… remember Andre? He’s helping us.

RICK

I… I don’t get it. Why are you here? What’s going on? You shouldn’t be here. It’s not safe.

 

RICK lets ANDRE go, and ANDRE takes a few steps back and breaths deep. ANNA steps forward and checks his neck. A slight cut but nothing serious.

ANNA goes to her father. He’s tense, and extremely confused. He’s eyeing the gun on ANNA’s shoulder then his eyes go to hers.

 

ANNA

It’s okay.

RICK

You can’t be here. You’re not Annabelle.

 

RICK raises the gun and points it straight at ANNA’s head. ANDRE tenses and moves slightly forward but ANNA’s motions her hand for him to stay back.

 

ANNA

It’s really me.

RICK

Fuck you. You’re not my daughter.

ANNA

Look at me.

 

RICK glares at ANNA for a long moment, arm stiff and gun never moving from her forehead but ANNA doesn’t budge; she remains calm. ANDRE’s eyes are wide at the scene in front of him. The small amount of blood from the wound on his neck mixes with the sweat that is running down from his face.

 

ANNA

You remember what you told me right after mom died?

 

RICK doesn’t move.

 

ANNA (cont’)

You said that if you ever lost me, you will have officially lost all the battle buddies you ever had. And you’d never let that happen.

 

RICK slowly registers that this is in fact his daughter in front of him. He looks at her, then to his hand… to the gun in his hand. Tears begin to well inside his eyes.

 

RICK

Baby girl… I thought you-

ANNA

It’s okay…

 

ANNA takes the knife and gun from her father.

 

RICK

What are you doing here?

ANNA

It’s okay. I’ll explain later. But we have to move, now.

 

RICK looks at her, puzzled. Then there is a sudden crashing sound outside in the HALLWAY. ANDRE goes to the door. He opens it a bit, and listens.

RICK

What’s going on?

ANNA

We’re leaving.

RICK disappears off into the adjacent room. ANNA moves towards ANDRE, and he leans in close to her.

 

ANDRE

What the fuck was that?

ANNA

He’s… having an episode.

ANDRE
An “episode?” What the hell do you mean an episode? I thought you said he wasn’t getting any worse?

ANNA

He’s not… he started having them last year. It’s fine.

ANDRE

He just held a gun to your head.

ANNA

He must have seen them pull up. Things trigger him. He… he’ll think he’s back in combat.

ANDRE

Jesus, Anna…

ANNA

Just shut up. Go find out where they are.

 

ANDRE stares at her for a moment before leaving the room. ANNA goes to a closet. She unshoulders he backpack and digs around in the closet taking out a few more items and stuffing them in the bag. Extra flashlight, pills, anything seemingly important.

ANDRE soon darts back in.

 

ANDRE

They’re making their way up the floors. Checking the apartments.

ANNA

We don’t have much time.

 

ANNA zips up and re-shoulders her pack.

 

ANNA (cont’)

We’ll lead them away. You head back to the zone and sneak back in. They probably haven’t seen your face; they just know that somebody made it out. Just don’t let them catch up to you-

ANDRE

(Pause, looking at the door)

ANNA… maybe we-

ANNA

No way.

ANDRE

I can convince them that I found you. I was leading you back to the zone. Everything will be fine.

ANNA

(with venom)

God damn it, I said NO.

 

ANDRE stares at her.

 

ANNA (cont’)

(after a beat)

On our way to the zone two FEDRA officers came by us. I was so relieved. The zones aren’t paradise… but at least we were going to be someplace safe. But before they could escort us to the zone they had to check us first. So they gave me the scan and I checked out, but then they got to him…

 

ANNA looked over to the other room where RICK is shouldering a backpack. At his feet lies a military bag- their “bug out” bag.

 

ANNA (cont’)

When they gave him the test, the scanner went off. Andre… he’s not infected. I think it’s his disease.

 

ANDRE

His disease?

ANNA

The…  dementia that affects his memory, whatever kind it is- it affects the higher brain functions, just like the infection. They did the head and retina scan, and both came back positive. I insisted they take him back and do blood work, but they wouldn’t. They were about to give him the injection, when I… I wasn’t going to let my father die. I can’t take him to the zone, Andre. They’ll kill him.

 

ANDRE stares at her, shocked. There is another banging sound in the HALLWAY. Closer this time. They can hear the soldier’s voices now from the room. He looks back at ANNA.

 

ANDRE

Okay.

 

RICK comes into the room with his military duffle and backpack.

 

ANNA

Sorry, we’re packin’ light, sarge.

 

ANNA grabs the bag and throws it to the ground. She picks up the knife and gun and hands them back to her father.

RICK checks his gun, mechanically without even hesitating or thinking about it.

ANNA grabs her rifle and her bags, and ANDRE does the same with his gear. Then the three head towards the door.

ANNA opens the door. The soldiers are close. Possibly just on the floor below them.

 

ANNA

Okay. We’re moving down the hallway. In the last room on the right there is another fire exit outside the window. We’ll take that down, and then run. Andre, you head back to the zone. Go as fast as you can. As long as they don’t know who you are you’ll be safe. Dad, you and I are going West.

RICK

Roger.

ANDRE

What if one of them is outside?

 

ANNA says nothing. She just takes a moment, breaths, and then swings the door open.

 

HALLWAY

She steps out and heads towards the stairs. ANDRE steps after her, and she points down to the end of the hall. ANDRE goes, and RICK follows. ANNA walks quickly backward, keeping her sights on the stairs.

ANDRE reaches the last door on the right and opens it. A cloud of dust and spores swirls in the dark room.

 

ANDRE

Shit, ANNA! This room is-

ANNA

Just hold your breath and GO, damn it!

 

ANDRE puts his shirt over his mouth and nose and enters the room. RICK does the same, and then ANNA follows, shutting the door behind her. As she does, the soldiers enter the HALLWAY from the stairs and head towards ANNA and RICK’s apartment.

 

SPORE APARTMENT

ANNA takes the lead and moves towards the window. The infectious spores are thick, and in the corner there are the remains of an infected person, fungus growing out from their body.

ANNA reaches the window and tries to open it. It won’t budge. ANDRE goes to help her, while RICK stays trained on the door.

The voices of the soldiers can be heard outside down the hall. They sound upset.

ANNA looks at the window, then, without warning grabs her rifle and slams it against the glass- shattering it. She pushes ANDRE outside of it and he falls out onto the fire escape.

 

EXT. APARTMENT ALLEYWAY

ANDRE looks up, and sees RICK coming out of the window followed by ANNA. ANDRE goes to assist her but she lands, perfectly and without missing a beat starts going down the escape.

 

ANNA

MOVE. NOW!

 

When they reach the bottom of the escape, they can now hear shouting above them.

ANNA and ANDRE hit the ground, on their feet and as RICK begins to finish his decent down the escape, shots are fired above them. A few bullets ricochets of the building behind them and others bounce off of the fire escape.

 

RICK

Go!

 

RICK lays down some cover fire, and ANDRE and ANNA head towards the STREET. RICK follows quickly, once the soldiers duck back in through the window they were shooting out of.

One of the soldiers leans out of the window and takes aim…

 

STREET

ANNA and ANDRE rush into the street and just as RICK does the soldier fires from the alleyway and the bullet connects with RICK.

 

RICK

(falling)

AH!

ANNA

DAD!

LIEUTENANT

DON’T MOVE!

 

Right outside the entrance of the APARTMENT BUILDING stands the LIEUTENANT and another soldier. The LIEUTENANT still has his mask on, but the soldier (GAFF) does not. They both have their assault rifle fixed on ANNA and ANDRE, who are now looking at them- frozen.

ANNA tries to glance over her shoulder at RICK. He’s face down, one arm tight to his side and one out in front with his pistol a few feet away from his outstretched hand. He’s not moving. Blood is beginning to soak his shirt.

 

LIEUTENANT (cont’)

I said don’t fucking move!

 

ANNA’s head snaps back to him, anger and tears in her eyes.

 

LIEUTENANT

(into radio)

We have them. Hurry down, but stay frosty. Could be more.

(To GAFF)

Check ‘em.

 

GAFF steps towards ANNA and ANDRE. He grabs their weapons and tosses them to the ground.  The LIEUTENANT takes off his filter mask, and looks ANNA and ANDRE up and down. GAFF begins to pat them down. He grabs his radio.

 

LIEUTENANT

(to GAFF)

Make sure to check the old-timer, too.

 

GAFF nods, and heads towards RICK.

 

LIEUTENANT

(to radio)

Bravo, give me a sit rep.

SOLDIER (V.O)

Second floor. Doesn’t seem to be anybody else here.

 

GAFF bends over RICK.

 

LIEUTENANT

(to radio)

Roger. Finish the sweep, and clear out.

(looks at ANNE and ANDRE)

Where’s the rest of them?

 

ANDRE
Ain’t nobody else…

 

The LIEUTENANT raises his gun directly at ANDRE’s head.

 

LIEUTENANT

Don’t lie to me, dickhead. Where are the others?

ANDRE

WHO?

LIEUTENANT

You damn well know who! The rest of you!

 

ANNE looks puzzled, and her gaze goes from the LIEUTENANT to ANDRE. ANDRE looks back at her, but as he does her eyes adjust to look at something slightly behind him… to the white symbol on the wall: the Fireflies symbol. The realization dawns on her.

ANDRE follows her gaze, and realizes as well.

 

ANDRE

No, NO. We’re not with them.

LIEUTENANT

Shut the fuck up.

(looks up at GAFF, who is still bent over RICK)

Gaff, what’s his status?

 

There is no reply for a while. GAFF just remains crouched, until he slowly stands up and tries to grab for his assault rifle. When he turns his head to LIEUTENANT though we see the butt end of a knife sticking out from under his chin, blood dripping from the handle and oozing out of his mouth as he tries to stutter something.

 

LIEUTENANT

Shit!

 

As GAFF falls to the ground, RICK gets up, gritting his teeth and grabs GAFF’s rifle and his pistol. ANNA and ANDRE duck as LIEUTENANT raises his rifle and fires, but RICK fires back driving the LIEUTENANT behind the FEDRA vehicle.

ANDRE and ANNA grab their weapons and backpacks (but not the big duffle with food and water) and fall behind RICK as he lays down cover fire. ANNA grabs GAFF’s leg and tries pulling him back behind the alley.

ANDRE sees her struggle and helps. Finally RICK joins them, and they hide behind the corner of the ALLEYWAY.

 

ALLEYWAY

 

ANDRE

What the hell did you grab him for?

 

ANNA crouches over the dead soldier and grabs several full mags for the assault rifle, and hands them to RICK. He nods to her. ANNA then grabs the knife, an Italian Stiletto Switchblade, from GAFF’s jaw and gets up, then pushes ANDRE down the ALLEYWAY. RICK follows, wincing at the pain in his side- where he was shot. He keeps his focus towards the street though, gun trained.

ANNA and ANDRE round the corner, and stop just short of the line with the cans on it. They duck, and RICK follows. Then they head down the SECOND ALLEYWAY, the one where the dead RUNNER originated. They hear shouting from the direction they came from.

ANNA leads the way down the SECOND ALLEYWAY. A large WAREHOUSE is to the right and to the left is another building. Up ahead we can see another street and a dumpster off to the side near the WAREHOUSE. Just before the dumpster, there is a slightly ajar door that leads into the WAREHOUSE.

ANNA sprints towards the street, the two men close behind her. The FEDRA truck suddenly skids to a stop at the end of the alleyway on the street. The LIEUTENANT jumps out with another soldier, and aims from behind the safety of the vehicle. ANNA and the other two duck behind the dumpster as the LIEUTENANT and his man take a few shots. ANNA looks back and sees the other two soldiers come around the corner (where they just came from), guns raised.

 

ANNA

Screw it.

 

ANNA kicks in the door to the WAREHOUSE.

 

ANNA

Go!

ANDRE

Are you serious?

 

Shots are fired.

ANNA grabs ANDRE and throws him into the building and follows him. RICK enters the building and then the door slams shut just as bullets hit the bricks where they just stood.

 

INT. WAREHOUSE

It’s dark. The only light available is sunlight peeking through dirty windows. The building is very dirty, and run down looking. One part of the floor off to the right has completely collapsed to the basement. Cobwebs and mold is everywhere. There are some spores, but not enough to cause alarm.

ANNA turns on a flashlight at the end of the assault rifle. It’s quiet inside the building, but they can hear the gunfire outside. One stray bullet shatters a window, and more light filters in. ANNA looks around, and sees an old filing cabinet. She goes over to it.

 

ANNA

Fucking help me.

 

RICK goes over, followed by ANDRE, and then the three push the cabinet in front of the door. When they are done ANNA sits on the desk and ANDRE collapses. RICK tries to stand up straight and catch his breath, but the wind is knocked out of him from his wound. He doubles over and ANNA rushes to him.

She examines RICK, with what little light there is. His shirt is dripping with blood and his breathing is a little ragged.

 

ANNA

How is it?

RICK

(through the pain)

Had worse.

 

ANNA

We need to get this taken care of.

 

There is a crashing sound, and they turn to see a canister flying through a window, spewing a gas of some kind.

 

ANDRE

MOVE!

 

ANDRE and ANNA have RICK put his arms around them and they quickly head towards the room’s exit as it fills with gas.

There are some spores present, but not a lot. Not enough for them to be worried. They enter a HALLWAY and the gas slowly creeps out after them, but not going much farther.

The three quickly move down the hall, and they hear some banging behind them. No doubt the soldiers are trying to enter.

The HALLWAY extends forward and then opens up into a small LOBBY. There are two doors there, but as they take a step towards them they can hear the vehicle pull up outside.

To the left there is a door marked STAIRWAY. ANNA and ANDRE look at each other, and then head for the door.

 

WAREHOUSE STAIRWAY

The door to the STAIRWAY swings open and the three enter. ANDRE slams the door closed behind them.

 

ANNA

(to RICK)

You think you can make it?

 

RICK

(through closed eyes)

I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me. Just… get my men out

 

ANNE and ANDRE share a glance but then RICK groans and starts to go limp.

 

ANNA

Fuck. dad- DAD! Andre, help me get him someplace safe.

 

ANDRE takes hold of RICK again with ANNA and they start up the stairs, quickly. They get to the second floor, and open the door. It’s dark. Even darker than the first floor. They wait a moment. From somewhere, deep inside… they hear a CLICKER.

 

ANDRE

We can go one more up.

 

From below, they hear the door to the stairway open loudly and someone shout “GO!”

ANNA pulls RICK through the second floor door, and ANDRE follows, shutting the door as quietly as he can.

 

SECOND FLOOR

Once inside, ANDRE and ANNA start pushing a few desks and cabinets in front of the door- anything they can. Then they grab RICK, and move deeper into the space, listening. They can hear the CLICKER and possibly more…. There are also other subtle movement sounds. This floor definitely has a number of infested residing on it.

The three go past aisles of cabinets and clutter before finding a small corner with a desk. ANNA motions for them to go behind it, and the two drag RICK there and set him down. His breathing is deep and ragged.

 

ANNA

I need to take care of this.

ANDRE

I’ve got him. You keep watch.

ANNA

Don’t be stupid. I’m the nurse-

ANDRE

You’re also the better fighter. I said I got this!

 

ANNA stands up, and there is a sudden banging at the door to the stairway. It’s the soldiers. In the distance a CLICKER howls, and begins to run.

ANNA lifts her gun, and waits. Soon enough the CLICKER passes by her in a dead sprint towards the sound of the banging door. It has the body of a female, but other than the mouth the face is no longer visible. Instead, the fungus has taken over the entire head.

The door to the stairs opens and a soldier steps through and is tackled backwards by the CLICKER. The man begins to scream and there is a sudden stream of gunfire followed by silence. ANNA can hear a few more of the infected on the floor getting agitated.

 

LIEUTENANT (VO)

(distant/from stairway)

Son of a bitch.

 

There’s a single gunshot, followed by silence.

After a long moment another soldier enters the space through the door, gun raised. Behind him is the other soldier and the LIEUTENANT. They all have masks on now.

 

ANNA

(to ANDRE)

No matter what, take care of him.

 

ANNA suddenly leaves ANDRE and RICK. ANDRE watches for a moment, and then gets back to work on RICK.

ANNA moves slowly back into the aisles, and turns the light on the rifle off. She is keeping her focus in the direction of the soldiers. The soldiers have their lights on. To her left she can hear something shifting around.

She rounds the corner of an aisle and sees another CLICKER. Its clicks are soft, and spaced out. It’s relatively quiet and stealthy for its kind.  ANNA looks around and, at her feet, lays a book- a manual of some kind. She grabs it and lobs it across the space.

 

SOLDIER #1

What was that?!

 

The CLICKER howls, and takes off in a sprint towards the soldiers.

 

SOLDIER #2

Got it.

 

The CLICKER runs down the aisle where the book was thrown, and at the end of the aisle stands SOLDIER #2. He raises his rifle, and fires a single head shot at the CLICKER, who dies instantly. SOLDIER #2 lowers his weapon, and steps towards the fallen infected to examine it. He then looks and sees the book, which was thrown.

Suddenly, a knifed hand comes from behind the soldier and slits his throat. As he begins to go down arms come up to stop him. ANNA buckles slightly under the weight of the soldier, but is able to keep him from falling and making any major noise. She sets his body down softly, and moves on after grabbing some more assault rifle ammunition.

 

CUT TO:

The LIEUTENANT and SOLDIER #1 move slowly down the aisles. They hear infected really agitated now on the floor, moving their way. The LIEUTENANT grabs his radio.

 

LIEUTENANT

(to radio)

Brant, status?

 

There is nothing but static in reply.

 

LIEUTENANT

(with venom)

Cocksuckers.

(to SOLDIER #1)

Stay alert. Shoot on sight.

 

The two soldiers continue to move forward… towards the direction of the desk where ANDRE and RICK are.

ANDRE is bent over RICK. He has his shirt up and is trying to stitch up the exit wound. He’s already done the entrance. ANDRE goes for his backpack, which makes a shuffling sound.

LIEUTENANT and SOLDIER #1 hear the shuffling sound, and their heads snap up towards the desk. They take a few steps towards it.

ANDRE crouches lower.

 

ANDRE

(silent)

SHIT.

 

ANNA is watching the action take place, eyes wide. The desk is wooden, so she can’t shoot at the men for fear the bullets may pierce through the desk and hit ANDRE and her father. But the soldiers could, at any second, open fire.

ANNA aims the gun upward, and begins to fire.

 

The soldiers turn towards the sound and move quickly.

 

ANDRE watches from his position, and then gets back to work. He opens the bag up and grabs some tape and gauze.

 

LIEUTENANT

Got you…

 

Deeper in the halls, the sounds of infected grow louder until finally several rush into the space.

SOLDIER #1 turns and fires at the infected, dropping them. More howl in the distance.

 

LIEUTENANT

You cover our six, I got point.

 

LIEUTENANT moves forward with precision. ANNA passes in front of his light beam.

 

LIEUTENANT (cont’)

Contact!

 

LIEUTENANT fires. One of the bullets grazes her calf. She yelps in pain, and falls. She gets back up and begins limping away.

The LIEUTENANT rounds a corner and sees some fresh blood on the floor, leading away. Under his mask he can’t help but smile.

 

More infected enter the space, and SOLDIER #1 fires.

One of the infected is a RUNNER, who stops just short of being shot with the others and turns to see ANDRE bent over RICK. The RUNNER howls and sprints towards ANDRE, who looks up- terrified.

SOLDIER #1 spots the lone RUNNER heading towards the desk, and squints.

 

 

SOLDIER #1

Lieutenant, I think some of the targets are behind us.

LIEUTENANT

Copy. Go for it. I got this one.

 

SOLDIER #1 fires from his position.

ANDRE watches as the RUNNER comes towards him, but then is met with a spray of bullets. The gunfire doesn’t stop though. It starts hammering the desk, and he takes cover. One bullet makes it through the desk. Then another. And another…

 

ANNA leans up against a wall, and catches her breath. She hears the gunfire, and is trying to work her way around to get a shot at SOLDIER #1 but LIEUTENANT is hot on her. She hears a shuffling, and then sees the light from CAPTAIN’s gun come around the corner of an aisle, and he fires at her. She runs, just missing the bullets as they hit the wall.

 

LIEUTENANT moves in, knowing he’s close to cornering her.

 

ANDRE grabs the pistol and cocks it. A bullet passes through the desk right above his head as he does. He begins firing through the desk, and SOLDIER #1 takes cover.

ANDRE peeks out and sees the position of the soldier from the light on his gun. He can hear more infected heading their way, as well as something else. Something big. He watches as a RUNNER comes towards the soldier and is shot down. After, SOLDIER #1 slowly lowers his gun a few inches and stares into the darkness where the infected are coming from.

ANDRE looks, and doesn’t see anything. He looks back and sees SOLDIER #1 backing up.

 

SOLDIER #1

What the hell…!?

 

Suddenly a giant sack of Mycotoxin (toxic spores produced by the fungus) is hurled from the darkness towards the soldier, and explodes as it hits one of the shelves in the aisles. The soldier backs up even more, and tries to frantically radio in.

 

SOLDIER #1

Sir… LIEUTENANT!

 

CUT TO:

ANNA is being herded farther away from her father and ANDRE now. She can hear SOLDIER #1 over the CAPTAIN’s radio, and she can also hear that the LIEUTENANT is not responding to his comrade’s cry.

Before the LIEUTENANT rounds another corner, ANNA fires a few round in his direction, keeping him back.

She hears more shouting over the radio, through static.

 

SOLDIER #1 (V.O)

SIR! We need- leave- Something-BIG. FUCKING BIG – shit everywhere, it burns! -Oh my God! – LIEUTENANT!

 

CUT TO:

ANDRE watches in horror as, out of the darkness, comes a big hulking shape- a BLOATER. It’s large and imposing, and looks like a corpse that’s been soaking in water for too long. Fungus covers its entire body, acting as a kind of armor plating. It makes a deep clicking/groaning sound, and then lobs a Mycotoxin sack towards SOLDIER #1.

The soldier gives up trying to radio, and begins spraying the infected with bullets while backing up. The bullets seem to have no effect on the beast. Finally the soldier reaches the door to the stairway and rushes out of it. ANDRE looks back and two CLICKERS are starting to edge in towards the action as well.

A bloody hand comes up and grabs on to his shoulder. He looks back and it’s RICK, standing.

 

RICK

Let’s go, soldier.

 

CUT TO:

ANNA is now literally backed into a corner. She’s scooting a cabinet over, and taking a position behind it.

 

LIEUTENANT

Bitch… you’re gonna’ fucking die here. Shame, really. You’re damn skilled. Would’a made a fine soldier. Did you have training?

 

LIEUTENANT reaches the opening and sees the cabinet. The window casts enough light in that he can see ANNA’s shadow on the opposite wall from behind the cabinet. He lifts his gun.

 

RICK

Yeah, she did.

 

LIEUTENANT looks back and his head is met with the butt of a gun. He topples over on to the floor. He looks up stunned, and then he’s hit again and passes out.

ANNA peeks out and sees her father standing over the LIEUTENANT and ANDRE close by. RICK bends over and picks up the assault rifle from the CAPTAIN, and some ammo.

 

RICK

Move out.

 

ANNA comes out from the corner, just as a sack of Mycotoxin falls near them. They all look back and see that the BLOATER and a few CLICKERS are heading their way.

 

ANNA

What… the…

ANDRE

Let’s go.

 

The three start heading back towards the exit, but not before ANNA topples over a large shelf, pinning the LIEUTENANT and jarring him awake. The sound distracts the infected from the fleeing group, and draws them towards the LIEUTENANT.

The three exit into the STAIRWAY.

The LIEUTENANT tries getting himself unstuck, but to no avail. He looks up and the BLOATER reaches down and grabs at his face and rips his mask off. LIEUTENANT begins to scream, but the BLOATER hooks into his jaws and starts to tear open his mouth…

 

CUT TO:

STAIRWAY

We hear the CAPTAIN’s screams and then abruptly end. ANNA, ANDRE, and RICK never stop or look back. They head down to the first floor and exit the STAIRWAY into:

 

LOBBY

As they enter the LOBBY the main doors slam shut. They hurry towards them, and open them.

 

EXT. STREET – DUSK

The sun is beginning to set. SOLDIER #1 is running around the front of the FEDRA truck and is about to get in when he’s met with a spray of bullets from RICK.

The three of them approach the vehicle and get in. RICK is moving very militarist again, like he was in the alleyway. RICK is about to hop into the driver’s seat when ANNA stops him.

 

ANNA

I got it, dad.

 

RICK looks at her, and begins to slowly realize who she is.

 

 

RICK

Yes, ma’am. I mean… Anna.

 

 

RICK gets into the rear of the vehicle. From the other side of the truck ANDRE gives ANNA a questioning look. She nods, and gets in without a word. ANDRE climbs into the back of the truck. Once he closes the door they take off.

The truck pulls a U turn and they go back towards their apartment building. ANNA gets out of the truck and picks up the duffle bag full of food and supplies that had been left behind. She throws it into the truck then hops back in and they start up again down the street.

 

 

CUT TO:

FEDRA TRUCK/HIGHWAY- NIGHT

Night has just set in, and the group is heading down the highway- towards the zone. RICK is asleep in the back and ANDRE is now seated up front.

 

ANDRE

Here is good. I don’t want to get too close.

 

ANNA pulls over the vehicle and the two get out. ANNA now has a bandage around her leg as well. There is a long pause.

 

ANNA

Thank you.

ANDRE

No problem.

ANNA

(after another pause)

Should be easier to sneak in, now that it’s dark.

ANDRE

Hopefully.

(Pause)

Where are you heading?

ANNA

Don’t know. I’ll need to ditch the truck. More soldiers will be out soon, if they aren’t already. I’ll make sure we get far enough away though.

ANDRE

We could try to sneak in, together. All of us.

ANNA

Don’t be stupid. Someone would notice us.

ANDRE

I could-

ANNA

Andre.

ANDRE stands in silence, and looks off towards where the zone is. We can just make it out- perhaps five or so miles away.

ANDRE

Anna… I know there is… nothing I can say that will make you change your mind-

ANNA

You’re right.

ANDRE

What if you didn’t even go to the zone? What if we go, you and me- find a Firefly outpost.

ANNA

I’m not leaving him.

ANDRE

Him to. For now. I mean… That’s not what- (Pause) You know, right before the outbreak happened… I remember I was going over to my neighbor’s house, my best friend’s place, to hang out. When I got there his mom said that they couldn’t have visitors because his dad had come home sick from work that day and they wanted to make sure I wasn’t exposed to whatever it was. A few hours later when all Hell broke loose and we were packing up our car we heard screaming next door. My parents shoved me into our car and as we drove away I could see my friend’s dad… killing them through the window. Ripping them apart.

ANNA

Andre…I know you’re trying to say something.

ANDRE

ANNA… your dad may not be infected, but he’s still sick. And… if you expose yourself to it, you’re going to die too.

ANNA

(after a long pause)

You can fucking leave now.

 

ANDRE opens the back door, and grabs his gear. Without a second glance back he starts down the road towards the quarantine zone.

ANNA watches him for a few seconds, thoughtful, before climbing back into the truck and driving back the way she came.

 

 

CUT TO:

HIGHWAY/TRUCK – NIGHT

ANNA drives, while RICK is in the passenger seat examining one of the assault rifles.

 

CUT TO:

HIGHWAY – DAY

The two have parked off. RICK is siphoning off some gas through a hose and filling some containers with it.

ANNA is looking around. There are a bunch of abandoned trucks and vehicles laying around, pushed to each side of the road.

She wipes some dust away from a car window before breaking it and opens the door. She finds some medications and stuffs them into her bag. She peers inside several abandoned cars.

 

RICK

Don’t forget that one.

 

RICK is finishing up, putting the caps on the fuel containers. ANNA looks at the last car her dad was referring to, then walks towards it. She peers in through the window. She sees a rotting corpse of a woman in the front seat, a gun in her lap. The woman has a hole in her head.

ANNA goes to break the window and as she does she looks in the back. In the back, sitting in a safety seat, is the corpse of a baby. It too has been shot and killed. ANNA begins to well up, and her arms slump to her side. She walks away.

 

ANNA

Nothing. Let’s go.

 

The two load up the FEDRA truck and start off.

 

CUT TO:

HIGHWAY/TRUCK – DUSK

ANNA is driving.

 

ANNA

Looks promising.

RICK

Hm. Yeah. Just keep your eyes peeled.

 

 

The two turn off of the HIGHWAY and onto the STREET.

There are still plenty of abandoned cars, rusting and growing moss.

There are buildings now which don’t seem to be in much better condition. Miles away they can see several larger structures, including the parking structure, on a small strip. Not as big as those closer to the city where they were, but still large. This area is more suburban.

They see houses that were once nice, and apartment complexes, and stores. No infected, yet, though.

 

RICK

Might as well try for that structure. The parking garage. We’ll do some recon around here, see what we can find.

ANNA

Yes, sir. I’mma drive a little out though first.

 

ANNA turns down a residential street where houses are lined up on each side. She continues down this road for several miles. Outside it’s a nice evening. Calm. Birds in the sky, and the sun is beginning to set.

After a while she looks up and sees that at the end of the street is a school.

 

ANNA (con’t)

 We need to ditch this truck and I don’t want to do that anywhere near where we’ll be setting up-

RICK

Why is the road wet? It hasn’t rained.

 

ANNA looked ahead and saw that the ground was indeed wet. RICK sniffed a little, then opened his window just a crack.

A realization quickly sweeps across his face.

 

RICK

Shit, it’s-

 

From out of the window of a building a red flare shoots out and strikes the wet pavement. Huge flames erupt from the gas soaked STREET and engulf the underbelly of the vehicle.

ANNA looks ahead and sees a large school bus edging in front of them until they crash into it.

 

ALL GOES BLACK.

 

POV shot as ANNA waking up to her father yelling, her vision blurry until it locks on him.

 

RICK
Grab what you can!

Out of POV

ANNA looks around and grabs their bag of weapons. Blood is covering the side of her head. She looks back and sees that their containers of fuel are leaking everywhere. As she turns to her door she sees the passenger door swing open and a group of people pulling RICK out of the car.

 

ANNA

DAD!

 

ANNA opened her door and is licked by flames. Suddenly someone dressed in all black tactical gear (ANDERSON) starts pulling her out. ANNA kicks them off, and jumps out of the vehicle.

ANNA tries to land, but her foot is caught by the person she just kicked.

 

ANDERSON

Grab her!

 

Two more individuals dressed in the gear grab hold of ANNA as she reaches for her switch blade. They lift her up and one of them takes the blade away. The two drag her off as she thrashes about, yelling.

 

ANNA

Dad. DAD!

 

ANDERSON gets up and jogs towards them. There is a group of people standing on the side of the road and several more inside a shop. Several of them have the same gear on, and several are in regular clothes. All have guns.

 

ANDERSON

Everyone get back!

 

A group of people moves into the SCHOOL, while ANNA and her captures stay just outside.

There is an explosion, and the FEDRA truck is engulfed in flames.

ANNA looks on in horror, but as the flames begin to die down she can see that her father is kneeling on the other side in front of a house. He’s surrounded by men, all with guns trained on him.

 

ANNA

(turning)

Let him go you mother-

 

ANNA is hit in the back of the head and falls unconscious.

 

ALL GOES BLACK.

 

INT. SCHOOL ROOM #1- NIGHT

ANNA wakes up slowly, and then immediately tries to stand up. She is strapped down. She looks around. She’s in a classroom. An elementary classroom and she’s strapped to a medical cot. Her head has since been bandaged and the one side of her face has been cleaned of blood. But the rest of her face is still covered in soot and dust. He clothes are filthy.

 

ANDERSON

Don’t thrash too much. Those cots are shit, and will tip over.

 

ANNA leans her head back and sees ANDERSON behind her, near the door of the classroom.

 

ANNA

Where the hell… who the hell are-

ANDERSON

Please, relax. We’re not going to hurt you.

ANNA

Hurt me again you mean.

ANDERSON

Yeah. We’re… erm-

ANNA

Sorry? Fuck you.

 

ANDERSON pulls a chair close to ANNA and sits.

 

ANDERSON

Look we thought you were them. You were in a FEDRA truck. We have to take precautions…

ANNA

What did you do with my dad?

 

ANDERSON

He’s alright. He‘s-

ANNA

I want to see him. NOW.

ANDERSON

You will. Soon. But first you need to answer my questions.

 

ANNA glares at him for a moment, and then relaxes.

 

ANDERSON

Why where you in a FEDRA truck?

ANNA

We stole it.

ANDERSON

Bull shit.

(Pause)

 How? Why?

ANNA

Closer to the city… to the zone. Got into a standoff and we won. Needed to get out of there and fast. Figured a vehicle is pretty fast. So long as we don’t crash it.

 

ANDERSON

Were you fleeing the zone?

ANNA

We… yes.

ANDERSON

(pause)

Want to try that again?

ANNA

We actually were. But… we… we were never really there to begin with. My dad and I. Never in the zone. They were going to try and take us there. We weren’t going.

ANDERSON

So you haven’t once been inside a zone?

ANNA

No.

ANDERSON

Lucky you. Why?

ANNA

No, no. My turn. Who the hell are you people? Just outsiders, or-

 

ANDERSON

Fireflies.

 

ANNA gives a momentary subtle look of shock, but regains her composure.

 

ANNA

Really?

ANDERSON

Really.

ANNA

(pause)

Guess this all makes sense, then.

 

ANDERSON

My name is Anderson. I was once a part of FEDRA. Until it turned into this … monster it is now. The goal had been to restore order. That’s never going to happen with them now. That’s why I joined the Fireflies. We are seeking to reestablish equilibrium.

ANNA

Fantastic. That sounds like a really noble thing to do. The right thing, yeah? Good luck with it.

ANDERSON

You don’t need to be afraid. We’re safe here.

ANNA

Don’t care. Let. Us. Go.

ANDERSON

(pause)

You’ll be free, soon enough. For now, just enjoy your rest.

ANDERSON stands up and starts towards the door.

ANNA

HEY, I want to see my dad.

ANDERSON

You will. Please, try and trust us. Try and relax… uh?(searching for name)

ANNA

Anna.

ANDERSON

Anna. Nice to meet you. Let us know if you need anything.

ANDERSON leaves the room.

 

ANNA

Yeah. I need to see my dad, fucking asshole.

 

As the door shuts ANNA leans her head back down and stares at the ceiling, then looks at the wall.

There is a motivational poster that reads:

SUCCESS

Success Is A Journey, Not A Destination.

 

ANNA rolls her eyes and lays her head back down. Soon she starts drifting off to sleep.

 

FADE TO BLACK.

 

CUT TO:

SCHOOL ROOM #1- DAY

ANNA wakes up and head talking outside. She can also hear something like a fire crackling. A grill.

She leans up and notices that she is no longer strapped down. She gets up, and moans.

 

ANNA

(in pain)

Shitshitshit.Ugh.

FIREFLY #1 walks in.

FIREFLY #1

Good, you’re up.

ANNA

Yeah, I suppose that’s a good thing.

FIREFLY#1

Come with me, when you’re ready.

 

ANNA gets up and follows FIREFLY #1 out of the room.

 

SCHOOL HALLWAY

The two head down a hallway towards the gym.

 

FIREFLY #1

ANDERSON thought you may want a shower. We have clean clothes for you also.

 

ANNA

My dad, I want to-

FIREFLY #1

You will. I promise.

 

The two stop outside of the gym. ANNA turns to FIREFLY #1.

 

ANNA

You guys are dicks.

FIREFLY #1

Enjoy.

 

CUT TO:

SHOWERS

ANNA is sitting on a bench in the school shower room.

She is clean, and her hair is still damp. She has a long row of stitches on the side of her head.

ANNA is getting dressed in clean clothes that look to be a size too big on her. Once she is done she heads up the stairs.

 

GYM

There are several people here including one in a doctor coat. She approaches them.

 

ANNA

You the one who stitched my head?

FIREFLY DOCTOR

Erm, yes.

 

ANNA

Thanks. But your suturing skills can use some work. Can I have a wrap please?

 

The DOCTOR gives her some supplies.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. SCHOOL YARD

ANNA steps out of the building and into the open day. She looks around and starts towards the grill. Her head is now bandaged back up, although it’s damp from her hair.

Several FIREFLIES are standing around. One at the grill, cooking chicken. There are some in tactical gear that have assault rifles near the fence.

She just as she reaches the grill she notices RICK stepping out from another door. ANDERSON is behind him. RICK is clean as well and has new clothes.

ANNA breaks into a dead sprint, and nearly tackles her father.

 

RICK

EXCUSE- Oh my god, ANNA!

ANNA

Dad!

ANDERSON

Man of my word.

ANNA

(to ANDERSON)

‘Bout damn time.

ANDERSON

Precautions. I apologize.

ANNA

(to RICK)

How are you?

RICK

Good. I got wounded though, I guess. They took care of me though. Have you seen your mom?

ANDERSON

He’s been asking about, Ellie is her name? We-

ANNA

Dad, you remember yesterday?

RICK

Yeah. Yeah. The attack on the bunker and those soldiers. Just don’t remember getting shot is all. We lost a man though right?

ANNA

Andre… he, no. He’s fine. He… he was shipped home.

RICK

He’s a good man. Deserves to see his family. But where is mommy, baby girl?

ANNA

Dad, she’s-

 

ANNA looks over an ANDERSON, who has his arms crossed. His face though is sympathetic… understanding.

 

ANDERSON

You two have to be hungry. Please, get some food.

 

The two get food, chicken breasts. They then sit down on a bench and eat.

 

RICK

How are you?

ANNA

I’m fine. Head got banged up in the crash.

RICK

Ah. Well, it was luck of us that we found another platoon right?

ANNA

Right.

 

ANNA looks over and sees ANDERSON seemingly arguing with another man, DAN. DAN keeps pointing over. She strains her ears to see what she can hear.

 

DAN

(hushed)

-and he’s fucking gone. We can’t have him here. He’s a liability.

ANDERSON

(hushed)

No. Every man counts.

DAN

Keep thinking that, until he ends up getting someone killed.

ANNA

(to RICK)

We won’t be staying long though. You gonna’ be good to move out soon?

RICK

Yes, ma’am.

 

DAN walks away, upset, and ANDERSON turns to look at ANNA for a moment and then walks over.

ANDERSON

So, apart from the whole almost dying thing… how do you guys like it here?

 

 

ANNA gets up after finishing her food, and RICK follows.

 

ANNA

Just fine, but we won’t be staying. We appreciate the help, and the food, but we gotta go

ANDERSON

Wait, hold on-

ANNA

Come on dad.

 

RICK and ANNA walk back inside of the building leaving ANDERSON outside watching.

 

 

INT. SCHOOL ROOM #2

Firefly #2 leads ANNA and RICK into the room.

 

Firefly #2

All of your stuff that went undamaged is in here.

ANNA

And our weapons.

Firefly #2

They’ll, er, be returned to you on your way out. Although you’re more than welcome to-

ANNA

Thanks.

 

Firefly #2 leaves the two as they start collecting their things. Most of the important stuff like their medical equipment and other items in their bags has, surprisingly, been left untouched.

ANDERSON soon walks in, with a young black woman (MARLENE) trailing behind him.

 

ANDERSON

Hey, there was something I wanted to talk to you guys about.

ANNA

Make it fast. (to Rick) We’re leaving in ten.

RICK

Yes, ma’am.

 

ANDERSON

We need people. And you two are more than welcome to stay. My doctor said that that you have medical experience. That’s perfect. We need more doctors-

ANNA

I’m a nurse.

ANDERSON

Still great. We need people. And your dad, Rick, you look like you can handle a weapon well, and take care of yourself. (chuckles) He knocked out two of my guys yesterday after pulling him out of that truck. He’s trained. We can use him-

ANNA

Until he turns on you.

 

ANDERSON looks puzzled, and RICK stops what he’s doing and looks at ANNA.

 

ANNA

You know how many times he’s pointed a gun at my face, or threatened to slit my throat in my sleep? Me. His own daughter. What the fuck do you think he’s going to do to strangers, your people? He is a liability.

 

There is a moment of silence in the room. RICK slowly starts going back to packing, hurt.

 

ANDERSON

We’re… forming teams. Trying to send reinforcements to other sections. Our next once is heading close to Boston. This Marlene. She’s leading the team, and they defiantly need people.

ANNA

I’m not fucking dragging my dad all the way to Boston. God, you people are fucking dense.

MARLENE

If I may… we would really appreciate-

 

ANNA shoulders her pack. RICK hesitantly does the same.

 

ANNA

I’m stopping you, now. We’re leaving. We’re not staying. We’re not fucking going to Boston, or anywhere with you. We’ve survived this long on our own, we’ll be fine.

 

ANNA starts towards door.

 

MARLENE

I really think we can help one another-

ANNA

Get the hell out of my way.

 

MARLENE looks at ANDERSON and he nods. She moves aside and ANNA and RICK leave.

 

EXT. SCHOOL YARD

RICK and ANNA exit the building and heads towards the gate. Beyond, just down the road is what remains of the FEDRA truck. A group of men surround it, trying to clean up the debris.

MARLENE comes walking out of the school with ANDERSON behind her. She is shouldering the bag with RICK and ANNA’s weapons and walking towards them. ANDERSON stops and watches.

MARLENE approaches them and hands off the weapons to RICK. ANNA reaches into the bag, grabs her switchblade and pistol. She checks the gun, mechanically.

 

ANNA

Open the gate. Unless you’re forcing us to stay here against our will.

 

MARLENE

We wouldn’t do that. We believe that people still have rights. Even when the world’s gone to shit.

 

MARLENE opens the gate.

 

MARLENE

I wish you’d reconsider.

ANNA

(Pause)

You don’t want us around. We’re more trouble than we’re worth.

MARLENE

I doubt that. But the offer still stands, if you change your mind.

RICK and ANNA step outside. The gate is then closed and the two start heading down the street. RICK looks at ANNA, wanting to say something but doesn’t. ANNA doesn’t look back.

 

 

CUT TO:

STREET

The street is lined with stores and shops and a few abandoned cars. RICK peers inside the cars as the walk past. Some of the roads have been blocked off with signs.

 

CUT TO:

Another shot of the two walking down another STREET. There is a dead body in the road that they walk around, not even looking at it.

 

CUT TO:

On the street RICK whistles towards a darkened store. A moment passes and a RUNNER comes barreling out. As it does though it’s tripped and ANNA rushes it, stabbing it in the back of the head. ANNA and RICK then proceed inside, searching.

 

CUT TO:

As they round a corner they see a large structure- an APARTMENT BUILDING. The two look at each other and then start towards it.

 

CUT TO:

INT. APARTMENT BUILDING- DAY

RICK and ANNA kick in the doors to a new APARTMENT BUILDING and aim their weapons. They wait a moment before entering. Hearing nothing, they step inside and close the doors behind them.

The place is dirty, and there is dust in the air. No spores though. This building is distinctly different from the last apartment building.

The two head towards the main desk.

 

OFFICE

ANNA rifles through the office area and finds the keys, and grabs one of the only remaining keys- room 208.

The two then leave the office and head upstairs.

 

APARTMENT 208

The door unlocks and swings open and the two step inside of their new living space. It’s bare. The two look at each other.

 

CUT TO:

ANNA breaking down the door to another apartment. The two go inside and start moving the couch.

 

CUT TO:

ANNA and RICK moving beds into their new apartment.

 

CUT TO:

HALLWAY

ANNA going down a hall, checking each apartment door and making sure they are locked.

 

CUT TO:

208- DUSK

ANNA is looking out the window. There is a fire escape outside.

In the front room is a couch and a twin bed. The bigger bed that they got earlier is in the master bedroom. Right now these are the only furnishings.

RICK enters the room without a shirt. His bandages are all bloody.

 

RICK

We’ll pick up some more stuff tomorrow.

 

ANNA

Not sure how much more there is to find around here. Seems the Fireflies have cleaned this area out well.

 

ANNA goes to the pack that ANDRE had given them and opens it. Inside is a first aid. ANNA grabs it and goes to her father. She slowly peels away the bandages. We can see that a stitch has popped out of the exit wound.

 

ANNA

Damn it. You tore a stitch. I don’t think I have anything to do a new one. For now… just try not to move a lot, okay? We’ll see what we can find tomorrow.

RICK

Alright.

 

ANNA takes off the other bandage and then puts two new ones covering up the bullet wound.

 

RICK

You know, your mom was good at this too. When I came back from tour the last time, and I had that big shrap wound… she was able to clean and redress it better than any doctor.

ANNA

I know. It’s why I wanted to be a nurse.

(pause)

You know, it amazes me some of the shit you remember.

RICK

Heh. When it comes to your mom… I like to think I remember quite a bit.

ANNA

Except that she’s gone.

RICK

(pause)

Maybe I don’t like to remember that.

ANNA

(Pause)

Sorry.

RICK

I guess… it’s her and war. Those two things, I remember most.

 

ANNA says nothing, although this obviously distresses her.

 

RICK

Well, I guess they were kind of the last two things I had before… well, you know. I became like this.

ANNA

(finishes dressing)

Done.

RICK

(looking at bandage)

Like new. Thank you.

 

He smiles, and she gives somewhat of a smile back. Then she starts to get up, and RICK grabs her arm.

 

 

RICK

Honey… I still have plenty of memories of you, too.

ANNA

(smiling, trying to fight tears)

Love you, daddy.

 

RICK

Love you too, baby girl. Get some rest. We’ve had a Hell of a day.

ANNA

Yeah. You too. Tomorrow will be busy. Priority number one, finish clearing the building. I only got about half way.

RICK

Roger that.

 

RICK gets up and goes into the bedroom. ANNA puts the first aid away, and drinks some water before climbing onto the twin mattress and falling asleep.

 

We go to black. And hold there for a long time, almost like it’s the ending. Then we hear the clicking sound of a hammer on a gun being pulled back. Then the faint sound of a door open and close.

We are in ANNA’s POV as her eyes open slightly for a moment and the room is hazy. We see the front room, and the door leading out to the hallway. But that’s it. All is quiet. ANNA goes back to sleep again. And all is dark and quiet for a long time again.

 

BANG

We are out of ANNA’s POV and her eyes snap open- very reminiscent of how the film begins.

BANG.

She sits up very quickly and looks towards the front door.

There is a third BANG and she reaches for her assault rifle, and gets ready to aim it when RICK bursts through the door and slams it shut.

 

 

RICK

(bracing against the door)

They followed me! FUCK. I gave away our position.

 

ANNA

(throwing the locks into place)

Dad! What’s going on?

RICK

They’re out there. They’re coming.

 

ANNA listens and in the distance she can hear the faint howls of infected.

 

ANNA

Oh shit…

RICK

Wake the others!

ANNA

Dad. Dad, listen to me. We need to go.

(heading towards gear, and starts packing.)

 Come on.

RICK

What… what the fuck? What are you talking about?

 

ANNA goes up to RICK and pulls him away from the door. They go into the center of the room and RICK flips the couch over as a barrier.

 

ANNA

What are you doing? We are not staying here!

RICK

I can’t leave our post; our men!

 

The infected can now be heard outside in the hallway approaching the apartment. A few are already scratching at the door.

 

ANNA

(shouldering her backpack)

Dad, we have to go!

RICK

No, I won’t abandon my men! It’s my fault, I led them here!

ANNA

(pulling at him)

DAD!

RICK

(yelling, and pushing her away)

My men need me!

 

ANNA struggles with herself, tears welling up in her eyes. She walks away and then back to RICK- who is vigilantly aimed at the door.

 

 

ANNA

(Pause)

Sarge… sir, do you know what’s behind that door?

RICK

Corporal, I’m very well aware!

ANNA

(kneels down)

We… You can’t let one of those fuckers through, do you hear me!? We gotta’ protect our men!

RICK

Hooah!!

 

ANNA gets up and backs away. RICK is still kneeled behind the flipped over couch, aimed tightly at the doorway. The infected, outside the door, continue to bang against it- howling and screaming. The door begins to splinter around the hinges.

 

ANNA

(still backing up)

You have to protect us …

 

RICK is breathing hard. His face contorted with determination and anger.  He’s trying to control his breathing.

ANNA continues to back up until she reaches the window. Outside is the fire exit. She quietly lifts the window up as the banging continues.

The door splinters some more, and a big chunk falls to the floor. One of the infected can be seen beyond, howling. RICK fires and hits it in the skull. Blood sprays and it falls backwards, Hands reach in from the whole tearing away from the door. The infected are only seconds away from entering…

RICK turns, a smile on his face.

 

RICK

Fuckin’ right! Corporal, get in-

 

RICK sees the open window, and his smile fades. Fear rushes into his eyes as he looks around. The banging continues and the wood splinters loudly.

RICK’s head snaps back and we watches in terror as the infected bring the door down. Then RICK raises his gun, tears in his eyes and anger on his face… and he begins to scream and fire at the oncoming horde.

 

 

CUT TO:

 

EXT. BUILDING – NIGHT

ANNA lands on her feet at the bottom of the fire escape, and she hears the gunfire. Tears are streaming down her face as she looks up and hears the howling of RICK and the horde mixed with the gunfire.

The gunfire continues for a second before it abruptly ends and RICK’s screams turn from anger to pain as he is ripped apart.

ANNA’s crying intensifies as she begins running.

SNAP TO BLACK

END.

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First I want to start off this blog post by saying that I am in no way an “insider,” or know really anything about anything. I’m a die hard fan of Jurassic Park (big shocker there,) and Universal theme parks in general. I can only speak on behalf of the experiences I’ve had, what I’ve read in articles as well as other postings online, and also from what I’ve heard from interviews. I’m just a nerd, with big thoughts and big questions.  Also, for a majority of this post I’ll be talking mainly about Universal Orlando although it does not totally negate the dynamic of Jurassic Park at Universal Hollywood.

Secondly, I’ll start with this:

 

uniletter1

 

I received this letter… oh, back in 2004 when I was 12 years old. A little bit of context to the letter: in 2003 my family surprised me with a trip to Universal Orlando for my birthday. This was a BIG deal. Literally ever since I knew that Universal Hollywood had a Jurassic Park ride I had wanted to go. When Orlando announced Islands of Adventure and their Jurassic Park island (called Isla Adventura for those who are wondering) I was dead set on going at some point in my life. The problem was a trip like that is that it’s obviously expensive and I was never sure I was going to be able to go. Then came my 12th birthday and my parents absolutely shocked me when I was handed the plane tickets for our Florida getaway.

That trip in and of itself is an entire grand memory and filled with stories I may sometime divulge. But for now all you need to know is a few things:

  • From that moment on Universal was set in stone as my theme park destination of choice
  • Jurassic Park awed me
  • Not all of the Jurassic Park area was open.

You see, unbeknown to us at the time Universal had closed down both the bottom half of the Jurassic Park Discovery Center, as well as their Triceratops Encounter. At this time Universa was working on that years Halloween Horror Nights, and they were using the Jurassic Park area for a zone and these specific areas for two houses- Jungle of Doom, and Psycho Scareapy.

Once I got home my first instinct was the write to Universal and tell them how amazing of a time I had (mind, this was the days before Twitter and other forms of social media like that.) In that letter I told them how much fun I had, as well as how much I hope to attend again in the future so that I could hopefully get the full experience (since two of the attractions were closed) as well as attend Halloween Horror Nights- which I very quickly became enamored with as well.

Months went by and I had all but forgotten about the letter, until the gem I posted above arrived at my house. I was so excited when I got this. Like, beyond excited. Not only was I getting a letter back from Universal directly, they were telling me special information about their Jurassic Park area. A new attraction was going to replace Triceratops Encounter? No way! While I always wanted to experience Trike Encounter, I couldn’t not be excited for the idea of the Jurassic area getting some new love! It had been two years since Jurassic Park 3 and this was right on the cusp of Jurassic 4 going in to perpetual limbo for a LONG time. I was excited.

But then years went by and… nothing happened. Nothing came of this “new” attraction, and Trike Encounter remained closed. So now not only were we not getting any new movies as the years passed,  but the Jurassic Park rides/areas at the Universal parks were seemingly getting little to no attention as well.

 

Then came 2009 and this is when I made my second trip to Universal. It was kind of an early high school graduation and birthday gift to myself. Not only would I be returning to the park, but I would be going to HHN for the first time that year as well.

Much like the first time I ever went I had an amazing time. Construction was just beginning on Hogsmeade and while I felt a little territorial about Harry Potter encroaching on the Jurassic area’s space- it looked awesome. This time I also got to experience the Discover Center in all its glory. But two things really were itching at me in my mind: one being that I just couldn’t understand why Trike Encounter was still closed if they planned on doing nothing with it. The second being, despite all my love for it and how technically amazing it still was… once I removed my rose colored glasses it was hard to deny that Jurassic Park River Adventure was aging. It had been around for over a decade now, and some aspects were just really not up to par with where you could tell they originally were. Slow mechanics, and several effects and dinosaurs not working at all. This caused me distress because I realized that the license I loved most just really was getting no attention or care for at all. Period. All around. Nobody seemed to care about Jurassic Park. I’ll hit more on this point later but just know that at the time, while I don’t mean for it to sound as overly dramatic as this does- it stung.

13717358_1641120999548726_2848279315329559283_o

Image from Behind the Gates

There was a final note though to this trip. Anybody who’s ever been on the River Adventure may recall a giant mockup of the island at the beginning of the ride. Each area is pointed out with a red tag. If you go to the back side of this island though you will see a red tag that reads “Jeep Safari.” Literally every other tag on this model corresponds to an area physically in the park… except this one. My first thought was that this had to have been the ride that was originally planned to replace Trike Encounter. But what happened to it? We’ll get to that later.

 

Hop forward to 2013. I am going to Universal in September of that year again for research concerning my senior thesis covering horror in theatre. To say that was all I was doing down there would be a downright lie because obviously I spent the days at the park, but at night I was doing “research” by attending HHN. By this point Hogsmeade had been opened, and literally a week after Jurassic Park 4 (before it was given the title Jurassic World) had been announced and had a release date. I was PUMPED. When I got to Universal it hadn’t seemed like a lot had changed in terms of their Jurassic area. And it wasn’t like I expected a complete overhaul overnight because of the new film. But I was excited for the future. I though “hey, this could really get things started” and JP could finally be getting some much needed love. The ride still was aging, and there seemed to be even more mechanical problems now than there was when I last went in 2009. The only thing that the JP area was getting that was new (at this time) was street games where you could win prizes, and they weren’t even operational yet.

Earlier in 2013 there was an official notice that went online for the JP ride going through refurbishments. While  it’s well known that many/all the rides go through yearly maintenance word of this spread like wildfire in the JP fan community, as everyone was expecting something big to happen with the newly announced Jurassic World AS WELL AS the fact that Jurassic Park was reaching 20 years old and Universal was re-releasing it on 3D. When the ride reopened though… nothing had changed. The animals got a few color tweaks on their skins, but that was it. Nothing majorly new had been done.

Then came 2015. Jurassic World was literally around the corner and… it seemed like Universal had nothing planned. While I still tend to think that Jurassic World had some fairly decent marketing, I do concede that it wasn’t as strong as it could have been and many fans though it was even less than that. Many felt that Universal was not pushing it as hard as they should have. Now I know everyone thinks their fandom or interest is special, and obviously I’m no different. Jurassic Park really helped shaped my life; my interests, creativity, goals- everything. So I wanted it to get the attention I thought it deserved. What I couldn’t (and still don’t) understand is why Universal seemingly couldn’t see it. Jurassic Park was, for the longest time, Universal’s highest grossing franchise and was only recently passed by the Fast and the Furious franchise (which I would like to point out only surpasses Jurassic by $300 mill, but has seven (soon to be eight) films. In other words Jurassic has done WAY more for Universal with less. ) And Universal is treating it like it’s this outsider property. The fourth film took more than a decade to develop, the rides at both parks have been slowly wearing down with only minor upkeep, and even with a new film finally underway it seemed like Universal wasn’t pushing it or doing anything exciting at their parks for it.

As the release of the new film crept closer everybody was surprised at the kind of presales Jurassic World was doing. A few weeks before the release of the film Universal Orlando surprises everyone with the opening of their Raptor Encounter (quickly followed by Universal Hollywood- both inspired by the “encounter” at Universal Singapore.) While it may not have been a new ride or anything many fans were excited to see Universal parks finally back in on Jurassic and hoped that it led to more soon.

Jurassic World released and smashed box office records just like the original film back in 1993. Nobody expected it to do that well, and many fans hoped that this would grab Universal’s attention. Yet there was seemingly nothing on the horizon. I made my fourth trip to Universal in September of 2015, and while the Raptor Encounter was everything I had hoped it would be, and I had an amazing time I couldn’t help but feel that there could be more. Why wasn’t Jurassic utilized at HHN (they don’t have to use the area at IoA, they could have just made a house)? Why wasn’t there any real updates to the ride, or elsewhere? Obviously there was tons of Jurassic World merch and signs, but… that was it. And there were no substantial news or new rumors anywhere that Universal had anything planned. Even with Universal Japan announcing that October they were going to build a new Jurassic themed roller coaster,  Universal stateside was mum on everything about the prehistoric franchise.

 

Now that I’ve recapped a lot of my personal park going timeline and experiences I’ll tack on some other info and rumors that have been long standing. Ever since 2010 (perhaps even before) there have been rumors of Isla Adventura/Jurassic Park being shut down and removed. I don’t know if there is any true substance to this, or if is just forum talk- but I’ve conversed with many who have suspected it. Jurassic Park was an expensive ride to build to begin with, and it has a lot to upkeep. There is a reason why not very many rides nowadays utilize animatronics and practical effects the way JP rides do and are now leaning more to “dark rides/screen rides”… their cheaper. Take Jurassic Park: The Ride’s $100 million price tag (and JUST for the ride mind you, that doesn’t even cover the rest of area) and compare that to the $256 million it cost to create the entirety of Hogsmeade. (that’s the Hogwarts ride, the area- everything.)  The thought was that Universal felt they were losing money in the JP area. By not having a new film or any new interest there was no point in the island. They could easily dismantle it and fit several cheaper rides in that area which would a.) bring in more guests, and b.) save them money in the long run.

A lot of fans have wondered why not just “fix” the problems with the River Adventure? Well, it kind of goes back to the price tag. The cost to completely rip out the existing mechanics of the current ride and replace them, or to add anything new is theorized by some to be “too much” for Universal. So while it’d be amazing for them to not only update their animatronics but perhaps update some of the dinos with more film accurate molds (I.E- like the stegos we see at Universal Singapore) overall it’d be easier  and more cost efficient to rip it all out and replace it with a newer, cheaper ride.

So why not replace it with a new Jurassic Park ride? Two theorized reasons:  One being contract stipulations with Spielberg possibly.  And two being that before 2015 Universal felt that there was no real interest in Jurassic Park as a brand anymore. No film, and not a lot of new merch meant that Jurassic Park was going extinct.

Now that there IS a new record breaking film (and let us not skim over the fact that the very limited 3D re-release of the original film tacked on an EXTRA $45 million)why don’t they build something new? And THAT dear readers is the ultimate question.  Luckily because I have nothing else to do with my free time, I have some thoughts on the matter.

 

 

The original ride, which first opened at Universal Hollywood took five years to develop and cost $100 million. That’s more than the actual movie itself. But the ride was a mega hit, and Universal quickly gravitated to copying and theming one of their islands at IoA around Jurassic Park. When IoA opened, once again Universal had a mega hit. Not only was there the ride but there was the Trike Encounter, the Discover Center, and Camp Jurassic with Pteronodon Flyers. Now, remember that little “Jeep Safari” tag on the model I mentioned earlier? Apparently it’s always been there.  Rumor has it that there was a “phase 2” prepared for the Jurassic Park area. In Jurassic World Claire Dearing says “The park needs a new attraction every few years in order to reinvigorate the public’s interest.” That was the idea here. Universal had plans on future rides happening because JP was so popular. The Lost World had just been released and there were already rumbles of Jurassic 3 in the near future. JP was a hot franchise. While spacing and land had always been an issue for Universal, they had specifically spaced out several parts to build on eventually.

Then11892202_1454710778189750_1240067115970479703_n came and went Jurassic Park 3, as well as all the plans Universal had for their Jeep Ride at the time. From what I’ve gathered it’s officially unknown as to exactly why it was fully scrapped but some theorize it was due to a number of reasons, the main one being that Universal feared that the Jeep Safari would have been too similar to Disney’s Countdown to Extinction/Dinosaur ride at Animal Kingdom.

Apart from the concept sketches of the ride not a lot is known about it other than the fact that it basically would have been a vehicle tour (like in the first film) that followed a similar plot to the River Adventure- everything is nice and calm until the final moments and you have to escape. A secondary theory I have about this ride pertains to another hidden Easter egg in the JP

Discovery Center. On the bottom floor there is a mural that crosses over the entire wall. On that mural (as well as the corresponding mural upstairs) every single species of dinosaur/prehistoric animal that is on there is represented… except for two.

One being these guys:

DSC_0512

Yeah. That’s right, Carnotaurus. Keep in mind that this area was being developed around the time that The Lost World was in production, and Michael Crichton’s book was being written. It’s long been thought that carnos were originally supposed to be in the film adaptation of TLW (like they were in the book) but were scrapped. My theory is Universal liked the animals, and wanted to use them in the Jeep ride eventually. But because a.) they weren’t in the films and b.) because of Disney’s use of those specific dinosaurs they didn’t use them.

 

The second animal not represented is this guy:

DSC_0514

Elasmosaurus. Not this is interesting because I’m not sure where it may have fit- but it’s a fun little find no matter what and makes me wonder if Universal had originally intended on having an animatronic Elasmo neck and head in their lagoon near JP.

All that being said, I want to give a shout out to current Universal character actors in the JP Discovery Center- I always ask them about these creatures and where they are in the park whenever I visit, and I always get really unique and interesting answers from each of them.

 

In-between the Jeep Safari being scrapped and 2013 there was rumors of another new ride being developed. It was supposed to take place in the mines on the island and while you were going about, raptors had also escaped and start attacking. Basically along the lines of The Mummy ride, but  Jurassic themed. Your cart would start in the open, then go through dark tunnels. During that transition though scratches and dents would appear on your6 cart after it had been in the dark or exposed to special kinds of light.

 

 

It’s also important to note that for a short span in the late ’00’s Universal reopened the Trike Encounter, but only seasonally- during the winter months.  They only did this for about two years though and then announced its closure forever.

Once Universal obtained the rights to create their Harry Potter world though is when a lot of fans of JP started becoming a little nervous. The new island would mean creeping in to some of the land that was specifically set aside for an addition to Jurassic Park and for many that signaled that perhaps Universal really didn’t care about Jurassic anymore. Slap on top the removal of one of JP’s main gates and the construction of Kong: Skull Island (which, oddly enough, is incredibly reminiscent of the scrapped Jeep Safari ride) fans were really starting to feel their paradise get smaller. No matter the fact that Kong too has dinosaurs… it’s just not Jurassic Park.

 

As it stands there are now two areas in the Jurassic Park area that currently have nothing in them. One by the Discovery Center, and the other is the entire rest of what used to be the Trike Encounter.

map

While the area by the Discovery Center is seemingly small, it is feasible that something could indeed fit down there.  And where the Trike Encounter was is indeed large enough to fit something new.

I admit though that it becomes disheartening when seemingly everything else gets the attention you wish your favorite properties did. Universal Orlando is opening their Jimmy Fallon ride, Volcano Bay this summer, and their currently constructing their Fast and Furious ride. They’re also set to build and open their Nintendo Land  by 2020, and there are rumors of even more in store for Harry Potter, not to mention they also  purchased 450 acres of land to build on recently. That is all well and good, but what about Jurassic Park? When, if ever, will we see anything new?  That’s the question. I honestly think it would be unwise of Universal not to have something planned or be currently planning something. While I praise the work that Universal Creative does all around, and am thankful for the experience we already have- when compared to what Universal Japan has been doing, I don’t understand why we don’t have that here in the states.

Take a look at what is at Jurassic Park Japan:

 

 

 

The Raptor Encounter is hella cool, don’t get me wrong. I’m glad we have that! But why stop there?  I am sure the reason we don’t have these things boils down to costs, but the question I reiterate is- obviously Jurassic Park has pull, so why doesn’t Universal exploit that more? The movies make ridiculous amounts of money, and the current Jurassic World traveling exhibit is doing real well! So why such an absence of anything new at the parks? Even if it’s little things like trying to fit a mold of a trike from the closed encounter on the

psit

Art by Joshua Malone, inspired by new research on psittacosaur and their appearance in the Jurassic Park River Adventure 

Ride as an easter egg, or updating the look of the Psittacosaurus , or having a special screening event, or… well, anything?

 

 

In 2018 we have “Jurassic World 2” on the way, and Universal just recently announced they are re-releasing Jurassic Park once again next year in honor of it’s 25th anniversary. I’ll be really curious if Universal will announce something this year or next to coincide with that films release.  And Jurassic World gave Universal a TON to play with. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t enjoy a gyrosphere ride through a jungle filled with dinosaurs! I’ve also heard a rumor that Universal has considered closing their current Jurassic Park area and opening a new one/Jurassic World area on a part of their new 450 acres.

I’m also really interested in the future of the River Adventure. It needs some major work, and these yearly referbs I feel like just aren’t getting the job fully done. It’s still an amazing ride, don’t get me wrong. I will love it until the day I die; not to be too cheesy but it’s special to me (as is Universal in general.) But something obviously needs to be done with it to fix it. Universal has spent so much time and effort in to creating this immersive world for you to experience at their parks, and when you’re on a ride where the animatronics flake out halfway through their routine… it ruins the illusion. At the Hollywood ride the car doesn’t even fall anymore.  I would love to see these rides restored to their full glory, but also acknowledge that for something like that to happen they would a.) have to be closed for a while and b.) Universal would have to feel like they’re getting out what they’re putting in.

 

The love for dinosaurs is… ahem, universal. I think the recent success of Jurassic World (despite if people think it is a good movie or not) proves that the franchise still has life in it yet, and that the general public craves more. Universal has a great opportunity here to take this franchise and run with it again- the ball is in their court. When I look at classic promotional videos like this:

It makes me incredibly nostalgic and giddy. They put so much care and pride into these rides/parks originally and I would love to see that come back.

 

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3Once again we are finding ourselves in the approaching shadow of the haunt season, folks. The great thing about Illinois is that no matter where you are there never seems to be a shortage of haunted attractions (professional or non.)

I wrote up a list last year, and figured I’d do the same again this year. While there are tons of haunts that I am looking forward to this year and am hoping to hit in Illinois (including my own past haunt home of  Skellington Manor) I’m going to keep this list narrowed to the greater Chicago area. So without further adieu…

 

 

4.) Realm of Terror

(Round Lake Beach, IL)

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This is one of those haunts that, every year, gets consistently great reviews by the general public and critics alike. Stellar sets, and actors who are really on point… it is no doubt  a staple of haunts one in/around the Chicago-land area must visit.  Do note though, this isn’t for the faint of heart (well, really none of these haunts on this list are.) The actors are high energy and really invade your space. A general sense of unease creeps over you as soon as you line up in the que.

 

3.) Basement of the Dead

(Aurora, IL)

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Yep, this was on my list last year folks. Why again? BECAUSE IT’S ALWAYS FREAKING AMAZING, that’s why! These guys continually build and put on one of the best haunts I have ever had to pleasure of experiencing. High energy acting, amazing sets, and full throttle scares from every direction. This place, no matter the night, usually has an insane line qued up at the entrance, and for good reason. They’re one of the best in the state.

 

2.) HellsGate

(Lockport, IL)

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Kicking up a lot of speculation this year is the infamous Zombie Army Productions latest haunt- HellsGate. Inspired by the urban legends of a haunted house found only in the forest that is multi leveled and so scary that if you make it all the way through… your ticket is free! This attraction is found the woods, is multi-storied, but you can only get your money back if you find a special key. Challenge accepted! While my opinions of Statesville range, there can be no doubt that I am excited about this haunt. Woods? Several floors of scares? Amazing sets and makeup?  SOLD.

 

1.)Fable’s Fright Nights

(East Dundee, IL)

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Topping our list again is Fable’s Studios. Last year their amazing experience Project Chaos was cut criminally short. If it’s any indication of what this group can do with an entire theme park, I’m stoked. For the past several months they’ve been doing a Zombie experience at Santa’s Village that has garnered a lot of praise. This haunt season they are turning the entire park into a nightmare with three haunts, and street experiences, and a chance to meet the legendary Krampus himself (all in all, this is very ala Halloween Horror Nights/Howl-Scream/Knott’s.) Super psyched to see what the talented and passionate creators at Fable’s have in store for us.

 

 

That’s it for my list this year! What haunted attractions are you dying to attend?

Catching Up to Do

Posted: September 12, 2016 in Blog

1I’d like to sincerely apologize in this moment for the huge gaps in my posts. The past few months… well, the past year actually has been incredibly crazy. Lots of downs and ups. It has been especially the past month though as many of those close to me know.

I feel like a lot of writers/artists/creative people always have stints of absence in their work. I’ve been focusing a lot of time and effort into my current webseries Dare to Chance, which is a kind of sequel to last year’s Jack’s Maniac’s series. That’s really been my only creative outlet for the past month though. I’m hoping that soon I’ll get back to making posts regularly again here- at least in some capacity. I want to thank those of you who still read and look through my old posts, and those who are checking back regularly for updates. Sorry that there hasn’t been more.

I will say, I think the past few months have given me a lot to write about. And with Halloween coming up, obviously there’s even more. I also have a lot of Jurassic stories still left to tell (and always will,) and some general acting muses. So stay tuned, and once again thanks for the support and understanding.

 

-Joshua

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There are lots of people and things that can affect your life but very few will ever change is. The Paleontology Program at the Burpee Museum of Natural History has changed my life, in the most amazing ways possible.

 

I remember being thirteen in 2005 and being so excited to visit the museum to see Jane, their juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex. I’ve been a dinosaur/paleo enthusiast since I was two years old and was really amped to see this important specimen. When we walked up to the main desk I saw a brochure for volunteering on summer expedition with the Burpee to the Hell Creek. I snatched one up, and knew right then that I had to go on this dig.

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Myself (in the orange) on my first dig in 2007

The next two summers I saved up money from various jobs and in 2007 at fifteen years old I went on my first dig with the Burpee, and it was the best choice I ever made. I was so excited when I reached Camp Needmore, ready to tackle the coming week and looking forward to this new experience. After years of reading books and watching documentaries I’d finally be in the action.

 

It is now nine years later, and I have just returned from Utah where I was on my sixth expedition with the Burpee. Over the years I have worked my way up from volunteer, to intern, and now these past four weeks I was actually an officially employed field assistant. I remember during my first few digs how I’d watch Scott Williams, Josh Matthews, Katie Tremaine, and the other leaders teaching the volunteers, telling personal stories, and generally being a unit. I am now a part of that unit. I’m helping with the teaching and prep during the digs. Their stories are now my stories. I am a part of their family.

 

Beyond my growth within the Burpee itself, without the Paleo Program I would not be where I am today. It’s because of the Burpee that I ended up going to Augustana College (IL)- where I met many of my closest friends, and had other important life experiences. It’s because of the program and people involved that I’ve had the jobs I’ve had, and my life is on its current trajectory. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for people like Scott, Katie, and Josh.

Also, because of the Burpee Paleo Program and related events (like PaleoFest) that I’ve made incredible connections. I’ve met and talked with some of the top scientists like Jack Horner, John Foster, Phil Currie, Kristina Curry Rogers, and many more; I’ve had dinner, joked, and shared drinks with Mark Goodwin, Brian Switek, Eugenia Gold, and Mike D’Emic; I’ve sat and dug literally next to Jim Kirkland, and Thomas Holtz! Many of these people are paleo giants that I idolized growing up. I never thought I’d ever meet them let alone dig alongside them.  Yet here I am, doing exactly that all because of Burpee’s Paleo

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Thomas Holtz at the Burpee Ninja Turtle site in Montana. I’m behind the camera, trying not to scream.

Program.

 

I have learned so much about the science, personal work ethic, and (as corny as it sounds) myself because of this program. It has been invaluable to me as an individual.

It’s incredible to see how the Burpee has helped advance the science. Some of the most important papers and research in the last decade have ties to Burpee either by using their specimens, presenting it at PaleoFest, or from help/collaboration with the staff.

Since my first time going to the Burpee in 2005 I have been able to see the museum grow into a completely different entity mainly because of the Paleo Program. I’ve seen great new additions, including Homer’s Odyssey and many great traveling exhibits like African Giants, Megalodon, and Savage Ancient Seas. I’ve witnessed some of the best paleo symposiums ever including this past year’s Women in Paleontology PaleoFest. I’ve seen the Paleo Program strive to have new forms of outreach and education like attending Comic Cons, giving guided tours at dig sites, and hosting different family oriented events.  I’ve been able to see new people grace the museum’s halls and I’ve seen kids come back each year to events or digs and grow as individuals, exactly like me.

 

My life has forever been changed and I can’t imagine it without the Paleo Program or the individuals involved like Scott, Katie, and Josh. I owe a lot to them, their hard work, and their dedication. They are great mentors, scientists, and friends.

 

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From right to left: Scott Williams, Steven Landi, Josh Mathews, Eugenia Gold, Katie Tremaine, and myself.

 

 

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WB films/ DC Comics

 

As always, MAJOR spoilers.

You were warned.

 

When the first trailer hit for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice I was just as game as anyone. As a lifelong Batman and comic book fan this was a film I have been dreaming of for years. But as the subsequent trailers and TV spots were released, and more details of the film were spread I started lowering my expectations. I’m glad I did, because I think it actually allowed me to enjoy BvS.

Personally I think BvS was okay. Not great, and not bad- just okay. Which, to some, it might as well be bad- and I understand that ‘lukewarm- spew you out’ mentality. The flaws of BvS are obvious: rushed story and some weird character choices. When some of the things get to being cringe-worthy in the film it makes you wonder how a film can simultaneously have some of the best comic film moments ever. For all its flaws, this film has some amazing moments in it that the audience as well as fans will enjoy. But those moments make the bad sting just that much more, because you know that really… this could have been a really good film

 

The basic synopsis can be found everywhere now, so I won’t waste a lot of time on it. Basically we pick up nearly two years after where Man of Steel leaves off. The world is still

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WB films/ DC Comics

recovering from Zod and Superman’s battle (although… they seemed to have rebuilt Metropolis pretty damn fast) and people are torn on if Superman is friend or foe. Even Superman for the entire length of the film, until the end, is torn on if he feels like saving the world anymore. Batman/Bruce Wayne sees him as a threat though, a threat that must be dealt with before more innocents are killed. Ensues is their fight, but there is another force (Lex Luthor) that wants to see the world be rid of both of them.

 

 

Overall, as I said before, the film feels rushed. It literally follows the same pacing as Man of Steel, which is unfortunate. The first half, in my opinion, is actually great. Well-paced, and sets up a lot and had me invested. Besides one character (which I will get to soon enough) I was really in to this film for the first half and was actually wondering why it was getting all of the hate. Then the “Knightmare” sequence  happened and you’ll know right then that there is a sudden shift, you can feel it.  Something happens that is both cool and confusing and you know right away that that is how the rest of the film is going to play out then. And that’s how it starts. The confusion… the cramped story, that turns a good movie… cruel.

The rest of the film you really have to fight at times to keep straight. I mean, sure, you still understand what is happening: Batman wants to actually kill Superman, Luthor is [kind of] the overall puppet master and doing evil stuff, and there are other metahumans out there. Got it. But the why’s just seem to either get glossed over or left out completely sometimes. Which makes the resolutions to the problems happen seem less cathartic. You’re left thinking “this really could’ve been easily avoided if-”, or “wait, when did they find that out?” or “wait, why was this a thing again/how did that happen?” instead of focusing wholly on what is actually going on screen.  Great example: as much as I loved the actual battle between Bats and Supes, all we were really given before it was a brief training montage of Bruce in the cave- which I didn’t mind. But him creating the kryptonite gas he’ll use on Superman or any other type of planning he does for the battle is never really explained. It’s showed, somewhat, but unless you’ve read The Dark Knight Returns and KNEW that’s what he was probably making, you’d have no real clue what he was doing and then later when he uses it against Supes you’d be left thinking “wait, when did he make that?” More importantly, how? We’re never given any explanation to is this Batman is

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WB films/DC Comics

good at chemistry, or manufacturing, or… really anything other than fighting, being awesome, and some detective skills. I guess we’re supposed to already “know” that Batman can do anything, but it just doesn’t play out that way. When does Clark figure out Batman is Bruce, or Luthor figure Supes is Clark? Or how exactly is Doomsday created? I know it deals with using some of Zod’s body and Luthor’s blood and the genesis chamber… but, seriously, how? It just comes across as lazy story telling when certain things are glossed over. There are tons of other examples, sadly, that I could go on about but I don’t want to meander on the point.

 

The characters really suffer for the rushed second half. Relationships develop, plot points are revealed, and problems are resolved too quickly and in the end while hitting every major beat it just doesn’t feel… complete. What baffles me is the choice of what was included and what wasn’t. There are just some sequences that, while fun, didn’t need to be in the film and I feel like there are probably some that were cut (for crying out loud, there is another 30+ min being added for the BluRay release)  that would have served more of a purpose. Case and point, the Knightmare sequence. While cool I could tell that everyone in the audience who wasn’t comic book savvy didn’t have a clue what it meant. Yes, it serves as a key moment for Batman to decide that he needs to deal with Supes. But it was just all too much. In one scene it introduces us to Darkseid (without actually introducing

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WB films/ DC Comics

him,) and Flash and his powers, AND (kind of) the story of Injustice. It just didn’t serve any other purpose than to look… ahem, flashy and really bulk up a really non-existent side plot. Really it was a post credits scene in the middle of a movie. Actually, come to think of it, I feel like most of the second half of the film was just cut together post credit scenes. That’s the way it plays out. Cool, exciting eye candy that are just really cliffhangers that set up a bigger picture with no real explanation. All these cameos and winks are cool to see, but you’re left confused most of the time and wanting some actual substance.

 

 

 

Now, the characters.

Let’s just get this one out of the way. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. Yes. This is the one, single character that I didn’t find myself liking through most of the film… and not for the right reasons. The sad thing is, is that like the movie itself, there actually are moments that he nails it. They’re subtle, and very few, but when he does get it you know, and it’s wonderful. But then it’s all very fleeting and waving goodbye as it moves on. I don’t quite know what was the though process with this depiction. He plays out like a mad scientist half the time, which… in the very early days of Luthor in the comics, that’s actually exactly what he is. But it just doesn’t fit the tone of the film at all, and seems weird. Eisenberg is a great actor, and like I said- when he gets it, he gets it. My hope is that if he’s in future films he finds that center more than doing the twitchy mess we got. I will say, despite everything, this Luthor as some very evil moments.

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WB films/DC Comics

Next, Ben Affleck’s Batman. Holy. CRAP. This was, hands down, the best part of the film. Every scene he was in he just ate up. It’s sad that there wasn’t more. I can’t quite decide if I like this Batman more than the TDK/Bale Bat but… man it’s a close call. This Batman in every way was epic. Brutal, fierce, cunning, and just an overall bad ass. Now, here is the thing that I will bet a lot of people will be divided on: Batman and his “one rule.” Do we see Batman kill in this film? Yes. And… no. Defiantly in the Knightmare sequence we see Batman killing.  But the rest of the film I would argue that Batman doesn’t kill any more in this film than the Nolan Bat-films (with two exception.) The BvS Batman really follows that “I won’t kill you, but I don’t have to save you logic.” In some instances he causes things to happen in which it’s possible bad guys would die but a.) that happens in the comics, especially the Frank Miller-verse (which this film is inspired HEAVILY by) and b.) once again, happens in the TDK films (watch ANY of the Batmobile chase scenes.) There are two exceptions. One possible exception is at the very end, where Batman causes a flamethrower tank to explode, but even then one could argue that maybe the guy is just badly burned, but if you argue that I feel like you’re grasping at straws. But as much as I love my non killing Batman… I have to admit, whether he killed the Lex flamethrower goon or not, that moment was amazing. And anybody who’s read The Dark Knight Returns knows exactly how it’s going to play out. “I believe you.” The other obvious (and probably most problematic) one is that he’s trying to straight up murder Superman. In the comics Batman has made contingency’s to kill Superman, so it’s not really like this hasn’t happened or could never happen in the comics. But it’s still kind of shocking to see, and a part of me wonders if he’s doing this to save people why hasn’t he killed to Joker yet… but you obviously shouldn’t be wondering too much about these things, right?

 

Another awesome surprise is Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. I know when she was cast a lot of people were skeptical, but man is she amazing when she’s on screen. The problem is  her inclusion is seemingly secondary and an afterthought that, while enjoyed and does tie in to the grand scheme of things, was obviously just thrown in there so that the film can

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WB films/ DC Comics

have that broader scope. While she might be ultimately unneeded she certainly isn’t unwelcome by any means. Her and Batman make this movie.

 

Now, for Superman. This is probably the character I’m most torn on. I think Henry Cavill does a fine job, really. The problem is that in a movie where they are trying to fit so much Superman’s story just gets lost and he’s left seeming really whiny and wishy washy. It’s just… not very Superman-like. Which was also an issue in Man of Steel. That nihilistic, brooding tone is great for Batman and something director Zack Snyder does well… but it’s not Superman. And his evolution goes way too fast. He goes from helping people, to kind of being pissed at people not being thankful, to not sure if he wants to help people anymore, to all of a sudden willing sacrifice himself for humanity. And while that seems like a typical hero arch, it all happens in, like, the second half of the film; a very short amount of time. And it’s this quick turnaround (along with some other aspects) that leave the ending, which I will discuss in a minute, feeling rather hollow.

Other mentions:

Amy Adams is great again as Lois Lane, but I think they used her in distress one too many times. It just got old.

Jeremy Irons is fantastic as Alfred.

Diane Lane is great as Martha Kent again. AND we get a surprise return of Pa Kent (Kevin Costner) that I actually think is one of the best Superman scenes in the film. Felt the same way about his scenes in Man of Steel…

 

Now… on an overall note about geek/fan service of the film.  It’s there and it’s not, just like the rest of the film. There are aspects that comic fans will love, appreciate and are on point. Then there are others that just come out of nowhere and tamper with the lore. I could go on and on about my opinions on what they tampered with, but at the end of the day… I just think that comic fans have been a tad spoiled with what Marvel has done. I’m not saying we should expect less, I’m saying that… well, look at the Burton Bat-films. They don’t follow any comics, yet we love them (well, most do.) Try and be a little open minded. I’m not forgiving all aspects where this film diverges from the lore (I actually really hate how Doomsday was handled in this film)  but some you can see they were inspired by something in the comics or another movie and decided to try and do something new. If you want to discuss this note further I’m always happy to talk comic books and movies!

 

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WB films/ DC Comics

Now… the ending. The ending is actually something I called happening back in August when the first Suicide Squad trailer hit and have discussed with several people. Superman dies. I’m both happy that they stuck to the source material and a bit perturbed. Like I said before, Superman’s arch in this film was just really rushed and because of that I don’t think the impact of his death- his self-sacrifice is fully felt. Furthermore he and Batman’s sudden friendship and Bruce’s mourning and wanting to honor him feels rushed and weird as well. I get it but it doesn’t make it feel any less weird. In the comics Batman is so devastated by he doesn’t even appear at his funeral. While he attended the funeral here, they tried to give him the same level of grief I feel and I just… don’t get it. Literally, like 48 hours before you were trying to kill each other.  It, just like most of the rest of the film, feels a tad forced and rushed. If they just wanted to tell Superman coming to terms with being a hero then they just should have told that story ending with his sacrifice, instead of doing all this other side stuff with Batman, Wonder Woman, etc.

 

 

 

In the end while messy, I actually think Batman v. Superman  is enjoyable. I’m actually going to say the most recent comparison in terms of comic book films would be Amazing Spider-Man 2. So if you liked that film you’ll probably like Bvs. If you didn’t you probably wont, and if you thought it was okay (as I did) you’ll… well, you get the picture. A lot is shoehorned into this film making it feel busy and cramped. It’s not the second coming of hero films like I think a lot of people were expecting, but I also think a lot of people (especially critics) wanted to go in hating this film or certain aspects of this film. If you do that, really with any movie, you’re going to hate it. It defiantly is a film to go in to with few expectations and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. There are some really, really good moments in this film that shine through. It’s not comparably bad to films like Catwoman, Batman & Robin, Green Lantern, or last summer’s Fantastic Four. But it’s obviously no The Dark Knight or Avengers either. It’s obvious that, despite what they’ve said, WB/DC feels the pressure from Marvel/Disney and wants to catch up. The problem is they tried to fit what Marvel’s done in seven years, across countless movies and show in two movies over the past three years.  I think that the feedback from this movie will result in a few changes in how the future of the DC Cinematic Universe is handled, and hopefully for the best. If  BvS ends up being kind of the bottom film out of it all… I actually think I’ll be comfortable with that.

 

 

Now, if you’ll excuse me… I have a different DC film I’m actually really anxious for to come out in a few months…

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WB films/ DC Comics

Hey everyone! Sorry for the major lag in posts. Life has been hella crazy the past few months since Dracula (the latest production I was in) has ended. But I wanted to take a moment and just kind of reflect on this past year as a whole.
It’s really cliche to look back on the previous year and say something akin to “man, it’s been a rollercoaster!” It’s also never been a very appropriate analogy in my eyes either. Rollercoasters are fun. This past year was more like standing in line for said rollercoaster.
You see the rollercoaster, and you get really excited and run towards it only to see there is a really long line. So you get in the line and begin your wait. And you wait… and wait. Then you hear the person in front of you start to talk about the last episode of your favorite TV show and you nervously pipe in and then get a genuinely good conversation started and you’re happy. But then the conversation peeters off and you’re left standing there feeling a tad awkward and go back to just waiting in line. Then a voice comes over an intercom saying that there is a delay of some kind and the wait is even longer. You have the option of getting out of line and going to that “other” coaster, which is probably almost as fun but you REALLY want to ride THIS coaster. So you wait, and wait, and wait some more. And it starts getting hot, and a couple behind you is starting to make out and you’re just standing there rubbing your head because you’re starting to get hungry also because you missed breakfast before you came to the theme park and just b-lined it to this ride because you wanted to ride it so badly! Sigh. But then… after such a long wait… it moves. The line moves, and you look around unsure if you’re dreaming or if it’s for real. You step forward, scared that you’ll be reprimanded somehow by seizing this opportunity of advancing yourself. Nothing happens though and you take a few more steps forward until you’ve caught up to the line again. Your heart is beating fast because you are close to the stairs that lead up to the loading platform of the coaster! You’re almost there; the wait is almost over and you’ll be latched in and on your way to 60 seconds of 50mph bliss! But now that couple behind you has caught up again and are up to their old smooch-anigans again and you’re standing near the garbage can. You feel that angst building up again inside but soon enough the line moves again and you can take your first step up that flight of stairs towards the platform! DEAR GOD, it’s (almost) so close! You can even hear the operator now saying “all clear” before the ride takes off. You can’t shake the grin on your face even though you know that it’s still a ways away before you’re seated AND you still have choices to make ahead- like will you go for the front row, and wait a little longer or risk getting a back seat ride? You don’t know, and you don’t care because you’re just that much closer and you want to be on this ride!
So, yeah. That’s how I feel. This year has had a lot of truly amazing moments and experiences but also a lot of… stagnant moments as well, for lack of better word at the moment. I know, I know- that’s life. I get it, that’s the way it’s always been. But my point isn’t to complain and whine but to be thankful for the adventure 2015 has been. I have met and made some amazing new friends this year and have also had an opportunity to strengthen relationships with people. I’ve worked on some incredible projects and productions, and know that it’s only the start. There has also been turmoil, heartbreak, and low points. But, as I’ve stated before, that’s going to happen. I’ve been able to get through it though, with the help of my family and friends (both new and old.)
As I look forward to 2016 I’m sure there are a lot more obstacles to overcome for everyone. I’m trying not to stress it though. I’m moving to the city and starting a whole new chapter in my life and stepping one step closer to that platform. I thank all of my friends and family for their love and support this past year.

HHN 25 is only my third time attending the event. The other two years were 2009, and 2013.But I’ve followed the event for many years and consider myself a “fan from afar.” When it was decided that I’d be attending this year I was excited. I’ve never been present during an anniversary year nor a year that Jack was present and he, as clichéd and typical as it is, is my favorite icon. I got really in to this year even before the event started, taking advantage of the whole “Jack’s Maniacs” craze to inspire a short webseries. So, truthfully, I was more than excited for this year. I was excited for the shows, the number of houses as well as the type of houses we were getting this year (save for one,) and I was excited because my girlfriend would be attending with me and she’s never experienced anything like HHN before. Sure, we go to plenty of haunts in our area (suburbs of Chicago) but she had no idea what an event like HHN entailed.  So when we got there on the 24th and waited in line and watched those actors walk up to the gate, I could barely contain myself.

When we first entered we made a B-line for FvJ, which I knew, based on people’s experiences the weekend before, would be a very busy house. So I wanted to get my first walkthrough out of the way as I felt like I’d defiantly want to do it at least twice during our trip.

Freddy vs. Jason

We did end up doing this house twice during our trip. The first time we went through it was still fairly early, and we had only waited in line for ten minutes. The second time was on or second to last night I believe, the 26th, and we did it fairly early as well due to the fact that on Friday it had gotten up to about a 100 min wait time at one point! I was hearing nothing but good things about this house so I had some really high hopes, and boy was I not let down. Doing this house first was a great way to kick off the event for us.

Upon entering and feeling that cold Crystal Lake air hit my face I couldn’t help but smile. My girlfriend latched on to my backpack and tagged behind me, not wanting to go first. Right off the bat, the first Jason got me. As we continued on several more of the hockey masked killers got me. Entering into Freddy’s world was awesome and there were some really cool “kill” scenes (including one of my favorites- “prime time.”) It seems like, in general, the house starts off wanting to scare you with Jason and then turns in to eye candy and less focused on scares during Freddy’s part then ends with a mixture- which makes perfect sense.  The dream/woods area was such a trip, and by far my most favorite section of the house. Defiantly harkens back to La Lloroa but still just as effective. In fact it’s in this area that I got my biggest scare. The last Jason in this area got me really good both times I went through. The final battle scenes were fun, especially with Freddy’s dialogue going on in the background. Both times we went through Jason was the victor, and that final Jason got us good as well.

The sets were amazing, especially once we got to 1428. The woodsy smell pumped in in Crystal Lake and the dream sequence was a nice touch, and (once again) the call backs to some of the best kills in both franchises as well as some great moments from the FvJ film itself really make this a slasher fans dream come true.

Scares: 4/5

Atmosphere: 4/5

Overall: 4/5

Right after FvJ we hopped in line for Body Collectors, since it was right next door. We ended up doing this house twice during our trip as well

Body Collectors: Recollections

I have never experienced a Collectors house and was highly anticipating this one. It ended up being my second favorite house of the event!

Upon entering I just stood in awe of the façade. It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen, and the snow effect just really was the icing on the cake. But… damn it, why haven’t they done a 30 Days of Night house yet!?… I digress. Anyway, the mood was set before you even enter and once you enter your skin is crawling from start to finish. The atmosphere in this house was nonstop amazing and really made this a complete world for me.

There were startles aplenty to be found here, but the scare that really got me the best was the assistant in the room with the spine. So to your right when you turn you will see one of the Gentlemen ripping out the spine of a poor victim. While you pass by gawking at the act there is one of the assistants who comes out snapping at you. Jesus, those actors got me good both times we walked through. I will say in general I experienced fewer scares the second time I went through, but I feel like timing had a lot to do with it. It’s fine though because the second time going through I got to experience a lot more of the scenery and set which was equally as chilling as the actors.

Another note is the theatrical techniques used in this house are absolutely splendid. This is actually across the board true at HHN but there were some real stand out moments in the event this year and BC has some of those moments. The shadow and scrim work in various points of the house along with the audio tracks on top of all of the splendid acting just sold this house for me. There was no weak link in this house. Also- that opening music at the façade, the edited version of Voca Me sends chills down my spine, I love it. I wish I could find it some place.

Scares: 4/5

Atmosphere: 5/5

Overall: 4/5

After leaving Body Collectors we decided to take a walk through some of the street zones since it was getting later and the sun was finally starting to go down.

PsychoScareapy: Unleashed

This was probably the zone we spent the most time in during our four days, as was my second favorite scarezone. While actors are obviously the key element to all of HHN, the actors really sold this zone for me. Especially on the stages where they would ask people from the crowd to come closer and tell them very intimate, deranged stories. It was freaking fantastic and if you have an opportunity, listen.

Also the actors in the street were just plain fun. They were scary, but they were fun at the same time. They actually acted along with you a lot of times, building a really nice sense of security that they weren’t going to “do anything” but then when you least expect it is when they’d absolutely turn or come at you with a weapon. It was great. And the set pieces, especially the flaming gazebo were also really nice and helped set a mood for the area.

Scares: 3/5

Atmosphere: 3/5

Overall: 3/5

Scary Tales: ScreamPunk

This is the first scarezone you encounter once you enter the park.  While the centerpiece and the gobos (once it’s actually dark outside) offer some great sources of atmosphere this zone offered very little for me. It really depended on the actors for me as far as my level of enjoyment of the zone. My favorite one by far was the Wicked Witch whenever she was out. The costumes and makeup is gorgeous, it’s just that the actors seemed to do nothing but roam around, and only really ever tried to scare you if a.) you had a camera, or b.) already looked scared.

Scares: 1/5 (I will give kudos to a Wicked Witch at around 9 on the 25th though because as I came through the fog she leapt out at me and startled me)

Atmosphere: 2/5

Overall 2.5/5

RUN: Blood, Sweat, and Fears

This was the third house we did, and we only ended up doing it once. We could’ve easily had done it two or three times during our visit and a little part of me wishes we had been able to but at the same time it’s not that big of a deal for me.

I was excited for this house just because, once again, I had never experienced a RUN house. Judging by what others had said RUN was either a love or hate house in the past. Houses that have been in this location (Disaster) before in years that I’ve attended (which would be Havoc: Derailed and Leave it to Cleaver) were never houses that I enjoyed so I tried to remain neutral overall, and I’m glad I did. By not really expecting much I think I had a better time but this still proved to be the first house of the event to fall a little flat for me.

The sets were amazing, and the actors looked intimidating and great… there just weren’t a lot of scares going on. It was a lot of noise in this house and it just got to the point of a sensory overload for me so I kind of shut down during my walk through of it. While I loved the premise of it being in Hellgate and the general idea of the house I couldn’t help but feel like sections were simply just recycled scares from when the prison was used for TWD in HHN 23. Not a big gripe though as, once again, the sets are stellar to look at and the same thing was kind of done in FvJ as I’ve mentioned before. The actors though, for me, really lacked the energy that I was expecting- which is exactly what happened in Derailed a few years ago. In a house like this the actor energy is going to be everything and most of the time they just seemed to stand there. The only ones that seemed active to me were the ones you experienced once you got “outside” in the fenced area.

Scares: 2-2.5/5

Atmosphere: 3/5

Overall: 2.5-3/5

All Night Die-In: Double Feature

Once you leave RUN you enter the Double Feature. This is probably my third favorite scarezone and while it does offer up many a chance for pictures, the actors do a brilliant job of scaring as well. Never once did I see one break character.

I keep going back and forth about which “feature” I like more, the old or the new but I think ultimately I have to go with the new. While I LOVE the costumes and makeup of the classic monsters and seeing so many of them in one place, the new slashers and monsters are obviously more vivacious and active.

There are some really good moments here like Jason trying to kill a young girl who then runs away in terror, and others. I always seem to get scared the worse in street zones when I try and take pictures. That’d probably because I’m so preoccupied trying to snap the shot that for a few seconds I don’t mind my surroundings. In the middle of trying to snap
a shot of one of the Strangers one of the female vampires snuck up behind me and hissed. I nearly toppled over. The same thing happened to me at a zone in HHN 23! My girlfriend had a good laugh!

Scares: 2.5-3/5

Atmosphere: 3/5

Overall: 3/5

After this point the rest of the event and the order we did things kind of becomes a big jumble to me, so the rest happened in no particular order.

American Werewolf in London

This was my favorite house in HHN 23 and while obviously I’d love for newer things I was still excited to experience this house again. My girlfriend and I had watched the film a few days before hand (her first time seeing it.)

Not a whole lot to say about this house other than it’s still great for all the same reasons it was before, and the few added scares were a welcomed change. Another welcomed change was the size of the wolves… just… wow. I loved the puppets from HHN 23 but these new puppets made those old ones look like puppies.

While I did coax her in to doing it twice, this was my girlfriend’s most “hated” house just because it freaked her out so much. Seriously. After the second time through she B-lined it out of the exit to the nearest bench and said “we’re sitting until I’m ready.” She refused to do it a third time, although wait times would have easily permitted a third walkthrough.

Scares: 4/5

Atmosphere: 5/5

Overall: 4.5/5

Asylum in Wonderland 3D

I’m not a fan of 3D houses. Never have been and don’t think I ever will be. I don’t know but I just feel like the sensory overload that I experience when walking through these houses just makes it impossible for scares to really be effective in any way.

I will say though that AiW3D had some really awesome costumes and characters so even if 3D houses aren’t your thing there is plenty to at least look at in this house. It’s better than Afterlife, for me at least, which was probably the house I like the least in HHN 23. But still I only hit AiW once and that’s okay with me, although my girlfriend actually loved this house.

Scares: 0/5

Atmosphere: 3/5

Overall: 2/5

The Purge

I was torn when what happened, well… happened to this house. I was looking forward to a house based off the Scream films but not the show. But a Purge house was something I always thought could work well and I was very interested to see what A&D did to the house post-debacle to turn it in to the Purge and to see if I could make out any of Scream influence anywhere.

You defiantly can, if you know the films and that’s all I’ll really say on the matter.

As far as it being a Purge house I thought that the creative team did a good job of changing things up. While I really disliked the constant gratified on the walls (some would have been okay but to me it was just absolute overload) other changes such as “purge security systems,” anti-NFA members, and other things here and there were welcomed additions. Something that people who have seen the Purge films would recognize and obviously something that really had to be worked on and added to the house.

Also the actor energy seemed to always be really good in this house, although the scares really depended on timing (although that’s really true of any house at HHN.)

While this house wasn’t my favorite house I will say that it probably incorporated one of my most favorite elements of ANY haunted house I have ever visited (or been a part of for that matter, since I’ve worked haunts for ten years.) That actually threw in “victims” into the crowd of guests who would then be taken by the purgers and killed. While this sort of thing has happened plenty of times before at HHN (see All Night Die-In: Double Feature review, as well as throwing in civilians into other street zones this year and past years) this was the first time that I ever really experienced it very intimately in a house setting. The first time it happened was the first time we went through the house and this young woman came out of a corner and cut us (my girlfriend actually went in before me our first time through.) This young woman said “sorry and she had gotten cut off from her group” and was wearing a Universal Orlando hoodie so we said it was no problem and that she could go in front of us. As soon as we rounded a corner a purger grabbed hold of this girl with a knife and dragged her screaming into a closet and slammed the door. My girlfriend screamed and had reached out for a second and I was just dumbfounded at what had just happened. We looked at each other and it had taken a full moment to realize that it was a part of the show. It happened again when were outside waiting in line to do the house a second time, only this time to the people in front of us. Another lady with a Universal hoodie, without asking, just cut them and they were all like “hey, what the hell” and the male purger with the mic outside noticed and said “Oh, you think it’s okay to cut in line?” and that started a back and forth between them which eventually ended with him saying “I think it’s time to purge. What do you people think?” I looked around and the crowed was all kind of looking at one another or awkwardly smiling so… I yelled out “PURGE!” This actress spun around and looked at me in shock (whether she was simply acting or just not used to people saying anything I don’t know) but that’s all the purger needed to start his advance towards her and then they ended “off stage” and we heard a big bang. This kind of visceral interaction is exactly what I want to see more of from HHN and the haunt industry in general. We’re starting to see it more and more with houses but I was glad that Universal’s creative team added that in because it was such a huge thing to me and just made the experience that much better for me.

Scares:3/5

Atmosphere: 3/5

Overall: 3/5

The Walking Dead: The Living and the Dead

This was the worst house for me, as it was for many other people. It also consistently, during or visit, had the lowest wait time of any of the houses at the event at any one time. I think the longest I saw it get was around 35 minutes on Saturday, but in general I don’t remember seeing it going about 25 most of the time we were at the event.

While the sets looked great and some of the gags were cool in the house (the slit throat at the beginning was probably the most wet I ever got in a blood gag in a house, and that poor horse (although awesome looking) was a low blow) in general there was just nothing. No energy from the actors and most of the other effects that were there just didn’t work… it just felt like it was thrown together because it “had to be there” (which depending on who you ask, that may be the case.)

Scares: 0/5

Atmosphere: 2/5

Overall: 1/5

Evil’s Roots

This was by far my favorite scarezone. Full of creepy atmosphere and amazing imagery it’s really what I wished HHN 23: Evil Takes Root was instead of full on Walking Dead fest (while I love the show it was just too much that year.)

The actors in this zone were really spot on for the most part really playing into the darkness and fog. During the day it’s not as powerful or intense as it is as night progresses. It’s really a zone made by Halloween lovers for Halloween lovers.

Scares: 3.5/5

Atmosphere: 5/5

Overall: 4/5

INSIDIOUS

This house… I only got to do this house once during our visit, and it was on the last day, and it frustrates me to no end. It was a great house, and I mean absolutely great in every way. The problem was everyone else seemed to think so too as the wait times typically ranged between 45 min to an hour or more while we were there. On our last day we B-lined it to this house wanted were some of the first people to go through it that Sunday.

The sets were amazing and intricate and there were a lot of really great memorable moments from the films present in this house. Now typically when there are “scenes” from the films being staged the scares (for me) generally lack in those moments in the past, but that was not the case here. Even though you were watching the scene played out the scares were perfectly positioned to get you at exactly the right moments. The timing is EVERYTHING in this house and every single actor was spot on from start to finish. Some hard work from the creative team and the actors was put into this house, and it pays off.

Scares: 4/5

Atmosphere: 4/5

Overall: 4/5

ICONS- HHN

This scarezone may not have been the scariest one but it had some really great atmosphere and some amazing vignettes by the main icons from Horror Nights past. My biggest gripe… where the hell is Bloody Mary!?

Defiantly spend some time here if you can, just to watch the stage shows. I wasn’t able to catch them all but I’m sure eventually they’ll all pop up on YouTube.  Also it’s great to see a bunch of lesser known characters and icons traveling around in the streets as well.

Scares: 2.5-3/5

Atmosphere: 3-4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Jack Presents 25 Years of Monsters and Mayhem

My absolutely favorite house at HHN25. It’s funny to me because really this is the kind of haunted house I’m used to- the kind where it’s mainly a bunch of random rooms thrown together that cover a wide range of fears and characters.

From start to finish this house oozes atmosphere and character. Some really great moments and characters that I have never experienced before were all present in this house and it made me so happy as a Horror Nights fan. I loved how it not only covered the history of HHN but also, in part, the horror history of Universal- including monsters such as The Wolfman, Hunchback, and Frankenstein. This house reminded me a lot of Silver Screams which is one of my favorite houses from 2009.

A lot of actors got me good in this house, but the one that consistently got be both times I went through was the first Ringmaster Jack, so kudos.

This house, on top of some spot on acting and breathtaking sets had some really neat effects as well- my favorite one being the scrim used in the picture hallway. As you walk towards the picture of Jack, if you look to your right there will be a ghost which appears through the wall and seemingly floats by you. As you’re distracted of course there is a scare (which admittedly got me as well.) But that effect is just brilliant and absolutely amazing. That was one of those moments that will be engrained into my memory forever.

Scares: 4.5/5

Atmosphere: 5/5

Overall: 4.5-5/5

The shows this year are amazing. Bill and Ted I don’t have much to say about other than it was funny as per usual, and The Carnage Returns was just plain fun. Defiantly hope that Universal decides to keep doing shows like Carnage because it’s incredibly obvious that the creative team loves putting them on. The number of inside jokes was well appreciated and the kills were brilliant. Wish that there was more of a “big finish” like there was in the original Carnival of Carnage show, but beggars can’t be choosers and overall the show was really entertaining.

I loved this event overall. I felt like there was a real return to some great creativity as well as a ton of callbacks to various things that has made this event so great for the past 25 years. Universal’s creative team really went all in with this year and it shows. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to another 25 years of this horrific event.

The haunt season is upon us faster than a drunk jock in a horror film. With many haunted houses opening their doors next week I’ve been trying to prepare myself (as well as my wallet,) planning which haunts I will for sure be wanting to attend this year. I live in the greater Chicago area so there are plenty to choose from!  I’ve managed to narrow down my five top choices which is what I’ll be sharing with you all. So without further adieu, let’s get started…

4.) 13th Floor Chicago

1940 George St., Melrose Park, Illinois 60160

I unfortunately missed his house last year, their first year in the area. While I heard a lot of mixed reviews as far as the scares go there was nothing overly negative, like some other first time haunts in the area. The sets and makeup are said to be spectacular, and with several other locations across the U.S they have to be doing something right!

They have two different houses  this year. One of them, Feral Moon, probably excites me the most! It sound very classic and deals with werewolves. This excites me as The Wolfman is one of my favorite classic monsters.  Dead End District: Wrong Turn seems like a pseudo Evil Dead/28 Days Later mashup of some kind in plot- which will be interesting. I’m not sure based on the description if these things are evil or if they are more zombie like. Either way, bring it on!

3.) Evil Intentions

900 Grace Street Elgin, IL 60120

Their story this year, The Awakening, sounds intriguing- basically centering around the idea that some ghost hunters have awakened a great evil in a local mortuary. I love houses with a story , so that just makes it all the better.  And this house just looks intense, and intense is what I like. Really expecting some great acting, on top of the stellar looking makeup and location they have going on.

2.) Basement of the Dead

42 West New York Street, Aurora, IL

This house launched itself into one of my top top five scariest haunt experiences ever last year. This house is utterly fantastic with some spot on acting and energy from beginning to end in the house, great twists and turns, great line entertainment. The website is advertising itself as bigger better and scarier this year and that the audience will ‘not recognize it from last year’ which really has me pumped. I am anxiously awaiting it again this year in all of it’s gory.

1.) Project Chaos

Right next to Evil Intentions

The latest from Fables Studios, advertising itself as a interactive haunted house- which just makes my life. Anybody who knows me know how much I love experiences like this. To actually be a part of the story make it all the more horrifying. They have a really planned out story for this year, and a great vision driving the haunt forward this year. I’m expecting an experience unlike anything else in the area with this haunt. Plus the fact that it’s right next door to Evil Intentions (in fact they have a partnership deal going on for tickets to both for just $40) is just an added bonus.

While these are just my top four, there are plenty others that I am looking forward too as well in the area. That’s the great thing about living near a populated area- never running short of haunts. Like last year, you can expect some reviews of haunts I’ll be visiting to pop up.

If you have any haunts in the greater Chicago-land area that you think are worth checking out, let me know in the comments!

Man, how I wish I had this book two years ago when I was writing my senior thesis in college! I did my SI on the evolution of horror as a theatrical art form (a paper I have revised many times, and am now attempting to publish) and I devoted a whole section of the paper to Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights.

This book was just released, and I knew right away that I needed to get my hands on a copy. I couldn’t resist a text solely dedicated to the history of HHN. Although I have only attended the event twice (this upcoming season I will actually be attending for my third time) I have been a fan of the event since around its thirteenth year. I’ve followed the event online, chat on the forums, watch countless videos, and am even working on my own short webseries based around this year’s event. I’ve known that the history of HHN has had a very interesting past, and that the amount of work that goes in to each event is overwhelming… but I wanted to know more. Thankfully Christopher Ripley and his new book gave me exactly that.

The book starts off describing Universal’s history with its monsters, as well as the original Horror Nights that originated in Hollywood years before Orlando took a stab at it. Horror Nights died, and when Universal Orlando opened it was met with many technical problems. So, in order to make money, the creative team at the park had to think of something. Enter Fright Nights (the first HNN before HHN was the title.) While I was aware of this history, the way that Ripley describes it so in depth and with rich facts and statements from newspapers and archives really adds so much more to the story. It also really hammers home the interesting parallel between how HHN really saved Universal Orlando much like the original classic horror films saved Universal Pictures.

Subsequently, with Fright Nights being as much of a success as it was it soon became a staple for Universal Orlando. The name was officially changed to Halloween Horror Nights for the second year, and has been that way ever since. The rest of the book outlines each year in its chapters. The chapters are broke down [basically] with some quick preproduction info for the year’s event, then production, and finally opening and closure of the event. There are obviously more layers to each one, such as many interesting facts about how marketing changed from year to year, as well as facts on various problems the creative team had to overcome. For instance, one of the main ones, is the well-known changes Universal made to its event post 9/11 in 2001. The book really describes in depth what was indented for that year and then goes on to describe what was changed and how the creative team went about doing this.

It’s also interesting to read about Universal’s evolution through the years and the subsequent effect it had on the event. You essentially relive the growth of Universal from the 90’s to now when reading this book and also get a great sense of how HHN grew during this time. It’s easy to see how the event had grown (I mean, for cripes sake, this year we have NINE houses!) but we overlook a lot of the internal workings and growth the company had to have gone through throughout the years to stay ahead of the curve. All of that is laid out in this book.

The book is actually quite fun to read. While it is a factual history book on the event, Ripley writes it very personable and I got a real sense that the he cares for the event just as much as I do. My only complaint is that I think the book maybe should have been proofed one more time before publishing, since there are noticeable typos and some odd sentence structure- but all in all it isn’t a huge hindrance. The text comes from the mind of someone who’s passionate for the event, and it reads that way. The information is golden and really insightful and that’s all that matters.

I also do also wish that there was some more focus on the HHN Hollywood event, as well as more of a satisfying closing chapter- but it’s just a me being greedy an wanting more. Hopefully in the coming years someone will write a separate book containing all of that (or… possible future revised editions?!)

This book is an absolute must have for HHN fanatics. It’s also a great read for anybody interested in haunted houses, theme parks (especially Universal) or just loves a good factual read on entertainment. It’s chock full of interesting information and facts you probably have never heard/read anywhere else. As someone who lives in Illinois and doesn’t get to visit each year and wasn’t even aware of the event pre-2003 (I was young, what can I say) the author does a brilliant job of taking the reader back to each event by painting eloquent pictures of Horror Nights past. Do yourself a favor and nab this book, especially since there is only 10 days left until HHN 25.

Halloween Horror Nights: The Unofficial Story and Guide (2015) is available in select stores, as well as on Amazon.

List price: $18.99

Eskdale & Kent Publishing