An excerpt from SK’s script review for The Marvel of the Haunted Castle which will be available 04/28/19:
So I’m back again, this time reviewing a somewhat well known unproduced script. Here goes.
Plot: After surviving a shipwreck during WWI, five castaways find themselves in a castle where nothing at all seems to be normal. After contending with its supernatural inhabitants for a spell, they discover that the the castle is a purgatory of sorts designed to hold souls that got lost on their way to the afterlife. Also, the castle is getting shut down for good by sunrise, so they must find their way out before the place is destroyed with them in it.
Writer: Lem Dobbs, best known for Alex Proyas’ Dark City, Stephen Soderbergh’s The Limey, as well as couple of other Soderbergh films.
Background: I wasn’t able to find much out regarding this one, but it seems like the project was on track at Fox for a while in the mid 1980s with Sidney Furie set to direct, only for the main executive supporting it to leave the studio, casting the film into limbo (pardon the pun).
Alright, let’s see how this one stacks up.
1) Plot Structure/Writing Style: This doesn’t really follow any sort of traditional structure, and the act breaks aren’t immediately obvious. It’s more built around shuttling the reader from set piece to set piece, and it’s very effective at doing so. It moves at a very brisk pace, only letting up at key moments to provide important exposition, which is all well handled and never distracting. For example, after a brief teaser giving a glimpse at the overall weirdness of the story, the scenes aboard the ship are relatively short and set up the characters very efficiently before the torpedo hits and they end up in the lifeboat. They reach the castle by page twenty, which isn’t bad at all. From there on there are roughly three segments. They explore the castle for a while before getting clued in as to what’s going on by a helpful ghost. It’s there that they learn of a way out and begin their journey towards the exit, followed by a mad dash to escape at the ending.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that the script is very wordy and descriptive, which is rare these days. For the most part it works here, describing the next weird thing that happens in glorious detail. It did get a bit tiresome in places, especially towards the end during the big chase scene, but other than that it was perfectly fine by me. If anything bothered me formatting wise, it was the seemingly random choices of when to indent lines and when not to. That and the margins being gigantic, and the writing not even getting close to the bottom of the page were things that slightly irritated me during my read.
Oh, and one final thing: I have to give Dobbs credit for not overtly going with a “they were dead all along!” twist, which he so easily could have given the castle’s nature as a purgatory of sorts.
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