Hornless Unicorn Studios: Movie Ideas of Mine That Won’t Come to Fruition Any Time Soon

Hornless Unicorn Studios, in coordination with Human Dwarf Productions and Virgin Rum & Coke Entertainment, presents a Wingless Fairy Film. Several, actually. If you read the following and realize you’d like to turn one of these ideas into a living breathing movie, by all means go for it.

 

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“The Temptation of St. Anthony,” by Max Ernst.

 

Movie Idea Uno: Saint Anthony’s Fire:

 

In the Pont-Saint-Esprit Commune of southern France, on the “Day of Saint Anthony’s Fire,” 1951, a small commune unwittingly OD’d itself on bread made from what Cookie clearly didn’t recognize as mercury-treated seed grain. All told, 250 suffered, 7 died, and a truly unlucky 50 wound up in mental institutions.

 

While the bare facts above take all of two sentences to relate, the process by which history arrived at those stats was far more interesting. In fact, if you were to experience the mass-poisoning subjectively, as did its victims, not knowing, going in, what’s in store for you, nor the cause of it, you might just rate it the most soul-shattering of horrors. And that’s my plan–let a movie audience see the events of “The Day of Saint Anthony’s Fire” from the literal, camera-as-eyes point of view of one of its victims. I figure fifteen minutes of exposition ought to get the viewer cozily settled into the laconic living rhythms of a timeless French commune, after which point the main character’s hallucinations will commence, unexplained, without order or sense, increasingly wild, and of course complemented by the reported hallucinations of the main character’s fellow communards, whose terror at their predicament will render them ever more monstrous elements of the main character’s phantasmagoria.

 

To this stew of imaginably hellish ingredients will then ramify, on the one hand, the more physical symptoms of the bread’s mercury’s effects, which symptoms will be of course impossible for any character to distinguish from hallucinations, and on the other hand, an echo chamber of paranoid delusions born of everyone’s desire to know what in the world is happening. To quote historian Steven L. Kaplan quoting a newspaper, “The most incredible versions… are in circulation. The baker, a former candidate for the RPF [de Gaulle's party], is first accused, then his servant, then the fountains’ water, then the modern machines, then foreign powers, then bacteriological war, then the devil, the SNCF [France's rail industry], the Pope, Stalin, the Church, nationalizations.” All these make for highly plausible culprits to a quicksilver-saddled madman, and thus make for highly entertaining (read: horrifying) fantastical extrapolations to which the main character’s mind’s eye will subject the viewer (again, bear in mind, the entire film will be shot from the literal point of view of the main character).

 

And then the actual demons will arrive. And by actual demons, I mean the French medical authorities and police powers who eventually catch wind of Pont-Saint-Esprit’s troubles and descend on the commune in order to save it. Descend on, and I might add accidentally mindbomb, because when a horde of cops and docs take over the commune and start shoving raving lunatics into gurneys and ambulances, straight jackets and padded vans, you can guess how that looks, feels, seems, tastes, to the lunatics. Imagine your quiet corner of the world turned over the course of hours and days into a ten-dimensional carnival funhouse, with all your friends and loved ones reduced to literally monstrous reflections of your own increasingly frayed brain… and then imagine that a bunch of cold, hard, clinical, metal demons come along to drag you off to some dungeon where you’re bound and tied, probed and jabbed, interrogated and observed by one strange alien being after another… actually, you won’t have to imagine this, because the movie will do it for you. And it won’t be until the last five minutes of the movie, when the main character’s system starts to detox, that the main character’s world will start to come back into focus and reveal to him, and you by proxy, the true nature of his Dantean ordeal–his demon captors actually doctors, his dungeon in fact a psychiatric ward. The film will close with the main character getting released from the hospital and stumbling out into a peaceful scene of sunlight and greenery and nurses picnicking on jam and bread, at the sight of which the main character will break into a dead panicked sprint and not stop until most of the credits have rolled, five minutes later, whereupon the camera will cut to black.

 

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“Portrait of Lucian Freud on Orange Couch,” by Francis Bacon.

 

Movie Idea Dos: All You Zombies:

 

Robert Heinlein gets a million laurels for writing what may be the most dense plot ever, a plot so dense its gravity pulls in such thematic matter as Aristotle’s Prime Mover and later theologians’ concept of the Trinity. The story goes like this:

 

A young man sits alone at a bar late one night in 1970 telling his tale of woe the bartender. It seems the young man was born female, in 1945, and left on the steps of an orphanage, where she grew up an awkward creature, never adopted. Upon coming of age in 1963, she left the orphanage to make her way in the world and soon met, fell for, and was seduced by a mysterious young man, who promptly disappeared. Nine months later, now 1964, the young woman went to a hospital to give birth. Complications arose, and the doctors performed a Caesarean after discovering that the young woman had within her both male and female parts. The doctors were forced by the aforementioned complications to turn the young mother into a male. The young father then took his baby home with him, only to have the child disappear from its crib a couple days later.

 

The young man finishes his story, and the bartender expresses sympathy, then offers to top that tale of woe with his own. He asks the young man to come with him to a back room, and together they step into a time machine. They travel back to 1963, where the bartender ditches the young man. After several days of wandering and confusion, the young man meets, falls for, and seduces a young woman. Soon after, the bartender appears and forces the young man to go along with him without so much as a goodbye to the young woman. The bartender then takes the young man to 1964, where they break into the young woman’s apartment and steal a baby. They then take the baby back to 1945 and leave it on the steps of an orphanage. Then bartender and young man return to 1970, and the bartender tells the young man, “Now you know who he is—and after you think it over you’ll know who you are . . . and if you think hard enough, you’ll figure out who the baby is . . . and who I am.”

 

The bartender then takes the young man forward in time to enlist him at the Temporal Bureau–effectively recruiting himself as an agent whose job is to ensure that certain historical events happen in a fixed pattern. The bartender closes the story by contemplating his Caesarean scar, which marks the day he gave birth to his daughter, son, father, mother, and entire history and future. The bartender in conclusion muses, “I know where I came from—but where did all you zombies come from?” The question may refer to his other selves, whose actions he observed and directed as though a separate person from them, or to us readers of his story, who in some ways have histories and futures far less known and fixed and solid and I daresay real, than does the bartender.

 

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“The Leaf of the Artichoke Is an Owl,” by Arshile Gorky.

 

 

 

Movie Idea Tres: Endless:

 

Ask most members of the MPAA movie ratings board, or my mom, or most people, what constitutes a dirty, morally unjustifiable film, and they’ll likely tell you, a movie in which innocent people are brutally killed for no good reason; a movie in which lots of cruel words get thrown around like Black Cat firecrackers at a redneck campsite; a movie in which the naked buttocks and bosoms of strangers jostle onscreen. If someone made a movie of a bunch of random whimsical toys, these people would probably give it two thumbs up.

 

Baby ADHD-enstein.

 

Two Thumbs Up… My Eyesockets.

 

But I humbly submit that a film’s moral quality is, at least for grown-up audiences, determined not by its content, but rather by its content’s context… in other words, what does the movie seem to say about brutal killing, cruel words, mutually exploitative sex? A movie full of whimsical toys can be about whimsical fun, AND/OR a vehicle promoting crass consumption of cheap crap. A movie full of cruel words can be a contribution to a future of crueler tongues and smaller vocabularies, or it can be a document showing the link between small minds and hearts and small verbal repertoires. A movie full of violence can make violence look like the most fun and consequence-free thing imaginable, as in Looney Tunes cartoons, or it can do the opposite.

 

I propose to do the opposite.

 

In the first fifteen minutes of Endless, we get to know and love one Jane Doent, a beautiful young woman full of joy and promise whose first year at college has been going splendidly. In the next five minutes of the movie, Jane Doent gets brutally murdered. The rest of the movie, all four hours of it, mechanically traces out the consequences of the murder. Jane Doent’s roommate happens upon the murder scene and is mentally scarred by it; paramedics get the call and race to the scene; police detectives get notified and crawl out of bed and work the scene and suspects and witnesses; forensics experts put in time analysing evidence; one lucky cop calls the parents; the parents fly out to the city of their daughter’s chosen college and unchosen death; the parents go to the city morgue to ID the body; the county coroner conducts an autopsy; the murderer gets arrested; the parents arrange for the body to be transported to the victim’s hometown; the hometown’s one funeral home makes preparations; the parents buy a cemetery plot beside their own for their daughter; the parents and the victim’s closest friends contact hundreds to tell them the news and information about the funeral; the wake, funeral, and interment are conducted, with hundreds arranging for cards, food, flowers, travel to the victim’s hometown; the prosecutor prepares a case, collecting evidence, preparing the witnesses and parents and friends and teachers for testimony; the murderer works to avoid the pitfalls of a rough jail and a pro-bono attorney; the murderer’s family lives in hidden torment as they ponder their son’s guilt; the murderer suffers nightmares; the pro-bono attorney suffers stress; the judge has a few more hairs go grey; the victim’s brother, grieving, gets arrested at a local bar for assault; the victim’s parents fight over their different ways of grieving and whether either bears guilt for parenting the victim in ways contributory to her death; the victim’s parents divorce; the murderer has previously used up all judiciary goodwill and takes his chances on a trial; the jury is selected, and twelve citizens lose days of work, progress on long-term projects, and peaceful sleep in serving as jurors; the murderer has to sit in court for days, tortured by an uncertain fate as witnesses and experts are dragged from their routines to testify; various members of the media make calls to cover the story and more than one must travel to the city; the victim’s divorced family enjoys the most unpleasant stays imaginable at two area hotels; the courtroom is packed with the victim’s friends; the jury deliberates and reaches a verdict; the murderer must serve a sentence of life without parole; the murderer is transferred to a state prison; the murderer is bullied, raped, and then pimped; the murderer’s family suffers their son’s absence and the knowledge of what he’s experiencing while in prison; the murderer attempts suicide but is caught; the murderer is put in solitary confinement on suicide watch for a month; the camera spends a final twenty minutes showing twenty uninterrupted minutes of the murderer’s twentieth day of solitary confinement; in the last shot, a guard arrives and announces, “Your time’s up.”

 

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“Traum Und Revolution,” by Max Ernst.

 

Movie Idea Quatro: Elric of Melniboné:

 

I’ll be honest, I haven’t even read half of this fantasy series, but the bare bones of it scream for cinematic attention: In a kingdom of monstrous beings, a weakling half-human member of their race ascends to the throne. Elric represents reason, forethought, compassion, mercy, proportionality, and similar newfangled virtues. While sickly and softhearted, Elric is gifted with great intelligence and enough moral courage to try to stare down five thousand years of petrified evil. Everyone around him, from his closest friend to his fiercest foe, adheres to a much more ancient and cruel culture based on torture, domination, brutality, deception, and every black trick in the book. We’re talking about a culture whose idea of high art is torture, a culture whose idea of a holiday is to allow the royal scions to rape and slaughter whomever they want for one day a year. Does Elric succeed in changing this world for the better? I’m not sure it even matters–just in its premise, an Elric movie would dwarf the dramatic tension offered by such sagas as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, where our hopes are divided among several saviors–Han, Luke, Obi Wan, Anakin, Yoda; Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn, Elrond, and so on. Do you remember Frodo, Sam, and Gollum as they made their way to the heart of Mordor? How the world just got darker and more dangerous, and even Frodo’s best friend and own self turned against him, and there wasn’t a cast of thousands of good guys to think back on, nor a sunny shire nor a soporific elven realm to even daydream of? That’s Elric’s world. That’s a nail-biter. If you want a real showdown between good and evil, look no further.

 

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“Manimals,” by Daniel Lee

 

Movie Idea Cinco: Alien Five, AKA the Alien Prequel:

 

Ever since Alien Vs. Predator decided to proboscis the brains and chestburst the heart out of the Alien series, I gave up any hope of a serious director taking on Alien 5, which according to now-stale rumors, would be a prequel to the first movie detailing the origin of the xenomorph (alien) species as a sophisticated terraforming weapon created by yet another alien race (which we’ll call “creator-aliens” for clarity herein). In the first Alien, we see a crashed creator-alien ship harboring a slew of egg pods, some of which have hatched. Our best evidence of this outbreak is the giant creator-alien corpse sitting in what’s either a gunner’s chair or a pilot’s chair or a telescope chair in another part of the ship with its chest visibly ruptured. Alien 5 would, as a prequel, be the story of this dead giant and his friends and their world and their crazy scheme to create a sort of perpetual-motion, planet-scouring universal solvent slave species. Sure, this movie would involve nothing like the sort of human acting and drama we’re used to having in our stories, being told entirely in the language and world of an advanced alien race. And sure, this movie would in some sense merely re-depict the same ungodly hubris on display in the human villains of Alien films 1 through 4. But if there’s one thing more chilling than the xenomorph species, it’s the thought that there are people in this world who would think of that species as a useable weapon. And if there’s one thing more chilling than that, it’s the thought that there are beings in this universe lightyears ahead of us, advanced enough to think up, and create, such a species, and that some of them would yet be dumb enough to try it.

 

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“La Luz del Ovni,” Unknown Artist

 

Movie Idea Seis: Sane Man: The Ballad of Bill Hicks:

 

Bill “Freakin’” Hicks. The Man Itself. The Accostin’ from Austin. The comedian so cool his death won him dedications on Tool, Radiohead, and Rage Against the Machine albums. Forty-five minutes of him growing up under a conservative preacher’s roof, learning from his father and comedy albums the rhythms of demagoguery; of him as a young teenager becoming one of Austin, Texas’ most popular comedians; of him over the next fifteen years tripping, reading arcana and esoterica, tripping, debating all-night bull sessions with friends, tripping, and taking mushroom-fueled trips to the planet Arcturus. Then, forty-five minutes of Bill just preaching on stage, just tearing a new one in soul after unsuspecting soul; of Bill caught in the solitude and sad trappings of interminable touring; of Bill achieving something in between comedy greatness, rock stardom, and itinerant preacherhood. Then ten minutes of him going ugly at the end, discovering he’s got the least survivable form of cancer, and taking his anger out on an unreceptive audience in a painfully long and mean-spirited swan song. And finally, fifteen minutes of him retiring to his estranged parents’ home and announcing, three months prior to his death, that he has said everything he needs to say. Fifteen long minutes of him dying in silence, while we’re left to wonder–as I often wonder–whether he chose that final silence out of contempt for the world around him, or out of retrospective contempt for the limitations of what he’d preached, or (or AND/OR) out of reverence for some new insight he was receiving, out of a recognition that he’d done enough speaking, and now was simply a time to learn silence and listen.

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One Response to “Hornless Unicorn Studios: Movie Ideas of Mine That Won’t Come to Fruition Any Time Soon”

  1. MBG says:

    Terrific ideas all. Ranked here in the order I’d like to see them:

    1. The Bill Hicks biopic. I’d be there opening night. This is also, incidentally, the most commercially viable. If Man in the Moon could get made, why not this?

    2. St. Anthony’s Fire. My only question is the first-person perspective. I understand why it’s necessary to the tale, but… I wonder how achievable it is, cinematically, just because I can’t think of an instance of it, ever, for more than like a minute. Maybe DOOM the movie was like this? But I bet not.

    3. Alien Five. It would just kind of rule to see this whole thing. No humans at all, actually it’d be totally inhuman. I’d be super interested.

    4. Elric. I’d never heard of this before, so I read the wiki, and it sounds like typical sci-fi/fantasy claptrap. However, I am sure the previews would have some wicked CGI battles and nastiness, and so I’d be on board. Make it look good and I’m sold. Shit, I’m a little upset that I missed Prince freakin’ Caspian.

    5. All you zombies. I read that and reread it and I still don’t quite get it. I also question if it’s really a feature-length. However, I could see how this would end up being like a Memento-type brain twister surprise-ending thing. Could be a hit on the festival circuit. That is, if people don’t just go “oh, fucking time-travel” and check out.

    6. Endless. I understand why this movie is a ‘good’ idea. And it would be great to have arguments over it. But god, this would put Lars von Trier to shame. I just don’t know if I could watch it. I also fear I’d come to resent the victim, the family, the filmmaker, everyone involved. At about 90 minutes I’d start heckling, I think. Also, I fear you might be actually kind of trivializing the thing at the point that you’re worried about, like, the reporters being inconvenienced. I mean, that shit’s their job, y’know. They’re not suffering. Still, it’d be more interesting than 99% of movies being made today. Somebody should give you a job.

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