The Geek Boy

04/05/2012
Every spec screenplay I write is a love letter to my influences. My previous screenplay was a collection of many of my early sci-fi loves, from killer plants to Sasquatch. My latest takes me back to some of the same favorites and taps into some other long buried treasures as well.

The script is The Ice Boy, a sci-fi noir action thriller prehistoric epic. Cynical cryogenicist Grace Larson goes on the run from nefarious government agents and a deadly religious cult after she absconds with a reawakened 30,000-year-old Neanderthal boy who may hold the key for the survival of the human race.

Just you watch — something with this exact premise will end up selling tomorrow. Only it will be a comedy starring Kevin James. And I’ll have to listen to every producer tell me they already have a cryogenecist-on-the-run-with-a-neanderthal-boy story in development. Because that’s been my exact luck so far.

Anyway. I’m not bitter.

So before this script gets relegated to the trunk, I’d like to share with you the sorts of things that get caught in my subconscious and which, oysterlike, I turn into pearls. Beautiful, beautiful, story pearls. For you.

Aliens

Aliens is one of those movies that I constantly refer to as a model of character motivation, story development and all-around kick-assery. And if you need to learn how to write a third act, look no further.

The big influence here for me is Ripley — she’s a tough warrior mama who never loses sight of her humanity or her maternal impulses. There’s something very compelling about a tough woman protector, something that touches a basic, primal nerve. There’s a child in us that wants to know our parents are invincible, will always come for us, and will take no prisoners.

Andromeda Strain

What does a secret government science installation look like? It looks like the Wildfire facility in the wonderfully sterile 1971 Andromeda Strain. Whenever I need a space station, covert government laboratory, or superhero supercomputer room, I find the plans were laid in my subconscious in 1971. Oh, how I love chunky 70s technology.

Logan’s Run

Ah, Logan’s Run. My first sci-fi theater experience. So many wonders. Some part of this move inevitably makes it into whatever I’m working on at the moment. In this case — LASERS. So many deadly lasers.

Omega Man

You know what, dreary, plodding The Road? You could really take a lesson from Mr. Heston on how to handle the apocalypse. You find a nice house, fortify it against the vampire hoard with booby-traps, arm yourself with a crap-pile of guns and kick ass. During the day, go shopping among your mannequin friends whom you can have polite conversation with oh forget I mentioned that bit. Anyway, that’s how Americans do the apocalypse. They become hard-boiled, wise-cracking, gun-toting mutant killers. Ka-pow!

Aside from Charlton Heston’s wonderful Hestonness, Omega Man features a freaky cult of plague victims who are kind of like vampires in Jedi robes which follow a Dear Leader who sports groovy 70s sunglasses that protect his light-sinsitive eyes. Crazy cults and the apocalypse — they go together like fruit and loops.

 

The Ugly Little Boy

This actually hasn’t influenced me at all, but I have to put this out there for sheer entertainment value. Isaac Asimov’s The Ugly Little Boy has been on my radar for some time, but because I knew I might write me a Neanderthal-boy story someday, I pointedly avoided it. Once the final word comes down on this script, I look forward to finally reading Asimov’s take on the idea. I hear he’s a pretty good writer where sci-fi is concerned.

In the meantime, enjoy some more 70s cheese as only an educational film clearinghouse can produce: