The Ancients
(The original screenplay)

Screenplay: John Carl Buechler

I'll admit that I haven't read that many screenplays in their entirety, so I can't consider myself well-versed in this style of writing. Still, over the years I have picked up a few tricks of the screenwriting trade, so I have at least some knowledge of what techniques a screenwriter should do in order to write his screenplay in the strongest way possible. More importantly, from hundreds of hours of watching movies - as well as growing up with an English teacher father, and getting an English degree for myself - I think I can safely say I am qualified to judge if any particular story is a good one or not. While most people may not have such extensive credentials as myself, I think that if they were to read the screenplay for Demonwarp: The Ancients for themselves, they would see something very, very wrong. I take that back - not "something" - many, many things.

How bad is this screenplay? Well, even before I was finished page four, I was literally shaking my head in disbelief by what I was reading. It's badly written alright, and in more than one sense of the word. For one thing, the writing style has many of the mistakes that those readily-available screenwriting books strongly urge you not to make. There are a number of places where Buechler gives direct instructions to the director as to how a scene should be played out - telling him where the camera should be placed or moved, where editing cuts should be made, even suggesting a few times where not only music should be played, but what kind of music should be playing. Any professional screenwriter can tell you this is a real no-no, because directors don't like to be told how they should direct. This technique is also distracting for people simply reading the screenplay, because they build their own picture as to how the story is playing out, and they are then abruptly and rudely told to picture it in a different way. Another problem with the way it's been written comes as a result of Buechler breaking one of the ultimate rules of any kind of writing: No spelling mistakes. I swear, there were so many times that Buechler mixed up "it's" and "its", as well as spelling "weird" as "wierd" that I wanted to fly down to California and slap him across the face with his spelling error-filled screenplay.

The major plot turns of the screenplay are more or less how they are in the actual filmed movie itself, though between them most of the secondary details eventually were changed or completely eliminated during the project's evolution. Here is a sample of how some elements in the movie were originally pictured:

  • The individual who discovers the crashed U.F.O. in the past  is here an Aztec priest, though there's no explanation as to how an Aztec priest happened to be in what was to become the continental United States.

  • The troop of young adults originally numbered seven in number instead of five, though the screenplay simultaneously kills off two of them just a few minutes after the gang gets first introduced. Though this is even quicker than the finished movie gets in its aim to cut down the gang, I really didn't mind in this case, because previously, and in just a few pages, these two doomed youths had become two of the most obnoxious youths I ever had the misfortune to encounter.

  • There's a lot more gore on display here, with loving descriptions like, "...arms and entrails fly" and "...arms, legs, and torsos are haphazardly strewn about." In fact, as you continue through the screenplay you get a sense that Buechler has some kind of fetish for severed arms, with the multiple mentions of them. There's even one wacky use of a severed arm that seems better suited for one of the Evil Dead movies.

  • In this version, the older adult character of "Crafton" is not the vengeful father of the woman who is killed in the beginning of the movie - in fact, we don't even get to know anything about this woman, who more or less just abruptly runs into the movie just so she can get killed seconds later. Crafton here is some kind of paranormal professor who is a published author who has written about the mysterious Demonwood forest. However, he is living like a bum in the forest for no particular reason. Wait, there are two reasons - one is so he can play "the mysterious old coot" role in movies like this that have the required "You're doomed!" dialogue. The second reason is so that later in the movie he can give one of the protagonists some directions to the mysterious cave and a clue as to what lies within it - even though there is no possible way he could know what's actually in that cave.

  • Incredibly, the screenplay has an even lamer ending that that of the finished movie. The action abruptly stops (almost as if Buechler was getting tired of writing all this crap) and white subtitles on a black screen then read: "Carrie Reynolds was not killed. She was found nude, near the edge of the forest. She now resides in Pleasant Valley Psychiatric Clinic." The End. This is even worse when you realize the situation Carrie was in just a few seconds earlier, a situation where there was no escape and that she was certain to be killed.

  • To top things off, a subtitle written at the beginning of the screenplay states, "BASED ON A TRUE STORY". Uh, yeah, okay.

The rest of the screenplay is a simply tired mishmash of the very familiar and/or just plain dumb. There's the old Psycho-shower-stalker-oh!-just-the-boyfriend false shock, and the just-desserts-for-the-wolf-crying-boy scenes. There are plot stupidities that make it very convenient for Buechler to carry the story in whatever direction he insists, among them being that the abandoned cabin just happens to have two guns (and ample ammunition for them), as well as sticks of dynamite in the shed outside.  There is nothing exciting or mysterious here, especially since the screenplay early on gives the audience more of an explanation as to just what is controlling the mysterious evil in the woods. Sure, the screenplay offers titillation coming from abundant gore, as well as very gratuitous scenes of nudity and sex, but it comes across in a very lacklustre manner. I think the reason for this lack of impact comes from that we don't feel anything for these characters for the most part. Since the characters of Tom and Fred were so thoroughly obnoxious, I admit it was a thrill that they bloodily got ripped apart. But as for the rest of the characters, their exposing of what's under their shirts (or skin) didn't register anything for me. They are all more or less alike, with no backgrounds and no distinct personalities. Though the screenplay mentions in an aside that the lead couple are supposed to be deeply in love, if the screenplay actually got filmed as it were, there would be no clue that this was true.

In short, as bad as you thought Demonwarp may have been, it's scary to think that the production almost went in a direction that would have made the finished product even worse.