When I wrote (longingly! wistfully!) about four missing masterpieces, I was relying on the old noggin, which I guess isn't what it used to be. The recent unsealing of the vaults revealed that I was far more prolific than I remembered. Below I break down seven astounding projects that never saw the light of day.
DYING FOR DOLLARS
This totally forgotten episode of "Tales from the Creep" was supposed to have been shot between 4-D and Sitter Splitter. Why did I abandon it? Maybe it had something to do with the story's unrelenting grimness: four down-on-their-luck friends pool their money and play a game of Russian Roulette so that the winner will have enough to survive on. Cheery, eh?
As you can see above, Moe (to be played by Shad) was supposed to have his thoughts audible to the audience, a technique I didn't pull off until Breakdown: The Eugene Brinkmeister Story. And though this script got two giant X's slashed through it, I did work a similar Russian Roulette scene into The Godfathers: Part Two. Score: Dan, 1. Life, 0.
My recollection of The Wager got two things wrong:
- The title was actually Greed. Though the script has been lost to time, the title card (seen above) makes that fact pretty darn clear.
- The style of the title card indicates that it was not, in fact, an entry into my "Tales from the Creep" canon. Rather, it was a second episode of The Twilight Zone. Diversification--it was key to my profitable business plan.
As mentioned before, I was secretly plotting a musical. Just look how neat my handwriting was--that right there tells you I was playing for keeps. Who were the poor saps I planned on coercing into singing on camera? Here at last is the actual hit list:
So nervous was I that they would balk at this assignment--remember, never had anyone turned down a role I foisted upon them--that I kept putting it off until the film fell off my radar. (Another possible factor: the realization that I had to play the romantic lead opposite my sister.)
Come to think of it, it was probably the difficulty of obtaining a chandelier (if it wasn't in my house, it didn't exist) that sunk this potential opus. And "Lots of Guts"? You gotta wonder if I was using that literally.
THE DANNY AWARDS
When I recently recreated my idea of an awards show, I did wonder if the whole thing had been a figment of my imagination. Nope--here's the proof. The nomination of such lightweights as Doll House and Wide World of Sports betrays that this was in the planning stages very early on. (No Father Sin, no credibility!) Spoiler: the so-called "winners" of this farce are on the pink post-it; click to enlarge.
CHARLES DICKEN'S [sic] A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Finding these title cards BLEW MY MIND. I shared them with Ben a couple weeks ago, and he claimed that they jogged a memory. Me, though? Nothing whatsoever. Chris, long gone from town, was the star, so it must've been something I tried to cobble together over a Christmas break. In fact, the stink of haste is all over these pages: I couldn't even wait to cast "Bob Cratchit" or "Tiny Tim" before inking these credits. Sounds like this one met the fate of Friday the 13th. Too bad; it has all the marking of a beloved holiday classic.
Concocted near the bitter end (the typed manuscript is the giveaway), this was a candidate for the more "serious" films that had their start (and end) with the dreadful Circle. Jefferson Street was a romantic comedy about a guy trying to gather the courage to ask out the girl next door. I didn't even bother giving the characters names--that tells you all you need to know. Valuable as a young writer trying to create characters? Maybe. Dreck as a script? I'll say!
By far the most promising of all the unmade scripts is this ingenious ditty about two friends who get trapped under some earthquake rubble with the corpse of poor Dr. Veernhoven. In short order, the buddies are forced to eat the dead doc, which unleashes several pages of cannibalism jokes of increasingly bad taste.
I love to imagine Matt N. and Joe in these roles. Hell, why stop at imagining? Matt? Joe? You out there? Let's shoot this mofo! Danman forever!!!