THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER
“World War II is over… but someone hasn't surrendered!”
The press small release, dated 05/13/13, was as follows:
“Los Angeles based producer Suzanne DeLaurentiis will collaborate with Andre Sadowski on their upcoming film The Lighthouse Keeper. The film is scheduled to go into pre-production this summer.”
“The Lighthouse Keeper is a horror film set off the coast of New England during WWII. An elite German SS soldier is sent to America and uses a lighthouse as his base of operations. His ardent nationalism blinds him to the fall of the Third Reich and he continues a murderous campaign for years, overtaking the area surrounding the lighthouse. A group of college students are brought to his shores and become the next target in the Keeper's twisted mission. They must try to end his reign of terror before his quest for final victory claims more lives.”
The original script, a horror thriller by Andre Sadowski, was in need a rewrite. It had just undergone the first table-read and Suzanne DeLaurentiis ( 2nd cousin to the immortal Dino), having been informed of my one week turn-around on “Axe to Grind,” hired me to apply first aid – stat! Most importantly, I was to be paid in cash. Half now, and half upon delivery. I would be a literary Sam Spade. All that was missing was the $50.00 a day in expenses. The clock was ticking. I was given one month before the 2ndtable read at Paramount Studios.
I dug in immediately, reading and re-reading to determine the strength of the outline. I decided to strip the script of all dialogue to determine the story’s overall structure. There were weaknesses in all three acts, I carefully added scenes/beats to flesh out the story in order for it to make sense. Keep in mind, making sense in a horror film is all relative. The story merely needs to be believable in a a Jason Voorhees, Friday the 13thpart 3-D, kind of way. Once that was feat accomplished, I went to work rewriting the script.
So, I am about ten days in, working fast and attempting to make it to deadline when I hear from the director. Apparently, the original writer was under the impression that this was going to be a collaborative rewrite; the two of us holding hands in the spirit of true brotherhood. Whoops. To make matters worse, the original writer wanted to see what I had done so far. Keep in mind, this is something that I NEVER, EVER do. The best plan of action is always to charge ahead. I instructed the director to keep the writer busy until I finished. Keep the vision in my head clear, I reasoned. Keep the eye on the prize.
Now, just a friendly reminder. This is not Pulitzer Prize winning material here. This is horror. Teens disembark from a pleasure cruise at an island lighthouse and die, one by one, at the hands of a murderous Nazi. I know the rules. All of the rules. Including the rule that the first victims need to be the couple just about to make sweet, sweet love in some deserted or remote corner of the island.
Three weeks later a rough draft was completed, and a copy went to the entire production team. There were some minor notes and a phone call was booked between the original writer, the director and me. The call was to be in on a Saturday and it would be the first time that I would exchange words with the man who created the Nazi Lighthouse keeper. How would he react? Would he be angry over the lack of collaboration? Would he track me down and dispose of me like one of his victims in his story?
To be continued...
In 1981, J.P. Linde co-wrote and appeared in a one-man comedy show titled “Casually Insane.” Shortly after, he joined the ranks of stand-up comedy and performed in clubs and colleges throughout the United States and Canada. In 1989, he made his national television debut on “Showtime’s Comedy Club Network.” He wrote the libretto for the musical comedy “Wild Space A Go Go” and co-wrote and co-produced the feature motion picture, “Axe to Grind.” “Son of Ravage” is his second novel.