"Screamers," sci-fi, anyone remember this one?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Joseph Young, Nov 27, 2001.

  1. Joseph Young

    Joseph Young Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2001
    Messages:
    1,352
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    It stars Peter Weller as a world weary military leader of some sort in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by fallout. And it also stars one of my favorite B-movie actresses, Jennifer Rubin (sp?). The 'screamers' hide beneath ground (shades of 'tremors') and jump out, cutting poor victims to pieces. The film deals with, among other things, dealing with the consequences of one's own technology in the wake of a war.

    The film is rife with some inconsistancies and poor pacing, but some of the dialogue is surprisingly well written considering it's a B-movie.

    Does anyone else remember this film, and considering it's a relatively unknown film, does anyone else agree that it's above-par?

    Joseph
     
  2. Geoffrey_A

    Geoffrey_A Second Unit

    Joined:
    May 22, 2001
    Messages:
    280
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I remember seeing Screamers in the theater when I was in Highschool. It was long, fairly slow, and occasionally interesting. The thing I remember most about the movie was that when it was over I felt like the real story had just been about to start. It was like seeing the first half of a pilot for a tv series, and then being left without seeing where it goes. Whether this is a strength or a weakness, I haven't really decided. Maybe I'll pick it up sometime and see if my initial reactions still hold true today.
     
  3. Nick_Scott

    Nick_Scott Second Unit

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2001
    Messages:
    322
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I thought the first 3/4 of the film was great. Lots of suspense, and some good visuals.

    I thought the final 1/4 was kinda lame with the "guess who is a screamer now" scenerio.

    The DVD is bare-bones, but at least anamorphic, and a pretty good DD5.1 soundtrack.

    ________________________________

    Nick Scott
     
  4. Joseph Young

    Joseph Young Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2001
    Messages:
    1,352
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I completely agree with those assessments of the film. The set-up is compelling, but the follow through is formulaic, and ultimately, feels incomplete. The photography in this film is at times, just amazing, conveys a real sense of bleakness and cold.

    Not to turn this into a Home Theater Software subject, but an anamorphic DVD? Wow, perhaps I should pick it up after all..

    Joseph
     
  5. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2000
    Messages:
    5,058
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I KNOW I've seen this movie, yet I can't remember much of it... it must not have been very good. It was VERY slow, if I remember correctly. I think I fell asleep, that's probably why I don't remember it. [​IMG]
    I only rented it because it was based on a story by Philip K.Dick, and the screenplay was co-written by Dan O'Bannon.
    /Mike
     
  6. Brad_W

    Brad_W Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2001
    Messages:
    1,358
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I actually own the DVD.
     
  7. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 1999
    Messages:
    11,267
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I agree that it's a strong movie until the end. I find a lot of these movies fall apart after a certain point. Johnny Mneumonic is pretty cool until he wakes up in the sewer. Of course, most movies that are "mostly good" you can pinpoint the exact moment where the movie falls apart.
     
  8. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 1998
    Messages:
    7,585
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    For sure it's an "almost good" film. So close and still decently entertaining anyway.
     
  9. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2000
    Messages:
    5,058
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    nevermind
     
  10. Chuck Anstey

    Chuck Anstey Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 1998
    Messages:
    1,624
    Likes Received:
    102
    Trophy Points:
    1,610
    Real Name:
    Chuck Anstey
    I bought the movie sight unseen a year ago and I am glad that I did. After I watched it for the first time, I couldn't stop thinking about the issues it raised so I watched it again the next night. I never do that. I have watched is several more times since then and I enjoy it each and every time. There are a few stupid formula cliches at the end but I chalk that up to "Stupid cliches movie executives force filmmakers to put in."

    The movie is not for everyone and I can certainly understand people not liking it for a variety of reasons. It just really hit a chord with me. I just wish that "Pitch Black" creators had paid as much attention to the setup detail that "Screamers" did.

    Chuck Anstey
     
  11. Joseph Young

    Joseph Young Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2001
    Messages:
    1,352
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Chuck,

    Funny you should mention Pitch Black; I've always seen both Screamers and PB as films that (to some extend at least) transcend their B-movie limitations, albeit in small doses, and imperfectly, but still do nonetheless. You catch it in snippets of dialogue, in small environmental details -- you can tell that some actual thought went into making the film. The last portion of the film, however, is very cliched. "A screamer that can love." Gimme a break.

    PB was obviously the more successful film commercially, since we're getting a sequel next year.

    Joseph
     
  12. Chuck Anstey

    Chuck Anstey Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 1998
    Messages:
    1,624
    Likes Received:
    102
    Trophy Points:
    1,610
    Real Name:
    Chuck Anstey
    Joseph,

    I see Screamers and Pitch Black as two opposites when it comes to where the filmmakers spent effort. In Screamers, the first 3/4 of the film I consider high quality dialogue and interesting characters/plot. The last 1/4 got a bit cheesy. Pitch Black on the other hand seemed like they had this really cool last 1/4 of the movie so they tacked on this 3/4 lead up by filling in the standard anti-hero template without any effort and believability. Because of the lack of believability in the characters for the first 3/4's of Pitch Black, the last part of the movie fell totally flat for me.

    Especially

    The two lines:

    1. "Interesting" when Vin is supposed to be "transformed" from look out only for myself guy to good guy. Why would I believe he would care about anyone else given the first 3/4 of the movie especially in such a cliched way.

    2. "Tell them that he died on the planet." This would have been a great line if I could have believed he really was transformed but his character was so glossed over, I never connected with him or cared.



    Chuck Anstey
     
  13. Joseph Young

    Joseph Young Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2001
    Messages:
    1,352
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Chuck,
    That's a really good point. I, however, have interpreted Diesel's character arc as a little less abrupt. I think they do make attempts to give him empathy by increments, by carefully planned ones at that.
    The characterizations are what make PB work for me. Yes, they're mainly caricatures but they mostly work, and add to the tension. Every character has a carefully structured series of motivations which are revealed, bit by bit, as each sequence plays out.
    I also think the real payoff in PB comes at the last portion as well. I remember someone mentioning that great scene at the end: "Not for me!!" When she gives up her life and he is saved. I felt this plot device spat in the face of conventional films. What a great ending.
    Now that I have totally gone off topic, [​IMG] let me add that the ending of Screamers seems reminiscient of PB's ending. There is a sense of isolation. An anti-hero leaving a doomed, isolated planet, leaving behind a romance only hinted at from a woman who he has rejected until the very end. There is a sense of uncertainty, of existential angst, and a man embracing a humanity his lifestyle has not -- up until that point -- allowed him to discover.
    Or something like that.... [​IMG]
    Boy, am I reaching, or what? [​IMG]
    Cheers,
    Joseph
     
  14. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2001
    Messages:
    6,190
    Likes Received:
    76
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Livonia, MI USA
    Real Name:
    Kenneth McAlinden
    Screamers would have been probably the best SF B-movie of the last several years if they had had the courage to keep the ending of the Philip K. Dick story "Second Variety" upon which it was based. As adaptations go, they did a pretty good job of working around the cold war elements of the story that were not really relevant at the time the film was made, but they structurally ruined the narrative by trying to subvert the fatalistic ending and replace it with a bland extended action set-piece.

    Regards,
     
  15. Nick_Scott

    Nick_Scott Second Unit

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2001
    Messages:
    322
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Forgive me for asking:

    How did the story end in the book?

    (That way, I can rewatch the first 2/3, then

    stop the DVD, and imagine a 'good' ending)
     
  16. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 1998
    Messages:
    8,332
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Real Name:
    Neil Joseph
    Well, ummm, (sniff),..... no!

    I saw it once and remember quite well how much I disliked it. There were worse, mind you, but it was b-movie'ish.
     
  17. Greg_R

    Greg_R Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2000
    Messages:
    1,996
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Real Name:
    Greg
    I like my fair share of cheesy sci-fi but I totally disliked Screamers. Each plot twist was so predictable that it just destroyed the movie for me. It's a shame, because the overall story had some potential...
     

Share This Page