As of this very moment, 10:30 am on Wednesday, we have less than 48 hours until the start of production on Razor Days, our sixth feature and completely different from anything we’ve done or tried to do before. Straight, vicious drama with elements of horror.
The cast: Amy Lynn Best (and producer), Debbie Rochon, Bette Cassett (ThinkGeek's Zombie Girl), David Marancik (The Sadist), Alyssa Herron (Splatter Movie) and Jeff Monahan (John Sayles' Lone Star). Photographed by Bart Mastronardi (Vindication). Sound by Rich Conant (The Absence of Light). Special Effects by Scott Conner (Grace, The Deadliest Warrior), Jerry Gergely (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Babylon 5) and Gino Crognale (Predators, The Mist). Assistant Director and Publicity Michael Varrati (Ultra-Violent Magazine, Demon Divas and the Lanes of Damnation). Produced by Alan Rowe Kelly (I'll Bury You Tomorrow). Executive Producer Bob Kuiper (Sirens of Cinema Magazine). Written and directed by…me.
The first draft of the screenplay was finished back in 2005, but its history extends slightly beyond that.
I was unemployed in 2005, but managing to scrape together a decent almost-living writing for Femme Fatales, Cinefantastique and Draculina. Right before the company's then-owner sold FF and CFQ and screwed all of her writers out of tens of thousands of dollars, collectively, but that’s a different story.
Around this time, Vertigo Comics, thanks to the best-sellers Swamp Thing, Sandman, The Preacher, etc., was at the top of the business and had opened its doors to freelance pitches. I’d written for magazines, movies, radio and newspaper at that point. Ghost-written for novelists here and there. Ghost-edited for many more. But I’d never written for comics and it’s still a dream of mine. And I loved so many of the Vertigo titles—and so many of their authors were personal deities of mine—that I started working on a treatment.
I wanted to do something Hellblazer-ish, something Preacher-ish. Fill an Alan Moore-esque world with Neil Gaiman’s grasp of storytelling and sharpened with Warren Ellis’s gleeful disregard for human safety. I wanted everything to coalesce into something that would blow editor Karen Berger out of her socks.
Razor Days started as an occult mystery about modern-day cannibals—admittedly but only partially inspired by the Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and 3—and the question: “What happens ten minutes after those movies end? How does the victim cope with the horror and even start to put his or her life together?” Surrounding the question were hard-boiled detectives, women with survivor’s guilt and weapons-carry permits, and a fallen angel who may or may not have been documenting Earth’s history as it happened.
Pretty crowded, yeah.
I finished the treatment, outline and first issue, sent it off to Karen Berger and never, ever heard from her. Which was not a big surprise.
But the central question kept bothering me. How does someone, in real life, get over something like that?
I’ve always been fascinated by the case of Colleen Stan, who was kidnapped by a wacko named Cameron Hooker, and kept in a coffin-like box under his bed, 23 hours a day, for seven years. When she was finally freed, she went on to testify against Hooker (and his wife) and became an abuse counselor. But how did she recover? That’s the part no one ever tells you. What the hell is the aftermath of something like that?
That’s when I started to streamline Razor Days into a screenplay. I jettisoned all the fantastical elements of the script and focused on the survivors. Three women, each of whom had been the victim of horrible events in their past, and how their paths brought them to each other. And how each one had dealt—and continued to deal—with their traumatic memories.
That’s the story I wanted to tell. And the questions I wanted to try and answer.
And in less than 48 hours, that’s the story we’ll start to tell. The answers might not come so easily.