Over the years, I’ve been a big fan of Luc Besson. Not only has he been a fantastic director, but a great writer and producer as well. I can really appreciate that kind of career, he’s got his hands on so many projects. He is amazing at developing interesting projects. Sometimes the ideas are originated by him and then handed off to other filmmakers, sometimes he takes them all the way through till release and he’s never one to turn away a great project that needs him to just produce. Here are my top 15 favorites that he’s had a hand in creating:
15 – Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)
OK, Ok, this hasn’t come out yet, but I just know it’s going to hit my list. It’s the original inspiration for Star Wars and The Fifth Element, so I know I’m going to like it. This film is based on a French sci-fi comic book series created in 1967 by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mezieres. Mezieres was also involved in creating visuals for Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element.
14 – Lucy (2014)
Many of his best stuff lay in 2 genres; Science Fiction and Action. This one film combines both aspects very well. In an interview on March 8, 2014, Besson said that this project took ten years to become a reality. Also, he admitted that he knew that some scientific assumptions were erroneous, ie; that humans use only ten percent of their brains. Nonetheless, he said that “(such an assumption) would be a great start for a sci-fi movie”. A woman, (Scarlett Johansson) accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.
13 – 3 Days to Kill (2014)
Here’s one that Besson wrote but didn’t direct. It was directed by McG. A dying CIA agent (Kevin Costner) trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter is offered an experimental drug that could save his life in exchange for one last assignment. The meaning and relevance of the film’s title is that it refers to the estimate number of days that Ethan Renner (Costner) has to complete his mission prior to facing death from terminal brain cancer. Reminds me a great deal of a great film noir movie called DOA (Dead on Arrival) about a man who has been lethally poisoned and has to solve his own murder before he dies.
12 – Lockout (2012)
If you can excuse the main character’s dive out of a spaceship and not burn up on re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere and sky dive to a city below, then this is a pretty dang good flick. It totally would have made a fantastic “Escape From…number 3″ with Snake Plissken, but only because of Guy Pearce. He’s great. The plot totally reads like a Snake Plissken movie: A man wrongly convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage against the U.S. (Guy Pearce) is offered his freedom if he can rescue the president’s daughter from an outer space prison taken over by violent inmates. Call it Escape From Outer Space. Besson came up with the original idea and even wrote a draft of the screenplay.
11 – Colombiana (2011)
Zoe Saldana is great, I did a blog about her a while back called Zoe Saldana Takes Over the World. Here’s a starring vehicle with her as an assassin, kind of a reoccurring theme with Besson, just look at Leon and Nikita. It’s no wonder as this film was originally supposed to be Leon part 2. The film was based off a script that was set to be a sequel for Leon: The Professional. The story was set to follow Natalie Portman’s character Mathilda as she tracked down and killed characters that had wronged her and Leon. Portman’s success kept her from availability and the script was eventually re-written into Colombiana and cast with Saldana.
10 – From Paris With Love (2010)
In Paris, a young employee (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) in the office of the US Ambassador hooks up with an American spy (John Travolta)looking to stop a terrorist attack in the city. John Travolta is the real reason to watch this film, he just crackles with electricity. When Caroline enters James’s apartment you can clearly see the book ‘Nikita’ which was written and directed by Besson, who wrote “From Paris with Love”. This is a spy genre film and it is interesting to note that the title of the earlier film To Paris with Love (1955) is said to have been the inspiration for James Bond creator Ian Fleming for the title of his 1957 James Bond spy novel, From Russia With Love which was later made into the 007 movie.
9 – District 13: Ultimatum (2009)
This is a sequel to one of my all-time-favorite stunt movies, District B13. Follows up with great stunts and action with Cyril Raffaelli and David Belle. For those of you that like the Daredevil series on Netflix, you’ll recognize Elodie Yung (Elektra) in the film. Cyril is a great stunt coordinator and he choreographed all the fight scenes in the movie and David, who invented Parkour, did all of his own stunts, without practice ahead of time. Most of the ones that you see in the film were of him performing the stunt for the first time.
8 – Tell No One (2006)
Luc Besson was lucky this project crossed his path. He was one of the Executive Producers on the film and it’s based on a fantastic book by Harlan Corben. Police find two bodies at an old murder scene and evidence to suggest the first victim’s husband is a murderer. The husband receives clues suggesting his deceased wife is actually alive and begins to investigate. This film is definitely worth finding, but it is in English subtitles, as it’s a French-language film. Originally, author Harlan Coben had optioned off his novel to Hollywood, with director Michael Apted attached. During this time, director Guillaume Canet, who had loved the novel, had been calling up Coben with his take on the novel. Coben was immediately impressed with Canet’s passion for the story, and his vision, stating that Canet understood that the novel was a love story first, and a thriller second, which Hollywood never got. When the option with Hollywood fell through, Coben contacted Canet and decided to give him a chance.
7 – Bandidas (2006)
In turn-of-the-century Mexico, two very different women (Salma Hayek, Penelope Cruz) become a bank-robbing duo in an effort to combat a ruthless enforcer terrorizing their town. This is directed byJoachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, who are coming out with Disney’s Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Men Tell No Tales later this year. Steve Zahn also plays a character in the film, and it’s good to see Penelope and Steve back together again.
6 – Leon: The Professional (1994)
Mathilda (Natalie Portman), a 12-year-old girl, is reluctantly taken in by Léon, a professional assassin (Jean Reno), after her family is murdered. Léon and Mathilda form an unusual relationship, as she becomes his protégée and learns the assassin’s trade. Luc Besson got the idea of doing this movie while working on his previous movie, La Femme Nikita (1990). In that film’s third act, Victor the Cleaner appears to deal with the aftermath of Nikita’s botched mission. Realizing the potential of the character was underused in that movie, Besson decided to create a story that focused on the activities of such a character. Both Victor and Leon appear dressed in a long wool coat, sunglasses and a knit cap. Both are played by Jean Reno. The film’s working title was “The Cleaner”.
5 – The Big Blue (1988)
The rivalry between Enzo and Jacques, two childhood friends and now world-renowned free divers, becomes a beautiful and perilous journey into oneself and the unknown. This film was such a hit in France that it played for over a year in theatres. The most financially successful French film of the 1980s. This film was probably the closest to Besson’s own upbringing. “I was never polluted by the world of cinema. I didn’t even have a TV until I was 16. My expression is a reflection of the world I have seen, and in that world everyone was barefoot in bathing suits, following the order of the sea, the natural order of sunrise and sunset. I never went to the cinémathèque. I didn’t know much about the masters of world cinema,” Besson has said.
4 – La Femme Nikita (1990)
Convicted felon Nikita (Anne Parillaud), instead of going to jail, is given a new identity and trained, stylishly, as a top secret spy/assassin. Luc Besson had Anne Parillaud train extensively with guns so that she would be completely at ease with them. Parillaud took to practicing loading and unloading a fake gun in her car which led to her being pulled over by the police and having their guns drawn on her in traffic one day as they thought her weapon was real.
3 – District B13 (2004)
I wrote about this great stunt film in my blog: David Belle and District B13. Set in the ghettos of Paris in 2010, an undercover cop and ex-thug try to infiltrate a gang in order to defuse a neutron bomb.
2 – The Fifth Element (1997)
I just love this film, although, I would have to admit that Chris Tucker has ruined it for me over the years. He’s so obnoxious in the film that he virtually makes it impossible to re-watch the film. Other than that, fantastic film. I was so upset after the film was released that no toys followed the film, as I wanted to buy all the action figures after I saw it. They could have really sold a lot of toys if they had this prepped like the Star Wars films. Another film that I loved enough to write a whole blog about; Fifth Element.
1 – Taken (2008)This film proves that Luc Besson has a magic touch. Again, he just wrote and produced this one but was genius when he hired Pierre Morel to direct as he was perfect for the job. It also gave Liam Neeson new life as an action star. Liam Neeson initially expected the film to bomb, but he signed on, in order spend four months in Paris, and learn karate, while playing the kind of role he had rarely been offered in the past. Ironically, not only was the film a massive hit, but created a new on-screen image for Neeson, as an action hero. Liam Neeson performs a good amount of his own stunts. Over the course of the movie, Bryan kills 35 people in order to get to his daughter.
Most people would probably recognize Kenneth Mars as the voice of King Triton in Disney’s The Little Mermaid. My brother and I loved him in What’s Up, Doc? as the Croatian Musicologist Hugh Simon. He was a brilliant comedic mind and had a flair for strange foreign accents. He was very versatile and had great parts in the movies, on TV, on Broadway and as a voice-over actor. He racked up over 200 credits before cancer took him in 2011.
To list his “must-see” films, I would definitely go to his big 3; The Producers (1967), What’s Up, Doc? (1972) and Young Frankenstein (1974) . In the Producers, the role of Franz Liebkind was originally given to Dustin Hoffman, but he eventually declined when he got the part of Benjamin in The Graduate (1967). Brooks only allowed Hoffman the chance to go off to the audition for the film because his wife (Anne Bancroft) was in it, and Brooks was familiar enough with the role of Benjamin to know Hoffman was utterly wrong for it (as written) and would never be cast. Great bit of luck for Kenneth Mars who inherited the role and even better luck for us, who got to watch him be utterly brilliant in it. He was so good, Gene Wilder wondered if Kenneth Mars really was crazy throughout filming and not just acting because of some of his antics.
I think it takes a special director comfortable with letting the performers loose during comedy that can bring out the best in some people. Mel Brooks definitely had that ability. Another is Peter Bogdanovich, who directed Kenneth in What’s Up, Doc?. He was given the freedom on that film to completely make up a fake foreign language. Much of Hugh Simon’s “foreign” language was Mars’ made-up interpretation of Serbo-Croatian, director Peter Bogdanovich’s native language. He was also a brilliant improviser. According to Peter Bogdanovich on the dvd commentary, the line ” I would like to say I love your hair”, spoken by Mars was improvised.
He would work again with Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein as the German Inspector Kemp. The movie has so many good actors (like Cloris Leachman, Gene Hackman, Madeline Kahn, Teri Garr, Marty Feldman and Peter Boyle) that nearly steal the scenes they are in, and Kenneth was no different. He’s fantastic. Interesting to note that he had strange accents in all of these movies, and after this third one, was known as the actor who could do foreign dialects, even though he made up most of the foreign languages and accents he did.
Kenneth would go on to do over 30 years on TV and doing voices for a ton of cartoons. In my opinion he was under-utilized over the years, even with over 200 credits. He was that good.
Five years ago, Adam and I wrote a draft of Zombies Vs. Gladiators for Amazon Studios that never got picked up for option. We had a lot of fun with the process and I feel we came up with a pretty dang good script. Since the film will never see the light of day, I thought it would be interesting to make our draft available to people interested in the craft of screenwriting, so it can be viewed as intended, as a great writing sample and fun action flick.
Here’s the trailer we made for the script with artist Mike Patch:
Our description of the script:
Followed the Amazon Studio notes. Very tight, taunt version. Huge adventure, Raiders or Mummy. Zombie origin story, based on Roman Mythology and with historical references. War breaks out between the Senate and Flavius, with Titus and Lavinia, both kickass Gladiators, in the middle with a little time for a budding romance. We broadened the concept to be an epic 4 quadrant franchise-ready film.
We even did a really cool animatic clip with Mike Patch:
Apparently, after all this, Amazon Studios, hired horror master Clive Barker to write and direct a version of Zombies Vs. Gladiators in 2012, but we are still waiting eagerly for his film to be produced. Barker is a prolific novelist and artist, who has made frequent forays into film. He directed 1987’s Hellraiser, based on his novella The Hellbound Heart; he adapted and directed Nightbreed from his short story Cabal in 1990; and he executive produced 1992’s Candyman and its sequel Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh. In 1998, he executive produced Gods and Monsters, which won an adapted screenplay Oscar for Bill Condon.
Here’s the screenplay (warning, this is not in proper screenplay format as WordPress is limited in it’s formatting, but is posted here for your possible reading enjoyment):
EXT. ROME – DAY
Ancient Rome. The center of the known world. Buildings sprawl out in a majestic cityscape. A defensive structure — The Aurelian Walls — rings the city. At its center sits the massive oval of the Roman Colosseum.
A TITLE READS: ROME – 300 A.D.
Ext. Rome – comitum – establishing
Within the Roman Forum lies the Comitum, the center of public activity in Rome, where an open market is bustling with PEOPLE.
Ext. Rome – Street market – day
Two RUNNERS race through the crowded streets.
TITUS, (20) a strapping man, larger in stature than the average person, is clearly in the lead. He dodges effortlessly through a FAMILY carrying bags of grain.
He looks back to see RUNNER #2, push his way through the same family. Grain spills out everywhere and the family scrambles to save every precious piece.
Runner #2 is visibly tired and sweating profusely. He looks forward at Titus and smiles when he recognizes something ahead of them.
Titus turns just in time to dodge a curved dagger that swings out at him from a robed COMBATANT.
Titus and Combatant #1 spar long enough for Runner #2 to pass them. Runner #2 laughs.
We both can’t be Champions!
Titus looks to his assailant and then to Runner #2, who waves at him and then disappears around a corner.
Titus focuses back on Combatant #1. He slowly advances, calculating his every move.
Quickly in one swift motion he disarms his assailant. He throws the dagger to the ground.
Combatant #1 screams in rage and rushes Titus, who simply moves out of the way. Titus uses the man’s momentum and imbalance to push him into a nearby pottery display. Combatant #1 goes crashing into the booth head first. Amidst the chaos, Titus continues his race.
ExT. rome – market center – day
Rounding the corner, Titus runs to an open market area with PEDDLERS displayed around the edges with an open area in the middle.
There is a local well there with a line of PEOPLE with water containers waiting for their turn.
Titus immediately sees that Runner #2 has stopped on the far side. He is talking to another MAN.
Runner #2 is surprised to see Titus. He points from the other man to Titus and then runs off.
The other man, COMBATANT #2, pulls a longer dagger from his sheath and advances on Titus.
Titus stops running and prepares himself for a fight. They circle each other, and just before Titus leaps…
A ceramic pot crashes over his head. Titus is visibly dazed. He turns to find Combatant #1 holding the broken pot.
Titus struggles to remain conscious. He steps over to the well and grabs a wooden bucket from a small BOY who has just finished filling it. Titus dumps the water over his own head.
Feeling a bit better now, he shakes the remaining water off. He faces the two combatants, ready for the next melee.
Combatant #2 rushes forward with his long dagger. Titus blocks the knife lunge with the wooden bucket and then swings back to smash Combatant #2 square in the face. The man goes down in an unconscious heap.
Combatant #1, not learning from his first experience, yells again and rushes Titus.
Titus sighs and sidesteps. Titus again uses the mans momentum and imbalance to push him into the well. Combatant #1 flips over the edge and splashes into the water far below.
Titus looks around to find a small CROWD has now gathered to witness the action.
He smiles briefly and hands the bucket back over to the small boy. The boy holds the bucket like a prize.
Titus runs off.
Ext. Rome – edge of the city – day
Titus sprints through the streets dodging through congested areas.
He reaches a clearing in the buildings and sees Runner #2 in the distance.
Runner #2 is halfheartedly making his way to the edge of the city. He stops in front of a skinny OLD MAN and snatches a sheep skin water bottle out of his hands while he was drinking. Water spills out over the Old Man’s face.
Hey, that’s my water…
Runner #2 goes to take a drink, but looks over to see Titus sprinting to close the gap.
Startled, he drops the bottle and runs into the Old Man, knocking him down.
Panicky, Runner #2 runs exhausted. It’s as effective as running in quicksand.
Titus gets to the Old Man and reaches down to help him to his feet.
Titus sees Runner #2 struggle to run about 100 yards away. He reaches over to a nearby stone bird feeder and rips the top off. He takes a moment to measure his distance.
Then, suddenly he spins and releases the stone like a seasoned discus thrower.
Runner #2 reaches a slight rise in landscaping and sees his goal ahead. He turns and smirks back at Titus just as…
The stone strikes him flat on the forehead. He goes down in a clump of bushes.
OLD MAN (CONT’D)
Titus jogs up the rise and stops to take a look.
Runner #2 is out cold.
A Champion is in here.
Titus points to his chest and runs off.
Ext. Rome – Outskirts of the city – Day
A small CROWD is gathered in the center of what appears to be a makeshift training area.
Everyone is milling around aimlessly. Much of the crowd seems to be fixated on a point just over the hill. They are waiting on the return of their runners.
TIBERIUS, (20) younger, thinner, and shorter than his Brother Titus, lays prone on his back under the shade of a tree. He’s got a cloth over his eyes, resting.
A hefty man, LARS, in a dirty brown robe walks over with a few of his BUDDIES and kicks Tiberius in the heel.
Their return is upon us. I want to see your face when my Champion bests your man.
Tiberius doesn’t stir.
Rise, lazy one. You have been unconscious since their departure four hours ago. Do you not have faith in your runner?
Lars takes an apple out of a food bag on his waist. He smiles to his friends.
An apple to the head will get his attention.
Lars throws the apple at the sleeping man’s head. Tiberius suddenly catches it without removing his blindfold. He takes a big bite out of it.
Thank you for the refreshment. I was feeling a bit empty.
Tiberius gets up and Lars moves forward irritated.
You mock me.
You shall regret your actions when your so called, “Champion” is beat.
For one thing, Titus never loses, for another, you may tell him yourself for he is here.
Lars and the others spin around to see Titus jogging over the crest of the hill. He heads towards the gathering.
Titus gets to the group and is greeted like a Champion. Titus finds Tiberius.
What kept you Brother?
Why do you never greet me with water?
I got you an apple.
Tiberius tosses the apple to Titus. Titus examines it and notices the bite.
Lars pushes his way through the well wishers.
Where is my runner?
I believe he’s napping somewhere.
Like the Rabbit in Aesops Fables?
Something like that.
Tiberius holds out his hand. Lars looks to the crowd as if to protest. He reaches into his money pouch and reluctantly hands over two gold coins to Tiberius.
As I said before the race…
Titus puts his hand on his Brother’s arm to stop him. Tiberius ignores him and raises his voice for all to hear.
My Champion has never tasted defeat. He has the speed of Atlanta. The strength of Hercules. The stamina of Atlas. And the skill in combat as of Mars himself.
The crowd gasps at the notion of a mortal being compared to a God. Tiberius plays to the crowd and has them all eating out of the palm of his hand.
Titus pulls him aside.
We’re done here Brother. You have your reward.
Look at this gathering. Fortune smiles on us.
Let us move on before it changes.
I believe in you. Even if you don’t believe in yourself. What have I always told you?
That a Champion is here.
Titus points to his heart.
Why do you act like you’ve forgotten?
I just ran a marathon.
A stroll for you, for you have the heart of a true warrior. Brother, I need you to do this. Then we stop. I promise.
Then we head to Crete?
Yes, Brother, then we feed your wanderlust. Someday soon. We’ll need to find a place to settle.
Then Brother, may I honor you today.
That’s the Champion spirit.
They return to the crowd.
Is there not one among you that can best my Champion?
I have one.
The small crowd goes silent. The group looks around to find that they are surrounded by the CELERES, the Royal Guards.
CAESAR FLAVIUS (40) the Emperor of Rome, is sitting tall atop a beautiful white steed. All eyes are glued to the Roman Emperor, shocked and frightened by his sudden appearance.
The entire group kneels immediately before their Emperor.
Flavius dismounts and steps forward. Two of the Celeres follow closely behind him. Other Royal Guards wade through the crowd at various strategic positions.
Flavius reaches the center and stops between Tiberius and Lars.
You may rise.
Cautiously the crowd obeys, many with their heads still bowed.
Flavius smiles with devilish delight.
I’m at the East Wall, an impromptu inspection of the troops and our security, you see. Unnecessary really, but it’s required. I’m there when someone suddenly tells me that there was an event going on in the city. A race, of some sort. I am unaware that such an event occurred without my consent. This can not be, I replied. Oh, I assure you my Lord, for they saw with their very own eyes. I do not like to be wrong, so I came to see for myself. This makes me look bad, very bad indeed, for I and only I can sanction such gatherings. Punishment by imprisonment, I believe.
Titus’ gaze slowly catches Tiberius’ eye. Flavius catches this slight movement.
Flavius pauses dramatically. No one dares take a breath.
Alright, I sanction it.
Flavius smiles widely and chuckles. The crowd takes a breath and laughs with him relieved.
What fun! Now where were we… Oh yes, what will be our next challenge?
Sir, with all respect, my Brother and I must be on our way, we’ve already delayed…
You will have all day, if I say you have all day. And if this challenge is over then it has not been sanctioned. Shall we imprison everyone now?
Flavius waves his hand and the Celeres, begin to close in, in unison.
Sir, we’re ready for more challenges, of course.
Ah, so this is the Brother, of which you speak. Your Champion seems reluctant, or maybe just worn out.
He can beat any mortal, in any challenge.
Titus glares hard at Tiberius to stop.
So you wouldn’t go with another?
Titus has the true heart of a hero, why go with another?
Mighty words. A true hero is tested in ways like no other. You have your hero then. Are you ready for a challenger?
Tiberius looks to Titus concerned, as if to say sorry. Titus steps forward, resolved to do his best in any challenge.
Very good then. Who shall be my Champion? Is there a brave one among you, step forward and do not disappoint me.
The crowd freezes. No one moves and no one steps forward.
Come now, no one volunteers? I have chosen anyway. And my Champion will be…
Flavius steps up to Titus, but then points to Tiberius.
Yes, you shall be my Champion. Let us see what is in your heart.
But sir, I’m not prepared to…
No more words, it is done. And the challenge shall be…
Flavius turns and takes the two swords out of his bodyguards sheaths behind him. He steps forward and quickly sticks both swords in the ground between the Brothers.
A fight to the death!
The crowd grows loud with anticipation. The Celeres squeeze in. Lars slowly steps back into the crowd.
What say you? A challenge befitting Romulus and Remus themselves. An extraordinary challenge indeed, worthy of a true hero.
You can’t possibly expect me to carry arms against my Brother?
Oh, I do indeed.
I can’t and I won’t.
Is there no more fight in you? Did the people not come here for a show?
Caesar Flavius is now playing to the crowd. The men are not on display here, his power is.
I would sooner die than fight my Brother.
Caesar Flavius immediately grabs one of the swords and stabs Tiberius in the chest with it.
So be it!
Titus screams in rage and rushes Flavius. Two of the Royal Guards immediately jump on Titus.
Flavius pulls the sword from Tiberius and his lifeless body falls to the ground.
He spins around and raises the bloody sword to protect himself from Titus.
So there is fight in you yet. Excellent! Take him!
In uncontrollable rage, Titus throws the two men off of him like rag dolls. Countless other Celeres pounce on Titus before he could reach the now giddy Emperor. The Celeres can barely contain Titus.
The lights go out as Titus is knocked on the head with the hilt of a sword.
Int. Holding cells – Rome – night
Titus awakes with a start.
Titus looks around to see a cage full of men. They’re all startled by their new cell mate’s screams.
LUCIUS, (30) a barrel-chested fighter, steps forward.
No use bellowing, there isn’t a Tiberius among us.
Titus quickly stands up ready to defend himself. Once standing, he almost falls back down from a blinding headache.
Sit back down, before you fall on someone.
He swaggers over to the metal bars and hangs on them. He grabs MARCUS, (30) a stocky wise-ass with red hair and a full red beard, standing by the bars.
Where’s Tiberius? Where’s my Brother?
Marcus helps to steady Titus.
We’re not sure who you might be referring to, but you came in alone.
OCTAVIUS, (20) a six-foot-six-inch tall giant, steps forward.
Maybe it was a dream.
Not a dream.
Titus shakes the metal bars.
Calm down, you’re giving us all headaches.
Won’t do you any good. They don’t respond.
He can not hold me.
Who can’t hold you?
Titus turns to the men. He seethes with crazed anger.
He can’t keep me locked up. I vow here and now, on my brother’s death, that I will find a way out of this prison and I will find him… And I will kill him!
You are mistaken my friend, this is not a prison…this is the Colosseum. Welcome to the Gladiators!
Ext. Tomb of orcas – LEPERCAL CAVE – night
Tiberius’s body lays on the altar before a giant stone statue of ORCUS THE GOD OF THE DEAD. All of his blood has been drained from his body.
Caesar Flavius is preparing to make a sacrifice as an acolyte of Orcus.
A few loyal GUARDS are standing at attention in the corners of the room.
ARRIAS, (40) a balding politician, helps prepare the body.
My Lord, I beg of you not to wake the spirit of Orcus. What could you possibly need from the God of the Dead?
Why eternal life, of course. I must hold dominion over life and death. There are things that you do not know, faithful Arrias. I have put in motion a great many things, and this is a game I can not afford to lose.
You are ruler of the civilized world. Is that not enough?
My power is divided. I shall unify the land and they shall bow to my leadership only.
You mean the Senate. But we only exist to serve you and your people, my Lord.
That will soon be true. I am not ignorant, Arrias. I know there are plotters and schemers surrounding me.
I will keep an eye and ear out and report only to you. I live to serve you.
If only they were all as loyal. But this is only the beginning. With my plans, I must have an invincible army. An army that Orcus can provide me.
Sire, a contract with Orcus comes with a heavy price to pay. Being a disciple may require your very soul!
Caesar Flavius laughs at Arrias.
My dear, naive Arrias. That, I’ve already given.
Arrias slowly bows his head and steps back into the shadows.
Flavius approaches the altar.
He kneels and bows his head. He begins to speak in tongues. An ancient language of the Gods.
The room grows heavy with dust. The torches dim. Flavius continues to chant.
The DUST gathers before him and begins to find form. As that of a SKELETON WRAITH in flowing robes.
ORCUS floats above his altar. He opens his arms wide as if to embrace the Emperor kneeling before him.
You have returned, my Son. What is it you ask of me?
I bring this sacrifice to you. His blood has washed your Altar and sanctified your Tomb. My only wish is to please you. My glory is yours. My will is yours.
What is your purpose here?
My Lord, give me an army with the power to control their will, and I’ll cover the land with the blood of the unworthy. I will bring to you a number far beyond that which is foretold in the Book of the Dead. This I vow.
It will be so. Complete this mission, and the next time you lay eyes on me, we will be as one.
A gift worthy of the most high God. You are very generous, my Lord.
Orcus floats down. He opens his mouth wide and spews dust into the body of Tiberius. Flavius steps forward to get a closer look.
Tiberius suddenly awakens. His eyes are red and crazed. His teeth have become fangs and his fingers have claws. Black ooze drips from the side of his mouth. Tiberius is now a ZOMBIE.
His movements are slow and lumbering. Zombie Tiberius climbs off of the altar and goes after Flavius, but he can’t move too far, because he is chained to the altar.
Flavius looks into Zombie Tiberius’s face.
He seems slow and mindless, my lord.
Orcus points his bony finger at the statue of himself. Dust swirls around a bracer on the statue’s arm. It looks to be made of pure gold and has the carvings of the dead.
Behold the Bracer of Orcus. With this, you will be able to command this creature of the undead.
Flavius can barely contain his excitement. He steps over and carefully removes the bracer from the statue. He holds it up, as if it is his holy Grail.
Flavius stands in front of the Zombie Tiberius and places the bracer on his right arm.
Immediately, the Zombie Tiberius becomes fast, directed, and crazed. He tries to reach Arrias in the darkness. Arrias whimpers and cowers down at the sight.
When will I receive my Army, Master?
Orcus opens his arms wide again to Flavius.
Patience, my son. It will soon come.
Flavius smiles wide and revels in his new-found power.
Ext. CoLOSSEUM – Arena – Montage
-Octavius fights three men with spears. He can not get close enough to strike and the number keeps him on the defense. He gets cornered and looks like he might be overwhelmed, when Titus jumps in and assists him. They push the fighters back together.
-Marcus and Titus are among a group of gladiators fighting criminals. The gates open and a few hungry tigers run out and pounce on various warriors. Marcus is one of them.
He’s just about to be mauled when Titus stabs the cat in the heart. He pushes the heavy creature from Marcus and helps him up. Marcus is very pale and slightly wounded, but alive. Titus runs off to help others.
-The Colosseum is filling up with spectators. MEN and WOMEN yelling, “Kill Them!” and “Titus!” fill the seats. The MOB is growing. Blood-thirsty and savage.
-Titus is developing a team. They fight together. This is very effective in the arena, especially when they are pitted against a horde of barbarians. They fight groups of men 3 times larger than their own team.
Various battles flash past; flaming chariots, a pack of rabid hyenas, barbarians, criminals, roman soldiers, and even more exotic animals, like gorillas.
A TITLE card READS: 28 Days Later
Ext. Roman forum – establishing
The large stone structure of the CURIA HOSTILIA sits in the Roman Forum, North of the Comitum. It is the seat of the Imperial Senate, once the center of power in the Empire. Now a shell of it’s former self.
INT. SENATE CHAMBER – DAY
A Senate meeting has commenced.
A HUNDRED SENATORS file out of the wooden pews in a small amphitheater.
The PRAETORS remain up front, the leading three Senators, comprising of; SENATOR QUINTUS (60), the emperor’s top advisor, smart and steady, the brains behind the royal power, SENATOR ANTONIUS (50), a thin elder statesman and Senator Arrias, a Senator and spy for Flavius.
They patiently wait until the final Senators exit and the doors swing shut.
What is this? Why have you kept us?
I’ve called a secret session to discuss the recent series of constitutional reforms by Caesar Flavius.
Shouldn’t the Caesar be in attendance?
No, I don’t think so. It’s apparent to me that Flavius cares little for the Senate. Recently, he has taken it upon himself to enact reforms, essentially without the consent of the senate. This should be attacked, vigorously, by the senate, with any and all means necessary!
By any legal means–
By ANY means necessary! He’s deprived us of our status as the ultimate depository of supreme power in the empire!
We are not at war with the Emperor–
I’m stating that is exactly what we are! At war for our very status! We no longer have independent legislative, judicial or electorial power and this can not be! How can we govern with no governmental status! Soon, we will be without even the power to try treason cases! Which is about all we have left!
What are you saying? How can we get this power back?
There’s only one way. We take it back!
What do you propose?
I don’t mention this lightly, and at the mere mention, it’s treason itself–
What I propose is drastic! But must be done, to save the senate! To save Rome!
I propose, we have him killed! We must cut off our very nose…to save face.
He speaks in hushed tones, and this brings them in. They are anticipating his very words, spoken softly in confidence to very dear friends.
We must annihilate lawlessness. Make no illusions. That is exactly what this is, lawlessness at it’s very core! Opposition to the good, natural and happy way of life, all to please and nurture only one man. A diseased mind that must be excised from the collective. How many others will he control? How many others will he poison against us? We must fight! Or lose the war to regain the Roman Empire!
Senator Quintus takes a breath. He looks to the others and sees that they are in accord.
As Consul, I propose we hold a festival! We will find an opportunity to kill the Caesar at the award ceremony. We recruit the best gladiator in Rome to our cause. Are we in agreement? Senator Antonius?
I live only to serve the Senate! I concur.
Spoken like a seasoned politician. Here, here. Let’s hope we find a true champion.
Int. Holding cell – day
A pair of hands, Ties SANDALS ONTO A MUSCLED LEG. METAL WRIST GUARDS ARE STRAPPED ON. A LEATHER BELT CINCHEs AROUND A WAIST.
A SHORT SWORD SLAMs INTO A SCABBARD.
TITUS REBORN. Now a Gladiator from head to toe.
He looks like a statue chiseled from stone. A hardened landscape of scars, cuts and gouges. On one muscular arm, notches are carved into the skin.
INT. COLOSSEUM – GLADIATORIAL HOLDING CELLS – DAY
Titus stands in the subterranean holding cell beneath the Colosseum. With him are his fellow gladiators, Octavius, Marcus, and Lucius.
A door opens, a fifth warrior is shoved inside; something the other gladiators have never seen before…
A FEMALE GLADIATOR.
Marcus cups his bare chest, like breasts, laughing.
You want a suckle before we start?
I’ve spilled blood before. I look forward to spilling more.
That’s your first mistake.
Titus comes into the light.
Who the hell are you?
I am Titus.
She recognizes the name.
They say you hand out death like Mars himself.
What horror did you commit to be sent to the gladiators?
I refused Flavius.
And fallen out of favor–
Then we have a common enemy.
But don’t you serve Flavius?
This is Marcus, Lucius and Octavius. I live to serve them.
And we to serve Titus.
We live because we fight as one. We do not live to kill…
But we are gladiators.
We are also slaves. We are sent into the Colosseum to kill other men, by no choice of our own. You want to save your own life, you start by respecting your opponent’s.
Titus nods to the others who all kneel, bow their heads, and recite the gladiatorial oath.
“I will endure. Let death fear us”
Titus adds an oath of his own.
Grant mercy on the souls we dispatch today, for one day they may be our own.
They stand and put on their helmets. A heavy metal cell door is hauled open — leading down the tunnel to the Colosseum. Titus mumbles under his breath.
Brother, may I honor you today.
EXT. COLOSSEUM – DAY
The legendary centerpiece of entertainment and battle in ancient Rome. Fifty-thousand spectators stand and cheer.
IN THE IMPERIAL BOX
The Roman Emperor Flavius sits on his throne, in a royal toga and crown. He’s surrounded by guards, servants and slave girls. He smiles at the crowd.
Senator Quintus, Senator Antonius, and Senator Arrias stand by his side.
Caesar, the combatants are ready.
If you would do the honors, Senator Quintus.
Quintus bows. Then thumps a fist against his chest and raises it in a Roman salute.
In unified response, fifty-thousand Romans pound their chests, raise their fists and cry out, “Hail Caesar!” Flavius stands, addressing the crowd.
I welcome you, my fellow Romans, to the games of the Colosseum!
(the crowd roars)
Exotic warriors, captured from the wild jungles of Africa.
The crowd cheers.
ON THE COLOSSEUM FLOOR
A gate opens.
Four African WARRIORS are shoved out. The biggest, strongest of the captured Africans. They are dressed in loin cloths, faces streaked in war paint. They gaze around in awe.
IN THE IMPERIAL BOX
Flavius waves for silence.
These uncivilized brutes now face the champions of Rome, the gladiators!
ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE COLOSSEUM
Another gate opens. Titus and his Gladiators come out and the crowd goes crazy. They are like rock stars and Titus is the biggest of them all. He takes it all in with humility, bowing to the fans.
Prepare for battle.
Titus and his men step toward the center of the Colosseum, looking across at the giant African warriors.
They’re big ones, aren’t they?
Not for long.
The Warriors charge across the Colosseum. Titus and his men meet them like a swarm of killer bees. And it’s on! Weapons clashing, shields smashing, bodies thrashing.
Octavius uses a spear as his weapon, slashing the warriors before they can get near him.
Marcus swings a triple ball flail — three spiked balls attached by chains to a handle, which he whips like a maniac.
Lucius wears a pair of gauntlets with daggers attached over his fists. Like a close-quarters, martial artist, he whips his fists around, punching, stabbing and slashing opponents.
Lavinia holds a trident and a gladiator net. She appears nervous but swings the trident and net with practiced acumen. It is clear, new to the arena, but not to fighting.
The most amazing part is Titus. A master with a sword and shield. Spinning, slashing, beating his foes — but without a hint of anger. In fact, he seems totally at peace. As if he were alone, practicing a series of moves.
The Warriors fight back with primitive spears and shields, but they are deadly jungle fighters. Powerful and quick.
It’s a battle in the sand — WEAPONS SLASHING, BODIES FLYING.
Until — a YELP snaps Titus from his zone. A Jungle Warrior traps Lavinia on the ground. The big guy’s foot clamps on Lavinia’s throat, about to choke the life out of her.
Titus pauses a moment, angered at being distracted. Then he pulls a dagger and WHIPS it at the Warrior. It hits him in the CHEST. The Warrior falls back — Lavinia strikes forward and stabs the guy with the trident…spilling his blood into the sand.
Lavinia nods to Titus, thanks. The crowd goes wild.
IN THE IMPERIAL BOX
Flavius and his entourage watch on.
Astonishing. In all my years I have not seen a man so dominate this sport as Titus.
Yes, Caesar. And so popular. The people speak of him like a God. In fact, some think that he cannot be killed.
Flavius seems annoyed and jealous at the same time.
There is one certainty of the Colosseum, Quintus. Sooner or later, everyone dies. Even the immortal Titus.
Titus slays the final African Warrior and raises his sword in victory. The crowd goes nuts, chanting “Titus”!
Flavius just sneers, clearly not happy about the attention.
Caesar, you are the supreme commander of Rome. You reign over the greatest expansion of any empire in the history of civilization.
But to do that, we have been at constant war, with enemies in every corner of the world. It is a struggle and a sacrifice, from which the people need distraction. Things to talk about. To excite them.
(points to the Colosseum)
Like Titus. Believe it or not, he keeps them loyal to you.
Yes, but one has to wonder…what keeps him loyal to me?
Quintus nods, understanding.
I have an idea. Let us hold a festival. For Rome and its emperor. Show Titus and Rome what a strong yet generous leader you are. The people will love you for it.
Quintus shoots a look at Arrias, for help. Like they’ve teamed up on Flavius before. Just as Arrias is about to speak, he is cut off by Antonius.
He’s right, sire. A festival could be productive. And fun.
Flavius finally cracks a grin, warming to the idea.
If you really think so…
Int. Gladiator holding cells – later
Titus sits alone in his holding cell. He’s bloodied and dirty. The outer door opens, he rises.
Instead of a guard, Senator Quintus enters. He walks up to the cell.
So this is the mighty Titus. A true champion.
And you are?
And your desire?
Why should I desire anything but to see the greatest fighter in Rome?
It’s not the visit, it’s the flattery. You come here for something, from me.
You are very astute. You are not an average gladiator, that is certain.
Titus says nothing.
Are you loyal to your Caesar
Titus looks around suspiciously.
There is none but you and I, I assure you.
I am loyal to Tiberius.
And who is Tiberius?
My brother, who Flavius slew with his own hand.
Another reason you have been chosen. I come with a special request.
Get to it.
We would be indebted to you if you would do us the courtesy…of killing Flavius.
And how do you think I can do that?
A festival will be held. And the winner of the festival will have an audience with the Emperor as he lays the laurels on their head.
They will search for weapons.
We will make sure that your dagger gets forgotten during the search. Will you do this?
I don’t do this for you. I do this for my brother.
We thank you. All the same.
INT. BATHING AREA – LATER
The Gladiators are washing the blood off their bodies. Titus sits, a needle-thin dagger in hand, etching another notch on his arm.
Lavinia sits next to him, humble.
Thank you again, Titus. You saved my life in there.
You can owe me one.
Lavinia nods at the notches. She counts them.
You’ve won twenty-eight battles?
Twenty-eight days since my brother died. At the hands of Flavius. I shall avenge him.
Is that wise?
Nevertheless, it shall be done.
Titus looks at the water, his eyes narrowing.
EXT. IMPERIAL PALACE – NIGHT
An enormous, fortified palace. Set on top of PALATINE HILL, over-looking the city. A party is in progress.
INT. IMPERIAL PALACE – NIGHT
Flavius and Arrias stand in a palace window, watching as the other Senators leave. They turn away. The mood is heavy.
They watch your games, take your women, drink your wine and eat your food. All the while they plot behind your back.
That is why I have taken control from the senate. This has been foreseen.
He waves Arrias off, tired.
They plan your death.
Flavius’s head snaps up at this.
This is treason.
Ah, but you left them with the power to try treason cases, which they will do and hold all parties unaccounted. They will then supplant their own Emperor and control will return to the Senate.
Flavius smiles as if this was all part of his plan.
How do they plan to do it?
The festival. With the games, they have recruited Titus to kill you during the award ceremony. As you lay laurels on the winner, he shall strike.
Flavius takes the news to heart.
Then it’s time for me to strike first. The war will begin at the festival.
I live only to serve you.
Flavius smiles. He looks down at the Bracer of Orcus.
It’s time to bring Remus back to Rome. We will hold the Festival of Lemuria, to appease the ghost of Remus…
AND THEN A SCREAM CARRIES US TO:
INT. holding cell – NIGHT
Tiberius, in his full zombie transformation, seethes, chained and locked in a cage. Some SOLDIERS use poles to hold him still, while DRUSIS, a GUARD, looks on.
Drusis pushes a CART past the cage. Tiberius lunges against his chains, grabbing the bars. He bares his teeth — which now are clearly FANGS!
Curious, Drusis stops the cart. Peels back a blanket on top. Revealing the bloody, amputated limbs of several soldiers.
He lifts a severed hand and forearm. And tosses it into the cage. Tiberius goes wild, chomping at the arm like a dog with a bone — devouring the flesh right off of it, until there’s literally just a pile of bones.
EXT. ROME – FESTIVAL OF LEMURIA – DAY
Sun rises over the city.
INT. COLOSSEUM – GLADIATOR QUARTERS – MORNING
Titus sleeps on a straw bed. A TRUMPETING SOUND wakes him —
INT. COLOSSEUM – ANIMAL QUARTERS – MORNING
— coming from the trunk of a massive WAR ELEPHANT, outfitted with armor, being coached by an ELEPHANT TRAINER. The spacious animal quarters are filled with exotic, caged animals — lions, bears, crocodiles and ostriches.
Flavius and Arrias walk past, flanked by Celeres. Drusis walks with them.
You want that thing released during the first fight?
Just do as you’re told.
Drusis averts his eyes, bowing low.
Drusis runs off.
INT. HOLDING CELLS – LATER
Titus and his men are now suited up for the first match. Lavinia sits nervously off on the side. She glances over at Titus, who’s very focused, very quiet.
EXT. COLOSSEUM – DAY
Another capacity crowd, excited, ready for blood.
IN THE IMPERIAL BOX
Flavius sits with Quintus, surveying the crowd.
They’re ready for blood. It just better be flowing from the right throat.
INT. HOLDING CELLS – SAME
Titus, Lavinia and the men kneel in their pre-fight ritual.
“I will endure. Let death fear us!”
Grant mercy on the souls we dispatch today, for one day they may be our own.
They rise. The cell door opens. Lavinia hears Titus as he says under his breath…
Brother, may I honor you today.
They step out of the cell — to find VICTOR THE GLADIATOR TRAINER waiting there.
There’s been a change of plans. You fight alone today, Titus.
The gladiators all trade concerned looks.
For what reason?
The emperor didn’t give one.
He shoves some gear into Titus’s hands, including a large, armored, Thracian helmet. Titus stares at it, anxious.
EXT. COLOSSEUM – DAY
The main gate opens. Titus steps out into the Colosseum, helmet on and ready for battle. The crowd goes nuts. He looks around, awed by it, finally gazing over at —
THE IMPERIAL BOX
Flavius glares back at him. Quintus stands, silencing the crowd. He thumps his chest with his fist.
The crowd responds again, pounding their chests, raising their fists, “Hail Caesar!” Flavius addresses the crowd.
Citizens of Rome! For a month now, you have witnessed the courage and savagery of Titus and his gladiators. You have seen the bloodthirsty carnage they have wrought upon their foe!
The crowd cheers.
But on this day, you shall experience a battle unlike any you have ever seen! Prepare to witness Titus alone, facing an unstoppable evil!
The crowd’s curious, talking amongst themselves.
IN THE COLOSSEUM TUNNEL
Lucius, Octavius, Lavinia and Marcus gaze in at the Colosseum floor through a barred door.
What on earth could he possibly be talking about?
IN THE IMPERIAL BOX
Flavius continues his oration.
Behold, for the first time in the Colosseum…a creature part human, part beast…and all hell on earth.
ON THE COLOSSEUM FLOOR
A TRAP DOOR OPENS. A PLATFORM RISES from the Colosseum floor. Four guards stand on it, flanking a LARGE, WOODEN BOX with one small, barred window.
Something thrashes inside, like a caged beast.
The crowd’s deathly quiet. Titus grows tense.
IN THE IMPERIAL BOX
Flavius stretches his arms wide.
This being the Festival of Lemuria, to appease the ghost of Remus, it is fitting that Titus shall face the ghost of his brother. Behold…The Demon of Rome!
ON THE COLOSSEUM FLOOR
The Guards pull down the four walls of the box, revealing the Zombie Tiberius in a cage.
The crowd gasps audibly. There are some screams.
IN THE HOLDING CELLS
Lavinia’s face goes pale with horror.
IN THE IMPERIAL BOX
A monster. You found a monster.
Flavius turns a sadistic smile again.
We call it, a Zombie.
ON THE COLOSSEUM FLOOR
Titus stares at the Zombie Tiberius. Stunned. Can’t believe what he’s seeing. He rips the helmet off his head and throws it on the ground. Tears come to his eyes.
IN THE IMPERIAL BOX
Zombie! I command you to kill! Feast on human flesh!
ON THE COLOSSEUM FLOOR
The Guards unlock the box, then run off through a side exit.
The door bursts open as the Zombie Tiberius charges out! The crowd screams in horror. Titus drops his sword.
I will not fight my brother.
IN THE HOLDING CELLS
Lavinia speaks under her breath.
That’s not your brother anymore. Fight…
ON THE COLOSSEUM FLOOR
The Zombie Tiberius charges at Titus. With a fantastic leap, it flies through the air, right at him, CLAWING THE AIR, FROTHING THROUGH ITS FANGS —
Until Titus ducks, spins and rolls away from him.
The crowd screams in delight.
The Zombie Tiberius hits the sand and rolls over.
Titus shakes his head. He yells up to the Imperial Box.
I will not fight him!
The crowd goes wild, booing the gladiator. They want a battle.
IN THE COLOSSEUM TUNNEL
Titus’s fellow gladiator’s go crazy, rattling the barred doors holding them back.
Kill it, Titus! Kill that thing!
ON THE COLOSSEUM FLOOR
The Zombie Tiberius gets up, seething like a wounded animal, red eyes blazing, foam flying from its mouth.
Titus backs away — and his foot steps on something.
A GLADIATOR’S NET, buried in the sand from another battle.
The Zombie Tiberius charges again. Titus reaches down and at the last second, yanks up the net and pulls it over the Zombie Tiberius. Zombie Tiberius gets tangled up and tumbles to the ground.
It tears off the net and stands there, panting.
IN THE COLOSSEUM TUNNEL
Titus’s crew has finally had enough. They see Victor looking up into Colosseum.
Victor! Get us out of here!
He shakes his head.
I have my orders!
We can’t let Titus die at the hands of that — thing!
You were once a gladiator yourself! I beg of you!
Victor looks over at them, clearly conflicted…then makes a decision. He runs over, takes out his keys and unlocks them.
Quickly! Save him while you can.
Lucius, Octavius, Lavinia and Marcus tumble…
OUT INTO THE COLOSSEUM
They come in behind Titus.
Have you forgotten? We’re a team.
Titus turns to face the Zombie.
Do not hurt him! It’s my brother!
The men circle around the Zombie, weapons raised.
This thing is not alive!
The Zombie charges at them. They beat it back with heavy blows — Marcus whips his flail, Octavius stabs his spear, Lucius punches with his daggers, Lavinia swings her trident.
Come and get me.
The Zombie charges at Lucius. With a fantastic leap, it flies through the air, right at him, clawing the air, frothing through its fangs —
Until Lucius ducks, spins and slashes the Zombie with his daggers — opening a deep gash on the creature’s arm.
The crowd screams in delight.
The Zombie hits the sand and rolls over, hurt. But again, there’s no blood. And within moments, the gash seems to heal up. The crowd gasps.
Marcus shakes his head, shocked.
By the Gods…
The Zombie gets up, seething like a wounded animal, red eyes blazing, foam flying from its mouth.
Octavius raises his spear and STABS it down into the Zombie with a loud CRUNCH. The Zombie falls still.
The crowd goes wild. Octavius steps back, leaving the spear embedded in the Zombie’s body.
Octavius’s suddenly shocked to see the Zombie stir to life. It will not die. It stands up, panting — spear protruding from its side. Then it yanks it out.
Marcus, Lucius, Octavius and Lavinia rush at the monster and each take turns slicing and gouging it.
The Zombie Tiberius gets batted and gouged and knocked about between them, falling down…but getting back up. Never stopping.
Titus picks up his sword and starts to fend off Octavius and Marcus from hitting the Zombie Tiberius.
The Zombie Tiberius fills the void and takes another flying leap at Titus. Titus uses his shield to block it and sends it spinning sideways.
IN THE IMPERIAL BOX
Flavius enjoys the battle.
See how the Zombie separates them? They are divided.
Quintus looks on in horror.
ON THE COLOSSEUM FLOOR
Octavius steps close to the Zombie Tiberius and raises his spear for the kill.
No! Get back!
The Zombie Tiberius, inhumanly fast, jumps and lands right on top of Octavius —
AND BITES INTO HIS THROAT. Piercing his carotid artery. Slamming Octavius into the sand. He groans. Slain.
The Zombie Tiberius stands and turns, mouth soaked with blood. Lavinia, Lucius and Marcus bunch together.
Titus looks at the fallen man in anguish.
Lavinia, Marcus and Lucius are forced into defensive positions. They cluster together, shields and swords up.
Titus stands alone. Turns his back on Octavius, to face the Zombie Tiberius.
Flavius was right. It is a demon.
No, it’s something else. Something worse.
At that moment, Lavinia sees something, her eyes widening.
She points behind him.
IN THE STANDS
The crowd sees what he has seen and GASPS!
IN THE IMPERIAL BOX
Flavius and Quintus react in shock.
How is that possible?
I don’t know. But I like it.
ON THE COLOSSEUM FLOOR
Octavius gets up. His head hangs at a grotesque angle, tendons and flesh barely holding it to his neck. His eyes are red, skin pale, mouth a mass of froth and fangs.
The Gladiators stare in shock at their resurrected comrade.
That isn’t Octavius. Not any more.
The Octavius-Zombie, charges them, shrieking and growling.
Marcus, Lucius, and Lavinia are forced into battle with their friend.
They defend with all they have.
IN THE IMPERIAL BOX
Flavius thrills with the turn of events. This is working out better than he planned.
ON THE Colosseum FLOOR
Zombie Tiberius scrambles after Titus. Titus is overwhelmed. Zombie Tiberius knocks him to the ground and climbs on top of him. Titus pushes his shield up to separate them.
The Zombie Tiberius is moments away from finding a position on top of the shield to be able to bite Titus. Just in time, Lavinia, picks up a loose sword and shield and runs over and slices Zombie Tiberius’s head off.
Zombie Tiberius’s head hits the ground next to Titus and the body on top of him goes completely limp.
He throws the body aside. And SCREAMS in agony as he…
Charges Lavinia in blind madness. Lavinia gets knocked to the ground. He beats her shield one, two, three times with all his might.
Lavinia crumbles under the brutal assault, but manages to keep her shield up between them.
NO! NO! NO!
One more swing and her shield flies away. He raises his sword to kill her, but at the last moment he can’t do it. He buries the sword into the ground next to her in complete frustration.
Marcus and Lucius, fending off the Octavius Zombie, look at the dead Zombie Tiberius and then at each other.
Now we know how to kill it!
In The imperial box
Caesar and the Senators are riveted to the action below.
Quintus is so enthralled that he places his hand on Flavius and holds on to the Bracer of Orcus without realizing.
ON THE Colosseum FLOOR
Zombie Octavius’s head snaps up to the stands. He is now searching for something. His eyes find Caesar Flavius in the Imperial Box.
Flavius is curious by the new reaction.
Lucius and Marcus turn to the Octavius Zombie and charge! The Zombie Octavius turns and races across the Colosseum.
And with amazing strength, it leaps up —
RIGHT INTO THE IMPERIAL BOX!
The smile drops from Flavius’s face —
Flavius reaches for the Gauntlet of Orcus, and finds that Quintus has a frightened grip on it. He pries Quintus’s hand free and when he looks up, the Octavius Zombie’s too fast —
— the Octavius Zombie tackles him and bites him on the face — blood spraying in a wide fan! He screams in pain.
Quintus and the other Senators in the box scramble backwards.
The Octavius Zombie drops Flavius. It turns toward Quintus, bloody fangs extended. It takes a step AND —
WHACK! A CELERES sweeps his own sword and hacks off the Octavius Zombie’s head. The Octavius Zombie drops to the ground.
Quintus kneels by the bloody, fallen Emperor.
Sire? Are you alright?
Flavius rolls around, shuddering. His skin goes deathly gray. He begins to foam at the mouth. And then his eyes flash open — BRIGHT RED. He’s a Zombie.
Quintus backs away, horrified.
Sire, no. For the love of Rome.
As if in answer, Flavius shrieks and bolts up, lunging at Quintus. Quintus scrambles off, behind a Celeres.
But…It’s the emperor!
Not anymore! Now kill it!
The Celeres hesitates — that’s all Flavius-Zombie needs. He lunges at the Celeres and bites his throat. The Celeres goes down in another blood bath.
Flavius Zombie turns to look for Quintus — sees the Senator gripping a sword of his own.
He swings the sword at Flavius. Flavius raises a hand to block it — stopping the blade, but not before it LOPS OFF HIS PINKIE FINGER. It clatters to the ground, a large RING still attached to it. Flavius howls in pain and anger.
Then, at his feet — the fallen Celeres shudders, convulsing. His skin goes pale, eyes rimmed red with blood. The Celeres turns into a zombie! He leaps up —
And tackles a SENATOR, biting him. Blood sprays all over the Senator’s toga. And the Senator turns into a Zombie!
He turns and bites a CONCUBINE, who turns into Zombie. She bites another concubine. One after another, Romans attack each other and are transformed into Zombies.
Quintus stumbles through the mayhem, trying to escape — when he notices something trembling on the ground.
FLAVIUS’S FINGER. The ring on it is the large, IMPERIAL SEAL.
And in the depths of hell, Quintus realizes — Rome still needs a leader. Someone to carry on through the disaster.
And so he grabs the ring and shoves it in his pocket.
Quintus runs downstairs, into the depths of the Colosseum.
ALL AROUND THE COLOSSEUM
Citizens run for their lives as Zombies attack them. It’s an orgy of blood and mayhem, spreading like wildfire. What was already a mob is now an angry, deranged…undead mob.
Then above it all, a guttural HOWL echoes. The Flavius-Zombie races to the top of the stands, chased by Roman guards. He lets out another howl — which seems to communicate to several Zombies nearby. They leap on the guards, taking them down, freeing Flavius.
ON THE AREA FLOOR
Titus and the gladiators watch in awe, until Lavinia has seen enough.
She gets up and grabs the trident, sword and shield. She shakes Titus by the shoulders.
We must go!
Titus seems to wake up out of his funk. He sees Zombie Flavius as he rallies his circle of Zombies, to further expand his army of the dead.
He grabs his sword and shield and runs toward the Mob where Zombie Flavius is, when…
Marcus and Lucius grab him by the arms.
We shall endure! We will fight again.
We must flee!
He reluctantly follows Lavinia, Lucius and Marcus as they run for one of the exits, slashing and trampling anyone…or anything in their way.
INT. COLOSSEUM – HYPOGEUM – DAY
The Gladiators run through the Hypogeum — the labyrinth of corridors and rooms under the Colosseum. It’s chaos here as well. They stop and hide a moment. Across the way —
They see Victor, the gladiator trainer.
Victor turns. Red eyes. Frothing mouth. A Zombie! He leads a pack of Zombie-Gladiators out into the stadium.
Titus, Marcus and Lucius stare in shock at the sight of their former friends, now monsters.
This is it. The Gods are taking vengeance on Rome. We must pray for our lives.
No, Lucius. We must run like hell.
He leads them down another corridor — where they turn right into Quintus. Quintus lights up —
Titus! You’re alive!
No thanks to you! You’re the one responsible for this.
What was that thing?
It’s called a Zombie. A man, brought back from the dead… with a hunger for human flesh.
That was my brother! And you put me in the Colosseum with him!
He raises his sword. Quintus drops to his knees, pleading.
I was unaware! He must have learned of our plot to kill him!
So he created this Zombie from my brother’s body?
It was a mistake, which now threatens all of Rome.
Titus looks at Lavinia, still anger in his eyes. She turns away, upset. Titus looking down at Quintus.
To hell with Rome. And with you.
Finally, he pulls his sword away and sheaths it.
What are you doing?
I am a slave no more.
(to his men)
If we’re quick, we can make it to the city gates.
He nods to his men. They turn to leave.
Wait! Hear me out!
Titus and the gladiators stop, turn back.
Even if you make it past these monsters, there are still the city walls, guarded by the Roman legion. They know your face. You’re still a gladiator and property of the state. They’ll stop you.
Titus just sneers, grips his sword.
I’ll take my chances.
What if I can guarantee your freedom?
I am the highest ranking Senator in Rome. If there’s a way to restore order and stop this epidemic, I must do it. I just need to get to the senate building. Alive.
You want me to escort you?
You’re the greatest fighter in the city. Get me to the senate. I will grant you immediate freedom.
Titus thinks it over. As usual, Quintus is being smart.
For Lucius, Marcus…and Lavinia as well.
Of course. Do we have a deal?
Yes. We’ll get you to the senate. The question is, how?
There’s a familiar trumpeting nearby. Titus looks, sees a pair of WAR ELEPHANTS in their cages, growing restless.
Titus nods, thinking out loud —
Grant mercy on the souls we dispatch today…
EXT. COLOSSEUM – DAY
Panic fills the streets, people running everywhere, chased by mindless, flesh-hungry Roman Zombies. And BAM –
A large DOOR flies open on the side of the Colosseum. And the craziest herd of animals to ever hit Rome charges into the streets. A FULL ON STAMPEDE —
First come the ostriches. Then come the lions, tigers, rhinos and bears like a charging army. Oh, and the crocodiles. Slithering out, snapping away.
Pure chaos. Animals attacking humans. Animals attacking Zombies. Zombies attacking animals and humans. Blood in the streets.
Finally, with another loud blare — out come the pair of WAR ELEPHANTS. Titus sits in the saddle basket of the lead elephant, with Lavinia gripped behind him.
Do you even know how to ride one of these beasts?
It’s like a horse. Just bigger.
Marcus drives the other elephant, with Lucius and Quintus riding behind him.
They rumble out into the chaos, the streets trembling under the weight of the enormous creatures. People and Zombies scatter in front of them. AND —
WHAM! The lead elephant stomps on a Zombie, crushing it.
BAM! The second elephant gores a zombie with its TUSK, then flings it off like a rag doll.
WHACK! The first elephant swings its TRUNK, smashing a pair of Zombies against a building wall.
Titus pats the elephant’s head.
Then, from behind him —
— on the SIDE of their elephant, several ZOMBIES CLIMB UP THE ARMOR, toward Lavinia and Titus in the saddle. Titus tosses over his sword.
The first one reaches the top, gnashing its fangs, spittle flying. Lavinia STABS it through the chest. Clear, liquid Zombie blood squirts out. It shrieks, but doesn’t die.
So Lavinia kicks it in the head — the Zombie falls off the sword, to the ground. But more Zombies climb up.
There’s too many.
Titus jerks the reins, sends the elephant marching toward a building. Like he’s going to smash into it. At the last second, he jerks it again —
Turning the elephant. Crushing the zombies into the wall. But the undead creatures keep hanging on. So Titus keeps the elephant moving, DRAGGING THE ZOMBIES ALONG THE WALL, tearing their flesh, finally scraping them off the side of the elephant. They fall to the ground.
Titus smiles back at Lavinia.
I told you, like riding a horse.
Then from behind, again —
ON THE SECOND ELEPHANT — another mob of Zombies dangles from its armor, trying to get to Quintus, Lucius and Marcus. They beat them with weapons, but there are too many Zombies.
Titus turns his elephant and charges right at the second elephant — like one battleship ramming another.
His elephant SMASHES into the mob of Zombies HEAD ON, crushing them between plates of armor. It doesn’t kill them, but it’s enough to knock them off. They fall to the ground —
Where they are pounced on by a group of crocodiles!
Marcus pumps a fist at Titus.
Titus smiles at Lavinia.
Lovely. Now get us out of here.
Titus turns the elephant. They head away from the mess, toward a manicured lane, where HUGE STATUES OF FLAVIUS stretch off into the distance.
They head right for it. Quintus calls from behind —
What the devil are you doing?
What you asked of me, mighty Senator. Hang on!
The elephants smash through, hitting the first statue. One by one, like a row of enormous dominoes, they fall into one another, a huge row of statues smashing, one after another.
They crash through the debris of fallen rubble, away from the mess of the Colosseum.
They ride off, PASSING —
A SERIES OF HOMES. Just across from the Colosseum. PEOPLE walk out to see what’s happening. OTHER FOLKS open windows and doors.
Close your windows and doors! Stay inside! Protect your families! We are at war!
The people scatter inside and barricade themselves away. Lucius and Marcus join the warning cries.
Lucius and Marcus
Barricade your homes! We are at war! Protect your families!
The people all heed the yells coming from the war elephants. They all run to secure their families.
Titus turns to Lavinia.
So where exactly is this senate building?
EXT. COLOSSEUM – DAY
On an upper level of the Colosseum, A LONE FIGURE STANDS. Flavius. Still in his robes, soaked with blood. His Zombie eyes a matching red. He looks out over the vast city. In his infected, Zombie mind — it’s still his city.
He strains to put some thoughts together. Yearning. Searching his Zombie mind. Maybe it’s out of determination, maybe out of divine arrogance, but something clicks.
He holds up his hand, the one that’s now missing a finger — and missing the imperial ring, but still has the Gauntlet of Orcus on his wrist. He clenches it into fist, thumps it against his chest, raises it in a Roman salute and lets out a SHRIEK.
It’s not actually any words, but it’s a sound. The Zombie equivalent of “Hail Caesar”
And sure enough, three ZOMBIES nearby seem to pick up on his communication. They stop, turn to face Flavius — and like trained dogs, thump their own fists against their chest, salute and let out a responding shriek!
EXT. CURIA HOSTILIA – DAY
The senate building is in the heart of the ROMAN FORUM, the vast area housing the city’s greatest buildings. Quiet now. Like row of mausoleums.
The calm broken only sporadically, as a human darts past…trying to hide from the Zombies.
Titus and his group dismount from their elephants. They are on alert, swords raised. Lucius looks around, in awe.
This is it? The great Roman Forum. The senate house. The most powerful spot in all of Rome.
In all the world.
If there’s anything left of it…
He walks up the steps of the Senate Building —
INT. SENATE CHAMBER – DAY
A mighty door opens. Titus slips in, sword raised, ready for action. There’s no response. Quintus and the others follow him inside. They look around the massive senate chambers. There are rows of wooden seats, like church pews. All empty.
Looks like you’re the government now, Senator.
And then from behind a pew, a SENATE GUARD jumps up — grabbing Lavinia. She shrieks, assuming it’s a Zombie. He puts a knife to her throat.
Wrong girl to mess with. She grabs the Guard and flips him over in a self-defense move, flattening him.
From nearby, Senator Antonius, rises HOLDING A CROSSBOW, aimed right at Lavinia.
Back away, all of you.
Titus, Marcus and Lucius swiftly draw their swords.
Drop your weapons.
Are you one of them?
Quintus finally steps into view —
Don’t be a fool, Antonius. They’re with me.
Antonius turns, sees Quintus.
Quintus, thank the Gods.
He puts the crossbow away and nods to the guard, who shuts the main doors again.
All is well! Quintus has returned!
From around the room, about twenty SENATORS and five senate GUARDS appear — holding swords, chair legs, anything that could be a weapon. Arrias is with them.
Where’s the rest of the senate?
Gone. Running scared. Or turned into monsters.
(he looks dazed)
They stormed the chamber. We managed to hide. We might be all that’s left.
Then we will have to be enough.
(to the Senators)
Fear not, my fellow Romans. I am here to restore order. Rome shall prevail over this tragedy.
They all cheer in approval. Quintus nods to Titus.
Perhaps you recognize Titus, the great gladiator of the Colosseum.
Yes, of course.
He helped deliver me here. I have granted Titus and his men their freedom.
And the woman as well.
Of course, Senator.
One more thing. For the time being, I am no longer a Senator.
He holds up his hand. On it’s the imperial ring.
The Imperial Seal? Are you mad? That can only be worn by Flavius.
The emperor is no more, turned into one of those bloodthirsty creatures.
There’s a gasp by the other Senators.
He was taken in front of my own eyes. Roman law dictates that as highest ranking member of the senate, I am now the acting Emperor of Rome. I do this not for personal glory, but for the preservation of Rome.
Arrias and the Senators nod, politicians to the core.
A wise decision…Caesar.
Quintus turns to Titus and the others.
You have done as you promised. I’m a man of my word, you are all free. I’ll have my men bring you some traveling money.
Titus gestures to the IMPERIAL RING on Quintus’s hand.
So the day’s not a total loss, is it…emperor?
The loss of Flavius was a harsh blow to Rome. But Flavius cared little for the people. I, on the other hand, recognize their importance.
Do you now?
Quintus holds up the ring, proud.
This royal seal represents an idea. About a civilization. And a way of life. It doesn’t matter who wears it, so long as that idea remains upheld. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a city to save.
He crosses to a series of large maps — Europe, Italy and Rome — with political and military details drawn on them. The other Senators gather around and discuss battle plans.
Titus goes to Lavinia. An intimate moment.
Looks like he’s been rehearsing for this his entire life.
He’s not a bad man, you know. Certainly better than Flavius.
Someone probably said that about Flavius once. Power changes a man. Anyway, it’s not my problem anymore.
So where are you headed?
Anywhere, as long as it’s far from Rome.
There’s a charged tension between them. Both attracted, neither one willing to admit it now.
And you? Where will you go?
Oh, don’t worry, I can take care of myself.
I don’t doubt that.
Maybe I’ll settle down in the country. Get married. Live on a farm. Give birth to a brood of children.
Somehow I don’t see you as some man’s wife.
She gives him a smile.
That depends on the man.
Whoever he is, he’ll be lucky.
An awkward pause.
Well then, it was a pleasure almost knowing you. Safe travels.
And to you.
They gaze at each other. Dying to say more. BUT THEN —
BAM! There’s a pounding on the main door. BOOM! It crashes open. A ZOMBIE stumbles into the chamber. He shrieks and LEAPS right onto Antonius. Antonius goes down screaming!
Get it off! Get it…arghhhhhhh!!!
His scream cuts off as the Zombie bites into his throat. Blood sprays on a shocked Arrias nearby.
Run!! We can find sanctuary at the Roman Temple.
He runs for his life, out of the room.
Quintus yells to the others.
We cannot abandon the Senate. We must save the Republic! I order you as emperor.
Yeah, right. The other scared Senators run out, along with the senate guards.
Titus steps forward to kill the Zombie that’s attacking Senator Antonius. He stabs his sword down — but the Zombie leaps away, exposing Senator Antonius beneath him. Titus winds up stabbing Senator Antonius in the chest.
In front of Titus’s eyes, Antonius turns into a Zombie — his skin goes gray, mouth foams, his eyes turn BRIGHT RED. He thrashes like a pinned bug on Titus’s sword.
My apologies, Senator.
Titus pulls the sword out. Antonius leaps up and WHACK! Titus separates the Senator’s head from his body.
There’s another HOWL as the first Zombie rises back up, ready to charge at Titus. Titus raises his sword. Then –
ZING! An ARROW shoots through the air, past Titus — NAILING THE ZOMBIE IN THE FOREHEAD. Right into the brain. It pins the Zombie to the wall.
There’s a stunned moment as the Zombie shudders on its feet. Then it falls forward. The arrow remains in the wall. The Zombie’s head slides off it. The Zombie hits the floor, a hole in the back of its head.
Titus looks up, sees Lavinia standing there, crossbow in hand. Everyone stares at her, shocked.
I would have killed it.
Lavinia goes to the wall, yanks out the arrow.
Yes. But now we know another way to do it.
She returns the arrow to the crossbow, then smiles. A tiny moment between them. More of that heated tension and attraction. Then POUNDING FILLS THE AIR. Titus turns —
Sees Marcus and Lucius at the MAIN DOOR, barricading it with furniture. More Zombies are trying to get inside.
This won’t hold for long.
Quintus stares in shock now, the only Senator left.
It sounds like an army of them.
Titus goes to a window, looks out over the Forum.
It is an army.
Quintus and Lavinia join him at the window, looking down.
EXT. FORUM – DAY
Indeed, an army of ZOMBIES moves toward the senate. At their head, riding in a chariot pulled by more Zombies —
It’s Flavius. The Zombie version, of course. In blood-stained emperor’s robes. He continues to bark orders in the guttural language that seems to control the other Zombies.
And then he looks up at the senate building. Sees Titus, Quintus and Lavinia. He points up at Quintus. Grunting, froth flying. Until he actually gets a human word out —
Sure enough, Flavius’s evolving…a zombie on a mission.
INT. SENATE CHAMBER – DAY
Quintus gulps in horror.
Flavius? How can that be? He’s one of them.
Perhaps. But in his mind he’s still emperor.
He nods at the Imperial ring.
And my guess is, he knows you’ve taken his title.
Quintus twists the ring nervously, looks at the mob.
Flavius points and howls.
Look. I think Flavius is talking to them.
Are you sure?
Flavius howls some more. The army charges the walls of the senate building — and begins to pile on top of each other. Forming a ladder of Zombie bodies. Headed for the window.
Yes, I’m sure.
They turn from the window.
Is there another way out of here?
Out the back, where the Senators fled…Flavius would see us, but there is a secret passage. It’s a tunnel under the senate…in case of attack or emergencies.
Another HOWL as two Zombies make it up to the window.
I’d say this counts as an emergency. Run!!
Quintus leads them. They race for the back door —
INT. SENATE BUILDING – CORRIDOR – DAY
Quintus leads the group along. He goes to a wall, PULLS DOWN ON A DECORATION. A trap door pops open in the floor.
INT. SECRET PASSAGE – DAY
A dingy, dark tunnel. Quintus goes to the wall and pulls a rope. A flint strikes the wall. A row of oil torches light, one after another, stretching off into the distance.
Titus takes a torch down, holding it out.
AT THE SAME TIME —
INT. SENATE CHAMBER – DAY
— BOOM! The main chamber door blows open. Zombies push in, shoving the barricaded furniture aside. Finally, Flavius enters and looks around, trying to figure out what happened to his prey. He spots the rear door —
INT. CORRIDOR – DAY
Flavius enters, scans the area, breathing heavy, wracking his Zombie brain for some information that he knows is there. Finally, he goes to the wall — PULLS DOWN ON THE DECORATION. The trap door pops open. He shrieks to his army.
They jump down into the underground passage.
INT. SECRET PASSAGE – DAY
Down in the tunnel, the group can hear the sounds of the trap door opening. The clamor and grunting of Zombies.
Do you hear that?
Lucius wrinkles his nose.
Do you smell that?
Here? How could they…?
Flavius. He still knows this place.
They pick up their pace. But the sound of the Zombies grow louder down the tunnel, getting closer.
We’ll never out-run them.
Titus looks around, sees some barrels of TORCH OIL nearby.
Then we’ll have to out-fight them.
He hands his torch to Lucius. Titus grabs a barrel, tips it on its side and STABS it with his sword. The wood cracks, oil spilling out.
Titus kicks the barrel. It rolls down the hall, leaking oil, headed right at the oncoming gang of Zombies.
Titus waits until it gets near the Zombies.
Then he grabs the torch and throws it down the hall.
Burn in hell!
The torch hits the oil. It ignites. Then the whole barrel catches and EXPLODES IN A BALL OF FLAME.
The tunnel, rages in fire — which the Zombies run right into. With a pop and a hiss, the first wave of creatures catch fire, their gray skin burning. Wailing in pain.
More Zombies crash into one another. Like dominoes, the creatures burst into flame, one after another, falling into a smouldering heap.
Titus and the group back away.
That’s it. Another way to kill them!
Suddenly — the Zombies start to shake and move.
SURE ENOUGH — THE CHARRED, BURNING ZOMBIES START GETTING UP.
Skin black and hanging off, but skeletons and Zombie-brains intact, they charge out of the flames.
The group turns and runs.
FLAMING ZOMBIES CHASE THEM!
Titus spots another OIL BARREL. He stabs it with his sword and kicks it over, leaving it to spill. He runs down the passage, stabbing other barrels.
The flaming Zombies run through the corridor, hit the patches of oil and BOOM! Their own bodies light it on fire, setting off more explosions.
BARREL AFTER BARREL EXPLODES.
ZOMBIE PARTS FLY, A FLAMING MESS.
But the mindless monsters don’t stop. More Zombies come up behind, continuing the chase.
A flaming, zombie mob in pursuit of our heroes.
Finally, up ahead, Titus notices a light above —
There! An exit!
In the ceiling, there’s a METAL GRATE that allow air to come into the passage. A wooden ladder leads to it.
I got it.
Marcus climbs the ladder and pushes the GRATE on top. It’s stuck. He raises his sword, bashing it.
Down the tunnel — the charred Zombies approach.
Lavinia drops to a knee, raises the crossbow. ZING! She fires an arrow. It strikes a Zombie in the chest. And the whole, charred Zombie explodes into dust!
But the other Zombies come rushing up behind.
Just need about fifty more.
She re-loads, keeps firing, blowing Zombies to dust. Titus and Lucius draw their swords, ready. Titus calls up —
Finally, Marcus knocks the grate off the ceiling. Sunlight pours in. Marcus climbs outside, reaches down.
He pulls up Quintus, then Lavinia. Lucius grabs the ladder, Titus behind him, climbing up — just as the Zombies arrive.
Titus hangs onto the ladder with one arm and chops his sword with the other — smashing the charred, flaming Zombies. Destroying them. Turning them to ash.
He gets to the top of the ladder, a Zombie lunges up —
Titus kicks the ladder away. The Zombie falls back on it. Titus hangs from the ceiling opening, dangling.
The Zombie and the ladder hit the tunnel wall — a Zombie gets crushed and explodes into ash. The ladder falls down on some other flaming zombies, crushes them as well.
Lucius pulls Titus up. Marcus shoves the grate back on.
And off they RUN —
EXT. STREETS – ROME – DAY
— down a Roman street. Looking around. Stunned. The city is barren. Screams echo in the distance. The group pushes up against a wall, in the shadows, hiding.
Where is everyone?
Dead, or in hiding, most likely.
Where do we go now?
There’s an army garrison nearby. Maybe some soldiers are left alive. They can escort us to the city gates.
He takes a step down a street — Titus grabs him, pulls him back into the shadows.
He looks around, sensing something.
What is it?
We’re being watched.
Are you sure?
After time in the Colosseum, you get used to having eyes on you.
ON A HILL NEARBY
Sure enough, it’s Flavius. He stands in his chariot, surrounded by his band of Zombies. He scans the area, searching the streets.
Won’t die, won’t quit. That’s some combination.
It’s like they’re more loyal to him now than they were before.
Now they really don’t know any better.
ON THE HILL
Flavius lets out another guttural, Zombie shriek. The other Zombies fan out, hunting.
Lavinia sees a doorway to a large BUILDING.
They run inside.
INT. BUILDING – DAY
The group ducks for cover. Titus peers out the window in front. Lucius looks into the building — an amazing structure. Luxurious as anything in Rome. Black marble floors. Statues of naked women everywhere.
Somebody has a nice house.
It’s not a house. It’s brothel.
In fact, it only serves one clientele, the senate.
Marcus elbows Lucius.
Told you we should have gone into politics.
Quintus sits in a chair, exhausted.
What good would it do now? The most powerful empire on earth is on the brink of destruction, all from some cursed bug infested dead man.
Titus snaps his head toward Quintus.
That man was my brother–
Was he diseased?
He was never sick a day in his life, until Flavius killed him!
Outside, more Zombie shrieks sound. Titus snaps his head towards it, on alert. He peers out the front window.
Is there another door? Another street that leads to that garrison?
Through the spa, in back.
Titus nods to Marcus and Lucius.
Take a look. See if we can escape without Flavius and his army spotting us.
He looks at Quintus and Lavinia.
I’ll watch the emperor.
INT. BROTHEL – SAME
Marcus and Lucius walk through the brothel, toward the rear of the house. They pass an area set up for BONDAGE GAMES — with toys, chains and spiked costumes. A pair of CROSSED AXES hang on one wall. Lucius picks up a spiked THROAT COLLAR, tied to a long chain, tied to a PILLAR. One of many.
And they call us barbarians?
A SOUND draws their attention. Water splashing. They raise their swords and shields, go into ready mode.
No response. They step ahead —
INTO A SPA AREA
Steam billows in a marble bathing area.
This must be the spa…
There’s another sound of water splashing.
Sounds like someone’s using it.
The steam billows. And from the spa, out of the steam —
THREE HOT SCANTILY-CLAD WOMEN emerge. Gorgeous. Perfect bodies. Sweat glistening.
Marcus stares at them, transfixed.
Ladies. Good afternoon…
The Women come towards him in the steam. He smiles wide.
Until the women get closer — and HISS AND BARE FANGS!
THEY ARE ZOMBIES!
They launch themselves on Marcus. He goes down in a pile of Zombie-Whore bodies. Trying to protect himself.
Lucius moves in…not sure where to strike his sword.
INT. BROTHEL ENTRANCE – DAY
Titus and the group hear Lucius screaming. Titus draws his sword, Lavinia grips her crossbow. Quintus looks up at them, not a man accustomed to fighting.
Shall I guard the door?
INT. BROTHEL – SPA AREA – DAY
Titus and Lavinia rush in — stop for a moment, shocked at all the bondage gear in the room.
FROM ACROSS THE SPA
They look over —
Marcus struggles under the Zombie-Whores. Lucius whacks at them with his sword, trying to get them off Marcus. Then the whole mass of bodies tumbles forward and —
SPLASH! Lucius, Marcus and the Zombies FALL INTO THE SPA WATER, disappearing below, swallowed up by water and steam.
Titus and Lavinia rush over, can’t see much through the roiling water. Just bodies popping up, splashing.
Lucius and Marcus fight the Zombies, but everything’s in hazy, slow motion. Swords cutting, Zombies thrashing, body parts churning, bubbles streaming.
Through it all, Lucius and Marcus stab away, but can’t get enough force to actually cut a Zombie head off.
AT THE SPA EDGE
Titus glances around — his eyes land on a PILLAR nearby, to the SPIKED THROAT COLLARS chained there.
THERE’S A SPLASH AS TITUS AND LAVINIA jump into the spa pool, right next to the battle.
Then CLICK-CLICK-CLICK! Spiked collars are CLAMPED around the necks of the Zombie-Whores, locking shut.
Titus and Lavinia swim away, pulling Marcus and Lucius off.
The Zombies lunge for them — but the chains on their collars pull tight and they stop short in the water. They reach and struggle, like fish on a line, but can’t move forward.
Titus and the others stumble up — ABOVE WATER, to the spa stairs, look back at the thrashing Zombies. Then realize —
He’s missing. Titus peers into the water. Marcus’s hand reaches up for help. Titus steps forward, grabs it, pulling him up to reveal —
Marcus’s eyes are rimmed-red, blazing. He SNARLS. Fangs extend. His mouth froths.
MARCUS… A ZOMBIE!
Titus pulls away from the creature that once was his friend.
Marcus GROWLS and lunges at Titus, knocking him to the steps of the spa. He opens his mouth, about to take a bite out of his neck, when suddenly —
Lucius appears behind Zombie-Marcus. He holds one of the bondage AXES. He chops down with it, executioner style, cutting off Marcus’s head, which FLIES OFF!
Marcus’s body drops back into the water.
I’m sorry, Marcus.
You didn’t have a choice.
Lavinia nods, trying to make a point to Titus.
You didn’t have a choice. These monsters are no longer the people we love. No longer our friends…or brothers.
IN THE WATER
More thrashing and growling as the Zombie-Whores are still alive, struggling to get free.
Pulling with all their might on their collar chains until —
CRACK! The pillar holding their chains cracks in half. The pillar splashes down into the water! The Zombies lunge forward a moment. UNTIL THE PILLAR SINKS!
TUGGING THE ZOMBIES DOWN WITH IT! They disappear below.
The Zombie women struggle…bubbles frothing from their mouths…trapped, but alive since they can’t die. A bizarre sight.
The Gods truly are taking revenge on Rome.
Titus, Lavinia and Lucius turn to find Quintus there now. Titus spins, in his face.
They didn’t unleash this. You did.
It wasn’t intentional.
How much is enough? How many more nations need to be conquered? How much blood needs to be spilt? How much death and carnage do the people need to be fed?
It is the way of the world.
It is the way of Rome! You’re not satisfied with cutting each other down to size. You have to plot and scheme and wage war and now look around you — this isn’t a city, it’s a living nightmare. And you’re the emperor of the damned!
He shoves Quintus down, puts his sword to his throat.
Give me one good reason I should spare your life.
Lavinia jumps in.
Because we need him.
For what? He’s as much of a monster as Flavius.
Perhaps. But Rome still has an army and they need to take orders from someone. It’s not going to be you.
(nods at Quintus)
If there’s a way out of this hell, it will be up to him, to lead us.
Titus looks at her. Respecting her now. Listening. He withdraws his sword. Quintus lets out a sigh.
EXT. STREETS – ROME – DAY
Titus leads Lucius and Lavinia along. They try to stay close to buildings, hiding themselves. They turn a corner, FIND —
A ROMAN ARMY GARRISON.
A small fortress, with huge double wooden doors. They don’t hear anything, don’t see any movement.
Perhaps we’re too late.
Titus goes to the door, banging on it.
Is anyone here? Let us in! Is anyone here?
There’s a tightening sound of a dozen bow and arrows being pulled back into ready position.
Titus looks up, sees a dozen ARCHERS poised inside the garrison, aiming out defensive openings.
VALERIUS, a Centurion (officer) looks through an opening.
Surrender your weapons.
You don’t understand…
Titus and the others drop their weapons. Quintus shouts up.
Centurion! I am Fulvius Lucillus Quintus! First Senator of Rome! I demand that this garrison be opened at once! We demand asylum!
Have you had contact with the infected?
Only when we kill them!
The senate has been over-run. Flavius is no longer in power. I am the acting emperor of Rome and I demand you let me in.
He raises his hand, revealing the imperial ring.
There’s a pause as Valerius considers. Finally, locks turn. The garrison doors open. More archers and soldiers stand at the ready in the doorway. Valerius steps out, bows.
Welcome, Senator. It is indeed good to see you here.
INT. GARRISON – LATER
Quintus goes over maps with Valerius and other soldiers.
Lucius lies on a blanket, resting.
Titus sits with a needle-thin dagger in hand, going through his post-battle ritual. He etches the letter M on his arm, for Marcus, and a letter O for Octavius.
Lavinia, her face now washed, comes and sits next to him. She looks at Titus, wincing as he carves his letters.
Does that hurt?
Compared to what?
She notices the M and the O, realizes —
For Marcus and Octavius. You were good friends?
We fought for our lives together. I’m not sure what that makes us, but I don’t want to forget them.
I didn’t ask before, but I’m curious…how did you become a gladiator?
About a month ago, Flavius stabbed my brother and sent me to the Colosseum.
Lavinia nods, taking it all in.
My brother was the best man I ever knew. He gave me confidence, he gave me strength.
Lavinia has a hard time, trying to apologize to Titus.
I’m sorry I killed him.
That monster you killed was not my brother. Flavius Killed him. I would not be here now if it wasn’t for you. I was just too filled with grief. You saved my life. I know that now.
Lavinia cries softly.
I will avenge my brother’s death, only then will I be truly free.
I will fight by your side.
Titus actually smiles. A moment between them. Broken as Quintus and Valerius enter.
We’ve mapped out a route to the city gates. We’ll be traveling by chariot. We move tonight.
They walk off.
We should try to get some sleep. If we can.
INT. GARRISON – NIGHT
Guards line the walls with bow and arrows, peering out into the dark streets, watching for Zombies.
EXT. GARRISON – NIGHT
Around a corner, hidden from sight —
Flavius peers at the Garrison, angry, thinking, plotting.
He turns back into an ALLEY. Lets out a guttural wail. From the surrounding shadows, ZOMBIES emerge. Flavius raises his arm, pounding his chest in the Roman salute and shrieks. The Zombies all pound their chest with their fists.
INT. GARRISON – LATER
Titus sleeps on a blanket — with his arm draped over Lavinia, who sleeps next to him.
A shadow falls over him. Titus snaps awake, alert. He relaxes when he sees it’s Lucius.
Time to go.
Titus quickly pulls his arm off Lavinia. An awkward moment as they separate.
Did you, uh, sleep well?
Fine, thank you.
EXT. GARRISON – NIGHT
Large doors open. Torches glow. A platoon of GARRISON SOLDIERS marches out, combat ready.
Then the chariots roll out. Pulled by horses. Three riders to a chariot. Quintus rides with Valerius. Lavinia rides with a pair of soldiers. Titus and Lucius ride in a third cart with another soldier.
They roll along under the moonlight, flanked by marching foot soldiers. An impressive convoy.
The occasional dark figure runs out from a building or alley, spooking the soldiers. Faces appear in windows. But they are just humans, hiding.
Several CITIZENS run alongside the soldiers, pleading.
Please, take us with you. Save us from those monsters.
We are saving you, Citizens! Rome shall not fall!
The chariots move faster, soldiers jogging alongside. They come around a corner AND —
— he signals the entire convoy to a full STOP.
On the opposite end of the wide avenue —
It’s Flavius. Standing in his own chariot. Flanked by his own, roguish Zombie army. Wearing an assortment of armor, carrying weapons now. Blocking the street.
Flavius locks his red eyes on Titus once more.
Somebody thinks he still owns this town.
That’s the only direct route to the city gates.
Then that’s the one we’re taking.
He goes for his sword, then notices —
A PILEUM. A lethal javelin, attached to the chariot. He looks behind and sees the other soldiers carrying them. He takes it out, raising it high.
The Garrison Soldiers all raise their own Pileum.
What are you doing?
Dead or alive, they’re still soldiers. And we shall fight them as soldiers.
He locks eyes with Valerius, who nods.
Aim for the head!
He snaps the reins and his chariot takes off, right at the Zombie blockade.
Valerius spurs his horse on, leading his men after Titus.
With a shriek, Flavius and his Zombie army charge forward.
The two armies come at one another. Noise building to a fever pitch.
At once, Titus and the other soldiers hurl the javelins. A horde of spike spears fly — WHOOSHING PAST — and impaling several of the Zombies in the head.
The Zombies go down, skewered.
Titus and the Soldiers snap the reins of the horses, driving the chariots on.
The Charioteers pull handles in the chariots — and LONG BLADES SPRING OUT FROM THE WHEEL AXLES. SPINNING LIKE JAGGED DRILLS. Ready to churn and slash everything alongside the chariots. Titus pulls his sword.
The Soldiers pull their swords.
Cut them from above and below!
The chariots head right for the small army of Zombies —
And they COLLIDE IN BATTLE!
The AXLE BLADES cut into the Zombie’s legs and torsos, shearing the creatures in half. They crawl and slither along the ground.
Soldiers follow, swinging swords and axes, hacking off heads.
In the middle of the chaos — Flavius spots Titus. They lock eyes again. Flavius urges on his Zombie-chariot.
But it smashes into the mob, getting stuck. Giving Titus just enough time to ride off down the street.
The rest of the convoy — whoever’s still human — follows him, through the forest of mangled bodies.
Racing away toward the city gates.
That’s it! Keep moving!
Quintus sees the gates up ahead.
We did it! Praise the Gods —
— Or damn them again.
She points. They all turn, looking behind them —
These Zombies just won’t give up.
Flavius and his army are charging after the convoy at inhuman speed. Their numbers growing now, with the Zombie-Garrison soldiers in the pack.
The chariots pick up speed, pulling away from the foot soldiers. The poor guys run, looking over their shoulders —
As Flavius and his Zombie army close in on them, gaining.
Titus glances back, wincing.
Those poor devils.
Sure enough, within moments, the Zombies catch up to the Foot Soldiers. The brave men turn and fight.
But it’s not these men that Flavius and his Zombies are after. They hit the wall of foot soldiers and plow through them. Biting some, knocking down others, tearing them apart. Never stopping, continuing to chase after the chariots.
After Titus and Quintus!
Flavius blasts through in his chariot, shrieking. They race down the street, leaping onto rooftops as they run.
Titus spurs on his chariot horse.
Zombies leap off the roofs, diving onto the chariots. The Garrison Soldiers fight them off, trying to keep moving.
Titus pulls up next to Quintus and Lavinia’s chariots.
We must keep going! The gates are just ahead!
They take off at a gallop. It’s just a few chariots now, trying to out run the Zombies.
UP AHEAD — THE CITY GATES ARE CLOSE.
Valerius lifts a TRUMPET, puts it to his lips and LETS OUT A CODED BLAST OF NOTES. Alerting the soldiers at the gates.
We’re going to make it…We’re going to make it!
At that moment there’s a CRACKING sound as Lavinia’s chariot takes a curb. The axle splits, the chariot goes flying.
Lavinia and the two soldiers are tossed out. Their chariot wrecks. Zombies are closing in.
Titus looks back, sees her grab a sword to protect herself.
He looks behind her, sees Flavius in his chariot.
He glances to the gates up ahead. So close.
There’s a split second of hesitation. Mind racing.
But there’s no way he can leave her. He pulls the reins of his horse, slowing his chariot.
In the chariot next to him, Quintus sees —
What are you doing?
Exercising my freedom.
Titus heads for Lavinia. She stands in the street, fighting off Zombies with a sword.
Flavius races forward in his chariot. He sees Titus coming. Roars. The two men…the two chariots…headed on a collision course, right at each other.
He reaches out, ready to grab her. His chariot gets to her.
JUST AS FLAVIUS GETS THERE AS WELL!
Titus pulls Lavinia into his chariot. But at the same time — Flavius reaches down and pulls out a small thin dagger. He holds the dagger up to Titus, as if to say, “you were going to kill me once with one of these.”
Titus yanks Lavinia into the car, just as Flavius throws the dagger. It embeds itself into Lavinia’s shoulder as she cries out in pain. Titus spurns the chariot beside Flavius’s.
The spiked axle on Titus’s chariot shear through Flavius’s chariot, toppling it over.
Titus and Lavinia ride off.
Flavius screams and prods his Zombies. They right his chariot and get it turned around. Then pull it forward, like a team of horses, gathering speed. UP AHEAD —
Titus spurs on his horse. His chariot races forward. Titus screams to the soldiers lining the wall.
They race closer. Flavius almost catches up.
The gates open. Titus heads for it. He zooms inside. The gates slam shut.
Just as Flavius gets there. He smashes into the wall. And a shower of ARROWS rains down on him and his Zombies.
Zombies go down left and right, pinned by arrows.
Flavius lets out another primal scream, arms wide, seemingly oblivious to the arrows stabbing in all over his body.
He screams at the fortified gate. He smashes it with his fists, trying to get in.
More arrows rain down. Until he’s like a pincushion, his body covered. He falls, overwhelmed. His minions finally grab him and pull him away.
Within moments, the street clears. The Zombies run off. Silence as the soldiers on the gate stare down.
INT. CITY GATES – NIGHT
Titus drags Lavinia from the chariot to a resting area. He cradles her in his arms.
Are you all right?
She nods, looking up at him.
You saved my life.
Now we’re even.
They look down — at her shoulder. Where Flavius’s dagger’s embedded.
He grabs the hilt of the dagger and pulls it out. She screams and faints.
EXT. ROME – MORNING
The sun rises over the majestic city. Packs of wild Zombies roam the streets, looking for human flesh. Here and there, humans peer out from hiding spots, unsure what to do.
Flavius, for now, is nowhere to be seen.
INT. CITY GATES – EMPEROR’S ROOM – DAY
In the fortified confines of the Aurelian Wall, Quintus has set up a makeshift “Emperor’s Room” — with a throne, servants running around, lots of Guards.
He hovers over a large map table, placing small, wooden soldiers around — a mock view of the city and his troops.
Valerius enters, bows to Quintus.
We have word from all four legions. Twenty thousand men are on route and should be here by nightfall. I’ve sent word to every other soldier still in Rome, ordering them to report to the Aurelian Walls. We have the city locked down. No creature can get out.
Well done, Valerius. I’ll have you know that the senate shall be rebuilt. Order will be restored. And your services shall not go unnoticed in this crisis.
Quintus extends his hand. Valerius takes it, touching his forehead to the imperial ring. Quintus smiles.
Valerius can’t help but beam.
INT. HOSPITAL ROOM – DAY
Lavinia lies on a cot in a room for the wounded, Titus by her side. Her arm and shoulder’s bandaged. She drinks from a goblet.
It will ease the pain.
He undoes the bandage. The wound’s red and puffy, but the bleeding has ceased.
Does it look worse?
We are lucky you weren’t bitten.
Lavinia smiles at his attempt to be soothing.
Oh, sure. A dagger embedded to the hilt in my flesh, is so much better…
He laughs. She smiles.
Most people would not find cause to be happy.
It’s just your everyday zombie battle wound–
Titus laughs again. Titus take her hand, grips it firmly.
The world thinks of gladiators as animals. Barbarians. But in the Colosseum, we’ve created a code. When we fight alongside each other — no matter who the man, no matter what our past — we fight for each other until the end. We protect each other. You fought alongside me. You saved my life. Now I intend to save yours.
INT. EMPEROR’S ROOM – DAY
Quintus and Valerius hover over the map table, moving their toy soldiers around, plotting. Titus enters and bows.
Caesar, may I have a word?
(they all stare at him)
Quintus nods to Valerius and the Guards. They all leave.
I’m surprised you’re still here, Gladiator. You’re a free man now.
Back in the brothel, you spoke of the first zombie.
It got me thinking. If he really was the first, then we need to find out how Flavius made him a zombie.
I saw my brother die. I know he was dead. How did he become this creature? This undead creature.
If we find the source, we can defeat them?
It’s worth a try.
I think it’s folly.
You have what you wanted. You have your war. You are now Caesar. It’s time to end this.
Quintus points toward the city.
By tomorrow this time, I’ll be launching an all out assault on anything not human. First we take back this city. Then we can worry about your origin.
How many more people have to die? How many more turned to zombies? We can end this now if we find the beginning.
It’s not that easy.
He steps toward the doorway. Titus blocks his path. A moment of tension between the men.
It’s worth a chance.
You fool! Don’t you see the opportunity we have? I need this war. For my legacy. I will be the Emperor that saved Rome!
Titus points toward the city.
What about the people of Rome? Those Romans who live in the city you claim to care so much about? Do they deserve to die?
This is the only solution to a mistake — made by the former emperor, who will soon be taken care of along with the rest of his bestial horde.
What if there was another way? What if you could save all those people? Bring Rome back without a bloody massacre? Flavius is the man who brought this plague upon Rome. But you, Quintus will be the man who saved the people from it. What kind of emperor would that make you?
Quintus broods. It’s appealing. But not entirely smart.
End this without war. Without further bloodshed? Save the people and in turn save Rome.
Give me twenty-four hours. If I don’t come up with the answer, you move in with your army as planned.
There was rumor that Arrias had the ear of Flavius. That he was selling secrets. Maybe he knows a few of Flavius’s secrets as well.
I can look into it.
Quintus considers it.
Very well. It’s a good place to start. Twenty-four hours. Then we move in. With or without you.
Titus turns to leave.
In an empire where it’s leaders are at war, it’s a gladiator that is filling in as the envoy of peace.
Titus nods and exits.
INT. HOSPITAL – DAY
Titus gets Lavinia up and out of bed. She holds onto him a moment, dizzy. Then recovers.
I’m fine. I don’t need help.
She crosses the room, grabs her crossbow. Titus grabs his sword. Lucius enters, looks at both of them.
I just spoke with the emperor. He told me a crazy story about a man planning to sneak back into Rome, hoping to find the origin of the zombies.
Titus and Lavinia look at each other, shrug.
What can I say? I’ve always been a fool for a good fight.
He gave me a bag of gold and a horse. Wished me good luck as a free man…if that was still my plan.
What did you say?
Lucius cracks a devilish grin.
I said, freedom was starting to look boring.
He steps forward, holds out his hand. Titus grabs it in a manly shake. Sealing their fate together.
INT. ARMORY – DAY
Titus and the gladiators stand in a room filled floor to ceiling with ARMOR and WEAPONS.
The guys smile. AND CUT TO:
Arms strapping on wrist guards.
Breast plates being belted.
Leg guards belted.
Titus puts on a full Thracian helmet.
EXT. CITY GATES – INSIDE ROME – DAY
The door opens. Archers stand around the doorway, facing out, ready to fire on any Zombies.
Titus, Lavinia and Lucius are now covered, head to toe, in lethal-looking Roman armor. They look like the Roman version of a bad ass Black Ops team, which is what they are.
Finally, they step out of the door, back into the streets of Rome. They raise their weapons, look around. The doors CLANG shut behind them.
Titus nods and they run off, down an alley. They pause, looking around again.
Did we really just break back inside this place?
I think we did.
He nods again. They rush off.
INT. CITY GATES – DAY
Quintus stands with Valerius — peering through a defensive opening. They can see the Roman streets, where Titus ran.
Sire, should we not send in a squad of guards with them?
He’s a stubborn fool on a suicide mission. No, we should not send anyone along with them.
But if he’s right. If there’s a way to end this without further bloodshed…
It’s a fool’s folly. There’s only one way to end this and that’s if we wipe every last one of them off the face of Rome. We move forward as planned. We’re going to war.
EXT. IMPERIAL PALACE – DAY
As if he can sense the showdown coming, Flavius stands in front of the palace, gazing down on the city.
In the distance, he can see the AURELIAN WALLS. See glimpses of the Roman troops, moving about inside.
He turns — to reveal behind him, the Palace compound — where his own army of Zombies has grown to a shocking size, in the thousands. Flavius bangs his chest with his fist, raises his hand and lets out a ROAR.
The army roars back, their shrieks filling the air.
Flavius gives a signal — and a large group of Zombies files past Flavius, onto the HILLSIDE in front of the palace.
And then, for some reason, they start to dig. All around the hill, digging holes with their bare hands.
INT. ROMAN TEMPLE – DAY
Titus and the Gladiators, run through some corridors, then duck under a huge STATUE OF JUPITER, the greatest of the Roman Gods.
They huddle together on an ORNATE RUG at his feet, hiding. As the Zombies race past them. Into the distance, still hunting, out-smarted.
I think we lost them.
Lucius notices something —
What about him?
He points up into the CUPOLA of the temple, where a FIGURE in a HOODED ROBE stares down at them, face obscured. He bangs a stick against a wall, making a signal —
And WHOOSH — the ORNATE RUG beneath Titus gives way. A TRAP DOOR BENEATH IT OPENS. And our heroes fall through, into —
INT. TEMPLE – BASEMENT – DAY
— where they land on the basement floor, hard, stunning them. Their weapons scatter. They gain their senses and look around through the dark basement, to see —
THEY ARE SURROUNDED. A group of FIGURES dressed in HOODED ROBES, faces shrouded. Some holding torches. Others holding spears, pointed at our heroes.
Titus raises his hands, defensive.
We’re not zombies! We’re human!
There’s a pause. Finally, one of the figures lowers his hood, revealing a human face — that’s been painted with streaks of blood. CICERO, the temple’s priest.
Forgive our suspicions.
We’ve come from the city gates. There’s safety there.
There is no safety. Not from the curse that has befallen us. This plague is a warning sent down from the Gods. It is to the Gods that we must seek salvation.
You don’t understand. The emperor is unleashing an assault on the city. The army is going to march through and kill anything in its path, human or Zombie. You’ll all be murdered.
We fear no army of man. Come and pray with us.
We are looking for a Senator named Arrias.
From across the temple basement, a FIGURE steps out of the darkness, pulling back his hood.
It’s ARRIAS, the Senator.
He speaks the truth. I know this man.
Yes! That’s him!
Cicero pauses, candle in hand.
Arrias, how do you know him?
He’s the Gladiator from the Colosseum. They call him the Champion of the People. He’s the first zombie’s brother.
The others react with surprise, realizing who Titus is.
How do you know?
I was there. I know that this was a curse from the Gods. I saw with my own eyes as Flavius laid Tiberius’s body down on an altar as a sacrifice to the God Orcus.
Can you lead us to the altar?
Yes, I remember. It’s on Palatine Hill, in the Tomb of Orcus. But we must approach it from the East, on the other side of the Imperial Palace.
The fastest way is through the Colosseum.
EXT. STREETS OF ROME – DAY
Arrias leads Titus and Lucius through the streets.
Arrias peers around a corner, sees that it’s clear. He motions to Titus and Lucius. They hurry down the street.
Further down they see two Zombie Kids eating a dead human CORPSE, down to the bone. Lost in devouring.
So that they both jump when — a big, grown-up Zombie springs upon them, hissing! The Zombie kids shriek and run off. The big Zombie hunches down to chew on the corpse and —
WHACK! AN AXE flies through the air, separating the Zombie’s head from its body. Lucius walks up to the axe, pulling it out of the wall.
This is it.
INT. COLOSSEUM – HYPOGEUM – DAY
Two Zombies move through the corridors in the subterranean level of Colosseum, looking around — it’s Victor, the gladiator trainer and CAIUS, another Gladiator.
Around a corner, Lavinia steps out in front of them.
Hey, boys. Looking for something to eat?
Their eyes light up at the sight and smell of a human. The two of them let out Zombie shrieks and run at her.
But halfway there — Titus and Arrias and pop up from hiding spots. They raise crossbows, loaded with arrows.
ZING! They let the arrows fly, striking the Zombies in the head.
The Zombies stumble and howl in surprise. The two Zombies fall to the ground, dead.
We made it to the Colosseum, now we just have to get Arrias to the other side, to Palatine Hill.
Titus turns to Lucius, who now wears a severe expression.
I’m sorry, Titus. But there’s been a change of plans. I was told to notify Quintus if we ever found Arrias. I told him we were going to the Colosseum.
Quintus appears, flanked by ROMAN SOLDIERS.
Well done, gladiator.
Then, from around the area, a PLATOON OF ROMAN SOLDIERS appear, weapons drawn, lead by Valerius.
The Soldiers grab them all, before anyone can pull their weapons. Arrows and swords pointed at Titus, he drops his blade. Titus looks at Quintus, incredulous.
Quintus, what is this?
Politics. Something you still do not understand. More than anything else, Rome respects power. They respect an emperor who is not afraid to wield that power. If I were to end the war now, before it were even to begin, they would say Quintus is a compassionate ruler. A civilized ruler. They would love me. But they would not fear me. However, if I bring in the army, massacre these creatures and then deliver. In essence, save the city…I will be loved and feared.
Not if I have any say about it.
You won’t. You see that’s the other thing. I can’t have people telling stories of the mighty Titus, who risked his life to find a way to save Rome from the war with the army of the dead. You would be celebrated in song and poems for years to come. You would be made a God. There’s one thing that Flavius said which was true. There is room in Rome for only one God. And now, it’s me.
He smiles a savage smile.
You also, as luck would have it, saved me the effort of finding the only Senator with enough favor to interfere with my ascension to the throne. Now all paths are clear to my rule.
(to the Soldiers)
Take them away.
Titus glares at Quintus, as the Soldiers take them away.
This isn’t over…Senator.
I’m afraid it is for you…Slave.
EXT. COLOSSEUM – DAY
Outside the Colosseum, the FIRST LEGION of Roman soldiers file past in a war column. Five thousand men, heavily armed, marching toward battle.
Off to the side, there’s a group of horse drawn WAR WAGONS waiting, including THE ROYAL CARRIAGE — a huge, ornate wagon, with a throne in the middle.
Titus, Lavinia, Arrias are chained between a pair of war wagons.
Quintus stands with Lucius, Valerius and the soldiers. He puts a proud hand on Lucius.
You’ve done well, young man. Your name will be written in my story — how I saved Rome from the plague of demons.
He extends his hand. Lucius bows, kissing his ring.
Thank you, emperor.
Quintus survey the soldiers.
Wait until I’m gone…then execute them. Burn the bodies and spread the ashes.
(nods at Titus)
I don’t want any lasting piece of that man left in Rome.
But sire, if they really can end this without any bloodshed…Why wait?
Like I said, it’s a fool’s errand.
I do not seek counsel from lowly soldiers! Do as you’re told, Centurion! Do I make myself clear?
Valerius backs down.
Quintus climbs into the royal carriage, slipping comfortably into the throne. He calls to his DRIVER.
The driver whips the horses and they trot off, pulling Quintus in his royal carriage.
Valerius walks up to Titus, sword ready…but clearly, concerned about the task he’s just been given.
Valerius, no one has to die. Quintus has the power to end this. You must let us go, so we can stop him. You know it in your heart.
He raises his sword, ready to kill Titus.
Legion! Prepare the prisoners.
The soldiers move in, ready to execute Titus and his group.
Just know that you may kill me here today, but what you let that man do will burn forever in Rome…and in your soul.
Valerius hesitates, but clearly he is torn.
From behind, Lucius barks at him.
The emperor gave his orders. Kill them!
Sorry, my friend. I guess you have to die after all.
Valerius nods to his men. None of them want to do this, but what choice do they have?
On my mark…
Lavinia grabs Titus’s arm.
May the Gods bless your soul.
Valerius suddenly turns toward Lucius, sword raised.
The Soldiers all turn, their arrows trained on Lucius.
What are you doing?
Lucius suddenly pulls a dagger, ready to stab Valerius —
When he’s ATTACKED BY A MOB OF ZOMBIES!
Twenty zombies just swarm on the soldiers and take them down in a screaming, bloody mess. Zombies bite them, claw them, trying to get through their body armor.
Valerius leaps back, as Lucius and the Soldiers are torn apart.
Valerius grabs a ring of keys from a fallen Soldier’s belt and unlocks them.
Titus and the rest grab swords. They attack the Zombies, blades flashing, heads rolling.
Titus! Behind you!
Titus turns in time to see LUCIUS — now a Zombie, flash his fangs and attack.
He ROARS in Titus’s face and —
CHOP! Valerius chops Lucius’s head off, killing him. He falls right at Titus’s feet — body dropping on one side, head rolling off to the other.
Lavinia screams at the fallen Zombie-Lucius.
Titus looks up at Valerius —
Valerius turns, just as a zombie jumps on top of him.
In a flash, Titus leaps over and slashes the Zombie in half and as the zombie head drops he slams the head on top of a pike.
Valerius looks up, shaking. Looks at his men. Looks at Lucius, the traitor, dead on the ground in two pieces.
You saved my life.
And you saved mine. Which means we can save a lot more, together.
They share a knowing look.
EXT. ROME – DAY
The First Legion marches forward, killing any stray Zombies in its path. They come to a halt, look up —
They are at the bottom of Palatine Hill that leads up to the IMPERIAL PALACE. As they wait there —
THE SECOND LEGION marches in from another direction and meets them at the base of the hill.
A massive army of ten thousand soldiers, ready to roll.
IN THE REAR OF THE LEGIONS, Quintus surveys the scene from his royal carriage. He looks up at the Imperial Palace.
Behind them, rolling forward are a row of catapults.
Take a final look, Flavius. Your last moment in Rome…and on earth.
INT. IMPERIAL PALACE – DAY
Flavius looks down on the advancing Roman troops. Behind him, all around him, Zombies are poised, hiding, ready. Flavius holds up a hand, silent, telling them to wait.
EXT. ROME – DAY
A pair of WAR WAGONS rushes through the city.
Valerius and his men urge the horses on. Titus and his crew are spread throughout the wagons.
EXT. IMPERIAL PALACE – DAY
At the foot of Palatine Hill — Quintus gives the signal.
Soldiers set rocks covered in oil aflame. The catapults shoot the flaming rocks up, slamming into the palace.
Flavius and his Zombie army remain poised in the face of the onslaught.
Trumpets sound, Tribunes bark out orders. The mass of soldiers rushes up the hill, toward the palace. It looks like an easy attack, no sign of the Zombies.
Their boots stomp over the dirt and shrubs, headed for the palace walls above. They race — right toward us – their faces contorted in cries of war.
INT. IMPERIAL PALACE – DAY
Flavius keeps a hand up, waiting. Waiting. The troops hit the middle of the hill and HE LETS OUT A PIERCING, ZOMBIE SHRIEK. It echoes over the hillside —
EXT. IMPERIAL PALACE – HILLSIDE – DAY
— where a shocking event occurs. The hillside comes to life! Or at least, that’s what it seems. Giant craters open up all around the charging Roman soldiers.
And from down inside the craters, an army of Zombies claws its way to the surface. Buried “alive” underneath, waiting there, now bursting out.
They appear by the hundreds, all around the soldiers, surprising them, catching them off guard — sending them tumbling over, down the hill —
And BITING THEM. Ravaging them. Blood soaking the hillside. Soldiers turning to Zombies, then attacking their fellow soldiers. It’s sheer pandemonium.
AT THE FOOT OF PALATINE HILL — Quintus watches in shock.
How many are there?
As the battle rages on the hillside —
INT. IMPERIAL PALACE – DAY
— Flavius sees that his Zombies have scored a surprise hit…and gives his next signal. Another shriek, directed behind him — that unleashes the other THOUSAND ZOMBIES all hidden inside the palace.
With a tremendous ROAR, they rush from the palace —
EXT. IMPERIAL PALACE – HILLSIDE – DAY
— and scurry down the hill, into the battle, joining their fellow Zombies who are now growing in ranks.
Finally, Flavius appears at the top of Palatine Hill. He looks down at the battle, then past it —
Until he sees Quintus in the royal carriage below. Flavius lets out a snarl and rushes down into the fray. A team of Zombies follows him.
AT THE BASE OF THE HILLSIDE —
Quintus watches in horror as the battle gets ugly.
He steps down from his chariot.
For the love of Rome, kill them!!
He comes up to an Archer —
Sire, we have no clear shot. Our men are pinned on the hill.
I said shoot!!
The Archer nods, the barks out commands to his men. The move up in a line and take position. They draw their bows and FIRE. Arrows fill the air —
LANDING UP ON THE HILLSIDE — striking Zombies…and Roman soldiers. The soldiers go down, wounded. The Zombies stumble and roar — but then simply fight on, with arrows sticking out of their bodies.
Quintus watches in horror. His attention’s drawn as —
THE WAR WAGONS RIDE INTO THE AREA.
The war wagons pull up. Titus and the others dismount, look at the carnage on the hill.
It’s a slaughter.
Not if we get to the Tomb.
Titus looks at Lavinia.
I suppose you’ll want to come, too?
You know better than to ask that.
Titus and Lavinia run off…
TOWARD THE TOMB OF ORCUS, in the distance. Twin pillars mark the entrance to the Tomb on the side of Palatine Hill.
Quintus takes off after them.
EXT. Entrance to the tomb of orcus – DAY
Quintus reaches the entrance at the same time as Titus and Lavinia. Titus turns around and faces Quintus, sword raised.
Looks like the road ends here, Quintus.
You would raise a sword to your Emperor?
You are not my Emperor.
Get away from that entrance or I will call upon my legion to bring these pillars down. You would be trapped.
Men are being slaughtered on that hillside. Zombies and humans. You can stop it, right now.
You don’t know that for certain.
Give us a chance.
And have the people be saved by a mere slave? I can’t have you taking all my glory.
Is that why you wanted Flavius dead? Because he did not give you the glory you rightly deserved.
I have news for you my friend. I have always ruled. You think Flavius knew the first thing about governing? About politics? His mistake is that he forgot who his teacher was.
His words echo off the walls of the entrance. Followed by a ZOMBIE SHRIEK —
As Flavius himself appears, high up on a wall. He shrieks again. Five other Zombies appear next to him.
And all at once, they leap from the walls!
Flavius leaps at Quintus, soaring through the air, arms outstretched, bloody robes flowing in the wind.
He lands right on top of Quintus. At the last moment, Quintus raises his dagger, stabbing Flavius right through the eye. Flavius rears up, dagger protruding from his face.
Quintus scrambles away, headed right for Titus.
Titus grabs him and pulls him through the entrance and down into the tomb. Lavinia follows.
Flavius leaps after them again —
Int. TOMB OF ORCUS – same
Quintus, Lavinia and Titus fall into the room. The room’s circular with torches lining the walls. Firelight dances on their faces. Quintus is in sheer horror.
Slowly, Flavius steps forward into the room with several zombies following him.
The zombies block the exit.
Titus and Lavinia raise their swords and put the altar between them and their enemies.
Flavius jumps up on top of the altar, just as Titus steps forward and swings high…
CUTTING off Flavius’s arm with the Bracer of Orcus!
The arm with the Bracer flies into the corner.
FLAVIUS screams a Zombie death scream.
Ext. IMPERIAL PALACE – HILLSIDE – DAY
The SCREAM echoes throughout the battlefield. Instantly, the fast focused zombies turn into slow meandering zombies. The Zombies no longer being lead by their master.
Int. TOMB OF ORCUS – same
Flavius stands on the altar bleeding not blood but a viscus grey thick liquid onto the stone.
An inhuman guttural, etherial howl emanates from within the bowels of Lepercal Cave.
Everyone in the room looks on in terror as the spirit of the god of the undead rises from the floor. Orcus, dust forming the ghostly skeletal wraith, materializes before them.
You’ve come to offer your mortal body as a vessel for the mighty Orcus. You have proven worthy and have served me well, Flavius! It is time for us to be as one! I shall be unchained from this tomb. Free to walk the earth. I will now hold dominion over the Living and the Dead.
Titus and Lavinia look at each other.
That can’t be good.
Orcus floats over and enters the body of Flavius. The dust enters every pore.
Flavius grows bigger. He SCREAMS as he metamorphoses into the God of the Undead, Orcus, but a much more terrifying and grotesque version of the God.
Orcus-Flavius turns and reaches out to the zombies around him. He tears all the arms off the squirming zombies and attaches them to his body.
The zombies hit the ground in pieces.
The monster’s transformation is complete. It is horror identified. A monstrous combination of zombie flesh.
Lavinia puts her hand on Titus’s arm.
What do we do?
If it’s mortal, it can be killed. It’s time to avenge my brother. I will endure.
Let death fear us!
I must face this alone.
Like Hell you will. Remember, “fight for each other until the end”.
This is not your fight.
If it’s your fight, I fight as well.
She kisses Titus. He nods, concerned but resolved. Then, he turns to face Orcus, now fully transformed into a mortal monster.
Titus pulls the shield higher up on his arm and swings the sword.
Now, I’m the ruler of this world. My army shall sweep across every land.
I can’t let that happen.
Are you so foolish, as to face me?
For the people of Rome, absolutely.
Orcus pulls a giant axe off the wall and swings it at Titus. Titus rolls to the side, just as the axe slices into the altar, crushing it to dust.
Foolish mortal. I am a God!
Not anymore, you’re not. You’re mortal, as well.
Behold, my wrath!
Orcus waves his hands and the floor splits open revealing…
AN ENTRANCE TO THE UNDERWORLD! A flaming fiery pit with a lava bottom.
Lavinia slides into the pit, just about to disappear into the chasm, but is caught at the last moment by Titus. He slowly pulls her up to the tomb floor.
I open the underworld itself and call upon all the souls to come forth and serve me!
SPIRITS, TORTURED SOULS AND SCREAMING BANSHEES fly out of the pit!
Ext. IMPERIAL PALACE – HILLSIDE – DAY
Spirits, tortured souls, and screaming banshees fly out of the tomb and flood the battlefield. They terrorize the soldiers and Roman centurions. The battle sways again in favor of the dead and undead as they join forces against the living.
Valerius points to the tomb, the source of the evil and waves Arrias and others toward the entrance.
Int. TOMB OF ORCUS – same
Titus, all fury and frustration, screams a gladiator scream and rushes Orcus.
The mighty Behemoth and the gladiator trade heavy blows, but Titus is no match for the monster.
The room is engulfed in rubble as Orcus crushes the walls, altar and floor in an effort to kill Titus.
Titus is battered and bloody and is flung to the opposite wall. He hits the ground hard, losing all strength and breath. He lies there for a moment as if all is lost.
In his last moment of need, he hears his brother’s voice.
I believe in you. Even if you don’t believe in yourself. What have I always told you? That a Champion is here.
Titus puts his hand to his heart.
Lavinia winded, gets up and rushes Orcus. He picks her up with one hand by the throat and holds her up off the floor, choking the life out of her.
Titus shakes his head, trying to shake off the pain.
You have the heart of a true warrior. You can do this.
He gets up and grits his teeth.
Brother, may I honor you today–
Just as Lavinia is about to pass out, Titus jumps over the fiery chasm. Orcus throws her to the ground and swings his mighty axe at Titus.
Just as the axe slices through the air for the last time, Titus pivots sideways and in one fluid and vicious swing, cuts Orcus’s head off.
The head hits the ground and slowly the body falls next to it. Orcus’s mortal body has been beaten. The spirit of Orcus rises for the last time out of the body, like dust settling from the room.
Ext. IMPERIAL PALACE – HILLSIDE – DAY
Spirits, tortured souls, and screaming banshees all scream and howl as they are sent back into the tomb, leaving the zombies to fight on their own once more.
Int. TOMB OF ORCUS – same
A rush of air and heat as spirits, tortured souls, and screaming banshees fly back into the underworld.
The dust, once more forms to that of a Skeletal Wraith, then floats on the air for one long moment before disappearing back down into the hole where it came from.
The hole seals up again.
Lavinia gets up and hugs Titus. They breathe one last sigh of relief. The battle is over.
Forgotten, Quintus coughs and wipes the dust from his clothes. He stands, looks at Orcus’s dead body. He reaches down and picks up a sword.
Maybe the Gods had a plan for us after all. When I give my first speech as emperor of the new Rome, I’ll make sure this moment is immortalized. I hope you don’t mind if I mention my own name as the slayer of the God of the Undead!
To Quintus’s surprise, it’s Lavinia who responds.
And I’ll make sure that never happens.
She steps forward and lunges with her sword, stabbing Quintus right through the heart. He gasps, mortally wounded.
Lavinia glares into his eyes.
This IS the new Rome.
Quintus slides off the sword and falls to the ground, dead.
From behind them, there’s a commotion — as Valerius, Arrias and others arrive.
They stop, gazing at the horror, with zombies, Flavius-Orcus and Quintus all dead on the dirt floor.
EXT. IMPERIAL PALACE – HILLSIDE – DAY
The battle continues to rage but all the zombies have changed from the ravenous quick agile zombies to the lumbering brainless slow zombies.
The tide turns in favor of the Romans once more as the soldiers easily dispatch the slow lumbering creatures.
Ext. Rome – days later
The city is recovering. PEOPLE are just now coming out of their homes and gathering together to clean up the once great city.
It is a time of healing.
Ext. Pit – same
SOLDIERS dump ZOMBIE BODIES into a flaming pit. The smoke carries into the skies.
More smoke can be seen from another pit some distance away from this one…
AND ANOTHER, and another…to reveal DOZENS of these pits throughout the city.
EXT. CITY GATES – DUSK
Titus and Lavinia are on a pair of horses. Valerius says his good-byes.
The army thanks you, Titus. The People of Rome thank you.
Take good care of them for me.
Valerius nods, walks off. They watch him go. Then Titus turns to Lavinia.
Where will you go?
I was thinking, perhaps going to a farm, marrying a man and bearing a brood of children. You?
He leans over and kisses her.
Have you ever seen Crete?
They smile at one another. They ride away from the city gates into the setting sun. Two people, exercising their freedom — getting as far away from Rome as possible.
Int. Tomb of orcus – later
Laying on the dirt floor are two arms; one with the Imperial Ring and the other with the Bracer of Orcus. A hand reaches out, passes over the one with the Ring and picks up the one with the Bracer.
In the firelight, Arrias smiles to himself as he takes the Bracer off the arm and puts it on his own. He throws the zombie arm aside.
Adam and I have always been fascinated with and loved the move, The Thing by John Carpenter. The things we especially loved about it was the isolated feeling of the movie, the distrust between characters, the paranoia that creeps in and the ultimate scenarios that play out throughout the film to ferret out who is a “Thing” and who isn’t. It really ratchets up the tension in the film.
So with this in mind, I felt compelled to write down and share our experience with, or I should say our near-experience with the making of what was to be a prequel of sorts, but with what ended up with an identical title, (so as to confuse the audience even more; is it a prequel or is it a remake?!?) ultimately released to theaters in 2011.
Anyway, the film was released with some real nifty marketing posters by a young Drew Struzan who would gain fame with the Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Harry Potter posters he would paint later. It had some strong competition that year, but really grew an audience on video and my brother and I loved it right away and to this day I think it’s the best horror film ever made.
(Original Drew Struzan Concept For the Poster 1982)
So skip forward a couple of decades and Adam and I have written several screenplays by this time, written several book to script adaptations, and made a few films and even won an Emmy; generally seeing a spark of success which is very fleeting in Hollywood. Overall, feeling pretty good, getting our feet wet and having fun. In 2008, a company convinces Universal to let them produce a sequel to The Thing and posts in the trades a search for pitches and treatments for the production.
I have to admit, we got very excited about putting together a pitch for submission to see if we could possibly convince them to let us write the script. We do a lot of research when we do a script and this treatment was no different. We researched the location, the original film and story it’s based on and elements we wanted to put in our “prequel”. Our idea was pretty similar to what was eventually put onscreen when it comes to general plot. We loved the idea of telling the story of what happened at the original Norwegian Station that was a catalyst for bringing the “Thing” to Kurt Russell’s movie in the beginning. We also were excited to be able to make it possible to bridge the first film with a “third” film by providing a way for the “Thing” to hit the mainland at the end of our treatment.
We quickly outlined what we loved about the Carpenter movie; the isolation, the desperation, the paranoia, the suspicions and key scenarios playing out pitting different groups of people against each other, in this case the different nationalities that were at work within our version. I think the key thing that the new version got wrong was having a woman in the mix, I just didn’t think that worked and if we wanted to stay within the confines of the Carpenter version, we decided to keep it an all male cast.
Anyway, I’m going to let you choose for yourselves, if you think our version would have made for a fantastic companion to the Carpenter film, as I think it does. I’m going to print it here in it’s entirety. Now, just for history’s sake, you know up front they didn’t pick ours. We’re not even sure if we were in the running as we were never notified and none of our real elements seemed to make it into the film they ultimately made. Right or wrong they went on to make the film they decided would do best, but ultimately I think they made another mistake by naming it the same name as the Carpenter film. They should have added, The Thing: Exodus or something.
The Thing Prequel (Treatment by Adam Montierth and Donovan Montierth, All Rights Reserved 2008-2016)
ANTARCTICA – 1982
On a routine reconnaissance mission under the Ronne Ice Shelf, HMS VALIANT, a British Nuclear Submarine discovers an anomaly of dense mass hidden under the ice in the Antarctic. CAPTAIN JAMES MUNRO, a veteran of the British Fleet is notified as he feeds his pet mice. The Sub receives orders to investigate.
They drift along the Bentley Subglacial Trench at the lowest point of Antarctica and find a place thin enough for them to break through the ice and exit through the conning tower. As soon as the sub has settled, LIEUTENANT GILBRETSON, a big bear of a man, stations himself outside the sub and chain-smokes his way through several cigarettes.
A group of five MEN, including Captain James Munro, and Roald Amundsen, a reluctant midshipman recruited as an interpreter, leave Lieutenant Gilbretson, as well as the remaining 122 crew members, and hike five kilometers to the geological research facility owned and operated by the Norwegian Polar Research Establishment with eight current occupants; six NORWEGIAN, one GERMAN and one ITALIAN SCIENTISTS.
They convince the scientists to go out and do some core samples where they find a spaceship buried in the ice. Captain Munro, concerned, ventures back to the Sub to receive his orders. Meanwhile, the scientists celebrate the historic discovery with a video camera and prepare to take samples from the spaceship.
Waiting for orders, Amundsen discovers an alien creature, the THING, frozen in the ice not far from the spaceship. Under protest from Amundsen, the scientists cut the block of ice containing the Thing out of the frozen tundra and drag it back to the research station using a snow tractor. KEEGAN GYLDEN, a top Norwegian scientist cuts a thin sample from the skin of The Thing and places it in a plastic container.
Captain Munro returns from the sub with an armed force of ten GUARDS to secure the station and to prevent the release of information regarding the spaceship. His orders are to retain all scientists and to collect all data, samples and specimens from the craft, until a proper research team can be deployed from Great Britain to examine the find properly.
The scientists are prevented from communicating back to their headquarters and are confined to the facility. Mistrust and anger, begin to grow between the two groups. The scientists continue to examine what materials they have from the craft, while the guards keep watch over them from room to room.
The Thing from the ice block, given time to thaw, slowly comes back to life and takes his first victim, WILLIAMSON, a guard passing between rooms.
In the lab, Keegan removes the thin sample of The Thing and places it carefully on a slide and onto a microscope. He looks into the microscope. The sample appears to be moving. Keegan rubs his eyes and looks back into the lens when a shout is heard from the next room. Keegan and the GERMAN rush out of the room to see what is going on.
It is the room with the block of ice, now empty. ALBIN, one of the Norwegians, is yelling at two guards and pointing to the empty block. As scientists and guards enter the room they become angry over the missing creature. The scientists accuse the guards of stealing the Thing from the ice block and the guards are suspicious of the scientists regarding the missing guard. Tempers rage and the scientists are sent to their sleeping quarters. As they sleep, the Thing, as Williamson, visits several men in their rooms.
Williamson Thing reappears the next morning, seemingly normal, except for slightly odd behavior, Amundsen notices. This doesn’t seem to mend the friction between the two groups but the scientists are allowed to continue their research. The language barrier enhances the groups frustrations as Amundsen is the only one who can speak Norwegian and it becomes increasingly difficult for him to mediate between the scientists and the guards.
Captain Munro takes a few men to go and examine the spacecraft a little closer. They get down to the ship and crack open a hatch in the top and go in. In the dark, they turn on the flashlights and make their way down several corridors. The ship is a frozen disaster. The inside of the ship lay in ruins, wreckage everywhere.
They find what appears to be a corridor with cells. Heavy iron doors with locks on the outside and little glass windows. One of the cells is busted outward, as if something massive broke through the door. A few dead bodies lay scattered about, ripped and frozen. Red ice glints off the floors and walls. Frozen blood everywhere. Captain Munro looks at the familiar body pieces and gasps when he realizes…they’re human.
Back at the lab, the scientists go back to their work. The Italian, complaining about the working conditions, helps GUSTAV, a Norwegian, carry a metal panel from the ship over to a table just as Keegan gets back to his microscope. Keegan yells at the Italian to keep his voice down and peers down into the lenses just as the skin slice of the Thing explodes upward through the microscope and into Keegan’s eye.
Keegan’s head snaps back as the microscope explodes and he falls to the floor, dead. The Italian and Norwegian yell and scramble over to Keegan. Keegan’s eye dangles from the socket and blood pours from his head. A few scientists and guards rush in. Confusion erupts as the Italian attacks the guards thinking they have sabotaged their equipment and killed his colleague. They manage to subdue the Italian and handcuff him and Gustav.
The guards take the Italian and Gustav to another building and lock them into a room by themselves. Williamson stays to watch over them. Keegan’s body is taken to a room and covered with a sheet.
Captain Munro gets back from the spaceship and seems shaken. To try to ease tension, he sends a group of guards back to the Sub. Amundsen pulls him aside to let him know what’s happened. He takes him to view Keegan and then tells him that the men’s nerves are at their breaking points.
Meanwhile, in the room with the two handcuffed men, Williamson paces back and forth nervously as the Italian continues to barrage him with Italian insults. Gustav tries to calm him, but finally Williamson walks over to the Italian and faces him. The Italian shuts up. Just as he thinks Williamson is going to walk away, he opens his mouth and a long tentacle comes out and wraps around the surprised Italian’s head. The Thing starts to assimilate the Italian. Gustav freaks out and starts yelling at the top of his lungs.
A guard runs over from the other building and throws the doors open to find Williamson Thing and the Italian melted together. Gustav runs over to the guard and tries to pull a grenade from the guard’s belt, but Gustav’s handcuffs make it difficult for him to grab the grenade, and in his haste manages to only pull off the pin. When he realizes, he dives outside into the snow, leaving the guard fumbling with his belt to get the grenade off. A few seconds later the building explodes from the inside.
Captain Munro and Amundsen run outside just as the building bursts into a fireball. The remaining scientists and guards filter outside to see the aftermath. The scientists are asking Amundsen what is going on and the guards are all in shock. Confusion erupts as they grill Gustav as to what was happening. Capt. Munro stands in shock looking at the fire, when he notices Keegan Thing standing next to him looking at the fire as well.
Keegan Thing turns to face Captain Munro and reveals his eye still sitting on his cheek, but acting as if everything is normal. The guards and scientists all look at Captain Munro when he yells in surprise. Keegan Thing looks around as if confused as to what is wrong with him. Amundsen points at his face and mentions the eye.
When he does this, recognition sets into Keegan Thing’s face and the eye on his cheek looks up and then juts up from the socket on it’s own accord and begins to look where Keegan Thing’s normal eye looks. At this, a few of the guards pull their guns from their holsters. Keegan Thing’s not getting the response he’s expecting so the eye plunges back into his head, then he looks around again as if to say, “Is this right?”. The men back away.
Finally not getting anywhere, Keegan Thing’s head cracks open into a giant mouth and launches out at Gustav. The Thing quickly overtakes Gustav as he screams in sheer terror. After the guards overcome their surprise they open fire at the Thing. Wounded, it busts through the door and back through the building. The guards chase it into the main room, but the Thing disappears into the ceiling.
Everyone comes running back outside to get answers from Captain Munro. Captain Munro tries to calm everyone down and explains as best as he can that the alien from the spaceship must have been alive but dormant from his frozen state. Everyone, visibly shaken and upset, argues and rambles about what to do. Amundsen tries to interpret as best as he can to the Norwegians and the German. They all decide that they need to track the Thing down. They assign pairs of men, pass out guns and grenades and spread out to look.
Each pair of men take different areas of the station to try and find the Thing. They look down every corridor, store room and work shed, but find nothing. A man yells from the kennels and shots are fired. The guards and the scientists all run to the kennels to find the Thing in the middle of the room assimilating dogs. They open fire on the Thing and it stops moving as if dead.
Albin speaks to Amundsen that they should pull the Thing out to the snow and burn it. Amundsen translates to the group and they all agree. They get the snow tractor and pull the Thing out to the snow and pour fuel on it. As they all stand around watching, Captain Munro lights a match and the Thing goes up in flames.
Confused, the scientists and guards argue about what to do next. Amundsen mediates as best as he can when he realizes that MIKAHIL, one of the Norwegians is speaking perfect English. He asks him how he’s able to speak English fluently. The group gets quiet and stare at Mikhail Thing. The other Norwegians and the German all back up, scared. The guards take their lead and everyone distances themselves from Mikhail Thing and pull out their guns.
Mikhail Thing tries to explain himself, but nobody believes him. They know that he’s the Thing. He gets angry and lashes out at Albin and one of the guards shoots him. Mikhail Thing, jumps at Albin and he falls into the fire, screaming. The men scatter, afraid. The two remaining Norwegians and the German run into the main room, then the German gets into one of the labs by himself and barricades the door.
Amundsen runs out of bullets as they fight Mikhail Thing. He runs inside and finds an axe. Mikhail Thing disappears behind one of the buildings. Inside, the Norwegians step toward Amundsen and he threatens them not knowing who to trust. The guards and Captain Munro come inside and try to calm Amundsen down. He looks at everyone as if they could be the Thing. The guards rush him, trying to get the axe away from him. Amundsen swings the axe and hacks one of the guards in the leg, he goes down on the ground screaming.
HAYES, a guard, grabs Amundsen. Amundsen chop one of Hayes hands off. The hand hits the ground and Hayes holds his amputated arm in pain. The Captain holds the men off and tries to reason with Amundsen that their fight is not with each other but with the creature. Amundsen argues that anyone can be the creature, how can they trust anyone. Captain Munro talks to Amundsen to try and keep him busy while the guards step closer and closer. Finally they all jump on Amundsen and he takes one last swing and embeds the axe in the door.
They hold Amundsen on the floor until they realize that Hayes, who just moments ago got his hand amputated, now has two hands again. He is helping to hold Amundsen down. The guards look at his two hands then look at his third amputated hand on the ground. They look back up at him and Hayes Thing gives them a “what?” look. The amputated hand suddenly grows spider legs out of the fingers and two eyes pop out of the back of the hand. It crawls frantically towards the guard that is laying down bleeding profusely from his leg.
The guards all jump up and pull out their guns and point them at the Hayes Thing on Amundsen. Hayes Thing immediately runs out of the room and the men follow, firing. The man on the ground bleeding, screams as the spider-hand crawls over and embeds itself into his bleeding leg. His leg and the spider-hand fuse together as one, as the Thing attempts to assimilate him. Captain Munro shoots the bleeding man dead. His leg continues to move. Munro drags the body outside and throws it into the fire.
The guards come back and shake their head as if to say the Thing is gone. All men become paranoid and point guns at each other suspecting everyone of being the Thing. The Norwegians try to calm everyone down. They speak as Amundsen translates. They explain that the Thing is learning how to act human. He mentions that they can identify the men that are the Thing, by amputating fingers and seeing who’s grows back.
Reluctantly, everyone agrees. The Norwegians get a surgical kit out and with scalpels cut a finger off of everyone’s hand one by one. They all hold up their bloody hands to show that none have grown back. The remaining men; four guards, two Norwegians, Captain Munro and Amundsen are all human.
The lights and heaters in the facility go out. They run outside to the generators to find Hayes Thing and Mikhail Thing are destroying the generators together. The men open fire at the Things and they both go down as if killed. To make sure they pour fuels on the bodies and burn them in the snow as the Norwegians check the generators.
They explain to Amundsen that they are not repairable and only have a few hours left before everything at the station freezes. A dog comes around the side of the building and everyone realizes that they haven’t killed all of the Thing. The dog runs away. The Norwegians tell Amundsen that they can’t let the Thing live and that they will use the helicopter to find it and kill it. After they are done, they will fly to the nearest city. Captain Munro lets them know that the rest of them are going back to the sub to report what has happened at the station. The Norwegians take their guns and grenades and start the Helicopter. Captain Munro, Amundsen, and the rest raise their amputated hands in a four finger salute, signifying still human. The Norwegians return salute and fly away.
The four remaining guards, Captain Munro and Amundsen head out to the sub. Forgotten and barricaded in the lab, the German cuts his wrists knowing that the cold will kill him soon. Sadly, he cuts his own throat.
The men get back to the sub to find Lieutenant Gilbretson back outside waiting for them. Amundsen notices that he is not chain-smoking and casually asks him about it. Gilbretson looks at him confused. This alarms Amundsen and the guards all pull their guns on Gilbretson. Captain Munro tells Gilbretson that they will have to cut a finger off to prove he is human. Just as a guard goes to cut his finger off, Gilbretson Thing morphs into a GIANT THING and grabs the surprised guard and tears him in half.
The guards open fire on the Giant Thing and Captain Munro and Amundsen throw grenades at it. They find cover just as the grenades go off and open a fissure in the ice. The Giant Thing slips into the water and screams like a banshee. The salt water reacts as acid to the Giant Thing and it foams up and dies horribly, sliding back into the sea.
The three remaining guards, Captain Munro, and Amundsen enter the sub to find it a ghost ship, everyone is gone and the communications boards are destroyed. They are concerned but relieved that they are back aboard and seal the sub back up and make arrangements to go home. Captain Munro leaves one of the guards in charge and goes to get some sleep in his cabin. He finds his mice alright and feeds them. Just as Captain Munro lays down, one of the mice grows tentacles and lashes out.
Amundsen, still unnerved from his ordeal, seals himself in his room and begins to record his fresh thoughts into a tape recorder. Later, he makes his way back to the navigation room. The three guards and Captain Munro are busy at the controls of the sub. They all ignore Amundsen as he enters and they stare at a TV monitor which shows them what is outside the sub.
Amundsen, curious, peers to see what they are looking at. Underwater, outside the sub, they are scanning another spaceship. As the sub moves further, Amundsen sees more ships and what appears to be a spaceship graveyard. Deathly, dark and sinister ghost spaceships lay scattered along the bottom of the sea where they have fallen.
Amundsen looks at Captain Munro and notices that he has all of his fingers again. Smiling, Captain Munro Thing looks directly at Amundsen and begins to explain that he was a captive on a ship headed for another place long ago. He managed to take over the ship, but crashed here in the process.
Amundsen looks at the guards to see if they notice that the Captain is now the Thing. All of the guards turn to face Amundsen. Eerily, they all stare at him along with Captain Munro Thing, and speak to him in perfect unison.
They explain that they sent a distress signal and had wondered what happened to those that followed. They now realize that they landed here and the sea swallowed them up.
After sending the signal, when they couldn’t wait any longer, they exited the spaceship and the weather was too much for them and they froze. Until Amundsen came and found them in the ice. They tell him that now they will survive and take over the planet, thanks to Amundsen.
Amundsen pulls out a gun and points it at Captain Munro Thing, who smiles and says that it won’t be long before he joins them. Instead of shooting Captain Munro Thing, Amundsen quickly aims at the pipes above their heads and a stream of salt water fills the cabin. The Things all scream together and scramble to reach Amundsen and find cover. Amundsen seals them in the room and soon the Things foam up once again in a horrible death, ending Amundsen’s worst nightmare.
Beaten and worn, Amundsen quickly programs the subs computers to the nearest port. Soon the sub reaches land and is seen entering Christchurch, New Zealand harbor.
Off in the small confines of the sub, a small Mouse Thing grows tentacles and lashes out.
Now you can see from our version that we got some inspiration from Ice Station Zebra (1968), as they are also on a mission to get to one of the Science Stations, in that one under the guise of a rescue mission in ours, an exploration mission. This is great because we can now explore more of what’s underneath the ice, we maintain the claustrophobic feeling and now we also have a vehicle that can take the danger to the mainland for the possible 3rd movie.
Anyway, we would have loved to see our version as I think it really had a chance of creating a new Franchise for the film series and I for one would have LOVED to see the possible 3rd movie where the THING hits a population and then really can do some damage. Oh, well, I hope you liked our version too, we can only hope that someone somewhere gets the idea to keep this film series going again.
His commitment to performing his own stunts borders on the lunatic – for the fourth installment in the Mission: Impossible series, he climbs and leaps about on the outside of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai – the world’s tallest building. Yes, he’s wearing a harness, but can you see any other A-list stars doing that? There is a simply fantastic behind the scenes featurette on the 2nd disc DVD or Blu-Ray version of the film. Oscar-winning director Brad Bird kicks off the action by revealing, “we’re a mile and a half above the earth on the tallest building on the planet, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and we’re filming a scene where Tom Cruise is climbing on the outside of the building.” After looking out at the panoramic view, Brad deadpans to the camera, “it’s just another day at work on ‘Mission: Impossible.’” And you thought your workday was demanding!
While he wasn’t at the tip of the building for his stunt run (he saved that portion of the day for one of most epic self portraits of all time,) the Burj Khalifa only stands 2,717 feet tall.
Stunt coordinator Gregg Smrz: I can only imagine how sore he was. He never complained. He would hang up there for hours. He climbed, I want to say, five days in a row? As far as bruised ribs, there’s just no way around it.
Co-producer, visual effects producer Tom Peitzman: In one shot, we’re looking up, he’s running toward us, he jumps over the camera and then is running down away from us. It was done in camera with just a whole bunch of rig removal. I’ll never forget lying on the platform that he was running towards, right next to Brad Bird and Gregg Smrz, watching Tom running down directly at us, 60 stories above us. It was unbelievable.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was directed by Brad Bird for Paramount.
Things to look up (click on item to go to IMDB page or Website):
Check out our new Book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!