Thursday, March 24, 2022

Writing the Trilogy

I have the movie The Lost Boys to thank for all of this.

A couple months ago, I was browsing through the movie selection on Netflix and I stumbled upon The Lost Boys. I subsequently meditated for a moment and I realized that I had never actually seen The Lost Boys. Which is weird. Because I would consider myself an 80s movie buff and I’ve probably seen every other movie that is within the same teen/horror/adventure/1980s genre. For some reason, however, The Lost Boys slipped under my radar. I had never seen it.


So, I decided to watch The Lost Boys.


I loved the movie. In fact, I loved the movie so much that I kind of felt ashamed that I had never seen it before. To make up for my negligence, I watched The Lost Boys a second time and then I even watched parts of it for a third time, especially the raging beach party sequence where Tim Capello is on a stage blasting “I Still Believe” on his saxophone while wildly thrusting his hips around in his spandex and leather codpiece.


Tim Capello in The Lost Boys.


Part of what blew me away about The Lost Boys was Corey Haim’s performance in the film. I had seen License to Drive at least a couple of times, probably about ten years or so ago, and I loved that movie and loved Corey in it, but his performance in The Lost Boys really stood out to me and really made me appreciate him as an actor. He has an unbelievable presence and focus, meaning he’s one-hundred-percent invested in what is going on. His facial expressions react to everything, so he’s one of those actors you can’t help but watch even when he’s not the focus of the scene. 


But, yes, I was incredibly impressed with Corey and I wanted to see more of his movies. I couldn’t find License to Drive anywhere, meaning it wasn’t streaming on any major platform, but I managed to find a decently-priced copy of the DVD version on eBay, so I ordered the movie, but it took about a week for me to get it. In the meantime, I found another Corey Haim (and Corey Feldman) movie called Dream a Little Dream streaming for free on Amazon, so I watched that and was just as impressed with Haim’s performance in that movie. For some reason, I always thought he played Mr. Cool in every one of his movies (maybe because this is how he was portrayed in the Tiger Beat magazines of the late-80s and early-90s?), but I was surprised to see that he often played the self-deprecating underdog and even the dare-I say loser. His film Lucas is another example of this where he plays an insecure, nerdy type of kid who everybody picks on. Lucas was actually a movie I was able to obtain through my local library network and I was no less impressed by his performance in that film than I was in The Lost Boys and Dream a Little Dream.


As for License to Drive, it eventually arrived in the mail, I popped it into my DVD player and I was just as entertained by the movie as I was the first couple of times I saw it. The screenplay is extremely tight and both Corey performances (Haim and Feldman) are fantastic. It’s overall an extremely fun and funny movie and, by the way, Heather Graham is unbelievably beautiful in the role of the love interest Mercedes Lane.

Corey Feldman, Heather Graham and Corey Haim.
Publicity Photo for License to Drive.


After a couple weeks or so of watching Corey Haim movies and overall feeling very drawn to the actor, I began to feel that something strange was happening. I know this may make me sound like a crazy person, but I almost felt as though I was being “haunted” by the spirit of Corey Haim. As you may or may not know, Corey died tragically in 2010 from complications of pneumonia, including an enlarged heart. He had a lot of struggles with drugs over the years and his body was likely weakened and compromised from all the toxic abuse it had endured. So, when I say that I felt as though I was being “haunted” by Corey Haim, I may mean that literally. I only say this because I have a pretty good spiritual antenna, intuition, or whatever you want to call it. For example, I know without a shadow of a doubt right now that Michael Jackson is NOT haunting me. Neither is Jimi Hendrix, or at least I don’t think he is. I’d also probably put money on John McCain not haunting me either…or Donald Rumsfeld for that matter. But I did feel as though Corey Haim was haunting me!


On the other hand, there is, of course, the possibility that I’m completely out of my mind…like on a schizo level, so…there’s that, too.


All right, let’s play it safe here and say Corey Haim was at least haunting me in a figurative sense. I felt extremely drawn to him and usually when this kind of phenomenon happens in my life there’s a reason why it’s happening, so I took a moment to think to myself, “Why in the world is this happening right now?”


The answer immediately came to me as soon as I asked the question: 


“He wants you to finish the trilogy.”


The whaaaaaaaaaaa? Yes, the trilogy. 


See, a number of years ago, I wrote what-I called-a “screen-novel”, but it was basically a novel in the form of a screenplay called WEIRD MONSTER (incidentally, I also wrote a straight-up screenplay version in addition to the “screen novel”). The thing about WEIRD MONSTER is that it was a buddy-like adventure-comedy in the vein of (and also an homage to) Weird Science taking place in the 1980s and it was the exact kind of movie that you would picture the two Coreys—Haim and Feldman—starring in playing the two buddies.


When I was writing WEIRD MONSTER in 2018, I was probably very close to being done with it when I had a vision or maybe it was more like a mental download. Yes, I know I sound weird here, but I immediately had a vision/download of a sequel for WEIRD MONSTER and then even a vision of a third installment, thus making a trilogy. The ideas came at me extremely fast and I had to grab a notebook to write down everything that was coming at me. This was just to get the basic storylines down so I wouldn’t forget them. Then, over the next couple of days, more of the story began coming at me, so I went out to the local Stop & Shop, bought a wide-ruled spiral notebook and then I began writing notes upon notes upon notes upon notes. Most of the notes were for the sequel, but then some notes here and there were for what-would-be WEIRD MONSTER 3.


By the end of it all, I had pages upon pages of notes, so you would think that I would finish WEIRD MONSTER and then immediately go right into writing the sequel, right? Wrong. The year 2018 became 2019 and the year 2019 became 2020 and it wasn’t until the end of 2020 that I watched Back to the Future 2 (not my first time), felt inspired and suddenly remembered, “Wait, remember when I wrote all those notes down for a WEIRD MONSTER sequel? Maybe I should write the sequel.”


Now, I’ve already written about my experience writing the WEIRD MONSTER sequel, so I highly recommend you read my article called Writing the Sequel. To summarize the experience, I did indeed begin writing the sequel shortly after watching Back to the Future 2, thinking it was NOT going to be that good, but what the hell, and then I was pleasantly surprised that the sequel came out waaaaay better than I expected. I mean, think about it: sequels rarely work well, they’re usually a money-grab written with the intention of capitalizing off of the first movie and/or novel that was most likely an extraordinary success. There’s usually a lot of pressure on the writer to make it good and to make it live up to the expectations of the first installment and usually the writer buckles under that pressure. I felt relieved knowing that nobody was riding me about this sequel, like a publishing house or a movie studio. In other words, there was nothing riding on it whatsoever. If it ended up sucking, no biggie, I could simply toss it in the rubbish and nobody would ever know. I had zero pressure on my shoulders. It’s not like America was eagerly awaiting the WEIRD MONSTER follow-up to come its way. Nope, no pressure whatsoever and boy is that preferable, because there were several points in the process of writing the sequel where I hit snags or got stuck. I could picture myself having a total mental breakdown if, indeed, I had a lot riding on the completion of it or, say, if I had to finish it under contract. I would begin to panic. “Oh, no, everyone is expecting this to be a hit and it looks like it sucks! What do I do? Better get in the fetal position, cry and drink alcohol!”


Anyway, because I had no pressure on me, I managed to write the sequel and it came out good. In fact, I was kind of shocked by how well it turned out because, again, I definitely thought it wouldn’t. The whole time, I kept telling myself, “Well, you might as well dare to fail and write this son a bitch even though you have the feeling that the premise is already tired and played-out and the characters aren’t interesting anymore.” But, no, I was pleasantly surprised that, after a few weeks or so, I had about a 130-page screenplay completed and it was looking much better than I had ever imagined. The characters were still interesting and the premise from the original installment was given a fresh take and twist.


Feeling energized by the success of the sequel, I thought perhaps I should take advantage of the momentum and go right into writing the third installment. No stopping. Just play right through, ya know? Keep writing! And this is pretty much what I did.


Now, what I usually do when I write a screenplay or a novel is I first get a notebook (as I mentioned before) and I write down notes upon notes upon notes, everything that comes to mind about characters, plot, pieces of dialogue that pop into my head, even themes etc. I write whatever comes to me, in no particular order.


After I get all the notes out of my system, I then begin writing a more structured outline for the plot. Although it’s ideal to spend time writing the entire outline and structure out the entire plot of the story before beginning to write the actual screenplay, I often come to an area of writer’s block along the way, so I put a pause to the outlining and then begin writing the actual screenplay up to the point where I left off with the outline. Oftentimes, when you do this, you get a better idea of where the story is going and then it’s easier to overcome the writer’s blockage that you encountered in your outlining. 


In the case of WEIRD MONSTER 3, this is exactly what I did. I outlined only up to a certain point and then I just took a chance and began writing the actual screenplay, hoping that it would help me overcome the writer’s block I encountered in the outlining process. At first, the writing of the screenplay was going rather well overall, but then I got to around page 30 and…I hit a wall. And this was a brick wall, dude. No, it was a friggin’ concrete wall with rebar and all! Absolutely NOTHING else was coming to me. “Ok, no big deal, I thought, now I just have to go back to outlining and I’ll be able to come up with something.” So, I went back to the drawing board, so to speak, but…still…nothing. And I mean NOTHING. “Hmmm. This doesn’t look good,” I thought. “Maybe WEIRD MONSTER 3 isn’t meant to be. I lucked out with the sequel, but maybe I need to quit while I’m ahead.” I didn’t want to force a third installment out of me. If it wasn’t meant to be, it wasn’t meant to be.


Therefore, with about 30 pages written, I put WEIRD MONSTER 3 aside and then went off to do other things. This was around March 2021 or so. Over the next several months, I did go back to the project once or twice and gave the writing another go, but it simply wasn’t going anywhere. WEIRD MONSTER 3 was not going to happen, I thought.


But this was around the time that I watched The Lost Boys and Corey Haim came along and I began to sense the actor’s presence around me and I literally said aloud, “Why am I so drawn to Corey Haim all of a sudden?!” and, again, that’s when I heard the answer:


“He wants you to write WEIRD MONSTER 3.”


In other words, Corey was there (maybe literally but at least figuratively) to help me with the project and encourage me to complete it. So, I basically said, “Ok, Corey, I’ll give it another go, but I’m telling ya, man, I think WEIRD MONSTER 3 is a real junker, man. A real piece of rubbish, bro!”


I retrieved the WEIRD MONSTER 3 screenplay file on my computer, read over the first 30 pages that I had already written, said to myself, “Damn, man, these 30 pages are quite good. It would be a shame if I never wrote the rest.”


I knew that, in order to proceed, I would definitely need to go back to the drawing board, begin outlining again and this is exactly what I did. What was strange was that, this time around, I suddenly felt the creative juices flowing and material was surprisingly coming out of me. I was actually making progress with the story. I got kind of excited and giddy because things felt so different. Is this happening right now? Am I doing this thing? I think this is actually going to get written. Again, I felt something so different.


What I ended up doing was I would outline for a while, then go and resume writing the screenplay from page 30, hit a wall, then go back to outlining again, maybe write another 20 or 30 pages of the screenplay, hit a wall, then go back and go over what I had written so far, smooth it all out, then go back to outlining again and then go back to writing the screenplay where I left off. I did this until I got to about the third act of the screenplay. Then, I went back and went over everything I had written so far, smoothed it out a bit and then I went back to, that’s right, more outlining.


Before I knew it, I actually got to the finish line. I was absolutely shocked. I could not believe that I actually pulled it off. I wrote WEIRD MONSTER 3! What shocked me even more is that it didn’t completely suck. No, it wasn’t a total junker that I thought it was going to be. And it wasn’t thin or flimsy, either; in fact, the screenplay ended up being a whopping 140 pages in length, which is long for a screenplay, and it basically means the movie would be approximately 140 minutes long (if you’re not familiar, one page of screenplay amounts to about one minute of screen time).


Now, I have written many a screenplay over the past 20 years or so—probably somewhere in the dozens—but this one was different. I tell you, I almost shed a few tears when I wrote “The End”, maybe because, for so long, I thought WEIRD MONSTER 3 was never going to come to fruition and I felt that it was almost a miracle that it did. I also, for some reason, appreciated the fact that I had taken a world and a story that had only existed in my head and successfully got it all onto paper in a somewhat orderly fashion. Honestly, I just couldn’t believe that I had pulled this thing off, not only WEIRD MONSTER 3 by itself but the entire WEIRD MONSTER trilogy that, many years ago, only existed in my fantasies.


I grew up watching so many adventure movies from the 1980s, many of which had sequels or were trilogies or were even franchises, and I was amazed that I had created one of my own, at least on paper. God willing, they will someday be movies as well.


In other words, I felt a tremendous sense of gratitude for what I had pulled off. Again, I have written a LOT of material over the years, but I had never felt such a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the process of creating something until I wrote WEIRD MONSTER 3. It was truly a miraculous process.

Furthermore, when I take a moment to think about everything, in a big-picture sort of a way, I get a better respect for and appreciation of timing…basically, divine timing. What I’m saying is that there was a time NOT to write WEIRD MONSTER 3 (mainly in the spring of 2021 when I was experiencing so much writer’s block) and there was a time to INDEED write WEIRD MONSTER 3 (in early 2022). And I do believe there was a reason for all of this. 


See, something I failed to mention before is that, between the period of late-spring 2021 (when I was having trouble with WEIRD MONSTER 3) and early 2022 when I watched The Lost Boys (and actually completed WEIRD MONSTER 3), I had the urge to begin watching several other movies. I’ve always kind of been a movie buff, but to be honest, previous to June 2021, I was at a point in my life where I wasn’t watching too many movies anymore. I would watch a Cobra Kai series here and there, but I didn’t find myself very into movies anymore. 


This all changed suddenly, however, in June 2021. I began watching a lot of movies and, for some reason, I appreciated the escape that they provided much more than I ever had before. I think I appreciated this escape more because the real world was in such a miserable state, what with COVID, political division, rioting and everything else that was going on. In the real world, there was a sense that there was a “New World Order” on the rise and I’m not talking conspiracy New World Order necessarily; I mostly just mean that there was a ‘new normal’ on the rise and this new normal was essentially misery for humanity.


The movies, however, brought me back to the old normal, mainly one where you could go out and about in the world and not have to worry about some stupid virus and who’s vaccinated and who’s not vaccinated and who’s wearing a mask and who’s not wearing a mask and who’s social distancing and who’s not social distancing and all that bullshit. People were generally happy and there wasn’t the sense that the world was on the brink of self-destruction.


So, the first movie I watched during this time period was the movie Pirates of the Caribbean (first one) and then, from there, proceeded to watch Flight of the NavigatorReturn to OzDirty Dancing and also all of the following (yes, I kept a list for nothing but reasons of the nerdy variety):


National Lampoon's Family Vacation

The Rocketeer

Top Gun

Days of Thunder

Untamed Heart

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure


Under Siege

My Girl

Crocodile Dundee Goes to Los Angeles (I don’t think I’d recommend this one)

Pump up the Volume

The Last Boy Scout

Cloak and Dagger

My Cousin Vinny

The Wizard

In the Line of Fire


Rain Man


The Outsiders

Risky Business




The Net


Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Home Alone

Santa Claus: The Movie

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (Jim Carrey version)

Cobra Kai (Season 4)

Tango and Cash

The Lost Boys

Dream a Little Dream

Saint Elmo’s Fire

License to Drive



War Games

Weekend at Bernie’s

Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead


Dr. Strangelove


Why am I telling you all this? Well, what I realize now is that one of the reasons why I began watching all those movies was to give me the inspiration to eventually write WEIRD MONSTER 3. After all, most of the movies I watched fell into the same genre ballpark as my WEIRD MONSTER series. So, for a period of about 6-8 months, I watched about one or two movies every weekend, ultimately stumbling upon the aforementioned Corey Haim movies and then, I guess, it was time to write WEIRD MONSTER 3. In other words, it all happened for a reason, man. Don’t you get it? How could you not see the serendipities, man! Perfect divine timing! Open your eyes!




I guess what I’m trying to say is that there is magic out there and that there is divine guidance and also that maybe Corey Haim is helping screenwriters like myself from the “other side”. Again, it’s possible I’m going all schizo on ya, but, just in case Corey actually is haunting me and did help me write WEIRD MONSTER 3, I just want to take the opportunity right now to thank him. 


Thanks, Corey!



MATT BURNS is the author of several novels, including Weird MonsterSupermarket Zombies! and Johnny Cruise. He’s also written numerous memoirs, including GARAGE MOVIE: My Adventures Making Weird FilmsMY RAGING CASE OF BEASTIE FEVERJUNGLE F’NG FEVER: MY 30-YEAR LOVE AFFAIR W/ GUNS N’ ROSES and I TURNED INTO A MISFIT! Check out these books (and many more) on his Amazon author page HERE.



Other trending articles by Matt Burns that may be of interest to you:


Writing the Sequel

No-No, Learn to Love the Rejection: Some Sage Advice for Writers in Search of an Agent or Publisher


The Story Behind Supermarket Zombies!

The Story Behind The Woman and the Dragon

The Strange, Surreal Moment of Being Called a DILF Inside a Panera Bread Restaurant on a Wednesday Afternoon


100 Days of Zelda


Video Store Memories

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeere’s Charlie


WAAF Goes Off the Air


I Dream of Dream Machine (a memoir of the local video arcade)


NEVER FORGET the Fun-O-Rama (a traveling carnival memoir)


A Love Letter to the Emerald Square Mall (about the death of the shopping mall age)


I USED TO BE A GAMER: The 8-bit Nintendo Years

Weird Times en la Weirdioteca

RIP PowerBook G3

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