Friday, June 8, 2012

ROTTEN MEAT by Dean Figone

Based on a true story, about the infamous Bender Family in Kansas: a group of sociopaths who run an inn on the outskirts of town who supplement their income by murdering the guests, chopping up the bodies and selling the meat to the townspeople.

How It Works

Email Rob the first ten pages of your feature length screenplay (in pdf. format) along with a logline and title. Every Friday one of us (or a guest reviewer) posts one writer's work along with notes and a:


Trash It (Start over.)
Take Another Pass (You're onto something, but it needs more work.)
More Please (I'm hooked. What happens next?)
Somebody Shoot This!

Readers then vote and comment on your work.

This guest review (of Dean Figon's 1st 10 pages) is brought to you by Reviewbrain : @brainyreviewer
*This week's notes are brought to you by Dan.
Addendum 6/10: Reviewbrain's notes.

This is fine, but it reads more like a summary than a film logline. Here it is reworded:
A family of sociopaths running an inn in Kansas supplement their income by murdering their guests, chopping up the bodies and selling the meat to the unsuspecting locals. Based on the true story of the infamous Bender family.


I usually don’t go for blood and gore, but my recent addiction to The Walking Dead made reading this script bearable. I’m talking strictly about the subject matter here. The script itself was quite interesting and despite my misgivings I found myself wanting to read the rest of it.
We are introduced to Bob, Marli, and Kate. Marli calls Bob to dinner. He complains about it being cabbage soup again cluing us into the fact that the household is impoverished. An argument between Bob and Marli reveals to the audience that he’s a miner who hasn’t been able to find work. This also hints that perhaps many people, other mining families, are suffering like they are. But Marli (Bob’s wife or mistress) points out that his alcoholism is what’s keeping him from getting a new job. At her disgust Bob reminds her that he didn’t have to take her and her daughter in. So we learn that Kate isn’t Bob’s child. Also, that he finds the child creepy.

So far, we have a picture of a disjointed family which came upon hard times. But what starts like a regular argument quickly escalates into a bloody confrontation when Bob cuts himself on glass shards of a bottle he threw. Marli then hits him on the head with a rolling pin to stop him from attacking her and her daughter in his drunken rage. The broken hearted woman knows she and her daughter can’t stay in the house anymore and packs up their things. She explains to her child Kate that Bob isn’t a man; a real man puts food on the table.
Kate’s childish (and apparently psychopathic) mind takes her mother’s words to heart. While Marli packs their things, the small girl sets about turning Bob into a real man, by killing him and using his meat for food. Marli is understandably horrified by her daughter’s actions but regroups quickly, saying that she can’t let her daughter starve, and that it would be a “a sin to let good meat go to waste”.

I love the irony here, and what Marli’s reasoning tells us about her. One could play devil’s advocate and argue that, seeing as Bob is already dead, she was faced with an “Alive” situation and wanted to save herself and her child. The fact that she doesn’t freak out at her daughter’s cannibalism and readiness to murder a man, however, points that she herself isn’t all that right in the head.

I can easily imagine this script as a feature film. But I’m not sure whether you intend it to be a slasher film. I’d suggest you add a little mystery to the story. For example, you could also have Kate’s identity (since she’s only a child in the beginning of the film) be the mystery. Maybe the town has lots of red-headed women and viewers keep trying to guess which one is Kate.

Also, I did a little reading on the history of the script and based on what I understand, it seems like Kate will most likely be the main character. But the audience might find it hard to root for a murderous cannibal, so I’d suggest rethinking that.

I think the script has promise but there is a major issue for me: what’s the conflict of the film? We know it’s about a murdering family, but what’s the tension? Is it the fear of getting caught? Is there, perhaps, a new Sherriff/ magistrate they need to watch out for? Could that person be the main protagonist of the story? Are Marli and Kate better off now but the girl can’t stop murdering people? I think the first ten pages need to be condensed; perhaps into five to eight pages, leaving room for more characters, more plot, to be introduced. If possible, the logline could also be altered to include this plot.

Then there is the issue of formatting. I’m certainly not one to talk as it’s one of my greatest weaknesses, but go over your script again and again to make sure it conforms to the formatting guidelines. Trust me, you don’t want to submit your script, only to have it rejected because it doesn’t look professional. Or worse, have them read it and get a reputation of not being a professional because your script doesn’t look sharp. If you can’t invest in Final Draft, check out Script Frenzy’s webpage on the formatting guidelines: After you’ve mastered those, you can find answers to your more advanced formatting needs in Dr. Format’s books.

Other than that, best of luck. You’re off to a good start

(  )Trash It (Start over.)
(*)Take Another Pass (You're onto something, but it needs more work.)
(  )More Please (I'm hooked. What happens next?)
(  )Somebody Shoot This!

Dan's Notes:

Reviewbrain's Notes:

What did you think of Dean's 1st 10 pages?

Next week Rob gives feedback on the 1st 10 pages of Chris Hicks & Francis Lombard's 

Please comment on the first 10 pages of ROTTEN MEAT below.


  1. Hey Dean,

    Thanks for sharing you work! I'll just add my two cents, which echo some of Dan sentiments.

    I hard a hard time nailing the tone of this. The violence and horror was SO over the top, it almost felt darkly comedic, in the vein of Drag Me to Hell, but there wasn't quite enough there to seal it. So not sure where you're aiming for on that issue.

    And the Mother's "change over" seemed a bit easy. Felt like she needed some earlier clues to her mental instability and/or moral flexibility. Or, perhaps, this is standard operating procedure for her and her daughter. Seduce man, get man drunk, murder man, eat man. Repeat. Would certainly fir the M.O. of the Bender family.

    Incidently, a great book on the subject is Rick Geary's "The Bloody Benders." He treats it more of a mystery/slow burn.

    Anyhow, best of luck, Dean!

  2. i agree with mahabone, like i said in my notes i think the mother's conversion seemed to come out of nowhere. this also needs to be heavily trimmed, and you can't write this from the mother's perspective as the lead character (because she's sick and the villain). if you already have a different hero, he needs to be introduced much earlier than after the first 10. this scene should only be three pages, five tops.

  3. The formatting needs some work.

    The first slugline is a red flag. "EXT. WINTER. A HOWLING STORM. A SECLUDED FARMHOUSE. A LONE TREE IN THE YARD" screams beginner.

    What you want to do is this:

    A howling storm.

    TITLE CARD: ...

    Also: the farmhouse isn't secluded if there are people inside. And is this establishing shot really necessary? So what there's a lone tree in the yard?

    The blank title page also worries me. I mean, I get that when you copy and paste the first ten pages into a new final draft document, it's easy to forget to fill them in, but it worries the reader because it makes us think, "what else did they forget to look over before they sent this in"?

    Also, sluglines need a space between "location - day" not "location-day". It's a small change but it makes a huge difference.

    So before the script even begins the odds are already stacked against it. I only got to page six, unfortunately, before I had to stop reading.

    Here's an easy fix to your formatting problems: read LOTS of professional scripts. At the very least, one per week. You'll pick up the nuances of the format-- some of which you can't learn from the books.

    I wish you the best of luck with everything! Keep working and you'll get there :)

  4. My gut tells me that this opening needs to play out faster. This is 10 minutes into the film.

    I think focusing on Kate's take and hunger and holding off on backstory would quicken things.

    Really we are told that they are hungry. Idea -- Show the desparation of Kate bringing home a dead and rotting bird for the soup. That sparks the outburst?

    Upping the desperation would help in the reader understand the leap Katie makes to cannibalism.

    I think if you nailed down your tone immediately it would help with the suspenion of disbelief.

  5. I agree with what was said above. I personally didn't find the part where she grabs a chunk of meat from the guys cheek believable. It was just really gross.

    There is way too much exposition on the first three pages. I feel like a bunch of information is being thrown in my face. It's very overwhelming.

    Show that the husband is drunk in the way he acts, etc. And I agree with the comment above that you should show that they are hungry.

    The transition of eating the guy needs to be smoother. It's too sudden.


Please make constructive comments. Anything mean spirited or malicious will be removed.