creative inspiration

What's The ULTIMATE Revenge Movie? by J.C. Hutchins

( Probably not the ultimate revenge movie.)
(Probably not the ultimate revenge movie.)

I've spent the past few months chipping away at a few screenplays. One script -- a supernatural balls-to-the-wall actioner with a magma-hot hook -- is presently getting a polish by me and a co-writer (whose name I cannot yet divulge). Another screenplay started with a very strong concept, but competing obligations prevented another co-writer from dedicating appropriate creative bandwidth to the project. It's on ice for the time being.

Which happily frees my queue to pursue a third story, which I've been noodling on for nearly a year. The hook of this script prominently features themes with which 7th Son and Personal Effects fans are familiar: identity, sanity, and sanctity (both of the human body and mind). It also levels both barrels at many consumption- and brand-obsessed First World cultures.

I dare not share more about the concept, other than to say that this "near future" world I've created is one you've never seen, and the culture specifically will make your head spin like a top. Spin in a That's some cool shit kind of way.

I believe the very best sci-fi stories resonate because they successfully incorporate subgenres into their tales. Blade Runner's noir elements help make that unfamiliar world more accessible to a viewer. Consider Serenity's Western elements; they help deliver similar results. I contend that using mainstream-friendly subgenres helps make sci-fi feel palatable to wider audiences. It helps the story feel less sci-fi-ish, which I believe is a good thing.

I've been thinking hard about which subgenre to inject into my latest story ... and today, I turned my wicked eye toward the revenge movie. I love revenge flicks, as a third act filled with whup-ass is guaranteed. In addition, the subgenre plays nice with the loose outline I created for this story.

Unforgiven is my personal favorite revenge flick, but I knew I needed more reference material for creative inspiration. So I turned to YOU on Twitter and Facebook and asked:

What's the *very best* revenge movie you've seen? You can only pick one. Go!

And you sure as hell did. Here are your recommendations. There are some hella great flicks here. Fill up that Netflix queue, peeps.

  • Wes Platt recommends: El Mariachi
  • Tanya N. Kutasz: The Italian Job (the remake)
  • DC Perry, Brand Gamblin, Tony Southcotte, Jessika Oxford: Oldboy
  • Jared Axelrod: The Limey
  • Ted Wade, Adam Lefever, Ted Wade, Michelle Ristuccia: The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Tony Mast: Braveheart
  • Kevin Smokler: 9 to 5
  • Zach Ricks: Man on Fire
  • Scott Roche, Vivid Muse: Leon - The Professional
  • Johnny Ho, Jane Doh, Eliza Sea: Lady Vengeance
  • Tee Morris, Amber: The Sting
  • Neil Colquhoun: Jaws
  • C.C. Chapman: Hard Candy
  • Mary Rajotte: Heathers
  • Allen Sale: Theater of Blood
  • Seth, Karl Schild: Payback
  • Christiana Ellis, Duncan, Michael Falkner, Matthew Wayne Selznick, Tim Adamec: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn
  • Martyn Casserly, Edward G. Talbot, Leandro Pezzente: The Princess Bride
  • Trisha Leigh: Lucky Number Slevin
  • Richard Green, Avery Tingle, Aaron Baldwin, Void Munashii: Kill Bill
  • Stuart Robertson, Billy Flynn: The Crow
  • Clinton: Aliens
  • Thomas Janci: Revenger's Tragedy
  • Douglas Hagler: Ransom
  • Josh Rosenfield: The Prestige
  • Adam Loyal: Dirty Work
  • J.R. Blackwell: Titus
  • James Auger: Memento
  • Gary Giovanetti: Death Race (the remake)
  • Robert Smith: Mad Max
  • Howard Dinatale: Get Carter (the original)
  • Dave Minkus: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Gregory Gunther: Taken
  • Carlene Worthington: Repo

I've seen a lot of these ... and there's a lot I haven't seen, or even heard of. The Count of Monte Cristo is absolutely the quintessential revenge story (I loved reading it way back in high school, and should revisit it), and the countless recommendations for Oldboy have my curiosity majorly piqued. Thanks to everyone who recommended their favorites.

I hope you'll check out some of these cool revenge flicks too. And if you'd like to recommend your ULTIMATE revenge flick pick, sound off in the comments!

--J.C.

What I'm reading. (And what are YOU reading?) by J.C. Hutchins

I'm never one to turn down a good writing challenge, particularly if it hails from one of my favorite bloggers. Lorelle's blog is inspiring because she offers practical advice about blogging and the online life. She also issues weekly blog challenges. This week's challenge is a must-participate for me: "Blog about what you are reading, what you like to read, and why."

I'm up to my eyeballs in good books these days. I'm coming down from a months-long fiction binge (more on this in a moment), so I'm currently enjoying some excellent non-fiction.

Reading serves two purposes for me: entertainment and creative inspiration. My mind rarely seeks out new ideas for my own novels/short stories when I read fiction; I'm there to escape. But when I'm questing for concepts to explore creatively -- either in my fiction or my in "zero budget" marketing adventures -- I dive into non-fic.

So. That recent fiction binge. What did it entail?

  • Rainbow's End by Vernor Vinge: Vinge is my favorite SF author; his far-future A Deepness In the Sky is so damned good, I wish I could read it for the first time all over again. Rainbow's End is a near-future story, and its world is meticulously realized. Sadly, I wasn't invested in the characters (and there wasn't enough conflict for my tastes), and I dropped it halfway through.
  • NEXT by Michael Crichton: A book that had a lot of potential, but felt more like a "101" on the genetics industry than a true narrative. Again, the characters and conflict weren't compelling enough for me to recommend it. Sloppy.
  • Planetary and The Authority by Warren Ellis: Killer epic SF thrillers by the wickedly subversive Warren Ellis. Yeah, they're comic books ... and they've got better pacing and character depth than most traditional novels these days. Highly recommended.
  • Garden of Beasts by Jeffrey Deaver: I'm an unapologetic Deaver geek; no one can bonk you on the head harder with an unexpected plot twist than this guy. Garden of Beasts is a fascinating look at Nazi Germany, just before World War II. Deaver deftly educates readers on the history and political climate of the era, and throws in an excellent assassination plot, to boot. Recommended, as are his Lincoln Rhyme thriller series.

But my belly's full of fiction for the moment (aside from some podcast novels, which are serialized and feel more like "shows" than "novels" to me), so I'm currently immersed in non-fic. It's all tickling my creative side something fierce.

  • Merchant of Death by Douglas Farah and Stephen Braun: Just finished this remarkable true story about Victor Bout, an infamous and reviled Russian black-market arms dealer. In addition to directly arming many of the conflicts in Africa for the past 18 years, he's also put guns (and rockets, and helicopters and frickin' jets) in the hands of Columbian drug lords, the Taliban and other slimebags. The most terrifying part: He's still doing it. Excellent read.
  • Join the Conversation by Joseph Jaffe: Terrific read for mainstream noobs (or know-it-alls) who don't know it all about social media, the speed of communication, and the connectedness of the online world. Jaffe's prose is punchy and mischievously irreverent, and the perspective he provides is an excellent resource for folks interested in diving into the soc.media space.
  • Meatball Sundae by Seth Godin: Another excellent marketing-related read for folks curious about the social media explosion. Godin speaks volumes with few words (a rare writing trait indeed), and offers intriguing insights for marketing folk who aren't grokking the conversations -- and opportunities -- found in the soc.media space. Currently reading.
  • Letting Go of the Words by Janice (Ginny) Redish: This isn't just a great resource for bloggers, podcasters and anyone who wants to effectively communicate on the Web -- it's a fun, spunky read. Redish provides great writing advice (and context for that advice) in a style that keeps my peepers moving. The very execution of the book proves that she practices what she preaches. Currently reading.

So those are the things on my plate these days. What about you? What are you reading? Talk to me in the comments! Share your recommendations with fellow JCH.net readers!

--J.C.