Posted: Thursday, January 20, 2022 - 15:18

In 1984, while finishing edits and filming A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wes Craven was also working on a script titled Twilight Adventure.  The script was co-authored with Vada Nayak and a revised script from August 1984 now sits within our Horror Studies Collections.  Some cursory research does not turn up any information about this project, so it’s unclear how serious the project was or if it made it past the script writing stage.  But let’s explore this rare and unproduced script here.  

The plot unfolds over the course of a few days with some flashback scenes to establish background information and conforms more to the elements of a thriller than a horror film.  The general story revolves around the death of a patriarch, the conflict of succession of his estate, and a long-held family secret.  Of course, things are not quite so straightforward as a supernatural element is also present with spells, black magic, and a secretive snake cult.   

The story begins from the point of view of a snake entering an encampment, slithering into a house, and rearing up to bite the inhabitants (we see it’s shadow cast by lamplight and see the trademark hood of the cobra); quickly move to a cavern with a snake idol and acolytes in snakehead hooded robes worshipping (the attire mimics the cobra hood); and finally a winery plantation with the longtime crew foreman warning the estate owner about the curse of the serpent; the skeptical owner is fatally bitten by the serpent moments later, setting into motion the main plot of the film.   

Justin Strong, the son of the plantation owner, is a professor working in Switzerland.  He is notified of his father’s death and quickly makes plans to fly back to the estate to deal with the funeral and his inheritance.  Declining sales and no real interest in overseeing the family business, Justin is interested in selling the estate.  We eventually find out that the grounds contain a hidden treasure which is protected by magic enchantments to keep it safe from a cult that worships the serpent.  Several more deaths occur; we find out the Rasputin like shaman character that has enthralled the family matriarch is really the villain using his connection to discover the secret to access the treasure; the son eventually learns the truth to his family’s fortune and success; and then the climatic battle.  Through superior firepower and a powerful amulet, the son prevails but destroys the treasure as it was enough opium to overdose the entire world.   

Overall, the script is fun and certainly action packed.  The final third in which the showdown occurs would have been a fast moving and impressive sequence that surely would have excited an audience.  But the script is also clearly still in early stages needing further revisions to develop some of the plot elements.  Regardless, it provides a interesting look into a Craven film that could have been and one might even see the interest in black magic and indigenous customs and rituals that he would revisit in The Serpent and the Rainbow.   

 A couple of notable observations:  

-The setting, both in time and place, seem a bit strange: the story is set in the ‘Balkans’, with the only other description being overlooking the Adriatic. This should place it in then Yugoslavia or Albania.  However, nothing else in the story really matches up with this setting.  Additionally, the descriptions of the estate and manor seem as if they would fit in more with a pastoral and perhaps 19th Century period.  And lastly, while certainly the aesthetic of a cobra is enticing, the complete lack of any question about a non-indigenous snake preying on the vineyards just seems out of place.   

-There is a certain feel to the script, particular a scene set in a bazaar and the final climactic scene in a series of caves, that feels very much as if it was inspired by Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Additionally, there is an underdeveloped Nazi plot line that similarly feels inspired by Raiders.  The symbol of the snake cult is serpents in the shape of a swastika and there is a reference to the treasure having been hidden by Nazis, but the plot point is left undeveloped and unclear.    

-There is a hilarious scene reminiscent of a Looney Tunes cartoon.  The main character finds himself walking in open air, but falls when he looks down and realizes there is nothing beneath his feet.  Of course if he hadn’t looked down, he would have been fine.  One can see the same fate befalling Wyle E. Coyote or Daffy Duck.   

-The climatic battle scene reads like an action packed thrill that could have fit in with and stood up along side many other films from the 80s.   

-Ben Rubin

King and Romero

About

This is a website promoting and discussing materials in the Horror Studies Collection of the University of Pittsburgh Library Systems, including the George A. Romero Archival Collection, the Daniel Kraus papers, and the John A. Russo collection. You will also find information here on events, initiatives, and collaboration from Pitt Libraries that are relevant to horror studies. When sharing or discussing any of the information posted here, please credit the University of Pittsburgh Library Systems. Unless otherwise noted, all posts on this site are created by Visiting Researcher Adam Charles Hart or Horror Studies Collection Coordinator Ben Rubin.

Contact

Ben Rubin, Horror Studies Collection Coordinator
Adam Hart, Visiting Librarian


For information about horror studies collections, access, and visiting Archives & Special Collections, please submit a question via Ask-an-Archivist