by Richard Nathan
The spotlight is up on our host, GUS THE GHOUL, while
the set is prepared for the next story, which takes place in a rustic mountain
cabin. A couple of wooden chairs
will be needed, and a window should be suggested somewhere (perhaps downstage,
in the fourth wall).
Do you like scary movies? Horrible,
frightening films that make you jump right
out of your seat, screaming in terror? You
do? Then why don't you go see a scary
movie, instead of wasting your time with
this garbage? Garbage, like our next
story about a man who directs horror films.
His name is George Gardner, and the story
takes place in his mountain cabin, where
he’s invited his producer Ronald Dawson
to join him for a weekend of fishing and
relaxation. But things won’t be very
relaxing in this story we call "Frights!
exits. Lights come up on the Cabin.
GEORGE GARDNER is sitting in a chair with a smile of evil anticipation on
his face. There’s a knock at the door.
Enter RONALD DAWSON and his daughter ALLISON.
carries her father’s luggage.
Ron! Allison! Good to see you.
Ronald offers a cool greeting to George.
Sorry we’re so late. Okay. I’m gonna
You sure I can't persuade you to stay?
I bet the fish are biting like crazy.
I bet the mosquitoes are too!
kisses her father on the cheek and starts to exit.
‘Bye, daddy. I'll see you Sunday night.
Don't be late. I've got a six o'clock
breakfast meeting Monday, and I've got
to be sharp!
Have a good time. Try to get some
exits and George closes the door. George
puts away the fishing gear as Ronald opens the overnight case and takes out a
You're a lucky man to have a daughter like
ignores the remark and hand the script to George.
Here. I want you to read this. It's your
You never quit, do you? Didn't we agree:
no work this weekend, just fun?
Think of this as fun. It's a first-class script.
reads the title on the front page of the script.
"Teenage Stewardess Massacre!" No. I
won't do it.
takes back the script and puts it aside.
Okay, read it Monday.
I didn’t mean, “No, I won’t read it.” I
meant, “No, I won’t direct it.”
Of course you'll direct it! We've got a
six picture exclusive deal!
You promised me only three of those
pictures would be horror! I've already
done four horror films!
You did a damned fine job, too.
How would you know? You never saw
They made money, didn't they?
I want to do meaningful stories about real
people with real problems!
What do you know about reality?
You promised me I could branch out!
Is that in your contract?
No, but you said I could trust you!
That proves you know zip about reality.
Then let me try something at another
Are you nuts? You're the best horror director
I've got. I'd be crazy to let you go.
Then I guess I'll have to scare you to death.
What the hell are you talking about?
I know you have a bad heart. I overheard
your secretary talking about it last week.
That's the real reason you've never seen
any of my pictures, isn't it? You're afraid
your heart can't take it!
Aw, come on, George, you moron, do you....
So I decided if you wouldn't let me branch
out, or let me out of my contract, I'd just have
to scare you to death! It's the perfect crime -
murder, but it looks just like natural causes!
goes to the door, opens it, and calls out:
Danny! Come in here, please.
DAN WESTON, wearing a latex monster mask, jeans, and a bulky down jacket.
He carries a phony knife with a retractable blade, so that when the
pretends to stab someone with it, the blade goes back into the handle.
A moment after he enters, Dan pulls off the mask and grabs Ronald's hand
to shake it.
Hello, Mr. Dawson. I want you to know
I have nothing against you personally. It's
just that it's real hard for beginning actors
like myself to find work, and besides, this
is a real challenge, you know? Actually
scaring someone to death!
Ron, this is Dan Weston. He's going to
play the part of a homicidal maniac who's
just escaped from an insane asylum.
I go around wearing this mask, see, and
I sneak up and stab people!
demonstrates his stabbing technique by attacking George with the phony knife.
This isn't what's supposed to scare me,
No. I'm just introducing the cast.
Good. I'm glad you didn't expect me to be
scared to death by a crummy actor with a
Hey! I'm a good actor!
Dan, why don't you go put on your policeman's
leaves by the front door as George turns back to Ronald.
I forgot to tell you, Dan also plays a policeman.
This is a low budget production.
George, maybe I have been working you
too hard. Take another week off, get
some rest, and then you can start pre-
No! No more of your trivial, clichéd, puerile
bloodbaths! This is my final horror, ever!!!
But you're not even making sense. Even if I
believed you wanted to kill me, which I don't,
why should I be scared when I know this is
People who go to horror films know what
they're seeing isn't real, but they're frightened,
just the same.
starts walking around Ronald, trying to get behind him.
Ronald keeps turning, keeping an eye on George.
There's a scene in almost every horror film
where the victim goes straight to the one
place where the killer is most likely to be.
And the audience gets more and more
frightened because they know the killer is
going to suddenly spring out of the shadows
and strike, but they don't know exactly when....
or how. The anticipation is what makes it
so frightening! I want you to know that Dan
is going to lunge out at you with his phony
knife, but you won't know when.... or how.
What's to stop me from walking back to
Danny. He's waiting out there.... in the
With a phony knife! This isn't just crazy, it's
You want to go outside? There's the front
walks to the front door. As he
reaches for the doorknob, Dan bursts in with a pistol pointing right at Ronald's
head. Dan wears a police uniform,
the shirt of which is several sizes too big, and he speaks with a ridiculously
bad phony Irish accent.
Hold it right there!
Oh, it's you, is it, Mr. Gardner? I didn't
know you were using the cabin this weekend.
I hope I didn't frighten you.
You didn't frighten me!
I saw the light on, and thought it might be
the escaped homicidal maniac.
Haven't you heard? A terrible, bloodthirsty,
homicidal maniac escaped from the local
insane asylum. He's armed and dangerous.
A mad, raving, insane lunatic.
peers at Ronald with suspicion.
I don't think I know your friend.
I'm sorry. This is Ronald Dawson, the
owner of Dawson Pictures.
Oh, Mr. Dawson, this is a great honor! It is
grabs Ronald's hand and pumps it up and down.
Will you stop using that ridiculous accent!
visibly offended, continues speaking in the ridiculous accent.
Now just a minute, Mr. Dawson. I don't
care how many studios you own. I'll not
have you saying anything against the Irish!
He didn't mean anything personal, Officer
Reilly. He's had a hard night.
Well, anyway, you've got a gun, haven't you?
Keep it loaded and ready! I have a strange
feeling that the deadly, escaped homicidal
maniac is close by.... waiting! So you be
dramatically whirls out the door and slams it behind him, but the effect is
spoiled by his nightstick getting caught in the door.
He opens the door, pulls the nightstick out, and closes the door behind
him once more.
What the hell was that?
Comic relief. A last moment of humor before
the horror begins.
takes out a pistol.
Is that thing loaded?
Yes. With blanks.
What? You think I'm going to shoot you?
Look, if I can't scare you to death, you're
not going to die. I promise, you have nothing
to fear but fear itself! If you don't believe
they're blanks, I can prove it to you.
aims the gun at Ronald.
Shall I pull the trigger?
You'll pay for this, Gardner! You're not
gonna direct "Teenage Stewardess Massacre!"
I'm gonna assign you to something even worse...
keeping the gun aimed at Ronald, stares him into silence.
There is nothing worse than the trash you've
given me! You've forced me to waste my
talent on garbage written by fourth-rate hacks
who never even try to be any good. And if I
ever try to insert something creative, something
original, something with just a touch of finesse,
I know it won't matter because the only people
who see my films are subhuman deviants who
don't care about anything but the quantity of
blood and the number of hacked-up bodies!
And each year there are fewer movie-goers
who want or even recognize quality, and more
and more morons who only want the bodies
and blood. And it's all the fault of cheap,
money-grubbing producers like you!!! Is it any
wonder I want to kill you?
is enraged. His anger is
frightening. He brings the gun
close to Ronald's head.
grabs the gun from George. He aims
it at George.
I told you, it’s loaded with blanks.
Then you shouldn’t mind if I test it by
pulling the trigger.
the maniac (wearing the latex mask) runs in screaming and waving the knife in
the air. Without even thinking,
Ronald whirls and fires. The maniac
clutches his chest as blood pours from his wounds.
The maniac falls dead.
I was counting on you to do that.
That's not real blood, is it?
Of course not. Why don't you go see?
Well, go on! Or are you afraid he's still going
to get you?
You should be. This is the climax, the classic
scene when the killer, who you thought was
dead, turns out to be alive, and kills again!
You've seen it a billion times! Oh, I forgot,
you don't go to horror films, do you?
looks at the Maniac, lying in a huge pool of blood.
Go on. He's waiting for you. Walk over to
him. You want to make sure you haven't
really killed anyone, don't you?
I'd like to kill you!
Later. Go check on him first.
Ronald is genuinely frightened. He knows the Maniac is going to jump up and shout at him, and he knows he'll be frightened when it happens. He edges over towards the body. Just as he passes the open door, ANOTHER MANIAC in identical clothes with an identical latex mask lunges out of the bushes, stabbing Ronald with a phony knife and screaming. Ronald clutches at the mask of his assailant and it comes off, revealing Dan. Ronald is frightened and short of breath, but he doesn't have a heart attack.... yet.
I admit it. That was good. You scared me.
But you didn't scare me to death. I win.
Not exactly. You see, I was never really
certain I could scare you to death. But I
knew I could trick you into shooting your
awful realization dawns on Ronald. He
knows who is lying in the blood on the floor.
runs over to her, kneels down on the ground, and rips off the mask.
It is indeed Allison, gagged.
Her lifeless eyes are frozen in pain and terror.
Ronald turns to face George.
Allison springs to life, stabbing Ronald and screaming as loudly as she can
through the gag. And Ronald finally
has his fatal heart attack. He
clutches at his chest and fights for breath, but it won't come. The pain is awful. He
We did it!!!
Nice work, Allison!
removes the gag.
Thank you, darling.
kisses George passionately.
You won't regret this, darling! I swear
the pictures I'll make for you now will earn
three times the grosses of those awful horror
pictures, and they'll be films you can be
proud of. No more "Teenage Stewardess
I thought I told you, I'm taking that project
away from you!!!
lied (in the stage directions when I said Ronald died).
Ronald didn’t really die. He
was only faking it.
Daddy! You're alive!
Of course I'm alive, you imbeciles! There's
nothing wrong with my heart!
But I heard your secretary say...
Yeah, I heard her too. She said there was
something the matter with my heart. She
said it because I didn't give her the raise she
wanted! She didn't mean I was sick!
But why did you......
I wanted to see how far you would take this,
and who else was in on it! You're going to
wish you really had killed me. You're gonna
pay -- all of you! Allison, first thing Monday
I'm canceling all your credit cards and cutting
your allowance to nothing. You want money,
get a job! And you, Officer Reilly or whatever
you call yourself, I'm going to see that you
never work in this town again.... not that anyone
would hire you anyway. That was the worst
performance I've ever seen! And finally you,
George. You thought you were directing
garbage before. Of course you were; that's
why I never went to the screenings! But the
trash you directed before was nothing
compared to the mindless drivel you'll have
to direct now!
goes to his overnight case and takes out another script.
He forces it into George's hands.
Here's your new assignment.
What is it?
looks at the title page as Ronald tells him the title:
"Return To The Playhouse Of The Damned!"
screams in horror. He
runs out of the cabin. Allison
runs after him.
Dan follows them.
Hey! You promised to make me a star!
Ronald is left alone in the cabin.
He picks up his briefcase and exits.
We hear all the characters SCREAMING off stage.
Then a masked maniac, in the same outfit with the same latex monster
mask, and holding a bloody knife, steps into the cabin.
The maniac removes the mask. It’s
GUS THE GHOUL.
I’m so embarrassed. I tried to scare them all
with my phony knife, and I made such a fool
of myself. I accidentally used a real knife.
Click here to go to another PLAYHOUSE OF THE DAMNED story
© 2000 by Richard Nathan. All rights reserved
The author grants all internet uses to print these scripts for their own, personal, non-commercial use. No other use may be made without the author's permission. Without limiting the foregoing, the plays may not be staged without the author's express permission.
Send e-mail to the author at .