LOGLINE: West Point Cadet Edgar Allan Poe and his crazier, opium-addicted brother try to solve murders near the military academy — only to become suspects themselves.
A SUBTITLE reads:
WEST POINT, NEW YORK OCTOBER, 1830
EXT. HUDSON RIVER - DAY
The CAMERA glides over the river's roiling surface, rising toward the cliffs and crags of the highlands and Gothic stone buildings of the West Point Military Academy.
Groups of cadets are finishing up artillery maneuvers out on The Plain, while others are heading back to their barracks. The sun is setting.
INT. BARRACKS ROOM
Four cadets are playing cards by candlelight at a small table in the center of the room. Their sabers and shako helmets are tossed on a nearby bed; a small fireplace blazes.
A handsome, aristocratic cadet, WILLIAM, impatiently thumps the table.
Are you in the game?
(scanning his cards)
Give me a minute ...
You need more practice in the art of deception - you've got nothing. Fold that hand.
The other cadets laugh.
Don't rush me. I've got something here - I know it.
William looks at him with exasperation.
At that moment the door bursts open and a SHADOWY FIGURE stands in the darkened doorway holding a sack in one hand and a dripping hatchet in the other.
There are gasps all around; Charlie, slackjawed, drops his cards.
I killed the bastard. I killed him, all right. He's told me to stay away from his daughter for the last time!
I cut his bloody head off!
He yanks what appears to be a severed human head from the sack, and tosses it in Charlie's lap. At that moment, the candle is knocked over and goes out.
With a YELP, Charlie leaps up, toppling over his chair and spilling the head on the floor.
He then turns on his heels, throws open the tall first-floor window at the back of the room (as the other cadets push up behind him yelling and clawing) and jumps out.
POV THROUGH WINDOW
Charlie running into the darkness to the sound of catcalls and laughter from the other cadets, who watch from the window.
BACK TO BARRACKS ROOM
William lights a candle and the cadets, some bent over in laughter, are gathered around the "maniac" with the hatchet - 21-year-old Cadet EDGAR ALLAN POE.
One of the cadets, THOMAS, slaps Poe on the back and then reaches down and picks up the "head" on the floor.
Look at this — it's nothing but a plucked goose and some horsehair with a bit of artist's paint. This is brilliant, your best prank yet, Poe! You are a genius