H.P. LOVECRAFT'S PICKMAN'S MODEL
(c)2003 Dark Whisper Films
1 INT. PICKMAN'S CELLAR DUSK/NIGHT 1
The DOOR of the CELLAR opens, as PICKMAN gestures to the
BEAUTIFUL GIRL to enter and stand over by the WELL.
Well, here we are...I know it's a
bit damp...but I do all my best
work down here. Stand over there
by the well, my dear...the light's
Now if you'll kindly disrobe...
[ ROLL TITLES ]
2 INT. PICKMAN'S CELLAR DUSK/NIGHT 2
PICKMAN begins to sketch the BEAUTIFUL GIRL, now standing
over by the WELL, as she begins to disrobe. As she bends
over to lay some of the removed clothing on the nearby DESK,
we catch a glimpse of the CREATURE coming up out of the well
I'll just put my things
here...Now...all you want me to do
is just stand here? And you'll
paint me...in your picture? That's
[ ROLL TITLES ]
3 INT. PICKMAN'S CELLAR DUSK/NIGHT 3
PICKMAN sets down his CHARCOAL and reaches for a CAMERA that
is lying about.
Yes, that's all...I simply must
have a live model...It's the only
way to truly capture the moment...
What's that camera for?
The BEAUTIFUL GIRL screams as she is attacked from behind by
the CREATURE, and is drug down into the WELL. After a
moment, the terrified GIRL briefly reappears and grips the
lip of the WELL, whispers for help, and is then suddenly
pulled back in, as her screams slowly die away as she is drug
deeper into the tunnels.
[ ROLL TITLES ]
4 EXT. THURBER'S HOUSE (STAIRS/WALKWAY) DUSK 4
FADE IN TO MED SHOT of STAIRS leading away from the STREET.
One MAN is starting up the stairs, while the second MAN calls
out to the first as he exits a cab.
Thurber...this was your idea...you
pay for it!
Oh, yes, yes...I'm sorry...
THURBER searches for, and finds some MONEY, and hands the
money to ELLIOT.
Hand this to the driver, will you?
ELLIOT hands the money off-screen to the driver of the CAB.
Here you are...keep the change!
We hear a CAR DOOR CLOSE, and then the CAB SPEED AWAY.
ELLIOT starts up the stairs behind THURBER.
And you needn't think I'm crazy,
Elliot...Plenty of others have
odder phobias than I. Why don't
you laugh at Oliver's grandfather?
He won't even set foot in a
MED-LONG SHOT of the outside of THURBER'S HOUSE. Two MEN are
walking along a WALKWAY towards the FRONT DOOR of a humble,
but obviously well maintained home.
If I don't like that damned subway,
it's my own business...and besides,
we got here more quickly by taxi,
Oh, I don't think you're crazy,
Thurber...You just seem more
nervous to me than you did the last
time I saw you...that's all...
5A EXT. THURBER'S HOUSE (DOORSTEP) DUSK 5A
THURBER fumbles with the lock, finally opens the DOOR, and
I know I'm more nervous...But you
needn't hold a clinic over it.
There's plenty of reason...God
knows, I'm lucky to be sane at all.
5B INT. THURBER'S HOUSE (ENTRY HALL) DUSK/NIGHT 5B
The men enter through the FRONT DOOR into the ENTRY HALL.
ELLIOT closes the door behind him as THURBER removes his HAT
and COAT and hangs them on the COAT RACK. He then gestures
to ELLIOT for his HAT and COAT, who removes his garments and
hands them to THURBER, who in turn hangs them on the COAT
RACK next to his own.
I don't mean to badger...I was just
curious as to what happened between
you and Pickman. Nothing more...
Well, if you must hear it, I don't
know why you shouldn't.
Maybe you ought to, anyhow...After
all, you did keep writing me like a
grieved parent when you heard I cut
the Art Club...and when I started
to keep away from Pickman. Now
that he's disappeared, well I would
What? He's disappeared? Well,
tell me what happened!
I don't know what's become of
Pickman...And I'd rather not guess,
for that matter.
6 INT. THURBER'S HOUSE (IN THE STUDY) DUSK/NIGHT 6
THURBER and ELLIOT enter the STUDY. ELLIOT sits down in an
EASY CHAIR, seated near a TABLE. THURBER walks toward the
FIREPLACE, and nervously adjusts the CLOCK located on the
God knows where that man's
gone...if he even was a man...
Let the police find him...
The police have gotten involved?
Yes...they're looking into
it...though I doubt they're up to
it...they probably don't even know
about his North End place...
You mean he had another studio? I
thought he only worked out of his
(trailing off in thought)
And up in the North End, you
say...I'd love to see it...can you
take me there?
No...no, I couldn't go back
[ QUICK COLOUR FLASHBACK ]
I'm not even sure that I could find
it again...not that I'd ever
try...let alone at night...
Well, why not? And why did he
choose to work there, of all
places? I would have thought he
could afford better...
THURBER sits down in the CHAIR next to ELLIOT, and continues:
Oh, I'm afraid I know why he
maintained it up there...I'm coming
to that. And I think you'll
understand before I'm through why I
don't tell the police...They'd ask
me to take them back there as
well...and I just couldn't...there
was something there,
But here, here...where are my
manners? Let's have a drink before
we get any deeper.
THURBER walks into the DINING ROOM and picks up a TRAY with a
BOTTLE OF BRANDY, a BOTTLE OF WHISKEY, and some GLASSES on
But, what happened, Thurber? Tell
me...does it have something to do
with why you dropped Pickman? Or
why he's disappeared?
THURBER walks back toward ELLIOT with the TRAY, sits down,
and pours ELLIOT and himself a drink.
Now I would think you'd know I
wouldn't drop Pickman for just any
reason...like fussy old Dr. Reid or
Minot or Rosworth did...morbid art
doesn't shock me, and when a man
has the genius Pickman had...well,
I would think it an honour to know
him...no matter what direction his
THURBER picks up the BOTTLE, un-caps it, and pours himself
and ELLIOT a drink.
This city's never seen a greater
painter than Richard Pickman. I
said that from the start, and I say
it still...Ever since I saw that
first piece he unveiled at the
Club...you know, you've seen it...
Oh, you mean that horrid 'Ghoul
Yes! Exactly! Remember?...that's
when Minot dropped him. He never
could stomach anything that even
hinted at the strange or the
That's true...he did!
7 INT. THE ART CLUB (GALLERY) NIGHT 7
Numerous ART CLUB MEMBERS and others mill about the Club,
looking at the various paintings about the room. A PIANIST
is playing at one end of the room. A small crowd gathers
around PICKMAN, as he prepares to unveil his first piece at
Ah, ladies and gentlemen....gather
'round, gather 'round...
please...this way...Thank you all
for coming. Feast your eyes on...
PICKMAN pulls back the covering from his painting, revealing
GHOUL FEEDING to a horrified audience. Most gasp in shock
and turn away, disgustedly. One woman faints.
...'Ghoul Feeding' !
PICKMAN smirks at the reaction his PAINTING has caused. It's
as if he's pleasantly surprised. MINOT approaches and begins
to rant and gesture towards Ghoul Feeding.
That's preposterous! Why, it's
utterly revolting! Is this how you
choose to make use of your talents?
Why, Minot...you look as if you've
seen a ghost. Or perhaps you've
seen my friend here lurking about
somewhere, hmm? It's merely a
simple object lesson...nothing
Object lesson? Where on earth
would you find something like that!
Rest assured, you won't receive any
more support or monies from me if
you continue on this absurd path
Very well...I've never needed the
likes of you to tell me what art
ought to be!
8 INT. THURBER'S HOUSE (IN THE STUDY) DUSK/NIGHT 8
THURBER pauses, lost in thought, and then continues.
I'll tell you one thing,
though...it takes a profound
insight into Nature to turn out
stuff like Pickman's. Any magazine
cover hack can splash paint around
on a canvas and call it a
nightmare...but only a great
painter can make such a thing
really scare or ring true. I don't
have to tell you why a Lovecraft
brings out a shiver, while a cheap
imitation merely a laugh...There's
something those fellows catch...
they're able to make us glimpse it
too...if only for a second. And
Pickman...he had it as well.
He had it as no man ever had it
before...or I hope to Heaven ever
[ QUICK COLOUR FLASHBACK ]
You know, in ordinary art, there's
all the difference in the world
between the vital, breathing things
drawn from Nature or models...and
that artificial tripe that
commercial small fry reel off in a
bare studio...Well, I should say
that real artists have the vision
to actually...create their
models...they summon up what
amounts to actual scenes from that
spectral world they live in. But
how anyone could see what Pickman
[ QUICK COLOUR FLASHBACK ]
God, to see what that man saw!
[ QUICK COLOUR FLASHBACK ]
Remember how Pickman's forte was
faces. I don't believe anybody
since Goya could put so much sheer
hell into a set of features...And
before Goya you'd have to go back
to those mediaeval chaps who did
the gargoyles of Notre Dame!
Why, I remember you asking Pickman
yourself once, wherever in thunder
he got such ghastly ideas and
Yes, yes...that's true, I did...
And wasn't that a nasty laugh he
gave you in return?
Oh, how could I forget that! Why
Reid nearly jumped out of his skin!
9 INT. THE ART CLUB (GALLERY) NIGHT 9
ELLIOT, ROSWORTH, THURBER, and DR. REID are standing in front
of GHOUL FEEDING, discussing it with PICKMAN. The other Art
Club members that were hanging about have seemed to move on
to other exhibits.
Remarkable...it's so lifelike! How
did you ever dream up something
PICKMAN bursts into a sinister laugh, as ROSWORTH backs up
Oh...it's just something I cooked
up, Elliot...Why, you don't think I
creep about graveyards and the like
looking for willing subjects, now
PICKMAN glances to the side of the room and notices a
BEAUTIFUL GIRL who seems somewhat drawn to the artist that
has caused such a stir at the Club.
Now, if you gentlemen will excuse
me for a moment...I do have
something I must attend to...
Why, certainly. We'll be right
PICKMAN nods a quick good-bye and walks off toward the
BEAUTIFUL GIRL, leaving the others to continue on with their
I tell you, there's something odd
about that fellow...As you know,
I've been studying comparative
pathology of late...and I'm quite
certain...that man is changing!
Surely, you can all see that...
Well, he does look a bit under the
weather...but who could blame him?
After all, this is his first
showing here at the Club...
ROSWORTH interjects as he gestures toward Ghoul Feeding,
shaking his head in disgust...
And the last if I have anything to
say about it. I don't dislike the
man, but he's really not 'Club'
material, if this is any indication
of what he's about...
I swear, Pickman repels me more and
more every day...I tell you the
fellow's features are slowly...
developing...in a way that just
doesn't seem right...in a way
that's not quite...well, not
and eccentric to the very last
degree! Why just look at his
diet...or those blasted gloves he
My God, Reid...I think you've let
your imagination get the better of
you...it's just a painting...
10 INT. THURBER'S HOUSE (IN THE STUDY) DUSK/NIGHT 10
THURBER, sparked by ELLIOT's story, continues with his tale.
Yes...Reid! Why, barely a month
had passed before Reid dropped
him...always going on about
remember...he always wore
them...and God knows, now I'm
afraid I know why...
[ QUICK COLOUR FLASHBACK ]
Really? You do?
But keep in mind...I didn't drop
Pickman for anything like that.
No, on the contrary...my admiration
for the man continued to
grow...'Ghoul Feeding' was a
of what those simpletons at the
Club think...You know, they never
showed it again after that...or
anything else of Pickman's for that
The Museum of Fine Arts wouldn't
even accept that damned thing as a
gift...it's no wonder that nobody
would buy it...Pickman had to
finally keep it at his house...God
knows what's become of his work
now...I imagine his father back in
Salem has them...You do know
Pickman has old Salem roots, don't
Why, no...I had no idea...
Yes, he did...he even had an
ancestor hanged as a witch by
Cotton Mather himself! I can only
imagine what runs in that family...
11 INT. PICKMAN' HOUSE DUSK/NIGHT 11
THURBER knocks on the FRONT DOOR. PICKMAN answers the DOOR
and greets THURBER. He invites him in and then closes the
door. THURBER removes his HAT and COAT, and hangs them on a
You see, I found myself in the
habit of calling on Pickman quite
often...I had begun taking notes
for a monograph on so-called 'weird
art', and I found Pickman
indispensable when it came time to
Thurber...so good to see you...Come
in, please come in...
PICKMAN and THURBER walk by the FIREPLACE and enter PICKMAN'S
After all, it was his work which
put the idea in my head in the
first place...and anyhow, I found
him a gold mine of data and
PICKMAN offers THURBER a GLASS OF WINE, which he gladly
accepts. PICKMAN then pours one for himself and comments on
a nearby AFRICAN STATUE and MASK.
Thurber, may I offer you a drink?
Why, yes...thank you!
Ah, here's an interesting
piece....a Ghanaian forest
witch...it's their interpretation
of Nyarlathotep, the
Messenger...you see...the fellow's
feet are all turned around
backward...so he can't be tracked
or found...though I often wonder
whether he knows if he's coming or
And this...this is their 'Queen of
the Underworld'. She devours men's
souls...her familiar feeds them to
her...through her pineal gland, of
PICKMAN shows various PAINTINGS to THURBER that are displayed
about the room. They are all of dark and/or gothic
masterpieces, among them, SIDNEY SIME, VIRGIL FINLAY,
FRANSISCO DE GOYA, FUSELI, and GUSTAVE DORE. PICKMAN is
pointing out this and that to THURBER, as they discuss the
pieces. PICKMAN is clearly taking the role of the expert,
while THURBER his avid study. We can not always hear what
they are saying.
He had examples of all the gothic
Fuseli...Goya...His mastery and
understanding of the subject were
PICKMAN and THURBER come to rest in front of one of Pickman's
ORIGINALS, THE OUTSIDER .
Of course he also had numerous
examples of his own brand of
horror...and I tell you, some of
them would have surely curdled the
blood of those fools at the club...
And here we have a favorite of
mine...I call it 'The Outsider.'
PICKMAN gestures back toward the FIREPLACE, and the PAINTING
And of course you remember 'Ghoul
Oh, yes...who could forget that...
Yes...quite the show-stopper, hmm?
PICKMAN and THURBER drift back toward the PAINTINGS and
Before long I was nearly a
fanatic...I would listen for
hours...like an avid schoolboy...to
all his art theories and
philosophic speculations...I swear,
some were wild enough to qualify
him for the Danvers asylum, to be
PICKMAN picks up and thumbs through his family's copy of the
NECRONOMICON for a particular passage, and reads aloud to
Thurber...I'd like to read you
something. I think you'll find
It's from a very old book that has
been in my family for years...A
kind of heirloom, so to speak...
Let me see...ah, yes...here it is!
"Nor is it to be thought that man
is either the oldest or the last of
earth's masters...or that the
common bulk of life and substance
walks alone...The Old Ones
were...the Old Ones are...and the
Old Ones shall be...past...
present...future...all can be found
in Them. Not in the spaces we
know...but rather, between
them...They walk serene and
us...obscured...They walk unseen
and foul in lonely places...where
the Words have been spoken...and
where the Rites have howled through
at their Seasons. The wind gibbers
with Their voices...the earth
mutters with Their consciousness.
Man rules now where They ruled
once; They shall soon rule where
man rules now...They wait patient
and potent...for here shall They
PICKMAN replaces the NECRONOMICON on the shelf and continues
his story, as he and THURBER walk back towards the FIREPLACE.
Well...my hero-worship, coupled
with the fact that nearly everyone
was commencing to have less and
less to do with him...led Pickman
to become more...confidential with
You know...there are things that
won't do for Newbury Street...
things that are out of place
here...things that can't even be
conceived here...As an artist, it's
my business to catch the overtones
of the soul...and you won't find
those in any of these artificial
streets...the new Market doesn't
mean this city has history...it
isn't anything yet...It's had no
time to pick up memories or attract
local spirits...if there are any
ghosts here, they're far too
tame...I want human ghosts...ghosts
of beings highly organized enough
to have looked on hell...And known
the meaning of what they saw...
PICKMAN gages THURBER's reaction, hesitates for a moment, and
Now, if you're fairly close
mouthed...and none too squeamish...
I just might show you something
bit...stronger than anything I have
here in the house.
What do you mean?
THURBER stares intently at PICKMAN, hanging on his every
Well, what if I told you...that
I've got another studio...one a bit
off the beaten path. A place where
I can catch the night-spirit of the
antique...and paint things that I
couldn't even dream of here...
It's a place that not three living
men besides myself have even
seen...it isn't very far from the
subway as distance goes...but it's
centuries away as the soul
goes...The shack's almost tumbling
down so that nobody else would live
there...and I'd hate to tell you
how little I pay for it. The
windows are boarded up, but I like
it all the same...I don't need
daylight for what I do. I like to
paint in the cellar...where the
inspiration is thickest...I even
took the place under a false
name...just to keep
Naturally, I'd expect you not to
share this with those old maids at
the club...especially Reid and his
witless cronies...whispering as if
I'm some sort of monster...some
unfortunate example of reverse
Now, if you're game, Thurber...I'll
take you there...I think you'd
enjoy my new...'studies'...As I've
said, I've really been able to let
myself 'go' a bit there...
Shall we ?
12 INT. THURBER'S HOUSE (IN THE STUDY) NIGHT 12
THURBER continues his story as ELLIOT listens intently.
Well, Elliot, it was all I could do
to keep myself from dragging
Pickman to the first vacant cab we
could find. He had us change to
the subway at the South
Station...and we headed out past
the old Wharf...We disembarked at
the end of the line, and struck out
on foot...I couldn't keep track of
all the streets...we just kept
going deeper and deeper into the
older parts of town...
We finally stopped in the oldest
and dirtiest alley I ever saw in my
life...Pickman unlocked a foul and
filthy door...and led me inside.
God, that I ever set foot in that
13 INT. PICKMAN'S NORTH END PLACE (ROOM #1) NIGHT 13
PICKMAN and ELLIOT enter the STUDIO. PICKMAN continues his
Well, here we are...my home away
from home...This it the place for
an artist to live...the North End!
If any true artist were sincere...
he'd put up with the slums for the
sake of the tradition...God, man!
Don't you realize that places like
that weren't merely made, but
actually grown? Generation after
generation lived and felt and died
there...in days when people weren't
afraid to live or feel or die.
I can show you houses that have
stood two centuries or more...
houses that have witnessed what
would make a modern home crumble
into powder. What does modern man
know of life and the forces behind
it? They called Salem witchcraft a
delusion...but I'll wager you my
ancestors could have told you
Look here, do you know the whole
North End once had a set of tunnels
that kept certain people in touch
with one another? All this going
on, right under everyone's feet.
The tunnels went out past the
graveyard...and even out to the
sea...why, things went on every day
that no one knows of...things that
no one remembers...
Look, Thurber...out of ten
surviving houses built before 1700,
I'll wager that in eight I can show
you something off in the cellar.
Hardly a month goes by without
reading of workmen finding bricked
up arches or wells leading to
nowhere...whenever this or that old
place comes down...
When these places were built,
things were different...there were
witches and what they
summoned...pirates and what they
brought in from the sea...I tell
you, people knew how to live and
how to enlarge the bounds of life
in the old times!
And to think of today in
contrast...with such pale, pink
brains that even a club of supposed
'artists' get the shudders if a
picture goes beyond the feelings of
a Beacon Street tea-table!
Yes...I learned long ago that one
must paint both terror as well as
beauty from life...if one is to
truly see life...
The only saving grace of the
present is that it's too damned
blind to see the past that clearly.
What do modern maps or records or
guide-books really tell?
I could lead you to dozens of
alleys that aren't suspected by the
likes of most.
No, Thurber, these ancient places
are over-flowing with wonder and
escapes from the commonplace...and
yet there's not a living soul to
understand or profit by them. Or
should I say...there wasn't...
END FLASHBACK :
14 INT. THURBER'S HOUSE (IN THE STUDY) NIGHT 14
THURBER takes another drink, and continues his story.
Now, Elliot, I'm what the man in
the street would call fairly 'hard
boiled'...but I must confess that
what I saw in that place gave me a
bad turn. They were his pictures,
you know...and Pickman was
right...he had truly 'let himself
15 INT. PICKMAN'S NORTH END PLACE (ROOM #1) NIGHT 15
MONTAGE of various shots around Pickman's decrepit, boarded
up STUDIO. There are PAINTINGS depicting ghastly ghoul-like
creatures and colonial-looking victims and settings,
scattered about the room. PICKMAN is displaying and pointing
out this and that to THURBER. We can not always hear what
they are saying.
There's no use in my trying to tell
you what they were really like...
the awful, blasphemous horrors that
they were...the unbelievable
loathsomeness... the total lack of
morality...they were glimpses into
that which remains beyond the power
of words to classify...
Now, the objects of Pickman's keen
eye were hardly what you could call
human...and yet they seemed to
approach humanity by varying
degrees...the texture he gave to
Ugh! I can still see them!
Their occupations were...well, they
were usually...feeding...though I
won't say on what.
The morbidity that he managed to
infuse into those canvases...why,
it was like Hell on Earth!
What damnable expressiveness
Pickman gave those ungodly faces...
One canvas showed a ring of them
baying about a condemned witch on
Gallows Hill...a witch whose dead
face held a close kinship to their
And yet another painting seemed
almost out of place out of
THURBER picks up GHOUL'S EYE VIEW and comments:
Well, this one seems common
Perhaps...of course that all
depends on one's point of view...
Point of view?
Why certainly...all paintings
assume the point of view of
16 INT. THURBER'S HOUSE (IN THE STUDY) NIGHT 16
THURBER takes another drink as he continues.
Now don't get the idea that it was
all this hideous business which
overwhelmed me...I'm not a three
year-old...it was the faces,
they leered and reached out of the
canvas...with the very breath of
life itself! By God, man...they
were alive! Pickman had awakened
the very fires of hell in
THURBER quickly drains his glass again, and reaches out for
the BOTTLE. He re-fills his glass and continues:
Now, there was this one thing he
called 'The Lesson'...Heaven pity
me, that I ever saw it!
17 INT. PICKMAN'S NORTH END PLACE (ROOM #1) NIGHT 17
MONTAGE of various shots around Pickman's decrepit STUDIO.
PICKMAN shows THE LESSON (among others) to THURBER. We can
not hear what they are saying.
Listen...can you fancy a nameless
dog-like thing in a
churchyard...teaching a small child
how to feed like itself?
You know the old myth of
changelings...where weird creatures
leave their spawn in the cradles of
the unsuspecting...in exchange for
the human babes they steal? Well,
Pickman was showing what happens to
those stolen babes...and of how
they grow up...
As I came across other examples of
this theme lying about...I began to
notice a hideous relationship
between the human and the...not-so
human figures. He was, in his own
morbid way, establishing a sardonic
linkage or evolution to the
things...Why, he was suggesting the
dog-things were somehow developed
And no sooner had I wondered what
fate befell their own spawn...my
eye caught a picture embodying that
very thought...and in a spirit of
supreme irony...Pickman had given
the features a very perceptible
resemblance to his own...
18 INT. THURBER'S HOUSE (IN THE STUDY) NIGHT 18
THURBER continues with his story.
Now, I want to assure you,
Elliot...I'm not one to scream at
something just because it shows
departure from the usual...I'm
decently sophisticated...and you
saw enough of me in France to know
I'm not easily knocked out.
Indeed! We saw things no man
should have to see...
Well, in spite of all this, it was
when he led me to another room
which forced a real scream out of
me...I had to clutch at the doorway
to keep from keeling over...now,
the first studies had shown ghouls
and witches over-running the world
of our forefathers...turning it
into some kind of twisted annex of
Hell...but these...these brought
the horror right into our own daily
life! My God, how that man could
19 INT. PICKMAN'S NORTH END PLACE (ROOM #2) NIGHT 19
MONTAGE of various shots around ROOM#2 in Pickman's decrepit
STUDIO. PICKMAN shows SUBWAY ACCIDENT and OTHER FINISHED
ORIGINALS to THURBER. We can not hear what they are saying.
There was one called 'Subway
Accident'...in which a flock of the
vile things were clambering up from
some unknown catacomb into the
Boylston Street subway...every face
seemed to distort with epileptic
laughter...I almost thought I could
hear their fiendish echoes...
Another showed a scene in some
unknown vault... where scores of
the beasts crowded about one who
held in its paws an ancient
book...and was reading its contents
aloud to the receptive audience...
There were any number of grotesque
views...with monsters creeping
about, grinning as they waited for
their next victim...
But, mind you, it wasn't the
settings nor the backgrounds that
rattled me so...the madness and
monstrosity lay in the figures in
Now...as I gradually steadied
myself and readjusted to this
second room of deviltry...I began
to analyze some of the points in my
In the first place, they repelled
because of the utter inhumanity and
callous crudity they showed in
Additionally, they terrified
because of their very greatness!
Their art was the art of that
conceived...When I saw the
pictures...I actually saw the
[ PAINTING comes to life ]
20 INT. THURBER'S HOUSE (IN THE STUDY) NIGHT 20
THURBER loosens his tie as ELLIOT finishes his drink.
Now, give me a moment, Elliot...
THURBER drains his GLASS, and reaches out to the now-empty
BOTTLE#1. Seeing this, ELLIOT grabs BOTTLE#2 and pours
THURBER and himself another drink.
God knows I shouldn't go on...but
you have to know...some one has to
21A INT. PICKMAN'S CELLAR NIGHT 21A
PICKMAN and THURBER descend damp steps into the CELLAR.
THURBER looks about as PICKMAN gestures to the WELL at one
end of the cellar. We can not always hear what they are
Look...Pickman led me out of the
studio and down a flight of damp
stairs into the cellar. As I
braced myself for the hellish
efforts to come, Pickman gestured
towards a dark corner of the
(pointing to well)
That...is what I was talking
There was an ancient brick well
jutting up from the earthen
floor...an aperture into that
network of tunnels he hinted at
Dreading the things that well must
be connected to, I shivered
slightly...as I noticed a camera
lying nearby on a table...
THURBER picks up and examines a CAMERA that is lying about on
What on earth is this for?
Ah...I use it for taking pictures
of background scenes...I paint them
from the photographs back here, in
the studio...there's no reason to
cart the whole outfit about town
for this or that view...a
photograph works quite well for
Continue with MONTAGE of various shots around Pickman's
I turned around to see what other
horrors lay in wait for my eager
eye...and came upon a treasure
trove of nightmares...
There was something disturbing
about the sketches and half
finished monstrosities that leered
'round from every side of the
room...why, they were as ghastly as
the finished ones upstairs...they
showed the same painstaking methods
of the artist. That man was great!
I say that even now...knowing as
much as I do.
Pickman got none of his power from
the use of selectiveness...or
touches of the bizarre...nothing
was blurred...or distorted...or
sharp and lifelike...the details
painfully defined...And those
He didn't tempt us with the stuff
of dreams...only the cold
reflections of some stable...
established...horror-world which he
God knows where that world could
can have been... or where he ever
glimpsed those blasphemous shapes
that crawled through it...whatever
the source...one thing was plain.
Pickman was...in every sense...in
every conception and execution...a
PICKMAN uncovers a large canvas in the middle of the room
PICKMAN'S MODEL. THURBER recoils in horror. We can not
always hear what they are saying.
Thurber...I'd like to show you my
Good God! Merciful Creator...
Oh, thank you...I'll take that as a
Elliot...I don't know how much was
real and how much was feverish
fancy! It doesn't seem right that
the earth could hold a dream like
that! It was a colossal and
nameless blasphemy...and those
black, souless eyes seemed to burn
a hole right through me...
But damn it all! It wasn't even
those hellish eyes that made it
such a fountainhead of panic...It
was the technique, Elliot! That
accursed, unnatural technique! As I
am a living being, I have never
seen the actual breath of life so
fused into a canvas...
I knew that only a suspension of
Nature's laws could ever let a man
paint a thing like that without a
THURBER spots a PHOTOGRAPH pinned to the edge of the canvas.
He reaches out to look at it. We can not hear what he is
Now, tacked to a vacant part of the
canvas was a photo... I reached out
to it when...
PICKMAN violently grabs THURBER and pleads with him to be
Quiet, damn you! Don't make a
sound...sometimes rats come up
through these old wells...they're
attracted to certain sounds...
PICKMAN and THURBER stare intently at the WELL. After a
moment, they hear a scraping sound as the COVER moves
slightly, and then stops. PICKMAN shoves THURBER out the
door of the cellar and quickly locks it.
You need to go...now! Get out of
here, damn you!
Pickman! What in God's name...
He reaches into the DESK, draws the PISTOL he brought back
from France, and takes aim at the WELL.
...while I deal with our uninvited
21B INT. OUTSIDE PICKMAN'S CELLAR(STAIRWELL) NIGHT 21B
THURBER tries the DOOR, finds it locked, and then pounds on
the door. We hear ODD NOISES and the CLATTER OF HOOVES as
PICKMAN obviously struggles with something.
Pickman! Pickman...open the door!
22 INT. PICKMAN'S CELLAR NIGHT 22
PICKMAN continues to aim the PISTOL at the WELL and the
CREATURE that is slowly climbing out of it.
Get back in there, damn you! I'll
seal that accursed well back up,
and you'll never get out, I
The CREATURE defiantly approaches PICKMAN, not heeding his
warning in the slightest.
You ungrateful wretch! You had
her...you can't have him!
23 INT. OUTSIDE PICKMAN'S CELLAR (STAIRWELL) NIGHT 23
THURBER hears GUNSHOTS, freezes for a moment, then pounds
harder on the door.
Pickman! Good Lord, man! What on
earth is going on? What are you
shooting at, Pickman?
THURBER hears evidence of a struggle, then nothing but
silence from the cellar. We hear the door unlock, as PICKMAN
suddenly opens the door, steps out, and closes the door
Damned rats...the Devil knows what
they eat, Thurber...those tunnels
touch graveyard, witch-den and sea
coast...whatever it is they feed
on...they must have run short...
they were devilishly anxious to get
out....your scream must have
stirred them up...I find it's best
to be cautious in these old
THURBER stares, flabbergasted by Pickman. He's quite at a
loss as to how Pickman seems to be so calm. It's as if this
whole affair was merely routine for him.
Our rodent friends are the one
drawback of the studio...though I
sometimes think they might prove an
asset by way of atmosphere...or
Well, let's go back upstairs...then
we'll get you off on your way...
24 INT. THURBER'S HOUSE (IN THE STUDY) NIGHT 24
A clearly exhausted THURBER finishes his tale:
Well, Elliot, that was the end of
Pickman had promised to show me the place, and Heaven knows
he'd done it. He led me out of that tangle of alleys back to
the subway...he turned off...and bid me farewell. I never
saw or spoke to the man again.
You never saw him again? You
dropped him...just like that? Were
the paintings really that
No...it wasn't the
paintings...though I'll swear they
would have been enough...it was
something...something I found in my
coat the next morning...
[ QUICK COLOUR FLASHBACK]
You know the photo from that canvas
in the cellar? The photo I thought
Pickman meant to use as a
background for his latest work?
Well...when Pickman pushed me out
of the cellar...I was reaching out
to it...It seems I had mistakenly
crumpled it into my pocket...I
didn't even notice it until the
[ QUICK COLOUR FLASHBACK]
Yes, that photograph was the reason
I dropped Pickman...Richard Upton
Pickman...the greatest artist I
have ever known...and the foulest
being that ever leapt the bounds of
life into the pits of myth or
THURBER quickly drains his glass and slams it down on the
Elliot! Old Reid was right!
Pickman wasn't strictly human.
Either he was born of strange
shadow...or he'd found some way to
unlock forbidden gates back into
that fabulous darkness he loved to
haunt...either way, well...well
he's...he's gone now...
THURBER gets up and quickly exits the room.
Thurber, where are you saying?
Where are you going?
THURBER stands in front of his DESK. He reaches inside for
something as he continues with his tale.
You know how damned life-like
Pickman's paintings were...you've
seen them for yourself! You know
how we all wondered where he got
those faces? Those damnable,
ELLIOT gets up to addresses THURBER.
THURBER walks toward ELLIOT. He has a curled-up PHOTOGRAPH
in his hand.
Well, Elliot...it wasn't a
photograph of any background after
all...The background of this
photo...is merely the wall of
THURBER gestures with the PHOTOGRAPH in his hand.
This...this is of the model...
THURBER holds up the tattered, curled PHOTOGRAPH for ELLIOT
And by God, Elliot...
ZOOM into PHOTOGRAPH to see detail.
It's a photograph from real life!
ZOOM closer into PHOTOGRAPH until the photo is full frame.
The edges of the PHOTOGRAPH and THURBER'S HAND slowly
DISSOLVE into the next scene.
25 INT. PICKMAN'S CELLAR DUSK/NIGHT 25
The CREATURE is sitting in the cellar in front of the WELL.
It is gnawing on a HUMAN HEAD. It is posed exactly like the
model in the photograph. It is frozen, listening for
something. The CREATURE suddenly 'comes to life' and
continues gnawing on its snack. It pauses again, and sniffs
the air. It sniffs again, as it gazes around the cellar.
The CREATURE finally fixes its gaze on the camera, drops the
HEAD, and slowly creeps forward to investigate this juicier
morsel a bit more thoroughly...
FADE TO BLACK:
[ ROLL CREDITS ]