Initial "Ghostbusters-influenced" Sci-Fi/Comedy Draft: Detailed Synopsis



Author: Mark Johnston (Ragey)

July 10, 2011


This script, written by Parker Bennett and Terry Runté and dated February 19 1992, was the first step towards the weird and wonderful sci-fi stylings of the finished film. The basic premise of a parallel world inhabited by humanoid dinosaurs remains in this early take, though the tone and atmosphere through which it is explored is approached much differently.


Major elements present in following scripts were introduced in this script, though utilized in substantially different ways: Toad is present and remains the first citizen of the sub-dimension to interact with Mario and Luigi, but was originally a part-chameleon herbivore who's had plenty of previous run-ins with the de-evolution machine. He saves Mario from certain doom on several occasions and hangs out in the desert with three friends Freeman, Mannis and Fodor, who...don't do an awful lot. Toad assists Mario in his assault against Koopa's Tower; a role that would later be filled by Iggy and Spike in the later Dick/Ian script.


Iggy and Spike remain in their role as bumbling minions of Koopa, though are described rather differently: "Iggy looks like a career bureaucrat, Spike looks like a funky killer." They try to get their hands on Daisy and the stone, though their presence is lessened as they have less time to interact with the brothers and eventually just disappear from the plot altogether. Their role is expanded greatly in later drafts which develop them from dim-witted underlings into eventual allies of the Mario brothers.


Additionally, more references to the Koopalings are made: a "Larry" was a former henchman of Koopa while Morton and Wendy are TV presenters on the dictator's propaganda network. Despite these namedrops, there are decidedly less references to the source material when it comes to names of incidental characters; Koopa's guards are simply called Simon (Sgt. Simon from the finished film), Clive and other "normal" names.


Koopa still has a secretary named Lena, though her role is almost comically miniscule. She has an establishing scene that sets her up as all too eager to get into Koopa's pants, a running gag about working on "memos" with Koopa, a token appearance or two afterwards, and then finally appears at the climax to escape through the portal to Brooklyn with the other kidnapped girls. She would later be given more ambition and motivation in the later scripts, becoming a true character that helped define the finished film.


Yoshi, the Air Stompers, various weapons and devices, the design of the city, the former king being de-evolved into fungus, even minor details like the Statue of Repression - they're all there! However, a lot of these elements feel underutilized. One gets the impression that a lot of these characters and premises were included in barebones format to be expanded upon in later drafts.


The fungus is easily the most expanded factor in the later scripts which establish it as a sentient organism that, in its own peculiar way, communicates with the brothers in their plight to overthrow Koopa. In this draft, the fungus is just set dressing with a backstory that gets unceremoniously toasted near the climax. The former king must have found a good agent after this script.


The parallel Manhattan—the Dinohattan moniker is never used in the script—is described in much the same way as it is seen in the finished film: with an abundance of graffiti, violent and abrasive citizens, and the same kind of overhead power system for the vehicles. Amusingly, the coin boxes from the video games make a surprise appearance as components of payphones: "One wall is lined with rusted metal boxes suspended overhead: "TOKENS." [...] COINS SPILL ON THE GROUND behind them. The Phreaks turn and smile. Alex and the others have busted open the METAL BOXES suspended on top of the booth."

One interesting aspect of this script is the establishment of the ruling elite that Koopa overthrew: the Portal-Keepers. While only briefly mentioned, the Portal-Keepers are nonetheless stated to have controlled the meteorite and implied to have been the true power behind their world while the King was only a figurehead or in bed with the society. They would gradually receive less and less mention before being ignored entirely in the finished film, leaving Daisy’s relation to the meteorite unexplained.


Mario comes across as slightly less whimsical in comparison to the Parker/Jennewein script. It's implied his late father forced the family business onto him against his will, and Eddie Scarpelli and the Leone family still judge him based on his father. His work ethic is rather unscrupulous, as he tries to swindle the Leones out of $800 for an easy job and appearing offended when he's referred to as a plumber... but by the story's end, he has pride in his occupation and is almost empowered by it. This character arc is passed onto Luigi in later scripts, while Mario becomes more honest - a factor particularly pronounced in a scene from the film's novelization, where he criticizes the sloppy work of Scapelli's plumbers.


There's a feeling that throwing lots of elements for later expansion is the main ambition of the script - the story is intriguing and has some particularly amusing scenarios, such as a scene involving a “golf course of doom,” but by the final act the story's structure unravels and no longer feels as tightly written as it once was. A scene from the Parker/Jennewein script is quite blatantly dropped in, and elements from the games are shoved in with little regard for pacing or importance (the Hammer Bros. appear out of nowhere, and then vanish after barely a page), or in a ham-fisted attempt to draw the story together (oh, Lena's with the good guys now because Koopa dumped her. Okay then). It's a script with ideas, but its cohesion is not as strong as it could be.


It is, however, a very intriguing insight, acting as a stepping stone between the light-hearted, comedy-centered fantasy story to the grim and gritty cyberpunk landscape. It's a whole different beast from the original Jennewein/Parker script, but you can still see its influence holding over slightly; seeing it change into something else entirely by the time of Clement and Frenais' draft is a fascinating sight. What it lacks as a story, it makes up for in ideas.




The intro plays out the same as the film - Daisy's mother leaves an egg at the steps of a church and is hounded by Koopa into a tunnel, where she wrecks a support beam in an attempt to take him with her.


Mario and Luigi are fixing a dishwasher at an Italian restaurant; Mario tries to scam the owners (who have fond memories of their father) out of $800 by artificially extending their work, but Luigi foils his plan by fixing the washer anyway. The two are given $200 and a free meal for their work, and are waited by Daisy, whom Luigi mingles with afterwards, learning that she's a palaeontology student and is taking part in a digging site underneath Brooklyn Bridge. However, Luigi accidentally breaks a pile of dishes she's carrying and they are stripped of their $200 pay.


The Mario brothers return to their workshop, which has been completely emptied by Eddie Scarpelli (named Scapelli in the later scripts, no 'R') and his collector Vinnie. Eddie's a big-name plumbing businessman with a grudge against the Mario family, and is currently disgruntled; not only has his daughter disappeared, but Mario owes him nearly $10,000. He has a waterworks project taking place under Brooklyn Bridge, but the digging site is slowing down his procedure - if Mario floods the site, he'll let the debt slide. Luigi doesn't approve of this and drives out to the site to warn Daisy.


Daisy returns to her apartment to find Mother Rita, the nun who found her in the egg years ago, and as a birthday gift hands over the metal eggshell her egg was contained in - it has a glimmering stone on top. While cleaning the gem Daisy notices the water in the sink 'bends' as it gets closer, but she accidentally drops it down the garbage disposal. Rita leaves, and Koopa's henchman Iggy and Spike, pretending to be lawyers who know her parents, try to gain access so they can kidnap her, but Daisy pretends she's someone else - this doesn't fool them.


Mario is waiting for Luigi at the workshop, occupying himself with sticking plungers on the ceiling and knowing exactly how long they stick. They get a call from Daisy who explains she needs a plumber, but her apartment is now empty and there's water gushing out of the sink; Luigi finds the stone in the garbage disposal and pockets it - it isn't even wet. Eddie and Vinnie are waiting for them at their workshop, having learnt that Luigi squealed on the plan, and the brothers escape down the laundry chute on the roof and drive away... only for the van to die on them after three blocks.


Mario and Luigi walk to Brooklyn Bridge, witnessing Daisy and her egg being dragged into the subway by Iggy and Spike. The trail leads to a cave-like tunnel where Daisy appears in a portal in the wall and tries to reach them, and the two dive through. They land in a "meteor-electric plant" with a huge red swirling mass at the bottom of a tunnel in the ground. They see Iggy and Spike have been beaten aside by Daisy.


They leave the plant and into a subway during passenger rush-hour, and make their way to the city. "Picture Manhattan, Tokyo, and Beirut mixed together. Steely businessmen stiff-arm their way through a sea of colorful low-lifes on multi-levelled walkways. Whores chat with heavily-armed Boy Scouts, two priests face off with knives..."


Neon signage is described as dominating the city: "Brightly animated SIGNS fight for space. There's a vague reptilian motif: "Tex-Rex," a restaurant; "Fleshworks," a tattoo parlor; "That Death Joint," a weapons shop. A sporting good store sells "Air" Stompers™: "Just Stomp it." A towering nightclub dazzles with NEON: "The KoopaKabana."


Luigi asks an old lady for directions, but she curses at him and knocks him aside. They go to the street below and are nearly run over by reckless drivers, so they decide to use a payphone "a hulking, well-armored, monolithic phone booth. Its neo-constructivist CORPORATE LOGO glows ominously, FLASHING as Mario approaches." The payphones are armed with sirens and flamethrowers, and nearly fries Mario for "breaching the perimeter" without paying. Punks with Air Stompers and stun rods destroy the payphone and rob them, claiming that anyone who uses a phone must be rich.


Police cars barrel onto the scene, but are just there to order from (Donut Land "One cop takes a bite out of his 'donut'. It looks like it's made out of raw sirloin."), and they arrest them for not providing proper identification: "This some kind of joke?" "Yeah, I know it's expired. I keep meaning to take care of that." "Yeah, fine. What the hell is a 'Driver's License'?" Daisy is also arrested by two other cops, who claim that corner of the street is reserved prostitutes.


Mario and Luigi are thrown in the back of the police car with "[...] a wiry, hyperkinetic, homeless-looking guy name [sic] TOAD." He's surprised to hear that they're from Brooklyn, and rattles on a theory about sub-dimensions and how the one they're all in at the moment stinks, all thanks to Koopa. They're taken to the police station, stripped of their possessions and thrown into a cell with half-reptilian, very violent and very hungry prisoners.


Meanwhile at Koopa's Tower (a parallel World Trade Center - "One tower is dark and foreboding, the other gleams against the night sky."), Iggy and Spike hesitantly barge in ("Are you sure we should disturb him?" "Are you kidding? When Koopa sees this we'll be heroes." "Okay, but remember last week -- he killed Larry because he interrupted him eating a cracker.") after Koopa and his secretary Lena have had sex, and present the egg to him. Koopa is ecstatic, but the missing stone is what he's really after; a guard contacts him to inform him of Mario and Luigi's capture, and mentions the stone confiscated from them. He heads to the cells and takes Mario and Luigi out to question them about Daisy's whereabouts, and Mario points out Daisy to him, only afterwards realising what he's done. Daisy is taken to Koopa Tower to be imprisoned with the other Brooklyn girls, while the brothers are to be taken to the de-evolution chamber.


Daisy meets the other Brooklyn girls in her cell, and one girl in particular stands out, as if the leader of the group. "Lithe, tough, dressed in black, she looks like she could be a bad influence on Madonna. This is DANIELLA." Daniella reveals that she's Eddie Scarpelli's daughter.


Mario and Luigi await their turn in the de-evolution chamber, though Toad isn't worried. "You get used to it. I've been de-evolved a couple of times. Did me a world of good." He explains that the toughest of the de-evolved people are trained into the Goomba elite guard, and the 'roots' of each person determines what they're de-evolved into; he reveals that he's half-chameleon. Koopa arrives and uses one of his lickspittle guards as a demonstration, but a cleaner accidentally nudges the power switches and de-evolves him into a mess on the floor. The brothers scuffle with Koopa, who slips on the remains of the guard and falls into the chair and undergoes partial de-evolution. A guard arrives to stop Mario and Luigi, but Toad, rendered invisible with his chameleon powers, beats him up, takes his flame thrower and leads the way. They retrieve their possessions and grab some other tools - Air Stompers, green and blue air cartridges ("labelled 'Bullet Bill!TM'"), flame throwers and a tube of tennis balls. Luigi sees Daisy's stone among his possessions.


They use a Bo-Bomb [sic] to clear out some guards, followed by the flame thrower and tennis balls (which are filled with jet fuel), and escape to the roof, which is rotting with fungus. They use the Air Stompers to blast their way to the next building, and the force of the shoes causes the entire side of the building to collapse. They land on a police parking garage, steal a car and escape to the streets; the chase allows them to try out the car's various weapons, and they eventually crash through a fungus-infested railroad trestle, causing a train to derail onto the streets below, ploughing through the cop cars. Toad directs them to the desert surrounding the city, and elaborates on the fungus they've seen frequently: "That's Karma. [...] No... King Karma. Koopa got rid of him -- had him de-evolved into a single cell organism and flicked him out the window. Now he's growing back, getting revenge. That's my theory, anyway."


Toad takes them to a nightclub so they can lie low, and introduces them to his friends, Mannis, Fodor and Freeman. "They are well-meaning, liberal types, total misfits in this reptilian world." They elaborate on the political system of the world and how no one can stand up against the Koopas - Toad and the three are herbivores, yet feel they have no choice but to accept what they're given, even the meat appetizers on their table. The brothers encourage them to stand up against this oppression, and things surely can't get any worse; if they band together there's a better chance of success. The nightclub is hit by a siege from Koopa's forces, so Mario, Luigi, Toad and his friends escape to his hideout.


At Koopa's Tower, he gloats to the remains of Karma (a big blob of fungus in a sunken pit) about his earlier stint with de-evolution and how he's embracing his more primal edge. Daisy is brought before him and he monologues; Daisy's parents were killed in an uprising twenty years ago, and her mother was one of the Portal-Keepers, a group who all share unique genetic traits and guarded the secrets of the meteorite that fractured the dimensions. Koopa wants Daisy's stone so he can power a device to merge their sub-dimension with the sub-dimension of our world, where he will rule over all.


The two move to a banquet table, though Daisy isn't interested in the food nor Koopa's come-ons. Yoshi is called in to finish the meat he can't finish, and Daisy is fascinated with the friendly creature, but once he starts getting in the way of Koopa's flirting he kicks the dinosaur out. He tries to lure Daisy with hypnotizing glares, but his face suddenly turns reptilian as if he can't control himself; he orders Daisy to be taken away.


At Toad's hideout Luigi continues to iterate that there's no such thing as an unstoppable force, though even Mario isn't convinced. On Koopa's propaganda TV channel they hear that Daisy will be executed tomorrow morning after a golf tournament. Freeman is disgusted: "This is terrible. This is horrible. They're going to make her sit through an entire golf tournament, and then kill her." Realising that Daisy will be taken to the golf game and the event will be televised, they plan to rescue her and make Koopa look like a fool at the same time.


A life-threatening golf game takes place, with quicksand-traps, giant man-eating fish in the water hazards, explosions, golf tanks and more. The guards at the execution stand leave to get interviews with the TV crew, and the brothers sneak onto the platform to rescue Daisy... only to discover that it's Iggy in disguise ("It's a trap. This is so humiliating." "How do you think I feel? I had to shave my arms.") The guards are alerted and storm onto the platform, but Toad and his buddies carry Mario and Luigi away in golf carts, though they don't get far before the guards blow them up with missiles. A stray missile hits the grandstand, causing a giant ornamental golf ball to fall off and roll onto the field and plough through the audience.


Mario and Luigi escape into dense foliage, only to run into a Tyrannosaurus rex and Piranha Plants, though the golf ball rolls in and distracts them, followed by Koopa and his golf tank, scaring the creatures away. Freeman, Mannis and Fodor are captured and taken to Koopa's Tower, while the brothers are left to die in needlessly exotic manners - Mario is staked in the desert with sand eels left to finish him off ("They gnaw through the skin, burrow into the body cavities, and lay their larvae. It can take weeks for the host to die."), while Luigi is taken to an ice dungeon where a giant razor fish tries to snatch him from his ice block platform. After Koopa and his troops leave, Toad appears to rescue Mario. Luigi, who still has a green air cartridge in his possession, feeds it to the fish, which messily explodes and frees him from the cell.


Luigi is captured by his guard and thrown into the cell next to Daisy's. They draw the guard's attention and assault him, with the help of Yoshi, and use his keys to free themselves, the Brooklyn girls and Toad's friends. Toad and Mario enter Koopa's Tower through an access pipe, and begin tinkering with the plumbing, causing parts of the place to begin flooding and the cooling system to malfunction. They reunite with Luigi and his group, and grab some more air canisters on their way.


Toad, his friends and the girls head out for the portal, while Daisy, Luigi and Mario stay behind to reclaim the stone from Koopa.As they look for an elevator they catch the attention of the guards accidentally, and find their way into a maintenance room occupied by two raving, gibberish-spewing psychopaths: The Hammer Bros. They dodge their thrown hammers and advance upward into the "Propaganda Department," then onto the top floor. The unguarded hallway leads into the office of... Koopa's accountant. He tells them that Koopa himself is in the next tower.


Goombas chase the three of them to the roof, but the brothers uproot a television antenna and use it as a bridge across. Koopa and a television crew have gathered in the chamber where his dimensional device is kept, to prepare for the merging of worlds; another henchman is sent to his doom trying to insert the stone, as the dimensional energy fries him to a crisp. The antenna holding our heroes collapses, and Daisy and Luigi are slung straight through the window into the room. Daisy has the stone forced into the machine by Koopa, and we witness Brooklyn Bridge warping and trembling, but Mario, having gotten in via a catwalk, has laid plungers on the ceiling, which drop bang on time and spear the machine, causing it to go haywire. Everyone flees; Koopa escapes to his personal elevator and leaves Lena behind, while Mario, Luigi, Daisy and Lena use abandoned shields to slide down a frozen water pipe. After everyone evacuates, Koopa's Tower explodes dynamically.


The portal to Brooklyn begins to shimmer and shrink, so the Brooklyn girls, Luigi and Daisy are led through, as well as Lena, who has a brief exchange with Mario. "Take me with you, please." "Why should we?" "Because I'm hot." "Okay." Toad gives Mario a pair of Air Stompers and cartridges. Before Mario enters the portal he gets grabbed by Koopa, and the two stumble through it into a strange series of sub-dimensions where "rules of space and time do not apply here... they are determined, subconsciously, by Mario and Koopa... Sucking wormholes appear in different forms, dancing in space then suddenly vanishing." They fight among several surreal landscapes, the size, shape and contortion of their bodies warping with each strike and blow.


Meanwhile, Luigi and the others have been waiting for Mario in the Brooklyn Bridge tunnel, only for a bomb to go off, flooding the site - the work of Eddie Scarpelli. Daisy comments that this flood has actually revealed a lot of dinosaur bones, making the paleontologists' work easier. They wade back to the dig site and are witnessed by a crowd holding a vigil for the missing Brooklyn girls, along with Scarpelli, who's reunited with Daniella - he's most shocked to hear that she thanks the Mario brothers for her rescue.


Brooklyn Bridge is still the scene of minor sub-dimensional activity, and Mario and Koopa rematerialize there - Koopa is now a total reptile man. They climb to the top of the bridge where Koopa corners Mario, towering over and snapping at him; Mario has his feet against his chest to keep him off. Koopa boasts: "I am the Lizard King! I don't need anything from you. You're nothing but a plumber! You're a plumber!" Mario activates his Air Stompers and retorts: "You're goddamn right... you piece of shit." The blast of the boots knocks Koopa straight off the bridge and into the vortex in the water below.


Mario and Luigi sit in an ambulance getting their scuffs treated. Eddie Scarpelli has changed his tone about Mario, and is beyond thankful for him rescuing his daughter; he makes sure the camera crew are there to record these words of praise. Suddenly, a huge meteorite rises from the river, and "a GIANT, PURE ENERGY, FULLY REGRESSED KOOPA, is straddling it. Energy swirls around him like tendrils. Koopa grasps them like reins, steering the meteorite up... up..." He calls for Mario, who approaches - the stone in his pocket discharges energy towards the meteorite, and he hurls the stone towards it. A large blast of white dimensional energy erases Koopa entirely. Victorious and exhausted, Mario and Luigi return to the ambulance for a well-earned rest, while Luigi babbles about the lessons their father taught them and how they were helpful during this adventure.





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