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Chase Smith’s award-winning screenplay merges supernatural horror with the western genre for a fun, gritty, and gruesome ride

It comes as no surprise that Chase Smith’s outstanding screenplay, Hell Departed, was chosen as one of the top five scripts from the All Genre Screenwriting Competition, a contest sponsored by Dizzy Emu Publishing through FilmFreeway.

The script, which tells the true-life story of the notorious “Bloody Benders” family, is lean, sharp, and intelligent—and not a single page goes by without suspense, action, and touches of blood-soaked horror and gallows humor.

Bloody Benders

Available for purchase on Amazon, Hell Departed is now up for the competition’s grand prize, a full publish and marketing package from Dizzy Emu. By picking up a paperback copy of the screenplay, you are helping Smith’s script get closer to that top prize and possibly even seeing this compelling story appear at your local movie theater one day.

The “Bloody Benders” were a demented family of serial killers—led by seductive sisters Sara and Katie—who secretly tormented the townsfolk of the Midwest in the early 1870s. Hell Departed documents the family’s gruesome and occult-based activities as they lure unsuspecting men and women into their clutches and then dispatch them to their graves in the most horrific of ways.

In his screenplay, Smith combines supernatural elements with the tropes of both the horror and western genres to great effect. The sinister, smoldering sexuality of the Bender sisters adds a feeling of dread to many of the scenes, while the other Bender family members are just as lurid and twisted as one might expect. But part of the script’s ingenuity comes from its multiple layers. Smith’s secondary characters (including a young Wyatt Earp, a troubled preacher, a desperate mother and child, and a determined sheriff and deputy duo) steal every scene they are in with unique characteristics, realistic dialogue and believable motivations in the narrative.

One subplot of Hell Departed, which involves one of the future suspects of the Jack the Ripper slayings of 1888, employs disturbing imagery and adds a hint of perverse, diabolical fun to the script.

Smith clearly knows his trade—Hell Departed crackles with cinematic life on every page, and the shots and sequences he describes (including a few strategically-placed jump scares and a killer climax that expertly mingles suspense and action) make visualizing the story on the movie screen quite easy.

Early poster art for Hell Departed film

Part of the joy of reading an excellent screenplay like Hell Departed comes from the anticipation of seeing this fast-paced and historical story play out on the big screen. Though the script itself features a handful of errors (“grizzly” instead of “grisly,” “pure liquor” instead of “pour liquor,” “idol” instead of “idle”, etc.), none of these mistakes prevent the reader from becoming fully immersed in the story Smith sets out to tell.

By the conclusion of the script, I was clutching my paperback copy with white-knuckled hands, eager to find out whether or not the Benders would reach the pinnacle of their wicked plans. And—while HELL DEPARTED definitely brings one part of the “Bloody Benders” saga to a close—the screenplay ends with the suggestion that the gruesome trail of bodies left behind in their wake has only just begun. Combining historical fact with inventive fiction, HELL DEPARTED hits the mark in every way.

If you’re a fan of historical westerns and supernatural horror, you can’t go wrong by diving into Chase Smith’s Hell Departed this summer—and, by purchasing your copy through Amazon, you will be supporting indie horror and helping a talented writer, director and actor bring his visions to life. 

Hell Departed

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