You may have thought Avatar was a tad heavy-handed with its environmentalist messages, but apparently that's nothing compared to Paradise, the short screenplay Cameron wrote in high school. In Paradise, the U.S. government legalizes drugs at some point in the early 1970s, leading to a decade of heavy drug use. And then a new injected drug, Paradise, comes along — and it's more addictive than any other. Plus it transforms its users into pale-skinned automatons called the Packs, who roam around looking for other people to inject with needles and turn into Paradise users.

According to a synopsis released by Richard Dawson, Cameron's high-school friend who was supposed to star in the film, the movie's two main characters are named Man and Girl. They meet in a desolate hallway and discuss the collapse of society. In the end, they agree that America's problems are not really due to drug legalization, or to the super-addictive drug Paradise, but rather to our over-industrialization and abuse of the environment. And then Man and Girl are sadly overcome by a mob of Paradise addicts.

The scene shifts to a progress report, being written by an alien military official observing the Earth. It turns out the Paradise drug was released by aliens, looking to enslave the human race. And now that the drug has done its work, the Earth is ready for colonization. The End...?

Despite what sounds like some incredibly clunky writing, Paradise has a few nifty ideas — I like the idea of aliens using a super-addictive drug that compels users to addict others, to enslave the human race. And it sounds as though most of Cameron's main preoccupations were already well in place in 1970. [TheStar]