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5 Awesome Movies Ruined By Last-Minute Changes

"We'll just fix that in post!" has always been the rallying cry for filmmakers in the middle of a troubled production. Unfortunately, sometimes things have a nasty habit of actually getting broken in post-production, usually thanks to studio interference.

Victims include ...

I Am Legend

The Way It Was Supposed To Be:
In this adaptation of Richard Matheson's classic horror novella, Will Smith plays Doctor Robert "Legend" Neville, the last man alive in a city overrun with CGI vampire mutants.

In the film's original ending, Neville is trapped as vampires break through his barricades and infiltrate his hideout (who would have guessed that locking yourself in an enclosed space in the middle of a city full of vampires would turn out to be a bad idea?). Then, this happens:

Yeah. In the original, the vampires are revealed to be thinking, benevolent creatures who were merely attempting to rescue a vampire that Neville had captured earlier.

Not only does the book end in a similar way, but it in fact was the entire freaking point of the book. That's where the title "I Am Legend" came from, Neville's realization at the end that the vampires were the good guys and that he was the monster of their legends, since he had been mindlessly driving stakes through their heart at every opportunity. Maybe a title like So I'm The Asshole would have been clearer.

The "Improved" Version:
Because test audiences apparently didn't like the original ending, the studio opted to go with a new one in which Neville fights back against the vampires to protect his new allies. He does so by igniting a grenade about two inches from their face, destroying the once-safe stronghold and severely injuring his companions. It should also be noted that going by the original ending, Will Smith just murdered scores of reasoning creatures who were attempting to rescue a little girl.

This brings up the other problem, which is that all of the little hints that had been inserted along the way indicating the creatures had intelligence (the complex traps they set, the same creature reappearing in some kind of leadership role) are completely ignored. In the new ending, the vampires are mindless savages with no other purpose but general horror movie mayhem.

Perhaps the saddest thing about all this is that it shows that no one involved really believed in the message of the final product. They didn't produce a film in order to convey any kind message, they just strung together a bunch of cool scenes and called it a movie. One more reason why audience feedback isn't always the best guide, as anyone who has read YouTube comments will happily tell you.

Where you can find the original:
The original ending is available as a bonus scene on the recent DVD release, where it is advertised as the "controversial original ending." Yes, coming to a peaceful reconciliation with your enemies is now more controversial than blowing them right the fuck up.

Superman II

The Way It Was Supposed To Be:
Superman II was to be Richard Donner's epic tale of earth's mightiest protector, and why he decided to let aliens take over the world so he could get some poontang. Superman II probably contains the first true superhero-movie brawl, a violent dust-up between Superman and General Zod that leaves the Man of Steel crushed beneath a bus.

Most of Superman II was actually shot at the same time as the original, by Donner. Donner was more of the Christopher Nolan school of superhero movies, rather than the Joel Schumacher one, meaning he didn't see the need for a lot of goofball camp in his superhero movies. He even brought on his own writer on both films to smooth out the most retarded parts of the scripts.

This all worked great, except for the fact that the producers hated Donner's guts, though probably not as much as he hated theirs. He was booted off the project with 75 percent of the film shot.

The "Improved" Version:
The studio brought in director Richard Lester to re-film much of the movie. The resulting film marks the exact moment in which a franchise that already hinged on an invulnerable man traveling through time by spinning really fast, became ridiculous.

For some reason, Lester thought it would be a good idea to splice slapstick comedy scenes that played like rejected America's Funniest Home Videos clips into the vicious superhero battle. So, when the bad guys unleash their super breath on the city, we are treated to a shot of an ice cream cone flying into a dude's face.

Lester also felt the need to give the Kryptonians a series of increasingly bizarre and useless powers. Apparently, the powers that be felt that flight, super strength, super speed, invulnerability, heat vision, ice breath, x-ray vision, time travel and super-ventriloquism weren't sufficient. In one of the most inexplicable changes to the Superman mythos, our hero is given the power to tear the insignia off of his costume and throw it at an enemy. Yes, they gave him super-logo powers.

Is it unfair to say that everything that was good about Superman II was due to Donner, and that all of the goofy parts were Lester's fault? Let's put it this way: When Lester was finally given control of an entire film from the start, he gave the world Superman III.

Where you can find the original:
In 2006, Donner re-created his film using his scrapped footage, and released it on DVD as Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut.

Unfortunately, because not all of the scenes were filmed, Donner was forced to cobble together old unused shots and test footage to fill in the gaps, and it's pretty noticeable at times.


OK, not that noticeable

Dawn of the Dead

The Way It Was Supposed To Be:
In this startling allegory, director George A. Romero decries America's rampant consumption with his resounding message of, "If you insist on buying worthless crap, don't be surprised if zombies break into your local mall and seriously mess you up. I'm just saying."


Above: Capitalism

In the film's original climax, the main characters, realizing that they will never truly be safe, choose to commit suicide rather than join the legions of the walking dead. The film was to conclude with a haunting final shot of our heroine Fran shoving her head into her helicopter's propeller. This was of course an allegory for America's failing educational system.

It also is the way that, in our opinion, most movies should end.

The "Improved" Version:
In the finished product, the film tries to have it both ways. The original desperate and atmospheric lead-up to the suicide sequence is kept ...

... then suddenly, Peter changes his mind for no reason at all and easily fights his way back to the helicopter, with heroic trumpets blaring in the background the entire time.

Apparently, the studio opted to go with the less depressing ending, in which our heroes are condemned to spend the rest of their lives in a post-apocalyptic wasteland dominated by murderous reanimated cadavers.

The 2004 remake reveals a major plot hole in the film's revised closing sequence: Why did they fight their way through those zombies when the obvious solution would be to simply construct an indestructible tank and some make explosives out of everyday materials?


Above: Logical conclusion

Where you can find the original:
Unfortunately for all you "girl decapitated by a propeller" fetishists out there, there is no existing footage of the film's original ending. The only proof that anyone has that it was even filmed is this picture of the puppet that was going to serve as Gaylen Ross' stand-in.


Stick a wig on there and man, you'd never know

Live Free or Die Hard

The Way It Was Supposed To Be:
In this installment of the popular Die Hard franchise, John McClane must stop a group of cyber terrorists (or are they?) who plan to firewall the central coding system of the primary flux capacitor. Or something like that. Look, we don't need to know the details. We go to watch Bruce Willis a) shoot people and b) taunt his adversaries with western vernacular and implications of an Oedipus complex.

The "Improved" Version:
Well guess what, he doesn't get to do that. Months into filming, the head honchos decided to trim the film behind the director's back in order to get the magical PG-13 rating, which, according to producers, would attract a new demographic at the small cost of making the film suck.

The result? The new McClane was so tame that he couldn't even say his famous catchphrase. Blood splatters were digitally removed (and taking the blood out of a Die Hard movie is like taking the blood out of a vampire movie).

We're predicting that by the time that Live Free or Die Even Harderer comes out, McClane will be fighting terrorists (or are they?) while armed solely with walkie-talkies.

Where you can find the original:
The unrated DVD release of the film contains numerous scenes that were removed from the theatrical cut. McClane gets to say his favorite phrase, and more graphic and visceral action scenes replaced the embarrassingly neutered material.

Yes, they still have the scene where a car flies into a helicopter and yes, the plot still makes no sense. But you'll be surprised at how adding the grit back in makes it feel so much more like a Die Hard movie.

Blade Runner

The Way It Was Supposed To Be:
Blade Runner is Ridley Scott's adaptation of Phillip K. Dick's classic science fiction novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (a title rendered irrelevant since recent scientific studies have confirmed that robots actually dream about enslaving humans and forcing them to do their bidding).

In the film's original bittersweet conclusion, Rick Deckard chooses to harbor a renegade android, even though she will soon face an electric sheepless sleep of death.

The original film also contains implications that the main character might himself be a replicant, a twist so creative and shocking that we can forgive it for not making any goddamned sense at all.

The "Improved" Version:
The studio, upset with the film's bleak tone, redubbed it with a new voice-over narration from Harrison Ford, who sounds like he's reading his lines at gunpoint. The narration was intended to clarify some of the more confusing parts of the film using the unique storytelling tactic of having the narrator describe something entirely different from what's happening on the screen.

The narration also reveals that Deckard's robotic lover Rachael was not programmed to self-terminate, and they both got to live happily ever after until they both rode off into Heaven on a unicorn.

Where you can find the original:
Well, the good news is you have a lot of options here. In addition to the US theatrical cut, the 2007 re-release also contains the original workprint cut, the 1992 director's cut, and the new "final cut," all for only $78.99 plus shipping and handling.

Hell, at this point it'd almost be easier to read the damned book.


If you liked that you'll probably enjoy our look at The 6 Worst Movies Hollywood Almost Made. And don't forget to check out Internet Party 2: An Intervention for MySpace to see which sites you shouldn't be inviting to your next intervention. Or head to the brand new Official Cracked.com Store and become a startlingly attractive walking advertisement for our site.

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