WARNING: THIS WHOLE ARTICLE IS A SPOILER.
In a recent article about deleted scenes that would have ruined the film, we mentioned that the original ending to Clerks featured Dante getting shot to death, and the original ending of Terminator 2 featured a paradox that would have rendered the entire series impossible.
But those are hardly the only films that escaped having endings so bizarre that it's kind of amazing that they came so close to winding up in the final cut.
5Army of Darkness Left Ash Stranded in Time
The Evil Dead trilogy is kind of in the same category as The Big Lebowski -- its cultural impact goes way beyond what you'd expect from the modest box office. Just ask yourself -- are you more likely to hear a college kid quoting a catchphase from one of those movies, or, say, Avatar?
Who still hasn't heard the "boomstick" line?
In the third and final film, Army of Darkness, Ash (Bruce Campbell) has accidentally wound up in medieval times and just wants to get back to the present. Unsurprisingly, he winds up in a massive battle with the undead.
The Ending We Got:
After retrieving the Necronomicon, Ash uses a spell to finally go back to his own time, where he reclaims his job as a cashier at a department store. The film ends with one final attack by a possessed woman that involves a trampoline, a shotgun and a few last quips. It's a perfect, goofy, B-movie ending to the trilogy.
And just like that, Bruce Campbell earned cultural immortality.
What Did We Almost Get Instead?
In the original ending (and the one that persists as the official ending in versions of the film seen outside the U.S.), instead of using the Necronomicon, Ash is given a magic potion that will allow him to sleep for a century for every drop he drinks. Ash manages to mess up the count and drinks one drop too many.
This means, instead of waking up back home, he finds himself alone, in the ruins of some kind of apocalypse. He screams in anguish and ... then the movie ends:
The thing is, it's an appropriate ending if, say, you only watch the first film in the trilogy and then skip right to that ending. After all, the series started out as much more of a horror franchise, but stopped taking itself seriously right around the time Ash's hand got possessed and he was forced to replace it with a chainsaw. From then on, it became the goofy festival of blood, slapstick and one-liners that made Bruce Campbell a cult hero.
Oh, it still makes perfect sense to have him fuck up the potion, or to even make it so that he wakes up in a future full of zombies that need a good chainsawing. Instead it ends like some kind of Shakespearean tragedy, which is, uh, not exactly what we came to expect from the series.
There's not even a chainsaw-hand in sight.