5 Movies That Cut Insane Twist Endings at the Last Second
One underappreciated way that DVD (and then the Internet) changed film forever is the availability of deleted scenes. It completely alters your idea of a movie when you see what the creators originally intended.
And in fact, we have established that it's pretty common for movies to have alternate endings, often radically different ones that were cut somewhere between script and release. We'll let you decide whether they would have been an improvement.
Die Hard With a Vengeance -- McClane Gets Fired, Kills the Bad Guy With a Rocket Launcher
At the end of the third Die Hard movie, John McClane tracks down the bad guy, Simon Gruber, and raids his hideout with a bunch of Mounties, and Simon dies in a helicopter explosion while trying to escape. So, it ends like every '90s action movie ever, more or less. After that, the film goes out on a sentimental note as McClane's pal, Zeus L. Carver, convinces McClane to call his estranged wife, Holly, to patch things up.
From a conveniently located pay phone. Again, '90s movie.
How It Was Supposed to End:
Here's why the alternate ending included in the Special Edition Die Hard With a Vengeance DVD is superior to the original, in three words: motherfucking rocket launcher.
It's almost like a Tarantino scene, in that it's five solid minutes of two guys talking quietly, followed by one of them killing the other in the most laughable way possible.
It's also much darker than what ended up in the film: First of all, Simon actually gets away with the gold he stole, while McClane is fired from the NYPD and his pension is taken away. Like in the movie, McClane eventually tracks down Simon thanks to a bottle of aspirin Simon had given him earlier; unlike the movie, McClane also brings the aforementioned rocket launcher and insists they play a game of Russian roulette with it. Simon wins, and his prize is a rocket through the chest.
"All right, let's try best out of three."
So, you see, that's the "vengeance" from the title -- it's not Simon going after McClane for killing his brother two movies ago (he didn't give a shit about that), it's McClane taking his revenge on Simon for ruining his life. Also, this scene takes place on Christmas, McClane's preferred date for killing bad guys, according to the previous installments.
However, according to the DVD commentary from screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh, the studio felt that this ended the character of John McClane on a bit of a bad note. McClane has killed a lot of dudes over the years, but it's always in self-defense or to prevent them from getting away. In this case, Simon already got away. This would be the first time McClane went out of his way to coldly murder someone, and the studio felt they couldn't allow it.
Because, you know, that would have ruined the franchise.
Yes, rocket launching vigilante McClane. Nothing could be worse.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World -- Scott Defeats Ramona's Evil Exes, Then Dumps Her
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is the instant cult classic (read: shitty box office but loud fans) by Edgar Wright based on a popular series of graphic novels (read: fat comics). Scott is in love with Amazon.ca delivery girl Ramona Flowers but must fight all seven of her exes in order to be with her, because that's how it works in Canada. In the end, Scott is victorious and finally wins her heart. What kind of movie would it be if he fought all those guys for nothing? Besides, that's how the comic ends.
And they lived happily ever after, assuming that's not a door to the dungeon dimensions.
How It Was Supposed to End:
Instead of Scott and Ramona getting together, Scott was actually going to get back with his disturbingly young ex-girlfriend Knives. On the DVD, an alternate ending can be found that goes pretty much like the theatrical one, except for the minor detail that Scott just stays with Knives while Ramona walks away alone.
So Scott Pilgrim is dating a high schooler, which is exactly where he was in his life when the movie started. Wouldn't that contradict the ending of the comic, though? Yep, but the movie was actually written before the final book in the series was made. Since the creator didn't even know how he was going to finish the story yet, the filmmakers just came up with their own thing. And their own thing, somehow, was "Scott doesn't end up with the girl he fought all those dudes for."
This is the ending that was written, shot, and edited. Another deviation from the comic involved a battle with a giant robot version of Jason Schwartzman, but this was scrapped because they feared it would look too much like Transformers (apparently you saw his robot balls). Edgar Wright discussed in an interview that test screenings did not go well with the original ending, so they reshot it to match the book. This is probably for the best, since the other one would have basically negated all the personal growth Scott had gone through (in this case, represented by a magical purple katana that comes out of his body).
Symbolizing the time in every young man's life when his penis turns purple and kind of burns.
Chronicle -- Matt Becomes a Real Superhero ... in Korea
Chronicle begins just like any other movie about three teenage friends who get superpowers after stepping into a magic cave. Then, in the third act, the movie goes all Man of Steel as the shyest of the group, Andrew, turns into a full-fledged supervillain, and it's up to his pal Matt to stop him. After causing major property damage to the city of Seattle in their fight, Matt has no choice but to kill Andrew and fly away from the police and armed forces closing in on him. At the end of the movie, we see Matt in Tibet, vowing to use his powers for good.
Starting with some powerfully good yodeling.
How It Was Supposed to End:
In Max Landis' original script, Matt does not fly away after successfully killing Andrew. He passes out and wakes up in a bright white room where soldiers and men in radiation suits surround him. Then he realizes his body is seriously fucked up from the fight and begins freaking out.
What singing, you ask? Why, the singing the boys heard when they first went down into the cave (which was also cut from the movie), of course. Anyway, that's when Matt's body begins healing itself, which according to the script's description would have looked more or less like a deleted scene from The Thing. Matt escapes, not before making a room full of military personnel shit themselves, and we cut to two years later. A dam in Asia breaks and some people are about to get drowned, when suddenly ...
Matt single-handedly stops the giant wave of water with his telekinetic powers and pushes it back into the dam. He's basically Superman with a potty mouth now, or a paler Hancock. It's not clear why the ending was changed, but it may have had something to do with the fact that the movie already had one sequence that cost as much as the rest of the movie combined, so another one would have been a little excessive. Also, why show the character becoming a superhero when you can just have him say to the camera, "Hey, I'm totally gonna become a superhero now, by the way"?
"Also I'm going to do a lot of expensive-looking stuff you'll never see!"
So what are the chances of Max Landis' Super-Matt and his rhyming "FUCK YEAH KOREA" catchphrase showing up in the inevitable sequel? Not many, since Landis got canned.
Red State -- Pastor Cooper Unleashes the Apocalypse
Red State is Kevin Smith's second horror film after that movie where Seth Rogen does a porno. This time there are no pop culture debates, no Jay and Silent Bob, and no sexual slang names that would make Urban Dictionary's head spin -- just a crazed, murderous pastor and his community who sure as hell aren't based on the Westboro Baptist Church (because those guys will sue the shit out of you if you so much as mention th- oh fuck).
Not the WBC. WBC signs are orange and green. Everyone knows that.
At the end of the film, there's a shootout between the members of the church and some federal agents led by Agent Keenan (John Goodman). Just as the confrontation is about to reach its bloody climax, some trumpets can be heard in the background. Pastor Cooper (Michael Parks) takes this to mean that the Rapture is happening and drops his weapons to celebrate. Of course, it turns out the trumpets were a hoax and Cooper is arrested.
How It Was Supposed to End:
If Kevin Smith had followed his original vision, this might have been one of the craziest endings in the history of cinema. Smith has said in interviews that his original script goes about the same way as the movie, until the trumpet sound -- that's when characters start exploding left and right as Agent Keenan covers his head and closes his eyes. When he opens them again, he sees the last member of the church "on the end of a gigantic sword held by a massive angel." The angel then drops the sword, looks at Keenan, and goes "Shhhh ..." And then, presumably, "... snootchie bootchies!"
Foreshadowed by all the religious imagery and S&M.
Then the movie ends as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse descend on the planet. According to the documentary Kevin Smith: Burn in Hell, the whole concept of that movie was to make the story do a complete 180 every time it was becoming too predictable. However, since blood and giant swords are pretty expensive these days, this ending would have turned Red State into a "$4 million movie with a $15 million five-minute sequence." And, yeah, it would have been pretty awesome, but in a way we're glad Smith changed the ending, because the old one might have given Fred Phelps ideas.
Pretty in Pink -- Andie Hooks Up With Duckie, for Some Reason
Even the manliest among you can recount the story of John Hughes' star-crossed lovers, Andie and Blane: poor girl with a heart of gold meets rich guy with equally metallic internal organs. They experience resistance from their peers -- Andie's best friend, the perpetually platonic Duckie, and an impressively feathered James Spader -- but ultimately, love conquers all, even the smell of the sad, icky part of town. So, yeah, of course Andie ends up with Blane: That's the whole point of the movie, right?
And they lived happily ever after, until a passing car sent them to the dungeon dimensions.
How It Was Supposed to End:
Nah, that's all bullshit, according to John Hughes. If he'd gotten his way, Andie would have stayed with Duckie, not Blane -- in Hughes' original script, Andie and Duckie arrive together at the prom, and at the moment where Blane should show up and talk to her, Andie starts dancing with Duckie (because this movie didn't have enough Jon Cryer dance moves). Then "Andie squeezes tight and lifts him off his feet." Freeze image, cue credits.
What about the whole thing about love crossing socioeconomic boundaries? That doesn't happen in life, says Hughes, so it shouldn't happen in movies either. Never mind the fact that Andie doesn't return Duckie's affections and explicitly says so throughout the entire movie. John Hughes' advice to girls wondering if they're not good enough for true love and thinking about settling for the nearest spaz who will take them is "Yes, yes you should." On the other hand, this would have been a great pre-emptive victory for Internet nerds who shout "friendzone!" at anything with boobs.
He devotedly came to her house and studied with her. Of course he's entitled to some action.
So why the change? Apparently audiences had a problem with the leading lady making smoochy faces with her best friend instead of the guy who was painted as her romantic interest for the whole movie. A new ending was shot, and the band OMD had to write a new song for it in 24 hours ... accidentally resulting in their biggest U.S. hit. To give you an idea of how last-minute the change was, Duckie still gets the girl in the movie's novelization, since it was based on the script.
Related Reading: You know what classic movie has a really dumb ending? Star Wars. Before you take to the comments page, read about these classic films that nearly had dark endings. The Butterfly Effect originally ended with the main character's fetus strangling itself to death! Not impressed? Check out the most WTF game endings of all time.