5 Insane Sequels That Almost Changed Movie History
When you see a slate of summer blockbusters that is almost entirely made up of sequels and reboots, it's easy to assume that Hollywood is just incapable of saying no to a profitable franchise. Oh, if only you knew.
As it turns out, the most disastrous, laughable sequels in history never actually made it to theaters. So let's take a moment and congratulate Hollywood for getting it right:
Indiana Jones and the Monkey King Makes The Crystal Skull Look Amazing
Movie fans really don't grasp how close their favorite films came to being unwatchable piles of shit. Every great movie exists because a series of terrible ideas were shot down at some point, sometimes against the creators' wishes ("Bad news, guys, Burt Reynolds has turned down the role of Han Solo"). That's how the same creators and cast can produce both genius and dreck even when working in the same franchise. So, we watch a movie like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and wonder how it was possible to screw up such a perfect formula. But then you find out about Indiana Jones and the Monkey King.
Written by Chris Columbus (who had previously been commissioned by the Queen of Spain to write family friendly comedies for Steven Spielberg), this was to be the third film in the franchise, instead of The Last Crusade. And it would have opened with Indy battling a ghost in a haunted Scottish castle, and that alone sounds sufficiently terrible to sink the franchise:
"The MANICAL LAUGH came from OLD MAN MCINTYRE, who is SECRETLY trying to claim the LAND DEED."
But the Scooby-Doo hijinks were just the prologue. Back at Indy's school, a student half his age slaps the shit out of him for cheating on her with her mother in her own bed. Oh, and we're also introduced to the actual plot, which would have involved Indy teaming up with a sexy zoologist and a 200-year-old pygmy to save an ancient city full of immortality granting peaches from Lieutenant Mephisto, who, even by the standards of cinematic Nazis, sounds cartoonishly evil.
Secretly stowing away on the journey is Indy's teaching assistant, the young Betsy, who has a huge lady boner for her prof. In a wacky gag, Betsy keeps trying to kill herself when her advances are rebuffed. In her first attempt, she tries hanging herself with Indy's whip, prompting Indy to chastise her for damaging it, because Indy is kind of a dickhole in this draft. Later she accidentally makes out with both a chimpanzee and a dead fish because ha ha, bitches be crazy. Between all that and the stereotypical African natives, we'd be praising Willie Scott and Short Round as complex, nuanced characters.
Teaching teens that suicide is the answer, and that it's OK to waste bourbon? How irresponsible can you get?
But back to Indy's heroic efforts to keep the Nazis from making Fruit Reich Salad. Had this movie been made, "Nuke the fridge" would have been replaced in the pop culture lexicon by "Ride the rhino," which sounds like a masturbation euphemism but refers to a scene where Indiana Jones rides a goddamn rhinoceros.
The number of AUDIENCE MEMBERS enjoying the MOVIE becomes SMALLER ... SMALLER ...
But even though Indy would ride his rhino long and hard, that wouldn't be enough to save him. He's killed by Mephisto, which was presumably meant to surprise audiences but would instead have probably made them think, "Great, that douchebag teacher who sleeps around and mocks suicide attempts got what he deserved." It's cool, though, because the natives take him to the Garden of Immortal Peaches so he can join the long list of movie characters who are stand-ins for Jesus.
It would actually sound less lame if they just took him to Olive Garden.
The skeletal Monkey King brings Indy back to life, and the hot zoologist, hot suicidal TA, and hot native all immediately jump him while he's still trying to figure out what the hell happened. Look, we and our topless poster of Harrison Ford get that Indy is hot, but this is just ridiculous.
It's weird that the script predicted Harrison Ford's ad-lib.
Producers chose wisely and discarded this script for having too many supernatural elements, and also presumably for being way, way too stupid. Spielberg spoke for everyone when he said, "I don't think any of us wanted to go to Africa for four months and try to get Indy to ride a rhinoceros in a multi-vehicular chase," although now that there are rumors of yet another Indy movie, we do kind of want to see grumpy old man Harrison Ford take a stab at it.
Back to the Future II: Marty Makes His Hippy Parents Screw
The first draft of Back to the Future Part II starts out how we all know and love, with Marty and Doc travelling to the bizarre and unfathomable future of 2015 before returning to a dystopian 1985. But then, instead of returning to 1955 to stop Biff, Marty instead tracks him to 1967. He immediately retrieves the Sports Almanac, but gets hassled by a cop because he's dressed like a hippy. Since Marty has no ID and no draft card, he gets tossed in jail, giving us a look at a dark yet thankfully long-gone part of America's history where someone could get into trouble with the law for trivial reasons.
Actually bothering to take the suspect the jail? That's unheard of these days.
Marty gets bailed out by his mom, who, like most moms, went through a hippy phase. She doesn't recognize him, even though he's the same guy who took her to prom and is still using the same goddamn first name. No, she's bailing him out because she heard about his incarceration in the paper and apparently had nothing better to do that day.
"Fuck literally everything about time travel."
Lorraine does mention that he kind of looks like a guy she used to know, but her inability to connect the dots makes her seem stupider than if she had just forgotten.
"Lorraine, have you considered doing fewer drugs? For the sake of your children?"
This leads to the thrust of the story, if you catch our unfortunate drift. Lorraine's bail money was supposed to pay for a trip to visit George in San Francisco (San Francisco being the land of bitter contract disputes). Marty was supposed to have been conceived on that trip, so now he has to raise $500 or he'll cease to exist because ... their marriage then immediately became sexless, we guess.
The premise of Back to the Future was kind of icky even when Marty was just trying to get his parents to fall in PG-13 love. Getting them to have unprotected sex in an almost certainly filthy San Francisco hotel room is just flat-out creepy, especially since Marty does everything short of buying his mom a Marvin Gaye record and telling her that guys love a girl who will go bareback. When Doc refers to Marty's parents' sex life as "biological reproductive mating behavior," you may just start rooting for Biff.
"Doc, will you help me be a time pimp?"
The big climax (heh) finds Marty giving a speech at an anti-war rally. Fortunately, we're spared a scene where Jane Fonda is telephoned by her cousin and given some bold ideas. Instead, Marty gets everyone in the crowd to chip in some money so Lorraine can become a sex tourist. Oh, and Biff rushes the stage and tries to beat up Marty -- not because he knows about the long-forgotten Sports Almanac, but just because he hates hippies. The whole movie is like 50 percent hippy jokes, so there's another reason to be thankful it was never made.
An Unmade The Planet of the Apes Reboot Features Humans Having Sex, While Apes Watch
Before Tim Burton got his damn pale, angst-filled hands on the Planet of the Apes remake, Batman screenwriter Sam Hamm took a lunatic stab at it in the mid-1990s. His script opens on Earth, where a spaceship piloted by an ape has crashed and brought a plague that kills babies. Every newborn ages and dies almost immediately, like some kind of fucked up Benjamin Button disease. More popcorn and soda, anyone?
Planet of the Horrible Birth Defects, guest-starring Charlton Heston as the ancient, wizened infant.
The origins of the ape ship are traced, and three scientists travel to their planet, where they are of course captured. The movie becomes both horrifyingly violent and broadly comedic -- a scene where one of the scientists' throat is slit is soon followed a parade of terrible puns where we see ads for the cartoon The Simians and fast-food restaurants like Banana King. Get it?!
Wait, why would Mickey Mouse become a monkey?
Faced with overwhelming despair regarding the future of their species, the two surviving captive astronauts naturally have sex while a gorilla cover of "Stayin' Alive" plays, because apparently disco is a universal, interspecies constant for getting it on.
"Can you believe we agreed to be in this?"
The video makes one of the apes horny ...
Yes, that says "exploring erotic possibilities undreamt of on the Planet of the Apes." No, this isn't unofficial fanfiction.
... And later another watches their boning with "a warm, almost motherly smile." That's a phrase we never want to associate with lovemaking, Bee Gees-aided or otherwise.
"INT SAM HAMM's OFFICE -- THAT MOMENT WHEN THE WRITER REALIZES HE HAS SERIOUS OEDIPAL ISSUES."
We all owe Burton an apology. We haven't even mentioned that a climactic chase scene includes Ape Sinatra and Ape Bono sharing a duet in a strip club featuring "topless GORILLA DANCERS."
"The TOPLESS DANCERS start GOBBLING BANANAS if you know what I mean."
We don't want to come right out and accuse Hamm of having an unhealthy fascination with ape sex, but we will say that his script features a lot more of it than we'd expect or hope from a Planet of the Apes movie. At least from an official one.
The Gritty Seven Dwarfs Origin Story
Disney's straight-to-video division has developed a lot of sequels to their classic films over the years, and while they're often terrible re-hashes, they're also inoffensive -- something mindless you can plunk your niece or nephew in front of so you can browse reddit for 90 minutes and call it babysitting. There's no movie where Lady finds out that Tramp is one of her multiple personalities, or where Iago gets avian flu.
But according to director Mike Disa, Disney almost broke that streak with a Snow White prequel focusing on what the dwarfs' lives were like before some strange woman shacked up with them. It went through several incarnations, including a CGI version presumably called The Seven Dwarfs and the Uncanny Valley ...
"Hi ho, hi ho, we're going to eat your soul!"
... but actually started to shape up nicely as a Lord of the Rings-inspired origin story for the Evil Queen. Then, of course, Disney executives, aka the Evil Queens of Hollywood, interfered. One executive decided that the movie should focus primarily on Dopey, the most loveably marketable dwarf of them all. And since Dopey was now going to be the star of the picture, Dopey had to talk.
You probably assumed that Dopey's inability to speak was due to his dopiness, and that narrow line of thinking is precisely why you're never going to work as a soulless Disney executive. The envisioned prequel would have told the tragic story of how Dopey lost his ability to speak after being emotionally scarred by a traumatic event. In the words of the executive, "maybe Dopey should watch his mother die or something," because Disney has killed off more parents than tobacco.
Snow White and the Seven Traumatized Orphans just doesn't have the same ring to it.
Of course, they wanted all of the tragedy to occur in the first act so the rest of the story could be an "unrelated carefree adventure." You know, the kind of carefree adventure you have after a loved one dies and you're so emotionally distraught that you lose control of a basic bodily function. When Disa pointed out that it would be hard to make a wacky comedy that kicked off with a mother's death, the response was "introduce the comedy and then slip in the mother thing. Kids won't notice." You know, just like what they did with Bambi. No kids noticed that, right?
Thankfully, this bold new direction was immediately killed by an executive higher up the food chain, Disney was saved from ridicule, and Dopey could go back to being the harmless stoner that he so obviously is.
An Alien 3 With No Ripley, More Farm Animals
Alien 3 doesn't have many defenders, but that's mainly because it's such a step down from two movies that were both instant classics. Still, there are two things that can be said for the film: It could have been decent with a few changes (such as, not killing off Newt and Hicks during the opening credits), and it was almost so, so much worse. Eric Red, who we assure you is a screenwriter and not a Viking, was one of the many writers hired to take a crack at Alien 3. For those of you who thought the franchise had way too much Ripley but not enough livestock, this is the stuff your terrible dreams are made of.
At the time, Sigourney Weaver was questioning whether she wanted to return to the franchise. The studio was determined to press on whether she was on board or not (they've got bills to pay, damn it!), so Red was given only a few weeks to write a version of the film that wouldn't involve the franchise's star. So he came up with a sequel set on a space station that had been modified to look like a small Midwestern farm town, probably because filming a movie in a small town that's really a magic space station is a whole lot cheaper than building a space station-looking space station set. The town of North Star is complete with farms, windmills, and even a 7-Eleven. Say what you will about Prometheus, but at least no one stops off for a goddamn Slurpee.
"In b.g., a banjo twangs. In office, a studio executive buries his head in his hands."
The protagonist, Sam, discovers that the military has acquired an alien and is running experiments on it, and we'll give you two guesses as to how those turn out. Their experiments include creating H.R. Giger's Babe, as Sam discovers dog Aliens, cat Aliens, freaking chicken Aliens and, later in the script, Alien mosquitos and cows, the latter of which shoots acid out of its utters. So hey, there's an image that would have ruined the franchise forever.
On a farm, everyone can hear how stupid this sounds.
The script also contains the most embarrassing zero gravity sex scene this side of Buzz Aldrin's unpublished erotic fiction:
To be fair, there are some obvious Casablanca parallels.
The couple meet a violent end in a horror cliche more befitting Camp Crystal Lake than an Alien film:
R.I.P., Pervert Kool-Aid Space Man.
But the film's most egregious sin is that it turns the Aliens into wimps -- while the station is destroyed, a small army of aliens faces down a hodgepodge collection of space rednecks and lose. Sam's mom even defeats one with kitchen knives and her goddamn garbage disposal while shouting "Okay you ugly motherfucker, suck on this." It's like Red's instructions were to cross Gremlins with the cheesiest 1980s action movies he could find. Thankfully everyone involved, including Red, hated the script, so it was tossed out. Hollywood, learning its lesson, would wisely wait another few years before driving the franchise into the ground.
J.M. McNab co-hosts the pop-culture nostalgia podcast "Rewatchability," which can also be found on iTunes. Follow him on Twitter @Rewatchability.
For more ridiculous additions to franchises, check out 6 Movies You Didn't Know Had Catastrophic Unofficial Sequels and 5 Sequels Made By People Who Must Not Have Seen the Original.
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