5 Classic Movies That Were Almost Ruined By Horrifying Ideas
Movies are versatile, unpredictable things, and their early versions rarely match what winds up on the big screen. Scripts change, actors leave, directors go on coke-fueled rampages and disappear in the Vietnamese jungle -- standard Hollywood setbacks. That's why we didn't get ...
Alice In Wonderland Was Basically A Horror Movie
The 1951 Disney adaptation of Lewis Carroll's novel is considered a timeless classic. But while the cartoon you know is a masterwork of whimsy, the original vision was something ripped right out of our nightmares.
Walt Disney had planned on making an Alice In Wonderland film as early as 1932, which would have made it his next project after Snow White. He hired storyboard artist Al Perkins and art director David Hall to produce a story reel, but Perkins and Hall had apparently read a very different version of the book. It would have been less "surreal, lighthearted voyage of self-discovery" and more "Pan's Labyrinth, but with cats."
Sure, the book does get kind of dark in places for a kids' story, but Perkins and Hall's treatment went above and beyond. For one thing, unlike the book, it would have included a scene in which the Knave of Hearts is executed by cannon ...
Which obviously wasn't ... canon.
Shut up, that was great.
The movie would have also ended with the attempted execution of Alice by guillotine, though she wakes up just as the blade comes down ...
"I told you that you put the blade way too high!"
And all of this was lovingly presented in Al Perkins' beautifully horrifying illustrative style.
"It'sssssss a very merry unbirthday ... to MEEEEEEEEEE!"
Disney wasn't thrilled for some reason, and wound up delaying the project to think it over, which is the politest way to tell someone that their nightmare vision of a children's classic disturbed you to the core.
Tim Burton's Batman Wherein The Joker Kills EVERYBODY'S Parents
Tim Burton was hired to direct the first serious Batman movie, and by most measures, he succeeded. 1989's Batman is commonly cited as one of the films which made superhero movies a viable concept. And now that everything is a superhero movie, we'll leave it up to you what kind of packages you send him.
Burton's movie took some liberties. The Joker was now the same guy who killed Bruce Wayne's parents, which made good narrative sense for a standalone movie which nobody foresaw would spawn a bazillion sequels. But in its early stages, the studio really wanted the movie to feature Robin as well. So Burton's original script tried to shoehorn him in, and because Robin's parents were also murdered, they decided to include a scene in which the Joker kills Dick Grayson's parents as well, because that guy is just crazy for parent-murder.
Maybe he owns stock in orphanages?
And he doesn't merely kill them; he kills the hell out of them. Both of Grayson's parents are murdered via exploding fireworks truck.
"And can we get the foley guy to work up some body splats? I really want that corpse to thud."
Thanks to some more levelheaded producers (we know, it sounds like an oxymoron), the movie wound up cutting Robin entirely, which everybody agreed is always for the best.
The Planet Of The Apes By Peter Jackson: Now With More Ape-On-Human Boning!
Back in 1992, Peter Jackson was approached to helm a remake of Planet Of The Apes. But he didn't want to shoot a full reboot; Jackson wanted to do a proper sequel. The original series lasted five movies -- and let's face it, that was four movies too many -- but Jackson really pushed the idea of a Planet Of The Apes 6, two decades after the last installment. And for some insane reason (read: cocaine), executives were on board.
"How does a 320-minute runtime sound?"
Jackson's story continued the ape planet's timeline into their version of the Renaissance, wherein chimpanzees suffer under a fascist government run by gorillas -- all against the backdrop of a 15th-Century primate Europe. Imagine it! Ape Michelangelo! The Ape Sistine Chapel! Ape Shakespeare! APESPEARE!
Even crazier: The main character was set to be an ape Leonardo da Vinci.
Leorangutano da Vinci.
Even crazier: They actually tapped Roddy McDowall to star ... again.
Even crazier: The plot would have revolved around a half-human, half-ape character -- which brings up some extremely disturbing questions, to say the least.
"You don't understand our love!"
"No! I literally don't!"
The movie had almost been greenlit by the time Joe Roth, then-chairman of 20th Century Fox, left the studio. But shockingly, his replacements weren't quite as enthusiastic about a sequel to a decades-dead franchise which explored themes of cross-species reproduction. So the movie was assigned its rightful place in Development Hell, until it was eventually reimagined as Tim Burton's 2001 remake. You never thought you'd be thankful for that flick, did you?
A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles In Which Misguided Youths Are Beaten To Death
Yes yes, we know: You're a pop culture savant, and you are well aware that the original TMNT comic was a hyper-violent, adult-oriented action drama. But by the time the movie rolled around, you'd figure they realized their true audience was children, and would have given up on Tarantino Turtles. You would have figured wrong. The original script was as dark and gory as the source material, if not moreso.
Case in point: In the movie, the Foot Clan is made up of teenage runaways instead of trained ninjas, as they are in the comic. But the comic includes a scene in which Shredder, a man who wears razor blades on his arms, beats several Foot members to death for insubordination. And even though the changes for the film already meant that he would be murdering a bunch of starving homeless kids instead of hardened ninjas, it still wound up in the script. Shit, they filmed it.
"We will follow you anywhere based on your ability to beat up 13-year-olds, master!"
At some point down the production line, someone decided that murdering kids wasn't really something that sold action figures, and so the scene was watered down to a casual assault. But it still found its way into the comic adaptation of the movie ... adaptation of the ... comic?
Based on the novelization, inspired by the video game.
A Beetlejuice That Was All Terror, No Comedy
You remember Beetlejuice as one of the few Tim Burton movies that doesn't star Johnny Depp, though if you look closely, you'll probably still find him in the background somewhere. It's the law. It's a Gothic comedy about two recently deceased ghosts who hire a professional poltergeist to scare a family out of their house. Michael Keaton plays the title character, in what's probably still the most fun anybody has ever had in a role.
And the most fun anybody has had with Calypso music.
But the original script almost gave us something completely different. In one scene we know and love, Geena Davis and Skinny Alec Baldwin try to leave their house, only to find themselves stuck in a desert ruled by claymation Marilyn Manson sand worms. But in the original script, the outside realm was a featureless void full of giant, spinning clock parts. Less fun, more depressing dread.
In the early version, Beetlejuice himself isn't the professional haunter they wanted to hire in the first place -- he's a much more villainous character with "vaguely Middle Eastern features" who ties up and impersonates the real ghost. See, his plan isn't to get rid of the meddlesome mortals; it's to murder them.
Winona Ryder's character also has a nine-year-old sister named Cathy, who was cut from the final film. She can speak to ghosts, and ultimately winds up being violently mauled almost to death by Beetlejuice. Child mauling! Always good for a laugh.
"Where the hell did that exploding fireworks truck come from?"
Luckily, in the end, they shifted the tone of the movie with a few key scene changes, some added dialogue, and slightly less child mauling than the original vision entailed. Hey, sometimes Hollywood is about making compromises. Lose the child-mauling today, and maybe next time you can make a film that's nothing but children getting savagely mauled over and over again while a heartless maniac watches on, rejoicing in their miser--
Oh shit, that was Burton's Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. That's why that movie happened. It all makes sense now.
Johnny Depp really does seem like a better fit for that tone than Michael Keaton.
When not obsessing over pointless pop culture trivia, Henrik Magnusson also enjoys harassing the internet with his comics. You can also go bug him on Twitter.
For more early versions that were nothing like the finished product, check out 6 Famously Terrible Movies That Were Almost Awesome and 6 Baffling First Drafts Of Famous Movies.
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