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Alternate Endings Actually Worth Watching

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10132006_alternateendings_article.jpgBy Aaron Hillis, Michelle Orange, Matt Singer, R. Emmet Sweeney and Alison Willmore

The DVD of “X-Men: The Last Stand,” which went on sale this week, offers not one, not even two, but three alternate endings — what, did they let test audience vote with buttons on their armrests? (Well, we wouldn’t rule it out.) In honor of a gentler, simpler time when alternate endings meant more than fodder for DVD editions, the IFC News team presents a list of notable alternate endings out there on DVD that actually offer interesting insights into the film, filmmaking or film biz.

Army of Darkness
Directed by Sam Raimi

Here’s a case of the right ending for the wrong movie. As Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” series progressed through “Evil Dead 2” and “Army of Darkness,” things got progressively sillier — the first “Evil Dead” is a straight-up gorefest, but the last picture, which includes Bruce Campbell’s doggedly unheroic Ash battling a fleet of wise-cracking miniaturized clones, is practically a renaissance faire riff on the Three Stooges. Raimi established the set-up for “AoD” at the sadistic conclusion of “Evil Dead 2,” where Ash finally defeats the unholy evil of the Book of the Dead, only to find himself sent back to the Middle Ages, where he learns he’ll have to start the battle all over again without the pleasure of adequate toilet facilities. The original ending to “AoD” took a similar bent; Ash defeats the medieval evil, but he takes too much of the potion designed to make him sleep away the centuries, and he wakes to a post-apocalyptic wasteland, bellowing “I SLEPT TOO LONG!” as the credits begin to roll. It was a fitting ending for the series, but not necessarily for “Army of Darkness,” which had pushed too far (and too successfully) into the realm of comedy to end on such a dark note. So Raimi came up with a doozy of a replacement: a silly and supremely macho shoot-’em-up at Ash’s place of business, S-Mart superstore. Purists prefer the original version, but purists also prefer “Evil Dead 2.” Personally, I’ll take the fun of “Army of Darkness” and Campbell’s pitch-perfect portrayal of a man with an ego that far exceeds his talents or his smarts, and the ending that goes along with it.

Better ending: Theatrical. —Matt Singer

Directed by Terry Gilliam

It may be Gilliam’s career high point to date, but the director’s clash with Universal Pictures over getting “Brazil” released in the cut he intended is almost as famous as the film itself (see Jack Mathews’ book “The Battle of Brazil” for a blow-by-blow). Universal chairman Sid Sheinberg’s infamous if ultimately TV-only “Love Conquers All” cut, included on Criterion’s 1999 special edition three-disc DVD release, involves plenty of additions and subtractions, but none more significant than the alteration of the ending, which the studio found too dark. In the Sheinberg edit, Jonathan Pryce’s Sam wakes up in the idyllic country house he’s escaped to with ladylove Jill, and declares that he “doesn’t dream anymore.” Soaring music, clouds and…Fin! Of course, Gilliam’s version of the film then cuts to Mr. Helpmann and Jack Lint, who’ve been torturing Sam in the Information Retrieval Room. The final shot, of Sam smiling cheerfully and humming, sanity clearly gone, is bleakly perfect. Too perfect to mess with — Gilliam ultimately prevailed in getting it into theaters.

Better ending: Theatrical. —Alison Willmore

Directed by Kevin Smith

Naming the lead character in Kevin Smith’s $27,000 mini-masterpiece of suburban ennui “Clerks” Dante always struck me as an odd choice. It’s way more gothic and theatrical than the rest of Smith’s immature brood (Randal, Jay, Bob). Smith’s original ending gave the moniker a bit more weight. As first conceived, the movie continued for one more scene after the ending that appeared in the final theatrical version (where Dante and Randal reconcile before Dante closes the Quick Stop for the night). Instead of that optimistic denouement, a burglar enters the convenience store, shoots Dante and robs the cash register. Instead of a cut to black and credits over upbeat selections from the soundtrack, the titles roll over the continuing shot of the Quick Stop, as a customer walks in (played by Smith himself) and steals a pack of cigarettes. The initial ending adds the extra oomph to “Dante” but it’s also wildly out of character for a comedy that, while dark, essentially laughs at all of life’s mysteries and dilemmas.

Better ending: Theatrical. —MS

[Photo at top: Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil,” Universal Pictures, 1985]

[On to Part 2]
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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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