DID YOU READ

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

Brazil
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

Clerks
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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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.