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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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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.