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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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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Uncle-Buck

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…