L The List
- 1Theatrical Ending
Clerks concludes its meandering narrative on a high note: Protagonist Dante (Brian O’Halloran) gets direction in his life after Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) outrightly states the moral of the film directly to his face. He prepares to close-up shop for the day and the future actually begins to look bright for the guy.
The ending Smith originally came up with (the one attached to the earliest screenings of the film) went a little differently. After Dante reconciles with Randal and Randal leaves, a new customer enters the shop and abruptly shoots Dante, killing him in cold blood for the money in the cash register.
It’s certainly a bolder take on the story’s conclusion, but Smith himself admitted that he only wrote this ending because he didn’t know how to end a film. After receiving encouragement from some mentors, Smith re-edited the film to end just before the killer’s appearance, transforming the conclusion from abrupt tragedy to hopeful optimism.
- 2Theatrical Ending
After Audrey 2 reveals that she’s actually an alien from outer-space and tries to bury Seymour (Rick Moranis) beneath the rubble of the destroyed plant shop, Seymour retaliates by electrocuting the plant until she explodes. He and Audrey are promptly married, and the movie ends on a high note.
The alternate original ending, finally released to the general public for the first time on October 9th, takes the conclusion in an entirely different direction. Audrey 2 attacks and kills Audrey, who before dying, tells Seymour that he should feed her to the plant so that he can be famous. Then Audrey 2 eats Audrey, then Seymour, and spreads her buds across the country, taking over all major cities and presumably, the world.
The reason for the change is one of the more fascinating back-stories in film history. Though the original ending, running a rumored $1 million to shoot, was included in the first test-screenings of the film, the creators found that the ultra-downer turned the theater into an “icebox.” Director Frank Oz speculated that “in a stage play, you kill the leads and they come out for a bow — in a movie, they don't come out for a bow, they're dead. They’re gone and so the audience lost the people they loved... and they hated us for it.” He stands by the idea that the changed ending is the better ending, because it gives the audience the story they want.
- 3Theatrical Ending
It’s probably worth noting that there are seven different versions of Ridley Scott’s neo-noir film Blade Runner. But the ending originally shown in theaters is also pretty universally considered one of the worst: After defeating the rogue replicant and escaping with his replicant girlfriend, Deckard drives through a forest strikingly similar to the one seen at the beginning of The Shining and casually tells the audience in a voice-over that even though Replicants have a four-year lifespan, Rachael (Sean Young) is “special” and will live an indeterminate length of time.
There are two others that are worth talking about. One includes a terrible voice-over that ruins the message of the film, and one that actually fits with the tone and direction of the film. While the theatrical version is annoyingly sappy and the voice-over makes Deckard seem like kind of an idiot (what do you mean you “don’t know why” Roy let you live? He literally just told you!) this ending keeps things uncertain and tragic without insulting the audience’s intelligence.
- 4Theatrical Ending
As is rarely the case, the theatrical ending of Brazil is actually the superior one, due to director Terry Gilliam’s steadfast refusal to accommodate the studio’s wishes. The ending of Brazil that most people have seen is the dark, tragic version where hero Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) is driven insane after being tortured to near-death by an insanely bureaucratic dystopian future government.
The ending the studio wanted was a little different: instead of slipping into an escapist fantasy to avoid the tragic situation he’s found himself trapped in, Lowry slips into an escapist fantasy for no reason: his life is actually okay, and love has conquered all evil, and he can live happily ever after. Not only is this unbelievably corny, but it makes absolutely no sense in the context of the story.
I Am LegendTheatrical Ending
Vampires invade Will Smith’s house so he suicide bombs them.
The original ending filmed for the movie more closely follows the themes of the book on which the story is based: The audience discovers that they have been misled as to the nature of the vampire monsters, and that they’re actually sentient, civilized creatures. The twist is that instead of being a plucky survivor struggling to find a cure, Robert Neville (Will Smith) has been brutally murdering sentient creatures, making him the accidental villain of the story.
Basically, it’s a nuanced, intelligent, and thought-provoking conclusion. So of course they didn’t use it.
Army of Darkness
After saving the princess and protecting a medieval castle from the titular army of darkness led by a dark-clone of himself, Ash (Bruce Campbell) returns to present time and fights a zombie in the mall. Hail to the king, baby.
In Sam Raimi’s original ending, things get a little darker. Ash screws up the magic spell that’s supposed to send him back to his own time, and ends up in a terrible post-apocalyptic future. He’s not too happy about it.